Michaeline: Halloween and Love Stories

By Ellen Clapsaddle (1865–1934) (Drawing by Ellen Clapsaddle) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Practical magic

(BONUS! Mouse over the text to find the mystery Halloween links!)


Last week I talked about Halloween being the beginning of the story season. This week, I’ll concentrate on another great Halloween tradition: romance.

To our modern minds, Halloween is half cutesy kids’ stuff, and half horror and blood. But 150 years ago, people also thought Halloween was the best time to find your future mate. The boundaries between the everyday world and the world beyond blurred, and single men and women used all sorts of fortune-telling tricks with apples and mirrors. On a more practical level, Halloween parties brought young people together, and Halloween games gave them a chance to sneak off alone into the kale patch to seek their fortunes and canoodle in the dark.

So it should come as no surprise that Halloween has inspired some sweet, some sad, and some scary love stories. There’s something about a shiver and a chill that adds a little extra frisson to a romance.

One of my favorite stories for this time of year is the story of the girl with a ribbon around her neck. I originally read it as a Chinese ghost story, and the ribbon was red, but here’s a different version. Note how the stakes keep increasing as the story goes on. The first time you read it, you are pulled through by the mystery. The second time you read it, you realize that the couple has more and more to lose. This double layer of reader incentive is a nice trick to include in any book, and not just at Halloween! (For a little extra fun, check out this modern take from McSweeney’s. It’s a lot of fun to take an old story and make it new!)

Happy storytelling! What’s your favorite Halloween or supernatural romance?

5 thoughts on “Michaeline: Halloween and Love Stories

  1. I don’t really like scary stories, but one of the best scary ghost love stories I ever read was The Girl In A Swing, by Richard Adams (author of Watership Down). The tension and horror levels increase so subtly that you find yourself in deep water without quite knowing how you got there. The ending is shocking but inevitable. I’m a wuss, so you won’t catch me reading this book again any time soon 🙂

  2. What great recs, and new to me, too! I’ll have to see if I can find them.

    There are a lot of really great books out there that I will never, ever read again because they are so harrowing. The Lovely Bones was one . . . .

  3. Pingback: Michaeline: Spooky Fun Month! – Eight Ladies Writing

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