GET YOUR FLASHLIGHT AND HIT THE WOODS
Lisa Hagan Books
What is it about a flashlight and a book? Sure, there is an element – no matter what your age – that your mom is going to bust in and tell you to go to sleep. But something runs deeper with a tiny pool of light and the endless black woods. Talk about existential threat. Your lizard brain is jumping and when you read a scary book out there in the void, each word is scarier than the last.
If you’ve spent time in Maine, you understand how Stephen King got his scary. Those woods are dark. Just walking from car to house must be navigated by starlight. It’s that black. I was an impressionable age when I read Salem’s Lot, 17, and in the wilds of Mexico. In the book (as well as in the primary work), vampires knock on a window in the dark night to gain entrance and suck necks. A Mexican waiter rapped on mine and I became so frightened, I cried.
In the werewolf corner, I am haunted by Sharp Teeth. I read it in manuscript and loved it. My opinion hasn’t changed. Werewolves run wild in Los Angeles, ensnaring a dogcatcher who falls for an outlier werewolf-ess. And did I tell you it’s written in blank verse? If you’re rolling your eyes, it’s not for you. But if you like unusual, jump! Harper Collins ended up publishing the book, for which I am grateful.
Dean Koontz, H.P. Lovecraft, and this gentleman will put all sorts of frightening ideas in your head with just a few suggestive words. Invest in an anthology of the last two and pack it with your sleeping bag each summer. There is that much scary material to make the investment worth it. Throw in The Turn of the Screw, Henry James’ big attempt at creepy and he succeeded. A novella – thank goodness because that Henry do go on! – this can be read in an hour.
Last, but not least, have you ever noticed that UFOs usually land in fields, woods or desert? Disc-shaped craft never come down on the Met Life building or the 101. It’s because aliens know it’s even scarier when they land in unpopulated unlit places and frighten campers. The scariest UFO books I’ve read? 365 Days of UFOs is an historical accounting of landings, sightings, controversies, experiments, monster tracking, and coverups – one for each day of the year. Many happen in the fields and forests of Europe and middle America or the grit of the Southwest. Roswell, a book by Nick Redfern, author of the 365 book above, is scary in a different way. It lays out a damning case against a government conspiracy that promoted little green men in a misdirection campaign away from secret experiments at the end of WWII. Roswell may be the scariest when you contemplate what other programs our government has hidden.
Being scared is fun and a big black wall of woods pierced by flashlight sets a fine mood. Here are more lists of favorite scary book from Men’s Journal , Flavorwire and Paste.
Enjoy the summer, share your scary book #recs with us, and don’t forget your mosquito spray.
Great camping gear: REI amazon.com L.L. Bean
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