Slightly Spooky Reads // Letters to October (13)

Dear October,

There are many things I like about you. The way the leaves glint copper and bronze in the sun. How there are fewer bugs around. And the countdown to Halloween… to some extent. As fun as the anticipation and festivities are, I’m not so fond of the actually scary parts of Halloween. Anything that remotely looks like it might have a jump scare or a girl with hair dangling across her face and I’m done. (In this context, ‘done’ means my bags are packed and I’ve moved to the other side of the planet.)

So, as today is Friday the 13th, here are some slightly spooky (and some not at all spooky) books for my fellow scaredy cat readers.

1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

This story is narrated by Katherine ‘Merricat’ Blackwood, who lives with her sister Constance and their uncle. Years ago, the rest of their family was killed in an incident involving arsenic and now, the Blackwoods are something like outcasts in society. Apart from necessary trips to the village, they manage to live in their little bubble until one day, an arrival from a distant relative starts to unravel their peaceful existence.

At the start of this book, you will likely get the sense that something is not quite right. There’s a sense of unease and tension from the very beginning, which only grows until the horrifying climax.

Spooky rating: 4/5 non-spooky ghosts
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Matilda at 30 // Letters to October (11)

Dear October,

This year, you bring the 30th birthday of a book very close to my heart. Roald Dahl’s Matilda is my favourite — I’ve written about it quite a few times (here’s a letter to the eponymous character and a post on why Roald Dahl is my favourite author). To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the novel’s publication, Puffin has released three special editions in which Quentin Blake imagines what Matilda would be doing as a 30-year-old. He sees her as an astrophysicist, a world traveller or chief executive at the British Library. He also thought up other possible scenarios (see this article by the BBC), and others have been joining him in imagining Matilda at 30 (see this article by The Guardian).

As such a fan of the book, my mind has also been churning with potential ideas since I heard about these special editions. So in today’s letter, let’s you and I imagine what little Matilda Wormwood could grow up to be.

1. Teacher

My strongest belief is that Matilda would want to help other children the way Miss Honey helped her. Before Miss Honey, Matilda didn’t have a real companion who recognised her potential, wanted to help her flourish, and most importantly, loved her. I think Matilda would be likely to return to the classroom, perhaps inheriting some of Miss Honey’s learning techniques. Imagine learning about quantum physics through rhyme.

Continue reading “Matilda at 30 // Letters to October (11)”

Harry Potter’s London // Letters to October (9)

Dear October,

A day before I left home again, I started re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s a battered copy with my name written in it in sparkly gel pen — three times. As I packed, I snuck it into my bag, leaving new, unread books behind. It’s not a coincidence that this slightly melancholy moment in my life unfolded between the pages of a Harry Potter book. When I first started university, I took Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with me to deal with homesickness. And the more MA coursework I got stuck into this year, the more re-reads of the series I did.

Over the years, Harry Potter has become a source of comfort. Last January was such an occasion. The New Year’s festivities were behind us, leaving the world slightly deflated of energy, as if everyone were thinking, ‘What now?’. The days seemed comprised of darkness and frost. My friends and I decided to bring a bit of magical cheer into one dismal winter day by planning a Harry Potter tour of London. Here are the locations we risked frostbite to visit:

1. Platform 9 3/4

We started the day at none other than the iconic platform 9 3/4. Here, you can take a picture with the trolley, take a look around the shop and if you’re lucky, go through the barrier and spend the rest of the day in the wizarding world.

Continue reading “Harry Potter’s London // Letters to October (9)”