Final scare question of the week: what is the scariest book you ever read?
For me it had to be R.M. Kinder's An Absolute Gentleman. I've read all the standard horror fare--in fact, once upon a time I used to teach a course in Horror Literature. Gothic? Check. Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Turn of the Screw, The Castle of Otranto, Northanger Abbey. Promethian? Check. Frankenstein and all the spin-offs of that ground-breaking prototype. I've read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, just about everything by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, and much of Stephen King's library of terror. I've read a lot of Anne Rice (she's pretty scary--her witch series was much better than her vampire books) and a little of Dean Koontz. But hands down, An Absolute Gentleman had me on the edge of my seat.
The pretense? Our narrator, Arthur Blume, is a kind, scholarly professor of English. And he's a serial killer. His flashbacks are terrifying in their own right, but even worse? The knowledge that before the book is over he will kill again--you know he'll get caught. The potential victims loom before you, you begin to like them, fear for them. You want to warn them--but how? Arthur is nothing but an absolute gentleman, albeit a deranged, slightly disconnected and very well-intentioned one.
To my mind a serial killer is a horrifying as a shark. You cannot reason with either of them and once they have blood on the brain, all bets are off.
As masterly in suspense as anything by Alfred Hitchcock, R.M. Kinder kept me in the clutch of fear until the final chapter. And yes, I would read it at night after the kids were in bed and every single little noise made me jump. That's how edgy I got.
Happily for my lucky winner, Lemur Troops and Critter Groups is NOT a scary book. It's a fun frolic of an animal parade, presenting all different flocks and coveys and herds of creatures. Whimsically designed by the author, Rena Jones, Lemur Troops and Critter Groups can be read in a dark, lonely house all alone without fright. Or it can be read in a sun-bathed room full of people. Either way, Lemur Troops and Critter Groups by Rena Jones will entertain and educate you, not freak you out! (And as a sort of funny side note, lemurs communicate by their sense of smell. Go ahead and imagine how that must look out in the wild.)
How can you win October's FABULOUS? Easy--every comment through Saturday is an entry to win. I'll pick a lucky winner Sunday.
Hope your Halloween Weekend is HOWLING good fun!
Spill it, reader. What book had you freaking out on the edge of your seat?
Reader, I have to add this picture of San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson. His beard REALLY freaks me out. And now freak week comes to an official close.