Wednesday, October 5, 2011

5 Best Books: Ghost Stories

5 Best Books is the weekly meme hosted by Cassandra at INDIE READER HOUSTON. Each week there's a different topic. Each week there's a new list of favorites. Don't forget to check in at IRH to see what books other bloggers are listing this week.

This week the theme is GHOSTS.

But, since I rarely read ghost stories, I've just barely come up with five.


1) ODD THOMAS by Dean Koontz

Not strictly a ghost story as most of us think of ghost stories, but certainly ghosts show up here and there to make Odd Thomas (one of the great character names in literary history), the story of a self-effacing, short order cook who sees dead people, memorable. This is  a gripping and very affecting story. Heartbreaking, really. Koontz's masterpiece.

2) BROTHER ODD by Dean Koontz

My favorite of the Odd sequels as the former short order cook seeks refuge in a monastery, still plagued by the spirits of the dead still unable to avoid the machinations of evil lurking in the shadows.

3) NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED by E. J. Copperman

The first Haunted Guesthouse Mystery. A fun story of a pair of ghosts (one's a murdered detective) who haunt a New Jersey guest house. The place is newly purchased and being renovated by Alison Kirby who's moved in with her ten year old daughter and lots of plans that don't, necessarily, include two intrusive ghosts.

The second book in the series is now available, by the way, AN UNINVITED GHOST.

4) THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Not a ghost story per se, since the ghostly presence turns out to be very human - BUT, a story with all the spookiness and strange doings in a big old house in the country that make for a great and very satisfying ghostly story.

When Rachel Innes rents a huge mansion by the sea, offered at a suspiciously low price, she doesn't expect murder and things that go bump in the night to be part of the summer perks.

5) A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens

A haunting story of redemption that begins with a ghost and ends with the Merriest of Christmases. What more could you want?


  1. The only ghost story I've ever read is GHOST STORY by Peter Straub and this was more than two decades ago. Some years ago I asked a friend: Dean Koontz or Martin Cruz Smith? He said Cruz Smith and I promptly forgot all about Koontz. It's time I read him.

  2. Prashant: Both Koontz and Martin Cruz Smith are wonderful writers. Totally different, though.

    When it comes to Koontz, he can be great and he can be very bad. I all depends.


    I also recommend LIFE EXPECTANCY, LIGHTNING, DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART, THE TAKING, COLD FIRE, MIDNIGHT and a couple more whose titles I don't remember. :)

  3. Hi, Yvette -- Always fun to stop by and see your lists of books as so many of them are unique ideas. If you enjoy Elizabeth Peters, you might want to give her books under the name Barbara Michaels a try -- really light, easy, "ghosty" types of books that are perfect for a fall evening. :)

  4. I read The Circular Staircase this summer - the first by Mary Roberts Rineheart that I'd read - and enjoyed it a lot. You'd probably love Footsteps In the Dark by Georgette Heyer, another 'haunted house' type mystery set in a big ancient English country house. Plenty of spookiness, and also very funny - her mysteries are always full of splendidly witty dialogue.

  5. Glad to see that you were able to manage five after all. I though of A Christmas Carol when I was first thinking about my list and the for got about it when I sat down to do it.

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  8. Sorry for the deleted comments, Yvette I must have sticky computer keys tonight.

    I wanted to write that "A Christmas Carol" is such a wonderful classic, and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," with its Headless Horseman, is a perfect classic ghost story to read for Halloween!

  9. Haven't read many 'ghost' novels barring a couple of Stephen King and Dean Koontz but two stories that send a shiver down my spine are W.W. Jacob's The Monkey's Paw and Ruskin Bond's Face in the Dark. Should read The Circular Staircase.

  10. Yvette,

    I don't read ghost novels, but I have read a number of shorter works about ghosts. I don't know if they are the best, but I do consider them my favorites.

    1. Dickens' _A Christmas Carol_, of course.

    2. Edith Wharton: "Afterward"

    3. Henry James: "Turn of the Screw"

    4. Henry James: "The Jolly Corner"

    5. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: "The Yellow Wallpaper"

  11. I would have to put The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson as number one, I love the book and the movie.

    I really want to read The Uninvited, the book the movies was based of.

  12. Thanks for the Koontz recommends. He's been on my mind for a while.

    I agree, there is no comparison with Martin Cruz Smith whose Arkady Renko series had me hooked, especially GORKY PARK and HAVANA BAY. Renko is a hero without seeming to be one.

    Oh yes, how could I forget A CHRISTMAS CAROL? The book as well as the comic books under Marvel and Classics Illustrated. Great read!

  13. Joanne: I adore Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody books. What a great series!

    I've read a couple of Barbara Michaels in the past but don't remember much about them. I'll have to dig a few of them up. :)

  14. Elizabeth: I am definitely looking to read more Heyers, thanks for the new title to add to my list.

    I've recently read a few of Heyer's books and I admit I am smitten with her work.

    Better late than never, I always say. :)

  15. Bev: Barely. :)

    I am so NOT a ghost/horror/supernatural type reader.

    Though I am enjoying DRACULA by Bram Stoker VERY much. I guess there's always the exception to the rule.

  16. Pat: I'd forgotten The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I always loved DIsney's interpretation. I wonder if it's available anywhere...

    Now this is one story I know I read eons ago. And it appears to have done me no harm. HA!

    You're right. It would be great to read for Halloween.

    I remember that one of the Disney shows used to play this at Halloween when I was a kid.

    They also used to show the NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN sequence from FANTASIA which is very spooky. The music by Mussorgsky is wonderful, as is the animation.

  17. P.S. Pat, I'm having sticky keys lately too - having to delete double commenst and such. Must be an epidemic. :)

  18. neer: THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE is classic. I love it. One of my favorite books.

    I'm not a big fan of ghostly stuff. Haven't really read much. But I have a suspicion that I read a few of them when I was a kid.

  19. Fred: I'm with you. Ghost stories are not normally my cup of tea. At least now.

    But with all the recommendations so far on this post, I may have to start reading a few just to see what's what. Thanks for posting your intriguing list.

    You should think about joining our 5 Best meme every week. :)

    (At least this comment showed up.)

  20. Ryan: Yes, I want to read the book version of THE UNINVITED, only because that's one of my very favorite movies. I absolutely love it.

    I saw Julie Harris in THE HAUNTING many years ago and still remember how affecting it was. (I think it's based on THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE.)

  21. Prashant: I especially loved POLAR STAR by Martin Cruz Smith. And his stand alone DECEMBER 7.

    But remember that he and Koontz are two VERY different types of writers. :)

  22. Julie Harris and Claire Bloom are fantastic in the movie, it's the reason I read the book for the first time.

  23. The Haunted Guesthouse series looks fun! I'd never heard of that one. I'll keep an eye out for it.

    I also chose A Christmas Carol as one of my 5 picks.

  24. Make sure you read my entry for this week's Friday's Forgotten Book. I wrote about Cold Harbour. Though not truly a ghost story it's one of the finest haunted house novels in the English language.

    If were talking about the legitimate ghost story as opposed to any old book about the supernatural, then no list of the best of them can be truly complete without a mention of M.R. James and H. R. Wakefield. Any of their volumes of short stories belong on any list of the top five. And I'd have to say that E.F. Benson's The Room in the Tower would have to be included as well. The British excel at the ghost story. Among the American writers only Henry James and a few of Edith Wharton's can compare with James, Wakefield and Benson.

  25. Les recommended James, too, John. I'm not a big fan of ghost stories, but I might be tempted to read these one of these days.

    This was not a difinitive post on ghost stories. Far from it. I mentioned that they're not my faves.

    I was hard put to come with five books that had anything to do with ghosts. :)

  26. leeswammes: Oh, it's a fun series, Lee. You'll enjoy it, I'm sure.

  27. Ghosts are in many Scandinavian mysteries as in Johan Theorin's and I gather in the new Asa Larsson book, Until Thy Wrath Be Past.

    I tend not to like ghost stories. Reality is more my preference in reading, as I'm such a mystery addict, and I like science to factor into the resolution.

    Depending on how it's done though, it can be fun. I think of the old series on tv, Topper.
    (This blog always makes me remember vintage books and movies.)

  28. Kathy: Oh, I'd forgotten the tv series of TOPPER. I know the movies of course. Wonderful.

    I'm not fond of ghost stories either, that's why it was so difficult to come up with five. :)


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