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)”

Halloween Creatures Book Tag // Letters to October (3)

Dear October,

I won’t lie, you can be pretty miserable and grey. (I don’t blame you — I’m pretty miserable and grey sometimes, too.) One of the loveliest things about this time of year, though, is the rampant enthusiasm about the upcoming festivities. And I’m being pretty generous about the term ‘upcoming’. Even though Halloween is all the way at the end of this month (and let’s not even talk about Christmas) (83 days to go), it’s like a switch is flipped on the world on October 1st. Everything is suddenly spookier — nights are darker, the wind feels chillier and is that a bird or a bat in the distance?

In that same spirit (pun intended), today I’m coming to you with the Halloween Creatures Book Tag, created by Anthony at Keep Reading Forward and found through Melting Pots and Other Calamities.


1Witches: a book or character that is magical
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is one that comes to mind. If you’re in the mood for something just slightly spooky, this is perfect

Werewolves: a book best read in the middle of the night
Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl. It’s a collection of his short stories and some of them will have you chilled. I particularly recommend The Landlady, Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat, and Genesis and Catastrophe.

Zombies: a book you picked up for the second time/continued after not finishing it
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Mostly because I forgot it at home when I left for university, but also because I had heard too many opinions whilst reading it and needed a break.

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Mummies: a book or character you can’t wrap your mind around
Merricat from We Have Always Lived in a Castle by Shirley Jackson. Her mind was difficult to burrow into, and it’s quite an unsettling place once you’re there.

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