Halloween is around the corner! A few years ago I wrote a post about Witchy books for Halloween, and I am back, because I am too old for parties, and, because there’s a pandemic, and you should be careful with parties. So here are books and TV shows I recommend for spooky entertainment.
Evil- Midnight mass- Heretic‘s daughter Children of virtue and vengeance The gilded ones Da What we do in the shadows Wellington paranormal
- The Heretic‘s Daughter, by Kathleen Kent. A reconstruction of the events that led to the killing of Martha Carrier, one of the first witches of the Salem witch trials, told from her daughter’s perspective. It’s a bit of a sad read, since we know the outcome, but it masterfully captures the zeitgeist of the times, including the sometimes oh so human motives (getting their land, for one) to accuse someone of supernatural actions. I listened to it as audiobook, and Ellen Archer, the narrator, was fantastic.
- Dracul, by Dacre Stoker and JD Barker. Set as a prequels to “Dracula”, it tells the story of Bram Stoker‘s youth, his mysterious nanny Ellen, who after curing him of his many illnesses, vanished one day, leaving a heartbroken Bram. When, many years later, his sister sees Ellen in Paris, they decide to travel after her, to unearth the secrets of their youth. From a narrator who seems sometimes too naive to be true, to eerie settings in rural European villages, to an absolute evil final foe, I truly enjoyed this book. The writer, a great nephew of Bram Stoker claims to have put the story together based on the diaries, notes and letters of the famous author, which adds another layer of mystery and intrigue.
- Dracula vs. Hitler, by Patrick Sheane Duncan. Admittedly, I thought this one was going to be a silly, quick read, but it surprised me. The set up is straightforward, during WWII, the Romanian resistance is desperate. Desperate times call for desperate measures and so Dr. Van Helsing resurrects none other than Dracula himself. As a true patriot, the Prince accepts the uneasy allyship. In Berlin, Hitler, intrigued by the idea of eternal life, hopes to catch the Prince and use him for his goals. As silly as the premise sounds, the author’s deep knowledge of both horror scholarship, WWII history and even Stoker’s writing style impressed me, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying the mix of horror, WWII story and humor.
- The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna: Yes, it’s a YA novel, but a good one! This fantasy world is very mysoginist, 16 year old girls are being cut in a ceremony to see if their blood runs gold, which means they are “impure”. If so, they immediately get excluded from their community, they bring shame over the family etc. This happens to 16 year old Deka, who then gets an odd offer: to fight in the emperor’s army in a unit of “impure” girls, just like her. She accepts, but once she arrives in the capital, nothing is what it seems. Similar to “Children of Blood and Bone”, the book contains romance, magic, action sequences etc. It was hard to put down, and the end has me waiting for book 2.
- Evil (Paramount): The premise is simple: The Catholic church sets up a team of a catholic priest (Mike Coulter), a psychologist (Katja Herbers) and a technology contractor to investigate supernatural instances, deciding on whether an excorcism is necessary. The show is in season 3, and still has me guessing on whether the supernatural instances (from demons to satan worshipping) are taken as seriously, or whether they are a figment of the viewer’s imagination. The three main characters each have their own demons to fight (sorry, I had to), and the supporting characters are just a joy to watch as they sow chaos. As a lapsed Catholic, of course, I also enjoy the little jabs and philosophical questions the show throws in.
- Midnight Mass (Netflix): Crockett Island has seen better days. Since there was an oil spill a few years ago, the livelihood of the local fishermen has been threatened. More and more people are leaving the island, but two people are coming back. One is Riley, just released from prison after having killed a young woman by drunk driving, trying to figure out what to do next. The other is Father Paul, the replacement priest for the catholic church on the island, since their regular priest, Monsignore Pruitt, has fallen ill after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. [Spoilers ahead] There is a sweet reference to German film maker F.W. Murnau in the very first episode, so I had an inkling, that a certain creature may be involved. Still, I do like the different characters, questions of good and evil that are plaguing the different members of the community, and the reframing of angels and demons. Also, a head’s up, the real monster on the island is not the supernatural creature, I can tell you that much.
- What we do in the Shadows (Hulu): Jemaine Clement decided to create a show based on the film, featuring three vampires, their human familiar and an “energy vampire,” living in Staten Island. Filmed in mockumentary style, the show follows the vampires as they are trying to interact with the modern world and other supernatural creatures. Yes, technically it is not a spooky show, but we can have fun on Halloween too, no? The third season just ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, so we shall see what happens!
- Wellington Paranormal: Another Jemaine Clement/Taika Waititi production (does everything they touch turn into gold?), and yes, another mockumentary, the show follows the Wellington’s very secret paranormal force. So secret, that they meet in a hidden room their sergeant created specifically for the force. Most of the time they are bumbling along, reinforcing the image of New Zealand as a place where the worst that could happen are rowdy teenagers, and the occasional alien abduction. And what country has a guest appearance by the prime minister’s partner in a TV show?
That’s it so far! I saw that Martha Stewart and Snoop Dog have a Halloween baking show on Netflix, but I have a feeling one has to be baked as well to watch it- but if you do see it and like it, let me know!