4 Horror Books To Read This Halloween

“What do you usually read?” is a question I often get whenever people find out that I like reading. And when I reply that I like horror, there’s always this funny expression on their faces, as if I have just committed social suicide by daring to admit this in public lol.

I mean, I get it. Horror movies and books have always been considered ‘low culture’. They’re popular and they have mass appeal, but they rarely talk about contemporary social problems and issues, and seem to serve little purpose except to entertain. Even if there are moral values, they’re often expressed on an individual level eg how a protagonist beats the odds to outsmart a bloodthirsty killer, or how a priest overcomes his doubt to find faith and strength to banish demons.

But even though many horror titles might not be as ‘groundbreaking’ as books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin or To Kill a Mockingbird, I still feel that horror offers value. Perhaps not in the sense that it highlights social issues to invite discourse and change, but in that it recognizes something primal within ourselves : our sense of self-preservation as a species, and how we cope with ideas and things we cannot fully control or understand. Just as our ancestors used to tell fantastic stories about mythical creatures, demons and things that go bump in the dark as they huddled around campfires or in caves for protection, so do we as modern humans retell these stories and think of our mortality – even when we’re safe and snug in our comfy beds.

But I digress.

Since it’s spook season, I’ve rounded up a list of my favourite horror books to get you into the Halloween mood. Some of these are classics which have been made into films, so you might already have heard of them – but they’re worth reading to see how different they are from the depiction on the silver screen.

It by Stephen King

With King’s novels, I was a late bloomer: I only started reading his books when I was in college and had access to a public library. Which is just as well, because I don’t think a younger me would have been able to deal with the dark themes and mature subject material in many of his books.

My first King book was It, and it remains my favourite to this day, alongside Misery, The Dead Zone and Desperation. As kids, my brother and I had coulrophobia (I still have an irrational fear of clowns actually lol), and the idea of an alien clown that feeds off the flesh of young children and has shapeshifting powers is just … terrifying. That aside, I think It was peak King – it is well written with great pacing, and the villain and characters are well developed. More than just kids banding together to fight an ancient evil, it’s also a brilliant coming-of-age-story and a heartwarming one (when you’re not being scared shitless by Pennywise popping up everywhere) about the power of friendship.

Ring by Koji Suzuki

Here’s an online review which encapsulates how I feel about Ring by Koji Suzuki:

‘one.. you really can’t bear to read and want to lock away and bury away as far as possible, yet at the same time each word is enticing, putting you in a trance, making you read on.’

I have watched the Ring films (both the Japanese and the American versions), and while they’re creepy, they can’t hold a candle to the book. Despite being a grown ass adult when I first read it, I still found it hard to fall asleep as my imagination ran wild with thoughts of Sadako popping up at the foot of my bed, or standing just behind my curtains lol. I did something really childish too: I put the book underneath a pile of books, because I had this silly thought that if I left it on top, the ghost would somehow ‘come to life’ hahahaha. 😛 I guess that’s the mark of a good horror novel… (or maybe I’m just chicken). There’s very little gore or violence in the story, but Suzuki is so adept at playing with the psychological aspect of horror, you can feel the tension and creepiness ooze off the pages like miasma.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blaty

Do you believe in demons? Demons exist in various cultures and faiths because like the concept of yin and yang, where there is good, there will always be evil. The Exorcist is a classic that deals with themes of demonic possession – that of 12-year-old Regan, whose family is dragged into a nightmarish hell as they attempt to rid her of the evil. It is horrifying to read about the abuse that the young girl suffers as the demons torment her. I can’t help but think that it is a literal and figurative representation of the ‘demons’ within humans that drive people to do truly evil things, even without demonic possession. The story has a classic good vs evil plot, and you can’t help but cheer when the big-guns priest – him of the staunch faith and the back-up power of god – comes to smite evil.

The Beaver Book of Horror Stories – edited by Mark Ronson

Image via ebay because I don’t know where I’ve put my copy…

Okay this one is kind of a cheat entry because it isn’t a novel per se, but rather a collection of short stories. I found this gem in a 2nd hand bookstore and even though the cover was super campy, flipping through a couple of pages was enough for me to fork out five bucks. BEST. FIVE. BUCKS. SPENT. EVER.

There are 10 stories within written by different authors, including Mark Ronson himself, and they cover a wide range of horror subgenres including body horror, monsters and the paranormal. Most of the tales are from 19th century authors, which lends them a gothic quality. Some of my favourites are Pickman’s Model by HP Lovecraft, which talks about an artist whose monstrous paintings are so brilliant and terrifying one wonders where the inspiration comes from – and The Seed from the Sepulchre by Clark Ashton Smith, where explorers discover an ancient man-eating plant after stumbling upon some ruins in the jungle.

And there you have it! If you’re new to horror, these are my recommendations – but the world of horror fiction is a vast one, and there are still plenty of terrifying stories to unearth.

What are some of your favourite horror titles? Share them with me so I can look out for them.

Happy Halloween!

Spook-tacular Halloween-Themed Treats From Lush

Halloween doesn’t have to begin or end on 31st October this year. Witch-ever tricks, treats or gifts you choose, you can fright and delight all winter long with these fun and spook-tacular Halloween-themed products from Lush. The great news? You can get order these online at lush.my and have them delivered straight to your homes. 

BAT ART BATH BOMB 

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Be spellbound by this mystic bat bath bomb. Full of #BathArt worthy surprises, deep glittery waters await with a fresh, herbal scent that lingers.

PUNKIN PUMPKIN BATH BOMB

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To make the shadows retreat and recoil, fizz this ghoul of bright citrus oils. Don’t look, don’t scream, don’t give it
power, cleanse the air with pumpkin powder.

LORD OF MISRULE BATH BOMB 

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Inspired by the ruler of the pagan Feast of Fools, Lord of Misrule features a spicy herbal blend of patchouli and
black pepper oil. Just like at the Feast of Fools, when the wine starts to flow, the popping candy crackles and the
festivities begin. 

TOFFEE APPLE LIP SCRUB

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This sweet & sour Halloween treat offers two layers of scrub – ghoulishly gorgeous green apple and blood red
sticky toffee, for a devilishly softened pout. 

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VERY VERY FRIGHTENING SHOWER GEL

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Despite the name, there’s nothing you need to fear from this fun and bright yellow concoction. Embrace your sweet side with this bold, uplifting shower gel. Containing fresh lemon and fig juice, its palm and SLS free, plus it’s vegan. 

BOO! SHOWER SLIME 

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Raise your spirits and get hands – on with this spooky black slime packed with scrubby ground coconut shell!
This Lord of Misrule scented slime will soften and scrub your skin, leaving you ready for a night of trick and
treating.

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GHOST IN THE DARK SOAP

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Freshness from beyond the grave comes in this super citrusy soap. This treat has a trick – it glows in the dark when charged up in the light! If you’ve got it, haunt it.

MONSTERS BALL BATH BOMB

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Keep your ghoul and get ready to boogie on down to the bathroom for an enchanting monster mash of uplifting
essential oils. Remember, we scare because we care.

BEWITCHED BUBBLE BAR

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This friendly feline will boost your luck with blackberry-scented bubbles and plastic-free glitter. Purrfect for packaging-free bathing.

Order online at lush.my. Happy Halloween!

*Photos courtesy of Lush PR.

5 Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley This Halloween

Halloween. The ‘spookiest’ time of the year.

It’s when cable TV starts showing re-runs of classics like Halloween (duh!), A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and costume parties abound. Or, if you worked at my (now ex) company, they have a small prize for colleagues who come to work dressed up. Usually this means slathering some face paint on and dressing up in all black, but still.

While Halloween is not as big in Malaysia as it is in countries like the States (where people go trick or treating door-to-door and Starbucks insists on pumpkin spice everything), there are still loads of things you can do to participate in the festivities.

1 ) Get your heart pumping at the Halloween Night Run 

  • Where: MAEPS Serdang
  • When: Saturday, Oct 28 2017, 7PM

Credit: Halloween Night Run’s Facebook page 

 

Talk about ‘running scared’, lol. Raise your heart levels and get some cardio in at the Halloween Night Run, returning to MAEPS Serdang for its second year. Coz when it comes to running and having a good time, all ghost, ghouls, demons and witches are equal.

Bonus: Come dressed in your best costumes and stand a chance to win prizes!

Tickets and registration: HERE 

 

2 ) Meet the monstrous residents of Sunway Lagoon theme park at Nights of Fright 5 

  • Where: Sunway Lagoon Theme Park
  • When: Fridays-Saturdays til 31 Oct 2017, 7.30PM til late

Nothing screams ‘celebrating Halloween’ like a trip to the spook house. Or maybe 8 spook houses, 5 scare zones, 11 thrill rides and 4 show stages. At Nights of Fright 5 by Sunway Lagoon, every corner is filled with otherworldly denizens, be it zombies, cursed dolls, corpses or vampires. Enter… if you dare.

Tickets: HERE 

3) Have a Zombie Party at Jump Street Asia

  • Where: Jumpstreet Asia, Seksyen 13 PJ
  • When: Saturday, Oct 28 2017, 5PM – 10PM

Credit: JumpstreetAsia sorry couldn’t find Halloween one lol. 

Impersonate a pocong (coz it jumps, geddit? lol) at Malaysia’s largest indoor trampoline park, Jump Street Asia. Dress up and bounce your way to a good time, with fun activities such as a haunted house, zombie dances and best costume contests. For only one entry price, you get five hours of great fun as opposed to the usual hourly rates, so book early!

4) Give some blood… for a good cause @ My Bloody Halloween 2.0 

  • Where: The School, Jaya One Petaling Jaya
  • When: Saturday/Sunday Oct 28 – 29 2017 , 11AM -6PM

Don’t waste that blood! Donate some to help save lives at My Bloody Halloween 2.0. The initiative is put together by a group of youths from the Leo Club. There will also be cool vendors, pop up stalls and activities at the event !

More info on FB: HERE 

5) Pub/bar crawl your way through Changkat Bukit Bintang 

  • Where: KL
  • When: Various dates beginning Oct 28 – first week of November

Bars, pubs and clubs in various spots around the Klang Valley/KL have a long tradition of having costume parties and Halloween promotions – and one of the best spots to experience the nightlife is at Changkat Bukit Bintang. Spots like Havana have annual dress-up events with free entry for those in costume, and other places also have their own themes. And having a tipple as a vampire beats boring ol’ normal clothes any day (or night).

 

 

Happy Halloween! 

PS: If you could dress up as a character, who’d you pick? Lemme know in the comments below! 🙂

Feel the Fear @ Nights of Fright 5, Sunway Lagoon – Malaysia’s Largest Festival of Fear

It’s night.

You’re in a theme park after hours.

A mist swirls around your feet, curling and uncurling like fingers. An eerie laugh cuts through the night air, sending chills down your spine. You round the corner and you meet..

A whole lot of nope.

As Jigsaw peddles towards you, you take a few steps back, turn, and run the other way, towards the exit. But as you approach the gates, you meet a figure. He closes in and… !

You let out a scream… but realise you’re not in a horror movie after all and you’re not doomed to some gory, impending death.

After all, it’s only Nights of Fright 5, Malaysia’s largest festival of fear – returning this Halloween to Sunway Lagoon to scare the living daylights out of patrons. 😀

Held throughout the month of October, the theme park comes to life (lol) after dark with various denizens of death: ghoulies and ghosties from both East and West. The gates of horror opened last weekend, and will remain open until the 31st. And they’ve got some pretty scary things in store for the brave (?) soul who dares to venture in.

Occult fans will know of Mexico’s infamous Isla de la Munecas, or Island of the Dolls – said to be haunted by restless spirits who make the hundreds, if not thousands, of dolls on the swampy island their home. Described as one of the ‘creepiest places on earth’, the bizarre collection began when the island’s owner, Don Julian, began collecting dolls to appease a little girl’s spirit who apparently drowned in the area. He was found drowned himself, 50 years later, in the very spot where the body was supposed to be found.

Well, you don’t have to travel all the way to Mexico to experience it, because Sunway Lagoon is bringing the island right to our doorstep, along with its residents.

If dolls aren’t your thing, then maybe a nice quiet seance and Ouija board game with the folks over at the abandoned attic of Mr E J Bond Esquire’s home.

Walk the tightrope between life and death at Day of the Dead in 3D, as you make your way through the darkness, illuminated by the occasional eerie glow from masked souls. Be careful though – you never know when they might want some company in the realm of the dead.

Fast forward to the year 2147, to a world of Dystopia: overrun with squalor, human misery, oppression, disease and overcrowding. The hospital plays host to crazy doctors performing grisly human experiments, while monstrosities and ghosts of the past haunt its hallways.

They even got Silent Hill to loan them some nurses.

Lol kidding.

If you’re up to some badassery, explore the iconic Ghostbusters Firehouse HQ and kick some ghost ass. Not literally of course. Touch not the ‘ghosts’ and they won’t touch you. Other infamous ghost locations include the Aldridge Mansion and Seward Street Subway, recreated to a tee.

Some local flavour is in order, and they have the Pontianak vs Pocong, a bloody affair of a lover returning as a Pontianak (vampire) and an unfaithful husband as a Pocong (a Malay version of a zombie) – seeking what is rightfully theirs in a classic battle of evil vs evil (this was the movie they should have made instead of Sadako vs Kayako!)

Fangirl to your favourite horror movie characters of all time (just don’t ask for an autograph) at Horrorwood Studios, where you’ll meet iconic greats like Freddy from a Nightmare on Elm Street, and Michael Myers from Halloween. They’ll even walk you down the red carpet, complete with large Oscar statues, velvet rope barriers and lights over at the Horrorwood Boulevard! 

And of course, it wouldn’t be a screamfest/fear festival without the perennial favourite – zombies. Survive the Zombie Apocalypse maze where the undead are always on the ready to tear you apart and drag you down.

Aside from the above mentioned places, there will be a total of 8 Haunted Houses5 Scare Zones11 Thrill Rides and 4 Show Stages, including attractions such as the Forest of Fear and Judgment Lane (modeled after the demolished Pudu Jail). Join the parade at March of the Undead, where characters walk about in haunting yet beautiful makeup and costumes, decorated with Mexican paper flags and large puppet processions.

Nights of Fright 5, presented by Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, runs from Fridays til Sundays until Oct 31. Doors open at 730PM til late and entrance is strictly for those aged 12 years old and above. Tickets are priced at RM64 per pax.

For more details, visit: NOF5. 

Dare you?

Read last year’s experience here: Nights of Fright 4 

Nights of Fright 4 @ Sunway Lagoon

Do you spook easy? 

All the more reason to face your fears at Nights of Fright 4, Sunway Lagoon‘s annual screamfest held every October in conjunction with Halloween. For the entire month, the usually fun theme park turns into a house of horrors come nightfall, with ghosts and ghouls prowling the streets and creepy things at every corner.

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C and I went for the launch recently, where we got to try out the entire park and its attractions ! It was a bad idea to wear makeup (really hot, stuff was melting off my face. I guess I looked even scarier than the ghouls) and platform boots (which made it hard for me to run haha) but I came from work so there was no time to change.

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A total of eight haunted houses and six scare zones await, each with a different ‘theme’ – from zombies and Chinese vampires to graveyards and the foggy streets of London. Not all of them were available for the preview, but it was more than enough for us that night!

The main area has lots of Halloween-y props like Jack-O-Lanterns, creepy hands and figurines, and of course, actors dressed up in bloody costumes or toting axes, cleavers and chainsaws.

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Like this guy. I think we can be good friends. He hissed at me – for some reason he smelled like garlic.

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Since it was media preview night, there were small stalls with free snacks and drinks – all with funky names like Green Slime, etc. Loved these cutesy chocolate balls made to look like Tim Burton’s Jack from the Nightmare Before Christmas, and pumpkin heads.

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Aside from the scare zones and haunted houses, guests are also allowed to ride on the dry theme park rides, such as the 180 degree Pirate Ship (wanted to go on, but afraid of puking), a water slide, the Merry Go Round and more. What a steal !

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They tell me not to feed the trolls… but I-scream is made to be shared.

Sorry. Ignore my lame-ness.

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We passed through the London Fog area, which is inspired by old Victorian era London and Jack the Ripper. The street was installed with some sort of machine that billowed out clouds of fog – so it was difficult to see. Jigsaw made a surprise visit, and some pretty, ghastly pale chicks in corsets were also hanging around.

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Our first stop was the Horrorwood Studios. We went in a group of eight.

Protip on surviving Malaysian horror houses – always walk at the back, coz the actors only scare the people in front. xD

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Bloody baby doll, candles, skulls, scorpions – all the ingredients needed for a scary occult ritual/ fortune telling session.

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Me as a mom. lol.

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These people were prowling the theme park throughout the night.

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Didn’t manage to take pictures of the other horror houses we went into because was too busy enjoying them xD But I did go in the Malaya High School, a school-themed haunted house with crazed students and screaming teachers with chainsaws, as well as Diyu, the Journey through Judgement which was an outdoor section done to look like a trip through the different Chinese levels of hell. My favourite attraction was the Chaonei No.81, where participants had to wear 3D glasses and the inside was filled with scary glow-in-the-dark masks and masked actors.

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Doors open at 7.30pm and the final ‘show’ is at 11.15pm.

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Tickets are priced at RM58 per pax, which is well worth it in my opinion. Ticketing and more info at  sunwaylagoon.com/nof4/. Happy Haunting! 

*photos not watermarked are courtesy of Sunway Lagoon.

Pumpkin Fest @ Simply D Nu Sentral

Halloween is just around the corner. Have you thought of your costumes yet?

Here in Malaysia, the festival is not celebrated on a big scale so as a child, I never got to play dress-up and go door-to-door asking for candy. D: These days, malls host contests and clubs are often open for Halloween night where revelers can drink and party.

Halloween also means you can’t escape from Pumpkins… so might as well embrace them! Throughout the month of October, Simply D will be having a Pumpkin Fest, with special dishes using this creamy orange fruit (yes, it’s a fruit. A berry, to be precise).

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Simply D is the ‘sister’ to Delicious, a popular local fusion restaurant – albeit on a more compact scale.

I was at their outlet in Nu Sentral, KL to try out the items. The place was a bit hard to find since the entrance is located outside the shopping mall, but upon entering, I was greeted by cheerful blue and orange decor, and a medium-sized dining area which was clean and comfortable for a quick lunch.

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I kicked off my foodie adventure with Pumpkin Soup with Mushrooms and Truffle Oil. It definitely went off to a good start – the soup was more puree than liquid, but smooth, rich and creamy. The bowl was loaded with three different kinds of mushrooms and pumpkin chunks, while the croutons were still crunchy and toasty, even after being dunked inside the soup for awhile. What made the texture so creamy was probably the Parmesan cheese and sunflower/pumpkin seeds, with just a dash of truffle oil.

Heavenly. Gimme a loaf of bread to sop this up, any day 🙂

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Moving on to something more ‘substantial’, there was the Roasted Pumpkin, Crispy Duck and Avocado Salad with Spicy Lime dressing. Now everyone knows I’m not a vege person, but this was surprisingly well done. The lettuce was fresh and crunchy, while the chunks of avocado and pumpkin gave it a creamy bite. The roasted cherry tomatoes were juicy and popped in the mouth. This was also topped with sunflower seeds and some dried bits of duck confit. My only complain was that the duck confit wasn’t crispy enough and had that stale, overnight oily flavour. Otherwise, good salad.

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Pumpkin and Rosemary Risotto Balls with Aioli. Deep fried to golden perfection, the risotto balls were crispy on the outside with chewy bits of rice and cheese on the inside. Not bad, but it was rather oily. Tasted better with the mayo dip.

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Also got some sides which were not part of the Pumpkin Fest promotion. Skewered chicken, shiitake mushroom and lamb. 

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Finished off my pumpkin journey on a sweet note with Pumpkin Pie and Cinnamon Pecans. The crust was crumbly, but the filling was a little harder than I thought. Still, I liked the fact that it wasn’t too sweet 🙂

The Simply D Pumpkin Fest October promotion is valid until October 31 at their outlets in Avenue K, Nu Sentral and The Curve Mutiara Damansara.

 

Simply D

Nu Sentral Lot G9

No.201, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Kuala Lumpur, 50470, Malaysia

Tel: 03-2276 6607

Open daily from Mon – Fri (7am – 10pm), Sat-Sun (9am – 10pm)