Note: My apologies to anyone who has read this post before, if so just skip it. I wrote it last October but I think that unlike most of my blog posts this one actually contains usual information, at least if you are a Halloween loving bargain hunting bookworm.
1) Dracula by Bram Stoker Available for Free
The grand daddy of all Vampire stories and one of the most popular novels ever written this is a total Halloween reading essential. Those who are only familiar with the many cinematic re-creations of the uber-vampire, may be a bit surprised by Stoker's depiction of the monster as a repellant creature possessing little charm. Still this a fast paced novel, one of the best adventure stories ever written in my humble opinion. While depictions of woman are quite outdated its much more contemporary then many other novels of its retains plenty of appeal for modern readers.
2) Frankenstein by Mary Shelly Available for Free
Admittedly I'm more of a Dracula fan and in the past I thought I preferred the story of how Shelly created her famous monster then I do the actual novel. However, upon re-reading the book with this free kindle addition I realized that its a much more complex story then its cinematic re-creations or the popular impression of it is. The monster is the hero, not the villain, and the story to me seems to be about the importance of loyalty. Frankenstein, the scientist, is the real monster, abandoning his helpless creation when he needs him the most. Still this is a much more dated read the Dracula, a good thing for some vintage fans I'm sure, and those looking for a traditional horror adventure story might be disappointed.
3) Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan (Illustrated) Available for $0.99
This Gothic novella pre-dates Stoker's Dracula and was a major influence on his masterwork. It told in the first person and narrated by an isolated young woman who falls under the hypnotic spell of a charming and beautiful female vampire whose preference is for female victims. Much has been made of the lesbian sub-text, not much of a sub-text really as its rather central to the plot, and its true the Carmilla is one of the first vampires who inspires a strong sexual attraction in her victim making her as much the pre-cursor of the modern sex crazed vampires as Dracula is. Another nice feature of this addition is its Gothic illustrations.
4) Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems (Illustrated) Available for $0.99
One of the most quintessentially American writers Poe was a master of the short story and is widely considered to be the inventor of the detective genre. Poe was a prolific writer, being one of the first American writers to try to support himself on writing alone which had mixed results, and his many works include mysteries, science fiction, and poetry. Of course he is best remembered for his Gothic tales of terror, which have for better or worse eclipsed his other works. Any of Poe's masterful short stories make a wonderful Halloween read.
5) Dracula's Guest by Bram Stoke Available for Free
This collection of short stories, the title story being of course about Stoker's most famous creation, was published post-humously by Stoker's wife, who wrote a short but moving forward. Each of the stories has a creepy Gothic atmosphere and demonstrates Stoker's gift for moving a plot along. The best of the stories is title one, but they all make interesting reading.
6) Varney the Vampire: Or The Feast of Blood by Thomas Presskett Prest Available for Free
I confess that I have not read this work in its entirety, though I have it on my kindle and have perused sections, in my defense its 886 pages long!!! Varney was created to appeal to the masses and his adventures were published in penny dreadful pamphlets chock full of plenty of over the top Gothic drama. A major influence on Stoker and other authors of later Vampire works this makes an interesting read for those who want to learn more about the tastes of readers during the Victorian Era.
7) The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Illustrated) Available for $0.99
This classic creepy mystery about two children, their governess, and possibly some supernatural servants stuck in an isolated English manor house is a nearly perfect example of the haunted house story, with some major twists. It is a favorite of academics due to its wonderfully ambiguous nature. The question of whether or not the ghosts in the story or real, or simply the product of the governess imagination has been debated for decades.
8) The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Illustrated) Available for $0.99
This classic Holmes mystery about an investigation into the origins of possibly supernatural beast is probably the best known of Doyle's tales. Its been adopted for the screen dozens of times and its meeting of the supernatural and the scientific, in the form of the ghostly dog and the utterly pragmatic Holmes remains popular to this day.
9) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson Available for Free
This is another classic that I confess I have yet to read. Though of course everyone is familiar with the concept of the dual nature of humanity embodied in a civilized man, with a violent alter ego.
10) H.P. Lovecraft The Complete Collection Available for $2.99
The most modern author on my list Lovecraft completed most of his writing during the 1920s and is a decidedly divisive figure with as many detractors as fans. Largely unknown during his lifetime, he published his work in cheap pulp magazines while holding down a succession of odd jobs. His depressing and down trodden life influenced his work. Both of his parents suffering from mental illnesses and died in institutions, and he suffered his own breakdown in highschool, and an early death at age 47. Intensely xenophobic and paranoid his stories deal with sub-human creatures, forbidden knowledge, and insanity. There is no triumph of good over evil in his work, instead Lovecraft's personal terrors pervade his fiction making for a disturbing, but compelling, read.