Scary good reads: October’s Literature Lineup


Graphic by Mandi Karpo, Editor-in-Chief

Zoe Poulis, Features Editor

To get into the spirit of the season, dive into the world of Halloween with one of The Pace Press’ October recommendations. Whether you’re looking for a slightly spooky read or you want to kick it up a notch and explore the horror genre, broaden your horizons with literary classics to childhood favorites. Halloween only comes once a year, so if you want to fill up your book checklist for the holiday, pick up one of these scary good reads. 

Zoe Poulis, Features Editor – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling

On Oct. 14, it was announced that Robbie Coltrane, who played the beloved Hagrid in the “Harry Potter” series, had passed away at the age of 72. If you’re feeling nostalgic this Halloween and want to honor his memory in light of his passing, cuddle up with a classic like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Any “Harry Potter” book would do, but the last book of the series has that extra bit of spice you might be looking for this spooky season. Follow Harry and his friends as they hunt down the Horcruxes that keep Lord Voldemort alive. Everything has been leading up to the Battle of Hogwarts, where all of your favorite characters will fight to stay alive and defend not only the school that they love but the entire Wizarding World. Fall back in love with the series through all the details that the movies don’t reveal, and believe me, there are many. 

Mandi Karpo, Editor-in-Chief – “The Dead Zone” by Stephen King

Stephen King has published 64 novels, and as a novice reader in the horror genre, I wanted to make sure I was signing up for what I asked for. In “The Dead Zone,” readers follow former school teacher Johnny Smith, who awakens from a five-year coma and discovers he possesses the ability to see people’s pasts and futures at the touch. Eventually, Smith shakes the hand of an utterly unethical politician, getting visions of the man’s future, and has to choose whether or not to take drastic measures to change the future he envisions. King is relentless in horrifying descriptions, and the visions that Smith has are no exception. For a Political Science major, the novel touches on the realities of corrupt politics and what the average person would do if they held power to change the trajectory of such corruption. I would definitely recommend this for someone who is breaking into the horror scene and wants to dip their toes in the shallow end before diving deep into the abyss.

Jaeden Pinder, Executive Editor – “Ohio” by Stephen Markley

I’ve always found that some of the most terrifying works I’ve read depict realistic situations of human morality and how sinister and evil we can truly be, and “Ohio” definitely fits that bill. Stephen Markley’s debut follows four classmates returning to their Midwestern hometown and shows how our past actions in our formative years can come back to haunt us. While it does have a slower pace, it really picks up as Markley has a very cinematic way of writing, like how the reader gets to see both perspectives of a short interaction at different points of the novel. These characters are hardly lovable, some I absolutely despised, but that didn’t stop me from putting it down and it now holds the place as my favorite novel for its effortless yet meticulous character design. It’s not inherently a Halloween story, but I think it has enough of that general dread of America in the aughts (and a pretty horrifying ending) that it suffices for an eerie read. 

Gia Sparacino, Secretary – “Payback’s a Witch” by Lana Harper

The only thing better than a witchy rom-com taking place in a cozy small town is a witchy rom-com taking place in a cozy small town with a sapphic revenge plot. Compared to “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and “The L Word,” “Payback’s a Witch” follows the story of Emmy Harlow, a young witch returning to her enchanting small town to proctor a witches tournament after nine years of self-exile. Planning to lay low and spend time with her childhood best friend and serial monogamist, Linden, Emmy’s world is flipped upside down when she finds that during her absence Linden was swooned and subsequently scrapped by Gareth Blackmore, the same heartbreaker that drove Emmy from Thistlegrove nine years earlier. Talia, a sexy sorceress who had also been roped in by Gareth’s charm concurrently with Linden, convinces Emmy to join the two of them to help get revenge on him during the tournament. On top of being offered the payback Emmy’s been fantasizing about for nearly a decade, she can’t help but also be drawn in by Talia’s hypnotizing looks and wicked charm (pun intended). First in a series of three, “Payback’s a Witch” offers all the best parts of June in the chilly month of October. Supplying a cauldron full of giggles and goosebumps, this is the perfect recommendation for anyone looking for an easy read this spooky season.

Lyndsey Brown, Treasurer – “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Beginning in one of the most notoriously spooky towns, Salem, MA, this classic novel covers the life of a young woman and her secret affair. She is faced with the humiliation and shame of wearing a scarlet “A” on her clothing, all while trying to maintain the secret of who fathered her child. The novel explores the taboos surrounding infidelity and women’s innocence as Hester navigates life with her child and suspicious husband. Read this classic novel to expose Hester’s secret and explore life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, witch trials and all. 

Emily Shafer, News Editor – “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley

You might be familiar with the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his creature through the lens of Hollywood and mass marketing, but if you’re up for learning the whole story behind the famous man-made monster, Mary Shelley’s novel is the one for you. Victor Frankenstein, who is actually the doctor and not the monster, creates the Creature in his laboratory, intending to make him beautiful. Once the Creature is alive, though, he realizes the scientist has made him repulsive and abandons him. What was intended to be a harmless science experiment ends up costing lives and causes turmoil for the Creature, as he seeks to be accepted by humans. This is a fascinating novel with elements of sci-fi, horror and immaculate writing by Shelley. It is a perfectly spooky read for the fall season.

Sarah Bergin, Arts Editor – “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman

Many have seen “Coraline” directed by Henry Selick, but fewer have read the novel by Neil Gaiman. For those who don’t know, “Coraline” revolves around the titular character and her family as they move into a new home. Their neighbors are quirky and the house comes alive, leaving more to be discovered throughout this fantastical adventure. This novel explores the themes of neglect and belonging in a beautiful and imaginative way. Everyone who is a fan of the film should read the novel, and vice-versa. If you’re new to the horror genre, this would be a good introduction for you. I recommend this to anyone who wants to revisit the childhood classic in a different medium.

Priya Persaud, Opinion & Editorial Editor – “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

What some may describe as the catalyst for the “girl boss” era in media, others simply boil down “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn as one of the best murder-mystery thrillers in the modern age. This novel follows Nick Dunne, your run-of-the-mill guy from the Midwest who marries literary-renowned and “cool girl” wife, Amy. Nick and Amy’s marriage is tumultuous with tension caused by the pair naturally growing apart, until their fifth anniversary when Amy suddenly goes missing. Amy’s closest confidantes and the scene of the crime point towards Nick as the main suspect, even though he consistently maintains his innocence. This page-turning novel will have you inquire about the darkest parts of marriage while also begging to know what exactly happened to Amy Dunne.