This time of year I always find myself yearning to read books that suit my mood and psych me up for Halloween, and I thought it might be fun to share some of my current favourite seasonal stories.
The first of these, Dragonfly, by Frederic S. Durbin has been one of my Halloween favourites for nearly a decade, and I still haven't found anything to knock it from the top spot.
|"Dragonfly" copyright Frederic Durbin, 1999|
published by Arkham House
Dragonfly is the story of a ten-year-old girl nicknamed "Dragonfly" who follows an enigmatic, priestly plumber named Mothkin through a secret door in her Uncle Henry's basement into the underground world of Harvest Moon. Harvest Moon is ruled by the tyrannical despot Samuel Hain and his vile henchmen, Mr. Snicker and Eagerly Meagerly who have enslaved its inhabitants and who, over the course of centuries, have inflicted horror and suffering upon our world, including the Black Plague in the 13th century.
Dragonfly becomes separated from Mothkin and embarks upon a series of terrifying adventures as she struggles to elude Hain and his minions and find a way back to Uncle Henry's basement. Upon her escape Dragonfly must face the greatest threat of all, Hain's invasion of the surface world.
I find that I can usually judge a book by its first paragraph. A good writer should be able to capture my attention in that time and Durbin writes one of the most compelling introductory paragraphs I've ever read. It overflows with rich, evocative imagery, and I would give my left hand to be able to write like this:
Reading Dragonfly always makes me feel like a kid again; it evokes memories of being nine years old and reading books like Scott Corbett's Red Room Riddle, and Here Lies the Body. But though Dragonfly has a childlike feel to it, it is no children's book. It is a dark fantasy, quite frightening in places, and likely too intense for most children. Frederic Durbin cites H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien as his earliest literary influences and elements of both can be seen in his work, but his writing is also reminiscent of Ray Bradbury particularly, Something Wicked This Way Comes.
As a fun, spooky Halloween read, Dragonfly gets five out of five pumpkins.