There's just something about fall. The rich colors, the fresh smell in the air, the crunch of the leaves underfoot. It's the perfect time of the year to hear scary stories out by a fire or settling indoors with a good book. The perfect tales in my estimation are the ones that are only slightly spooky, so I thought I would share some of the stories I have found that are only Faintly Haunted.
My favorite book came to me as a movie first, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R.A. Dick. Published in 1946, it is as charming as the movie and television series. Some of the writing may be a tiny bit dated but the story is so well crafted it can be overlooked. The ghost of a sea captain comes to life and the underlying romance keep us in suspense till the end.
The second book, The Uninvited was also made into a movie in 1944 but I read the book first. I found it through another author, Barbara Michaels whose character was reading it in her novel. (Into the Darkness) Because I so liked Barbara Michaels stories I thought it was worth reading anything she would recommend. Set in 1942, a brother and sister come to rent an old mansion and find it wrapped in a mystery of unexplained death. Low voices, the smell of old perfume and sinister figures make this a sure-fire creepy tale.
I would be remiss if I didn't include a book by Barbara Michaels. Although I love all the stories by Ms. Michaels (Elizabeth Peters, Barbara Mertz), my favorites are all very similar stories - Into the Darkness, Ammie Come Home and Be Buried in the Rain. Each one has the same sort of hauntings that I enjoy. The ones that could be real and we have experienced to some degree; cold spots, strange noises and a feeling of someone there just beyond our notice.
Recently, I finished The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. The prose is ominous yet so clear and the dialogue is effortless and enjoyable. Written in the 60's it has none of the gore that the modern day movie of the same name has. Like movies from that time period it has a certain feel--the author isn't going to lead you through the story. Instead, you are an active participant. A small group of people are brought to a house to see if they can truly confirm a haunted house.
Edith Wharton's ghost stories took me by surprise. Written in the early 1900's they are a marvelous group of creepy stories. She also isn't an author that spoon feeds you a story. The endings are sometimes open ended to let you decide what exactly happened. They are so well written you soon are immersed in the tales (and I'm not often a fan of short stories).
No list would be complete for me without Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. The popular movie has charm but the written word is even better. Mr. Marion's prose is almost poetic. A small amount of gore can be excused when you wrap it in a story as well told as this one. The story does deviate from the movie in a way that I think made it more believable. (The Burning World - The second in the series is as well written and maybe even more compelling).
Now, the diabolical laughter ought to begin and the room fade to black, perhaps a branch should scratch at the window. Happy Haunted Reading, dear friends.