The authors of The Halloween Children are sneaky geniuses in the art of storytelling—adepts who snatch your attention, get you invested and immersed in the tale and then hint at something sinister in a subtle way that provokes dread, horror and suspense. It’s as if they flick a juicy “thought drop” into the pool of the reader’s imagination and then let the ramifications ripple into obsession, inciting intrigue and fear for the fate of beloved characters.
Harris, the Stillbrook Apartment complex’s handyman, is good father, but in all honesty, he favors the side of his son, Matt, where child discipline is concerned. His wife Lynn is searching for herself and struggling with inner turmoil, on edge and ruminating over their marriage––should they divorce?––and within the family’s dynamics, her daughter Amber delights her to no end, but her son Matt needs to be watched. Then there’s matter of the creepy neighbors, the tenants of Stillbrook: a spooky no-neck woman in a wheelchair who may be faking her injuries, the Durkins’ exotic, thousand-dollar bird that shrieks unearthly squawks that sound like someone being tortured—or murdered. Which is strange because there actually had been a grisly death within the complex that was kept hush-hush by management.
The story unfolds through Harris’ journal, Lynn’s journal (as assigned by a marriage counselor she’s been seeing in secret), recordings, digital transcriptions, email and interviews. The immediacy of this technique makes for a taut, fast-paced, enjoyable read. The Halloween Children kept my eyes glued to the glow of the screen, licking my lips and swiping digital pages into the wee hours after midnight. This horror novel is a treat!
It started as a game. Six college kids at a party. Then someone suggested they try the Ouija board. The board that Corie had hidden in the back of her closet and swore never to touch again. Not after what happened last time. Not after Jake’s death…
They were only playing around, but the Ouija board worked, all right. Maybe too well. A spirit who called himself Butler began to send them messages—and make demands. Butler promised them a hidden treasure if only they would follow his directions and head off to a secluded spot in the mountains…a wild, isolated spot where anything could be waiting for them. Treasure or death. Or Butler himself.
The classic 1950s novel from the Queen of Lesbian Pulp, Odd Girl Out is the first part of Ann Bannon’s Beebo Brinker series.
What could be a more fitting accompaniment to today’s spooks-and-sweets-filled festivities than Andrew Nette’s splendid selection, in Pulp Curry, of vintage paperback fronts featuring Satanism, witchcraft, and black magic? The cover shown above, from the 1952 Dell paperback edition of Catherine Turney’s The Other One–a story of humiliation, possession, and the supernatural–isn’t among those Nette showcases, but it certainly could have been. The artwork is by Bob Hilbert, more of whose illustrations can be seen here.
By the way, The Other One was adapted in 1957 as a big-screen horror flick titled Back from the Dead. Turney herself inked the screenplay. According to this Los Angeles Times obituary, she had previously been the “chief architect of the script for [1945’s] Mildred Pierce, which earned [star Joan] Crawford an Academy Award.” Turney subsequently wrote for TV series such as Maverick and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.