As the scariest holiday draws closer there is nothing better than getting cozy on the couch with a warm blanket, good bone chilling book and warm cider to sooth the nerves. It's a perfect combination. Don't think so? Here's a thought to ponder, if a reader does not explore outside their favorite genre, then there is no place to "grow" into reading adulthood. Literature can not be truly appreciated until a reader has read each genre, and format, including plays and poems. That is for another post. For the moment the genre is horror. More precisely, books that can scare the reader into begging for more and never be forgotten. For those who do not appreciate horror books, and it's not because scaring easily is a concern, here are a few suggestions to lure readers into stories that rattle the mind and sets the heart pounds just a few beats faster.
Going old school, as in Victorian gothic novels, is the best way to get a quick introduction into the genre. Dracula comes to mind, Stoker's masterful and horrifying tale that grips the readers by the throat and does not let go. The darkness, the foreboding and unsettling gut feeling that something is not right, makes the readers sit on the edge of their seats and wishing they had eyes in the back of their heads to be ever ready in case they are attacked. A knife, cross and garlic ready at hand will suffice. This is a tale that is always good to reread. Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew wrote the official sequel Dracula the Undead. Sadly, it never lived up to the original but then again, it would be very difficult to recapture the magical horror that is known as Dracula. Reader's who don't typically like horror novels will often find that Victorian Gothic and American Gothic are just right. Not too gory but plenty of fright for the imaginative mind.
No horror title selection would be complete without a haunted house or two. In the late 1970's the fiction/nonfiction title Amityville Horror was the book that everyone had on their nightstand. The author, Jay Anson, swore that the tale was based on actual events. It was later discovered that some of the details in the book were embellished in order to make the book "marketable". Either way, this book will make every reader think twice about purchasing a new home. Questions to ask before buying might be: Was anyone murdered here? Seems like a silly question but after this tale that question should top the list for potential homebuyers and realtors as well. What is scariest is that it is not haunted by one ghost but a multitude of ghosts. The exorcist is a nice touch as well.
If going back to the 1970's for a haunted house story seems a bit "old school". A more recent title published in 2003 will bring readers to the present day. Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves is about a house that is bigger on the inside than on the outside. There is something strange yet inviting about this tale. It is a simple tale of a dream house that turns literally into a hellish nightmare. Imagine two little children wandered off to explore their new home. Then picture horrified parents as they hear their children's voices eerily begin to detail another reality of a dark abyss behind a closet door, and of an unholy growl that is heard behind the walls, ready at any moment to tear through to destroy their dreams, their lives. Intrigued? Scared? That is the author's intent. Scare the reader just enough that they will stay with the story because each page is just as intriguing as the first.
Ronald Malfi's Little Girls is an eerie ghost story that comes complete with a distant cold father, a forbidden room and a young woman who returns to her childhood finding incidents unsettling and memories reawaken. Malfi expertly keeps the reader on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next. The novel earned Malfi a nomination for the Bram Stoker Award. Award or no award, this book is sure to become a creepy favorite.
There are a many fascinating and talented authors that know how rock the reader's safe and comfortable reality and take through a unimagined world of horror. As stated before, it is a good thing to change up genre's once in a while. Next up for October blog, what happens horror and humor collide? Hint: Grossly funny.