Disclaimer: Reading below recommended books may result in sudden urge to hug ghosts, seeing as how some are pretty adorable.
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Don’t go swimming or vengeful drowned spirits will pull you down with them
Don’t open umbrellas indoors or spirits will find ‘shelter’ underneath and follow you around in your umbrella
Don’t step on offerings or you’ll anger the spirits who might release their wrath upon you.
These are some of the many Dos and Don’ts that govern us during the scariest time of the year – The Hungry Ghost Festival.
Falling on the seventh month of the Chinese calendar when the gates of hell open and ghosts wander around. This is the month where mothers will tell their children a number of precautions that have cultivated the impression that all supernatural beings are terrifying and eager to spill your blood.
Yet, being in the age where vampires are fangirled over a television series, you’d think we’d have changed our minds. So whether you’re the ghostbusting or the hide-under-the-sheets kind of person, get into the spirit of the Hungry Ghost Festival (geddit?) by following our Scare-O-Meter to pick out a book.
by Dave Chua and Xiao Yan (Illus.)
Quite aptly, this graphic novel centres around a young girl during the seventh month. Rather than following the usual horror plot, she ends up befriending a not-so-alive little girl under her bed. The ensuing adventure is more mystery than horror, and the funny, realistic characters make the story all the more enjoyable. With excellent illustrations and an imaginative plot, this book shows us that ghosts can be friendly and sometimes, what’s scariest aren’t dead people but the very much alive grudges these people take to the grave with them.
Plus, there’s a bonus end section that explains the usual practices of the seventh month and Hungry Ghost Festival to you! A perfect gift to explain to your foreign friends/colleagues the crazy superstitions of Singaporeans during that time of the year.
Honestly, the most fear I felt was FOR the small ghost girl rather than of her and once you start noticing how great the illustrations are, they aren’t very terrifying either. An exciting tale, enough to keep you glued but not so that you can’t sleep at night!
By Andrew Lee
Not for the faint hearted as these books are chockfull of unnatural encounters. You may be pleased to know that the scariest stories are not those about the supernatural but eerie and disquieting human situations, such as ‘Head of the Class’, featuring a psychotic school teacher. In the first volume, the most appropriately horrifying story is that of a butcher turned crazed mass murderer whose ghost is scheduled to return during the seventh month. The author cautions us to hide our big knives (his choice of weapon) and hope that he doesn’t decide to stay here after the gates to hell close. Going through the whole of the seventh month knowing that there may be an insane mass murderer lurking around to chop me up? Great, thanks, I wasn’t hoping to sleep much anyway.
When you buy the books, you can download a free app that allows you to access a hidden story, pieced together over four volumes. This story is to be viewed in augmented reality, meaning, this particular horror story will come to life through your tablet or smartphone and be 100x more heart stopping because it seems so real. The beauty of the digital age, huh?
Scare O Meter: 4/5
Okay, so the stories aren’t all that scary but the possibilities they plant in your head are. It’s your imagination that does the real work, making you think of the most terrifying story and all the ‘what if’s just before you sleep. And come on, augmented reality for horror stories? Someone out there is reeaaally twisted.
(Coming Soon) by David Liew
I never expected to say this but man, I love supernatural beings. Well, the ones featured in Nightmare on Eat Street at least. Part prose part comic, all humour, this quirky book follows an odd patchwork family of zombies, skeletons, a mini grim reaper and other supernatural beings, headed by an eccentric and badass elderly couple. Brought together by the Eat Street Dining Club, the story is littered with factually dispensed, hilarious side notes that endear the characters to the reader.
It helps that the supernatural beings are all tiny and treated like children by the elderly couple, characterising them as nothing more than strange but sweet kids whose good intentions and very human emotions often shine through their unusual (and sometimes rotting) exteriors. Even the dragon is a drama queen and the werewolf is an overgrown puppy. How not to love such a motley crew full of winsome quirks and genuine care for each other?
Scare O Meter: 0.1/5
This is the book that anyone can read, buy it for your mother, your nephew, your boss, yourself! Not scary at all and with a brilliant, fresh plot. I even burst into laughter a couple of times (in public, no less), so I can guarantee you’ll end up wanting to cuddle these creatures to sleep at night rather than keep them away. Kudos for such originality and artwork that captures each character perfectly.
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For those of you who like the fear factor, have fun with the scary stories and for those of you who would rather pretend it isn’t the seventh month, hopefully a book here changes your mind! I know most of us end up forgetting about the Hungry Ghost Festival, but all you got to do is read a book and bam! You’re totally with the times.
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ARTICLE BY CHLOE ANG
Chloe has three great loves in life, books, food and the ocean and is happiest when she is reading by the sea while eating some yummy tidbit or the other. One of the great dreams she has is to be locked in a bookstore overnight and have finished all the books she wants to read by the time they open the doors in the morning.