Macabre, creepy and just plain scary books and movies are ‘in’ local libraries

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published October 26, 2011

 St. Clair Shores Adult Services Librarian Ruth Richards stocks the city library’s Halloween display, which includes scary novels and movies for children, teens and adults.

St. Clair Shores Adult Services Librarian Ruth Richards stocks the city library’s Halloween display, which includes scary novels and movies for children, teens and adults.

Photo by Edward Osinski

In Stephen King’s horror novel “The Shining,” a small, dysfunctional family moves into an old and insidious hotel for the winter after the family patriarch, Jack Torrance, is hired as the caretaker during the off-season.

No spoilers here, but anyone who has read the book or seen the Stanley Kubrick movie knows the disturbing and tragic things that occur during the course of the family’s stay.

It’s a perfect story for anyone who likes a good scare.

Some local librarians say one thing’s for certain: People love the thrill of having the heck scared out of them, especially during October, and library patrons check out anything and everything that will do the job.

Darlene Hellenberg, adult services librarian at the Ferndale Public Library, said King, a master of horror writing and many other works of thrilling fiction since the 1970s, is always in high demand, but his novels and short stories are hard to get this time of year — there is a waiting list, for those with a little patience. Some of his more popular works include “Pet Sematary,” “Salem’s Lot” and “The Dead Zone.”

“I think people are always after the books that scare them,” Hellenberg said. “Anne Rice is another very popular author during Halloween. Her books and the movies based on her books, like ‘Interview with a Vampire,’ are checked out a lot. Any of the vampire books are huge right now.”

One such series of vampire tales are Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels, which inspired the HBO series “True Blood.” Of course, Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” books continue to grab more fans, seemingly by the day, as do the movies. The Ferndale library carries a vast assortment of scary DVDs, including “The Twilight Zone” series from the 1950s, which are always in high demand.

“Of course, ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ by Shirley Jackson is still so popular for readers,” said Hellenberg of the 1959 novel that’s probably too scary for younger readers. “It’s regarded as one of the best haunted house stories ever written.”

Hellenberg said the library staff members don’t just promote their store of horror novels and movies; Halloween also inspires them to highlight their different instructional books on how to make a memorable costume and recipe books for delicious Halloween baking.

At the St. Clair Shores Public Library, Director Rosemary Orlando said readers absolutely love books about Michigan hauntings and the more local tales.

“Spooky Michigan: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings and Other Local Lore” by S.E. Schlosser is checked out a lot more in October, as is “The Werewolf of Grosse Pointe and Other Stories,” by Marion Kuclo, known as “Gundella”; “Michigan’s Most Haunted: A Ghostly Guide to the Great Lakes States” by Sandy Arno Lyons; and “Ghosts of Anchor Bay” by Debi Chestnut and Linda Sparkman.

Orlando said nonfiction works such as “The Amityville Horror” and “Helter Skelter” are also very popular, and it appears children love to be scared, too.

“The ghost stories for the little kids are very, very popular,” said Orlando. For preschoolers there’s “Clifford’s Halloween” and “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The grade-schoolers enjoy the whole series of books called “Scary Stories: More Tales to Chill Your Bones,” as well as “Stories to Tell in the Dark.” Orlando said the teen set often checks out “All Hallow’s Eve” by Charles Williams and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving.

“A lot of these books aren’t even in the library right now. They’re checked out,” she said.

Outside literature and fiction, horror movies also are sought after during Halloween. At the St. Clair Shores library, those include “Psycho,” “Friday the 13th,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “Halloween,” and of course, “The Shining,” proving that a little bit of a scare just isn’t enough.

“People like to be scared; they like that fear factor,” said Orlando.

Hellenberg agreed.

“It’s all good fun,” she said.