In 2010, Neil Gaiman started a tradition, All Hallow’s Read. “All Hallow’s Read is a Hallowe’en tradition. It’s simply that in the week of Hallowe’en, or on the night itself, you give someone a scary book.”
Here, you can watch Neil Gaiman explain it himself, with bonus zombies:
I love Halloween. You know how some people have small decorative Christmas villages with working lights and everything? We have a Halloween village. It’s going to get set up today, though the rest of the Halloween decorations usually wait a few weeks until Thanksgiving.
So I’m not going to wait until the week of Halloween to start recommending my favourite scary books. I’ll be posting a book twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
It seems fitting to start off with a Neil Gaiman book. Coraline is a book for children, and the older you are, the scarier it seems to get.
“Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house . . .”
The door once led to a room, but when the old house was converted into flats the doorway was bricked up. That is, until the day a curious little girl named Coraline sneaks the key from her distracted mother, opens the door . . . and enters an alternate universe, where dogs eat nothing but chocolate, cats can talk, and she is greeted enthusiastically by her Other Parents.
Her Other Mother looks quite a bit like her own mother — except for the long spindly fingers and shiny black button eyes — but it’s her disposition that is most remarkable. Where her real mother always seemed too busy for Coraline, her Other Mother is attentive and affectionate. She cooks delicious meals, showers the little girl with praise, and asks Coraline to stay with her forever.
But Coraline misses her real parents — tiresome as they sometimes are — and insists on returning to the real world. There, she finds her parents trapped in the hallway mirror, victims of her Other Mother’s evil spell. Now she must take a dangerous journey back into the other world . . . or risk never seeing her parents again!
The black button eyes, to this day, freak me out. I have a thing about eye trauma. And it’s one of those stories where you think you understand what’s going on, but the next second, everything is foreign and different again.