Top 5 Wednesday is a meme hosted by Thoughts on Tomes on Youtube. I don’t participate every Wednesday but I do take part on occasion, whenever I notice a topic I really like. This week’s theme is very appropriate for the month of October: creepy settings in books.
5. Aragog’s lair in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
As I write this there is a large spindly spider in the corner of the ceiling and I am resolutely ignoring it…
Who isn’t terrified of Aragog? Even those of you who think arachnophobia is irrational (it is perfectly rational, thank you very much – THEY’VE GOT EIGHT EYES AND EIGHT LEGS) have to admit that, of all the scenes in the Forbidden Forest, this has got to be the most frightening. I always think of the movie when I picture this theme – that moment when Ron and Harry look up to see the spiders dancing over their heads (shudder).
The Forest is already a well-known creepy setting in Harry Potter, but Aragog and his crew amplify it a thousand times.
4. Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre.
Although there is actually nothing supernatural about Jane Eyre, it has a distinct ghost-story feel to it, and I always think of Mr. Rochester’s home as a haunted house. I also couldn’t remember the name of the Hall, so I think it’s time for a re-read.
Eerie wails, a figure in white, bizarre laughter… although none of these things turn out to be ghostly, they DO turn out to be dangerous and I certainly couldn’t get to sleep in Jane’s room.
3. The Fortress of Thorns in The Book of Lost Things.
This is one of the books that made my expensive English degree worth it. John Connolly’s Book of Lost Things has several creepy settings, but the one that sticks out in my mind is the castle in which David meets the vampire-like Sleeping Beauty character. It is filled with dead bodies and covered in thorns and veins, but the most unsettling part of it is that our teenage protagonist makes his journey through the castle alone, his adult companion too focused on his own quest to look after him.
2. The dungeon in The Monk by Matthew Lewis.
I keep meaning to re-read this book, which I fell in love with while at uni but have still only read once. I can’t remember much about it now, but the scene near the end in the dungeon still makes me shiver. I won’t say what happens because it may spoil the plot, but suffice to say there is gore and creepy shit.
1. Eel Marsh House in The Woman in Black.
It’s me – the Woman in Black of course had to come top of my list. Whenever I think of scary stories or settings, this is the first book that jumps to my mind, every single time. Susan Hill is a virtuoso of scary storytelling.
A mysterious door, locked from the inside. A town that refuses to talk about the late inhabitants of the house. An isolated manor only accessible at low tide. The house has its own graveyard, for god’s sake. How much creepier can you get?
For a classic haunted house story that will stay with you forever, look no further than The Woman in Black. And bloody go and watch the play, NOW.