Ah, September First, the sweetest of days! The two worst months of the year are behind us, and the two best are just beginning. Among autumn’s many pleasures, I count the Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge very highly. Hosted once again by Carl V., proprietor of Stainless Steel Droppings (and a man of admirable taste in literature), R.I.P. V fills me with gleeful anticipation. I’ve been waiting all year for these precious 61 days of horror and hauntings to roll around.

I will be participating in Peril the First: to read (at least) four books in any of the seasonally-appropriate categories (Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, and Supernatural–basically, anything that sets spines a-tingling). In the pool for this year’s Challenge:
Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger
The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
Dracula, Bram Stoker
The Book of Were-Wolves, Sabine Baring-Gould
Fox Evil, Minette Walters

The library delivered Her Fearful Symmetry to me surprisingly quickly, so I’ve already finished it and am writing it up. I have wanted to re-read The Historian since I first read it in 2007, and darn it, this year I’m doing it! In fact, I started reading it today, and already feel myself under its spell. (It’s truly an excellent novel; I hope on second read to be more able to parse out its magic, rather than surrendering to it, but no promises!) I’m not sure I’ve ever actually read Dracula all the way through, and I suspect that the fact that I don’t know is proof that I haven’t. The Baring-Gould is a bit of an unusual inclusion–a folkloric study of werewolves, and a classic in its field. I’ve been wanting to ‘meet’ the real Sabine Baring-Gould since I read Laurie R. King’s The Moor, in which he was a cantankerous pivotal character. And of course, I’m absolutely ready for another turn with Minette Walters, given how thoroughly I enjoyed The Ice House.

I will probably do a bit of the Short Story Peril, although I won’t be focused on it. I have collections by Elizabeth Gaskell, Edgar Allen Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft decked up for when the mood catches me. Yes, still with the Lovecraft. He’s hard to shake, once you start. Not so much in the “I feel a creeping horror tearing at the edges of my sanity” way that I think he hoped for, as an “Oh dear, I wonder how sad, crazy Howard is doing up there in the attic. Best check in on him, see what he’s written lately. Oh, more creeping horror tearing at the edges of your sanity? That’s nice, dear. Do have some tea.” I just worry about the poor mad thing, up there all alone. I fear he’ll do himself an injury.

Most delightfully, there’s a new category this year: Peril on the Screen. There’s nothing I like better, this time of year, than to settle in on a dreary Saturday afternoon and scare myself silly with the thrillers and chillers of the silver screen. I’m thinking of the following:
Shadow of the Vampire
Le Pacte Des Loups
The Haunting (1963 version, of course!)
Let the Right One In
Something Gothic starring Vincent Price

I failed to make it all the way through The Haunting the last time I tried to watch it; that movie is a classic of the “suggest, don’t show” school of horror films, and without splashing so much as a drop of blood on the screen, it got to me. I’ll try to do better this time. And I know I read Let the Right One In for last year’s RIP Challenge, but I haven’t seen the movie in, hmm, almost two years? It’s due for another watching. Les Pacte Des Loups has been on my to-watch list for ages, and I have no good excuse for not doing so earlier. I saw Shadow of the Vampire some years ago and really enjoyed it; it’s also due for a re-watch. And then there’s Vincent, of course; no Halloween season is complete without an appearance by the master. I don’t have anything particular in mind; I’m hoping for one of the early films, something with a decrepit old house and an imperiled ingénue in a filmy peignoir. Surely AMC or TCM will toss up an afternoon of Gothics sometime in the next few months. I’ll just put out a Search & Record on Vincent’s name and see what the DVR drags in.

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14 Responses to RIP V

  1. Kate says:

    I recently saw a Vincent Price film called Witchfinder General as a double bill with The Wicker Man. Witchfinder General was a strange 70s cult horror film and apparently the director and Price hated each other, and though the film is a little…70s…a lot of people think it was Price’s best performance. He definitely wasn’t as campy and over the top as I was used to in others. If you get a chance, check it out! And happy reading!

  2. CountessZ says:

    I am definitely participating this year as well! And, in fact, was just thinking how this little reading challenge is really becoming a huge signal that the best season is here, isn’t it?

    I am in the midst of reading The Passage, which is more than sufficiently creepy, so I am definitely including that. I am also putting the second novel in the Strain trilogy on my list. Not sure what else. Also, I am always up for imbibing peril on the screen. (LOVE The Haunting!)

    I am extremely curious about your review of Her Fearful Symmetry, especially seeing your comments here and there about it as you were reading. 🙂

  3. kaizerin says:

    Ooh, thank you both for timely reminders! Kate, I will try to find that V.P. movie, but you also reminded me that I’ve never seen The Wicker Man, and would like to. I’ll have to hunt it down. (The original version, of course–the howls of outrage over the remake are still echoing in some corners of the internet.)

    And CZ, you reminded me that The Strain would be a very good addition to my reading list. I’ll see how soon I might be able to get a library copy. The HFS review is in final revision, so you should see it soon. I imagine we’ll have much to discuss!

  4. Jen says:

    The Historian is SO fabulous. I’ve read it once and had to slow myself down so I wouldn’t finish it too quickly! Just out of curiosity, did you read her new book, The Swan Thieves? I should have loved it, since it revolved around art, but I found myself disappointed. It just didn’t grab me the way The Historian did.

    I’m also excited about the Peril on the Screen thing. I’m definitely going through all my horror movies in the next couple months!

  5. kaizerin says:

    Ditto on the hurry-up/slow-down tug-of-war reading The Historian! I’m deep into my second read, and even knowing what’s coming (and trying to read with a more critical eye), I keep catching myself rushing forward, trying to see what’s around the next corner. I love this book! I haven’t given Swan Thieves a try, but probably will at some point.

  6. Amanda says:

    So a couple of us might be organizing a Dracula readalong in October. 😀

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  8. kaizerin says:

    I was glad to see Dracula on other people’s lists, Amanda; it just seems like something better read with a support group. I have you in my feeds now, so if a formal read-along gets organized, please make mention of it, and I’ll join in.

  9. Kailana says:

    The Historian is on lots of lists. I really must read that one of these years. It used to be on my list, but I still haven’t read it. I never even thought about it this year! Enjoy whatever you end up reading!

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