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William Ambler

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Happy Halloween: 10 Books That Will Scare The Sh*t Out Of You

Posted: 10/30/11 09:36 PM ET

The horror section at most bookstores is a study in distressing sameness: 80 books by V C Andrews's undead copyrighted name, the six or so real horror books Clive Barker wrote way back when, romance novels with a thin skein of horror, 300 Stephen King novels, 275 Dean Koontz novels and a gaggle of zombie and vampire themed anthologies. Throw in a Lovecraft, a Poe and Signet paperbacks of "Frankenstein" and "Dracula" and you're all set.

I believe in breaking the bonds of intellectual tyranny. To wit: a list of 10 volumes of horror guaranteed not to include sparkly vampires, phonetic Maine accents, sexy 20-something paranormal detectives in love triangles/quadrangles with bad boy vampires/werewolves/mermen/tribbles and whatever the hell happens in Dean Koontz novels these days.

"Ghost Stories of an Antiquary" by M. R. James
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This is the definitive volume of 20th-century ghost stories. James's protagonists have an uncanny knack for finding exactly the moldy text or dusty antique that will engender a supernatural manifestation in the nearest drawing room, library or abandoned abbey. A warning: reading this book increases the likelihood that you will purchase a pipe and a tweed jacket with elbow patches by a factor of at least ten.
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