Halloween Takeover: Anna Mazzola
Anna Mazzola chooses her top five books for Halloween
Posted on October 22, 2018 in Author Recommendations
In the lead up to Halloween, we asked some of our favourite authors to recommend the most frightening and unnerving books they’ve read. Take a look and tell us if you’ve dared to read any of these chilling stories.
Anna Mazzola’s first novel, The Unseeing, was published to critical acclaim in 2016. She is a criminal justice solicitor and lives in London with her husband and two children. Her second novel, The Story Keeper, is out now.
In Gilman’s short story, first published in 1892, the narrator is brought by her physician husband to an isolated house in the countryside to recover from her ‘temporary nervous depression’. He forbids her to engage in intellectual work until she has recovered. Her bedroom features a bed bolted to the floor, a barred window, and ‘repellent’ patterned yellow wallpaper. Left often alone in the room, the narrator watches as the wallpaper begins to take on a life of its own. Terrifying.
Though dismissed by many critics at the time as romances, novels such as Jamaica Inn, Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel (and many of Du Maurier’s short stories) are more akin to psychological thrillers strongly embued with Gothic elements. In Rebecca, the real and the supernatural elide, so that Mrs Danvers is part human, part malevolent ghost, and Rebecca herself haunts the imaginations of the characters, and also that of the reader, long after they’ve finished the book.
We Have Always Lived was Shirley Jackson’s last novel and, in my view, her best. In fact, it’s probably my favourite book on this list: deceptively simple, darkly funny and profoundly unsettling. Jackson’s biographer referred to it as a ‘paean’ to the author’s agoraphobia. If you haven’t discovered Shirley Jackson yet, you’re in for a rare and disturbing treat.
Sarah Waters has apparently said she did not set out to write a ghost story, but she seems accidentally to have written one of the best ones. It is the 1940s and, as Hundreds Hall decays, peculiar powers take hold. Superbly measured and deeply chilling. As with the best Gothic tales, we’re left unsettled and unsure. And probably wanting to see the movie.
Of the many brilliant Gothic and spooky novels of recent years, The Loney stands out like a moss-covered tombstone. Both old and new and suspended somewhere between the supernatural, the strange, and the outright horrific, Andrew Michael Hurley’s novel is, as Sarah Perry has said, a real Gothic masterpiece.