Halloween is coming up, and I’ve been thinking about appropriate books to review. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (Costumes! And candy!), but not the easiest for me to get into thematically with book reviews, since I don’t like horror (movies are even worse than books). But…occasionally I like something that drifts towards the spookier side, so I’ll try to give you a few reviews of books that are Halloweenish but won’t make you (by which I mean me) afraid of the dark.
Starting us off, Being Dead by Vivian Vande Velde. What could be more Halloween-appropriate than a collection of short stories about ghosts? In typical ghost fashion, most have unfinished business of some sort, but what and how they go about it varies widely.
The first story, “Drop by Drop,” is probably the creepiest, though it also felt a bit unfocused. The conclusion in some way makes a lot of the rest feel irrelevant, although I don’t want to explain beyond that as it’ll give a lot away.
“Dancing with Marjorie’s Ghost” is a wonderfully traditional-feeling ghost story, the kind someone would tell around a campfire, while “Shadow Brother” takes a very different angle–the narrator’s brother died in Vietnam, and may or may not be haunting their father.
I found “October Chill” the saddest, about a teenage girl with a terminal illness who meets a ghost from the distant past. The title story, “Being Dead” is the funniest–while having some pathos too. It’s about a news boy who dies suddenly, and tries his hand at haunting to set a few things right before he goes on. I think it was my second favorite.
My favorite story (and I don’t want to give you the title because there’s no way to talk about it without spoilers, if you knew which one I was talking about) started out feeling rather flat, but then had a final twist ending that was so clever I had to go back and reread the whole thing so I could see how brilliantly it was actually put together.
I enjoyed the variety of stories and the variety of takes on ghosts. Many had a good undercurrent of creepiness or a clever twist of some kind. None have been haunting me, and that’s a good thing! It’s just a good collection of interesting and engaging ghost stories.
Author’s Site: http://www.vivianvandevelde.com/