I love October. It embraces everything I love about the world: the slow descent into autumn, leaves fall crunchy and I get to celebrate all things Occult for a whole month. T'is the season after all; black nails, blood-red lips, the macabre and absolutely nothing pumpkin-spiced. If that's not enough, I get to add snail secretion into my daily skincare routine, and celebrate getting one year older. I've levelling up to 26, and I guess that's what it's all about what this month is for me; scary, not sexy.
Okay, so the whole 'gothic' thing is pretty much everyday for me anyway; in the month of October though, the whole world seems to fall in line. What could be better than cramming as much spooky literature and events in as possible? Nothing, I say. I can't wait. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you OCCULTOBER. A month-long reading challenge of short stories, novels, poems and anything else that possesses something witchy, something paranormal and in most cases something downright terrifying. I'll wrap up every week with short reviews. As I'm a little behind on explaining things, I guess I'll start on that right now.
1. The Witches - Roald Dahl
This book terrified me as a child. I would sit on the wall outside my house and suspiciously eye any woman who passed me. Paranoid doesn't cover it, my imagination runs on overdrive anyway but after reading this I was firmly pushed into hyperdrive.
It's still creepy. I guess a synopsis would be useless as it's SO well known, but if you love scary children's stories and you haven't read this yet, I suggest you do so. Immediately. There's an even greater appreciation for this book as an adult. I hope my gloves, pleasant demeanour and penchant for chocolate terrifies children all over the world.
2. The Dreams in the Witch-House - H.P Lovecraft
I've dabbled in Lovecraft over the years, but never enough to solidify an actual opinion on the author. This was recommended to me by a friend, and after reading it I can quite confidently say that this man terrifies me. The story follows Walter Gilman, a student who takes up residence in 'the Witch House', a house in Arkham thought to be cursed. Shortly after moving in, Gilman starts to experience bizarre dreams, and nightly (and sometimes violent) occurrences of falling into different worlds.
The night I read this I dreamt of violet lights, never-ending bannisters and rats with human faces. I'm fairly certain that this isn't the strongest of Lovecraft's works but I'm excited for my friend to recommend me more.
3. The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
I sort of wish all poems floored me the way this one does. Discovered during my A-Levels, it's the one poem from 'The Lyrical Ballads' (by Coleridge and Wordsworth) that made sure my love for the romantic era was etched into stone. It's unnerving, thought provoking and pokes at the embers of your imagination all at the same time. Not to mention it's really, really creepy. Once you read this, you'll always want to describe someone as having 'skin as white as leprosy.'
The poem focuses on a sailor stopping a member of a wedding party outside a reception, who is, despite all his best efforts to the contrary, is bewitched by the story and experiences of the mariner. If there is something you do this October, read this. I guarantee it'll change you. You won't regret it. I promise.
Here endeth week one. I'm already having the best time. Next week will be a busy one, I can't wait to get started. Who knew I'd be excited for Monday!