Can you hear it? The creaky hinges, the mysterious voice, the lone coyote in the distance… an eerie wind that almost sounds like music?
Spooky season is upon us! And there’s a reason we love it so.
Personally, I’m a Libra, so I was born under this here moon. Libras (and Scorpios) are extra about Halloween, ask anyone who has to live with us and our rigorous observance of the season. (What do you mean it’s not a Halloween party? If it’s a party and it’s in October, it’s a Halloween party! No, costumes are not optional).
But we aren’t the only ones. Lots of folks love this time of year, and not just because it’s the gateway to the ‘other’ holiday season. There’s more to it than that.
We actually want to be spooked.
For one thing, a fictional horror story is far preferable to the horrors of the actual real world, especially these days as the real-life horrors seem to be escalating. And while I’m never one to condone escaping the real world to avoid dealing with human suffering, fiction serves us at a spiritual and deeply human level as we are dealing with the real-world awfulness. Fiction of the fantastical variety keeps us open to the possibilities of life beyond what we can see or understand. It keeps our imaginations engaged and our problem solving skills sharp. Spooky stories keep our love of mystery alive as well. That helps us cope with anything.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the slasher films with their gratuitous violence and the kids that will always go in there when you are screaming DON’T GO IN THERE! Love those if you want, just not my scene.
But if it’s ghosty, witchy, or only comes out at night? I’m in. That house with a dark history that seems to have a life of its own? It probably does. And I’m here for it.
If you are too, here are some things to watch, read, and listen to when you are ready to get your spook on.
Late to the party by a year or so, I’m finally reading Stephen King’s Fairy Tale. I’m only about 100 pages in, but so far this is one of his better post-Dark Tower ventures. Complete with a creepy old house, a mysterious old man, and things that go bump in the night. Or even in the daytime…
Next on my reading list is the newly released Starling House. Appalachian gothic vibes, set in a dying coal town in Kentucky; and written by Kentucky author, Alix Harrow. Say no more. And, if you are just meeting Harrow for the first time, also check out The Once and Future Witches.
As for the watchlist: Netflix releases The Fall of the House of Usher later this week and it looks like a compelling re-telling of the Poe classic, brought into the present day with some familiar faces. If it weren’t for all the October birthdays happening in my house, I’d plan to make a weekend of it, but alas… let me know how it is. I might get to watch it before Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet, enjoy bingeing all of Dickinson on AppleTV. It’s a gothic, ghosty, genre-bending trip into Emily Dickinson’s life, and it’s incredibly well done. It's an ode to literary queer feminism (or...queer feminist literature?) and if that isn't enough to recommend it: it also features Death as a sexy boyfriend who whisks you away in a haunted midnight carriage and WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THAT?
And, why not, let’s check out the new Haunted Mansion from Disney. I mean, it’s got to be better than the last attempt, right? At least, reviews so far say so…
As much as we’d love to read and watch our way through the month, most of us have adulting to do in the meantime… so you need a seasonal soundtrack. Enjoy my adults-only Halloween playlist, Something Wicked, for your errands, yard work, or running/walking pleasure. (I do have a kid-friendly playlist. But this is better. Trust me.)
Happy haunting, y’all. Whatever else: remember the power of story to transform reality, in any season.