As part of my author guest blog series I am proud to present another guest blog spot. The Iron Ghost I am very excited andthe author of
January 3, 2017!
So go get your copy!
Winter is for Scary Things
by Jen Williams
I am a winter person. I like short days and long nights, icy mornings and bare trees. I blame it on being born in February – when your birthday is in such a cold and grotty month, you have to learn to love it. One of the best things about the winter is the fine old excuse it gives you to read scary stories. What could be better than curling up with a cup of mulled cider and a story that will give you the shivers? Plus, it’s traditional. Christmas and ghosts! Here are five of my favourite winter reads:
Affinity by Sarah Waters
Victorian spiritualists, ghosts, and a women’s prison – if that’s not enough to make you want to read it, then I think you need to drink another glass of mulled cider and have a good think about what you’ve done. Waters is a writer who transports you through time: the sludgy streets of a London in winter; the oppressive atmosphere of a tense drawing room; the eerie corridors of Millbank Prison. The ghosts in Affinity are my favourite kind – deeply ambiguous – and if you want an even more traditional haunted house tale, The Little Stranger, also by Waters, is an eerie classic.
The Shining by Stephen King
The Shining is a book that changes the older you get – if you haven’t read it for a while, I recommend dragging it down from the shelf and revisiting the Overlook; you might be surprised by what you find there. As a kid I was terrified of Jack Torrance, with his rages and frustrations. As an adult, I had more empathy for him, and perhaps that is why The Shining is truly frightening. There are few better books, in my opinion, for generating a real sense of creeping dread. Alone with the unquiet ghosts of the hotel, with the snow falling softly outside, there is little to do but listen and wait, wait for the shambling creature edging its way down the corridor towards you…
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
A slightly shorter entry here – The Yellow Wallpaper isn’t a ghost story as such, but it is one of the scariest things I’ve read. It takes the form of a series of journal entries by a 19th century woman, confined to an old nursery room to ‘recover her health’. The interesting thing about The Yellow Wallpaper is that when you come across someone else who has read it, you clutch at each other in nameless dread, not quite able to express the nameless horror of this deeply unsettling story.
The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder
I’m a big Mo Hayder fan. Her crime series with Detective Jack Caffery is excellent, full of dark and twisted murderers and genuine chills. My favourite book by her though is a standalone, sometimes known simply as Tokyo outside of the UK. A young woman with a complicated past travels to Japan to explore the truth behind a terrible war crime. What she uncovers, and the people she meets along the way, will stay with you for a long time. Not for the squeamish, this is one of the scariest books I’ve read – there are no ghosts, but you’ll be faced with something much, much worse.
Muppets Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (sort of)
Okay, so this isn’t technically a book, but part of me felt that Dickens had to be on here, having created some of the most famous and most festive ghosts of all, and terrible person that I am, the Muppet version is my favourite version. It has Michael Caine being grumpy, it has Miss Piggy threatening to punch him in the face, it has a series of really top songs (which I inevitably sob my way through every year) and it has a genuinely scary ghost in the figure of The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Plus I’m sure Gonzo and Charles Dickens were practically the same person. If you want a more sensible and appropriate Dickens recommendation, read The Signal-man – a genuinely creepy short story perfect for a cold winter’s night.
Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their cat. She started writing about pirates and dragons as a young girl and has never stopped. Her short stories have featured in numerous anthologies and she was nominated for Best Newcomer in the 2015 British Fantasy Awards.
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