I love Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday. I love the scent of falling leaves, the hint of cold mixed with the beautiful sunlight autumn days. I love the Halloween decorations. I love the pumpkins. In fact, one of my favorite Halloween memories is actually a post-Halloween memory.
When I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, I took the city bus to the university from nearby Middleton. Every day in October, the bus would pass one-block long pumpkin patch. Whoever ran the patch also had tables with other autumnal products like horns of plenty and straw wreaths, but the bulk of the business was pumpkins, big, round, and bright orange against the dying greenish grass of the lot.
The morning after Halloween, the bus drove past the lot. No tables any more. No sales. Just hundreds—and I do mean hundreds—of smashed pumpkins all over the lot. I didn’t notice the waste or think about the lost food. No, not me. I said to my seatmate that it looked like The Great Pumpkin got mad at his followers and utterly destroyed them. The chuckle I got was satisfying. But so was the story that rose in my mind, using the Peanuts characters on the night of the Great Pumpkin’s wrath. That story, which I never wrote down, is as memorable to me as the actual destroyed pumpkins are.
One thing I really like about Halloween, though, is the way that we deal with fear during this season. Here in America, at least, we make Halloween costumes out of the most frightening things of the year. This year, it’s Pennywise the Clown, Kylo Ren, and poor Eleven from Stranger Things. Then there’s the haunted houses that show up everywhere, the preponderance of scary movies in the theaters, and the obligatory Halloween episode of Your Favorite TV Show, few of which are scary.
I’m not a big fan of horror fiction—as in Big Snot Dripping Chainsaw Carrying Bad Guy—but I love a good fright. Give me stories that unsettle me and fill me with a sense of dread any day.
Mark Leslie edited a volume of Fiction River of just those kinds of stories. Stories about fear, not stories that grossed us out or gave us one of those fake starts caused by a cat jumping. Feel The Fear has some truly scary stories, the kind that make the hair rise on the back of your neck.
Last spring, when Jason Chen gave me a fall release for a potential Storybundle, I had initially thought of historical mysteries. But we’d done that. And October is all about Halloween. And I had just line edited Mark’s Feel The Fear, so I suggested a bundle all about fear.
Jason liked the idea, so I went to work.
That meant I had to choose books that are fear-based. They’re not all horror novels. They’re dark fantasy, dark mystery, and two different visions of the apocalypse. Alfred Hitchcock used to call these Stories To Read With The Lights On, meaning if you read them with a flashlight under the covers in your bedroom, you would never sleep again.
If we missed some great fictional fears in this bundle, I’ll be surprised. Because we have ghosts and wee beasties, thrills and chills, and things that go bump in the night. All of it brought to you by writers with vast pedigrees—award nominees, New York Times and USA Today bestsellers, critical darlings, and worldwide bestsellers.
You’ll find work from Rebecca M. Senese, Sean Costello, Dean Wesley Smith, Mark Leslie, Leah Cutter, J.F. Penn, Michael Warren Lucas—and me, of course. You can get all ten of these books for as little as $15. The bundle runs until November 8, and then it goes away, so click here. You’ll have enough scary books to take you to the uplifting winter holiday stories.
You’ll face the wrath of the Great Pumpkin if you miss this bundle. And since you now know what the Great Pumpkin does to its own people, imagine what it’ll do to you…