5 Must Read Horror Books
A full moon night, an isolated mansion, a broken window on the top floor of the mansion, distant noises from animals, and a creaky staircase. What do all of these things have in common?
These things can all be attributed to a Horror Plot. There have been a few genres that have been as influential on pop culture as horror. The roots of Horror as we know today have originated way back in the 13th Century during the period of Inquisition. The Vatican’s orders to abolish witchcraft and the string of allegations that sprang up formed the basis of the earliest forms of Horror.
In the 18th Century Austria, there was a mysterious frenzy that gripped Europe with its tale. A man who had claimed to be bitten by a vampire was buried. A month later, villagers claimed that the man had risen from his grave and had killed 4 people. After this, the villagers drove a stake through the vampire’s heart and did the same for his victims. Owing to the increase in Gothic Literature and the fascination of philosophers and scientists alike, the horror genre started with Vampires.
In 1765, Horace Walpole published the first Gothic novel, titled “The Castle of Otranto”. This book would have a significant effect on the Horror Genre, in general. Through the years, we have had a lot of writers like Mary Shelley, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and of course, Stephen King. In this article, we are going to be listing five such books that you must read if you are a Horror Fanatic or are looking for novels to start Horror, be sure to read till the very end.
1.The Shining by Stephen King
More popularly known as the Stanley Kubrick movie, the movie was based on the book of the same name by Stephen King. The novel follows the story of Jack Torrance, who has been employed to be the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. In this huge hotel, he is accompanied by his wife and his son, Danny. He has been given the responsibility of the hotel over winter. He aims to complete his writing project, to escape his alcoholism, and to put this family together.
Even though, they feel like the long, hard winter in isolation of the hotel with no humans in sight will be a breeze, things start to take a sinister turn. This novel has a lot of attributes that make it a Stephen King Novel. A lonely Hotel Room, where strange things happen, a pair of twins long dead and inches of snow outside, the book is full of things that are spine chilling as much as it is thrilling.
Apart from this book, King has also written a sequel to this book called “Doctor Sleep”. This book will surely be interesting and will give you the chills whilst we’re all stuck in our homes much like the protagonist of the novel, Jack Torrance.
- Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft
There have been few writers which have been as influential to Horror as H. P. Lovecraft. His unique and weird style of writing can only be attributed to him. As a sickly child, Lovecraft spent most of his days in his house, away from school. During this time, he started to read a lot of novels. Admiring the works of Edgar Allan Poe and having an interest in Astronomy, his writing contains evidence of his interests. After a failed marriage, he started to write what some consider his best work and also this very anthology of stories.
Lovecraft never made it to see how big and influential his works would be as he died of cancer in 1937. Leaving behind countless short stories and novels, he introduced readers to a supernatural and odd terror that wasn’t found in any of his contemporaries.
This book contains one of his most famous stories "Call of the Cthulhu” which had given readers a sense of his “Old Ones” mythological creatures.
This story delves deep into the horror of the human mind and follows a group of Cultists who worship Cthulhu, kill as a part of their rituals, and chant in tongues. Not only this, but the other seventeen stories by Lovecraft bring you the mad and mystical world of Lovecraft. Owing to short stories, these will not only take lesser time but also give the creepy experience you're craving for.
- House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
The book follows the story of a young family that moves into a house on Ash Tree Lane and realizes one thing that is wrong with their house. Their house is bigger on the inside than on the outside. House of Leaves was first passed around in parts of the paper and would be sometimes found on the internet. For the first time, it has made its way to a book form.
Known for being one of its kind, this book is a gem if you want to read something different from the conventional form of books. It is very rare for a book to live after the ending of the book. Although, the characters of the book do just so. They exist beyond the pages and bends genres and form a narrative of their own. This book makes the reader work at some places and realizing that it’s an experimental novel, might not be liked by many people.
One thing is for sure that this book will come to haunt even after you're done.
- Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman has made a name from his owing to the huge success of his graphic novel, Sandman. He took on different genres such as fantasy-horror during American Gods. This was a clear example of Gaiman’s imagination, his tackling of serious issues while also delivering the chills to your spine. Apart from that Gaiman also has a clear prose style that will remind you of Ray Bradbury. Coming onto the book now, Coraline is aimed at a younger audience although it enthralls adults likewise.
The book follows the story of Coraline, a small girl who in her new house discovers a secret door. Beyond the door lies an alternate world that looks like hers on the outside. But in many odd ways, the alternate world is different. She realizes that there is a family just like hers who have buttons for eyes and her parallel world family is trying to keep her forever. She must use all of her bravery and resources to get back to her real family.
Of all the quotes that this book can be described as “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten”.
- Terrifying Tales of Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is regarded as one of the finest of his time and the person who made Horror most importantly, Gothic Horror so popular. Poe was the first to ever use the word “Short Story” and has easily written more than 500 short stories. Poe's life is itself no short of being oddly creepy. Poe used to write his poems by placing his Siamese Cats on his shoulder and according to a psychic medium Lizzie Doten, Poe wrote a poem whilst speaking to her from the grave. All of these are pretty evident in the stories he writes and one such anthology is Terrifying Tales.
One interesting thing to note is that Conan Doyle stole the idea of Sherlock Holmes from Poe. The anthology contains stories like The Cask of the Amontillado; The Masque of the Red Death; The Fall of the House of Usher; The Murders in the Rue Morgue; The Purloined Letter amongst others. These stories even considering their time are still as scary in the 21st Century, they still have beautiful and creepy prose. This anthology is a must for any reader that likes horror with as much intelligence in it as the shock.
Owing to the spooky nature of October, these horror books are sure to keep you company and are a must-read for every horror fanatic.
- Harsh Kichambare
To read more article written by Harsh Kichambare - CLICK HERE
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