In honor of Halloween, here are the books that have scared me the most:
1. Red Dragon, Thomas Harris: Silence of the Lambs gets more publicity, and rightly so, I suppose, considering it's a terrific book AND a terrific film. But nothing kept me awake at night like this novel's serial killer, who stalks and butchers entire families, making Hannibal Lecter look like Little Bo Peep.
2. Floating Dragon, Peter Straub: What is it with me and Dragons? Don't know. Straub is most famous for the excellent Ghost Story, but this is the one that kept me up nights.
3. Darkness Take My Hand, Dennis Lehane: Boston P.I. Patrick Kenzie takes on a monster in the second (and best) novel in Lehane's series. Yes, it's even better than Gone Baby Gone, especially in terms of pure creepiness.
4. Dracula, Bram Stoker: Sure, I get bogged down in some of the more long-winded passage set in England. But the opening sequence, in which a freaked out Jonathan Harker takes the ride of his life up to the count's castle, can still make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.
5. It, Stephen King: I'm in the minority on this one; most people are turned off by the ending, which involves a pre-teen sex romp and a giant spider (not sure which is less palatable). But up until then It is dark and evil and creepy. Also, is a giant spider really a dumber conclusion than the giant hand of God coming down from the heavens and saving everyone?
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go mainline candy corn.