For this month's roundup, I give you a list of the five most scream-worthy fiction collections and novels to add to your bookshelf. (You know books are better than flowers and chocolate anyway.) If you’re single, use these stories to send V-Day blues packing. And hey, if you’re attached, use these bone-chillers as an excuse to cuddle up to your man.
by Stephen King
No horror collection is complete without at least one Stephen King opus. For the novice King-er, why not try this splendid fiction collection? In it you'll find 14 of his best yarns, featuring a possessed painting, a mad maître d' and a hotel that wants your soul. See? Art, dinner and an overnight stay. Totally romantic. The John Cusack film 1408 is based on one of my favorites in this assortment, so feel free to read the story and then watch the movie — but make sure you have a big, hulking date with you.
The Burning Air
by Erin Kelly
It's so wonderful to spend the holidays with the people you love — unless one of those people hides a secret that could get everyone killed. Follow the MacBrides as they head to the family cottage and realize all is not as it seems. Ms. Kelly has a wonderful way with words, and she uses those words to scare the bejesus out of you and make you suspicious of, oh, everyone in your life. After reading this, you may reconsider that cuddle with your beau and lock yourself in the bathroom instead.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
Although this young-adult novel is not considered "horror," there be monsters… with snakes for tongues, so no kissing on the first date! Following the death of his grandfather, Jacob has a mystery to solve, and the mystery not only takes him to another place but to another time. Riggs weaves this adventure of strange children in World War II England with a sense of humor and a serious sense of the dark side. The good news: The sequel is already out, so you don’t have to wait for book two.
The Ocean at the End
of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman
This, Gaiman’s most-recent release (and his first for adults since 2006), is the work he considers most autobiographical. I can see that, if my childhood had been riddled with witches and night creatures that wanted to eat me. Ocean is a very short novel, a fairy tale, really, written almost entirely as a flashback, and it has the distinct feel of a balmy summer night. Perhaps read this one by candlelight, but keep a lamp handy in case you feel something creeping up behind you.
Bellman & Black
by Diane Setterfield
The murder of a rook opens this spooky study of death and the deals we make to avoid it. The lead character, William Bellman, is charismatic, ambitious and handsome — everything you'd look for in an eligible bachelor. But his happiness takes a turn when his family falls ill. What will he do to save them? You don't want to know. Well, you do, but I can't tell you; you'll have to read the novel. The important thing to remember: rooks are like angry exes. They never forget. Happy Valentine's Day!
More February reading
What's hot in memoirs and biography: a roundup
Stay up all night with one of these books this Valentine's Day
7 Percent of men do what? Fun facts about romance novels