Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire – Book 4 – has the absolutely scariest scene in the entire series… forget the vicious Hungarian Horntail… forget the grindylows and the merpeople with their grey skin, broken yellow teeth and wild green hair leering at Harry and shaking their spears… forget the eerie disappearance of nearly everyone Harry cares about: Ron, Hermione, Cho… the SCARIEST thing about what I think is the scariest volume in the series is that just when Harry and Cedric appear to have victory at their fingertips, they are jerked away from the maze, from Hogwarts, and portkeyed to the creepiest, most dangerous location yet: the Little Hangleton graveyard.
“They were standing instead in a dark and overgrown graveyard; the black outline of a small church was visible beyond a large yew to their right… It was silent and slightly eerie.” Dark shapes approach, walking steadily through the graves, and Harry’s scar explodes with pain. Cedric is struck and Harry is captured. “The short man in the cloak… was dragging Harry toward the marble headstone. Harry saw the name upon it flickering in the wandlight before he was forced around and slammed against it. TOM RIDDLE.” Continue reading →
Great. I have to be the first person to disagree with J.K. Rowling–and possibly with everyone who read Deathly Hallows’ Bathilda Bagshot chapter at four o’clock in the morning after a midnight release party… oh, wait, I did that, too. That was terrifying.
But I well remember being afraid to read Chamber of Secrets in anything but the broadest of daylight. Ah, Chamber of Secrets. How do I fear thee? Let me count the ways:
It’s more or less a murder mystery with a psychopath at its center
Said psychopath likes to leave creepy messages on stone walls in finger-painted rooster blood
There’s cold, hungry, murderous, disembodied whispering that only our hero can hear
People and cats are getting Petrified
There are snakes. And Harry discovers he has a Dark wizard’s gift in being able to talk to said snakes.
All Hallows’ Read is fast approaching. If you’re wondering what scary book you should be giving to family, friends, and random folks on the street, all of us at The Hog’s Head agree that Harry Potter would be a great choice. What better time than All Hallows’ Read to give someone a book about witches and wizards battling scary stuff?
Ah, but which one though? Which Harry Potter book is the scariest, creepiest, shiveriest, flesh-crawlingest, heebie-jeebiest one of them all? And here, all of us at The Hog’s Head can’t agree at all! Or hardly. We’ve each got a favourite shiver, a most prized behind-the-sofa moment, a top candidate for the jibblies from our own most feared book, and we’ve all got suitably chilling reasons why.
Several weeks back Mr. Pond posted about an All Hallow’s Read. For reasons beyond his control, he was unable to put together the list of books and stories he came up with. So, by his request, I’m putting up the list here. Unfortunately I’ll only be able to list the titles without any Skull Ratings (TM Red Rocker) or any commentary on the stories and their suitability for different ages. But I must needs return to watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show. 🙂
Excellent non-Halloween news for Tolkien fans: Mythgard Institute has announced Mythmoot, a Tolkien/The Hobbit conference in Maryland, running December 15 and 16 with a private screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. From the site:
Edom’s streams shall be changed into pitch, its soil into sulfur, and its land shall become burning pitch; Night and day it shall not be quenched, its smoke shall rise forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste, never again shall anyone pass through it. But the desert owl and hoot owl shall possess it, the screech owl and raven shall dwell in it…. Wildcats shall meet with desert beasts, satyrs shall call to one another; There shall the lilith repose, and find for herself a place to rest. –Isaiah 34, NAB
From her vague origins as she-demon and development through Hebrew midrashim and other ancient texts, the Lilith of legend became the first wife of Adam, rebellious long before Eve listened to a snake. Through another turn of history, she’s identified with Lamia, a child-killing Greek monster and vampiress. In MacDonald’s Lilith: A Romance, which is far more horrific than romantic, she is both.
The book doesn’t begin with Lilith herself. It begins with a young Englishman, a mutilated book, and a ghostly librarian. The latter morphs into a raven and leads the Englishman, Vane, through a mirror into a strange fairyland, where Vane is immediately invited to die.