I’m not a fan of the grisly or the gruesome in literature, so I was surprised at how many books I’ve enjoyed that fit into this week’s Top Ten Tuesday category. I had narrow my list down to ten, in fact! What these books have in common is that they are not about gratuitous thrills or violence — they have some of the best development of character, setting and atmosphere out there. Exploring what’s on the edge of our human experience, letting in elements of the unexpected and dangerous, can lead to some very interesting fiction, it seems. I’m looking forward to revisiting some of these during Witch Week — will you be joining us?
Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg
When I reread this childhood favorite not so long ago I was newly impressed by its subtly subversive message.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Out of our childish fascination with ghosts and graveyards, Gaiman weaves a magical tale of love, belonging, and connection.
A Drowned Maiden’s Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz
I loved this debut novel (subtitled A Melodrama) about spiritualism and deception in early 20th century New England.
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
Probably my very favorite Halloween book, and one of my favorite books of all time. From last year’s Witch Week, this guest post by Ana of Things Mean a Lot helps explain what it means to one of its many fans.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I discovered this deliciously creepy tale of a reclusive family back in high school, when I perhaps tended to identify a little too closely with the protagonist. Don’t worry, I’ve gotten over that now…I think.
A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
A love story beyond the grave? Peter S. Beagle can make us believe it’s possible.
All Hallows Eve by Charles Williams
Another variation on the love-after-death theme, with Williams’s strange and mystical touch.
World of Wonders by Robertson Davies
This story of how a neglected small-town Canadian boy becomes a world-famous wizard is truly mesmerizing.
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Warner’s tale of an ageing English spinster who becomes a witch is a sly modern fable that’s become an underground classic.
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
I had to put in a plug for the book I’ll be blogging about on Halloween! Come back here on October 31 for a tour of the real sites behind “Blackstock College,” Dean’s setting for a modern retelling of the sixteenth century ballad.