Today’s post is by guest blogger, Rose Martin! She has included some of my favourites in this list of scary reads. Have you read any of the following? Did they keep you up at night? I remember American Psycho was both addictive and exhausting! Enjoy!
Books hold the power to transport you to a world that is created by the author. The spookiness of horror prose that holds you trapped in a spell of fear and terror.
Along with a twisted plot, it is the dread-filled details of trepidation, distress, symbolism, and even the paranormal that affect the reader. Your empathy for the victimised characters of the book can have a deep impact on you.
Blood curdling storylines may not necessarily always be about horror, but an effective scary book can make you feel uncomfortable with the help of its disturbing, traumatising and gory narrative.
Take a look at this list of the top five scary books that can definitely leave you feeling uncomfortable about what you’ve read:
“American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis
First Published: 1991
What It’s About: American Psycho is about a young and well-educated businessman, Patrick Bateman, who belongs to Manhattan’s elite society. The story offers an insight into the dark reality of Bateman’s life. It goes back and forth between Bateman’s life describing his everyday routine and how he likes to kill his victims. The book goes on to graphically describe his murdering techniques that involve torture, mutilation, and cannibalism.
Why You Should Read It: The book is one of the most disturbing modern classics that has ever been published. The story is set in the late 1980s when Wall Street was booming, which adds a realistic aspect to it. Ellis skillfully describes the distressing fantasies of a delusional psychotic. The suspense factor in the book makes it a must-read for those who enjoy reading this genre.
Best Quote: “There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there.”
“The Painted Bird” by Jerzy Kosinski
What It’s About: The story is about a six-year-old Jewish boy who experiences the atrocities of World War II. His parents send him off to live in a remote village in Poland to save him from the torture of concentration camps. He wanders in the Polish countryside in search of food and shelter. During his stay at the village, he witnesses the villagers engaging in heinous activities like murder, rape and extreme violence. As the story progresses, he endures torture and savagery, and realizes that being fair-skinned with blue eyes is preferred by God. The story ends with the boy reuniting with his parents.
Why You Should Read It: This is one of the most disturbing holocaust books that describes the life of the protagonist in the Nazi regime. The title of the book is drawn from one of the incidents faced by the boy. He observes a bird-catcher paint one of his captivate ravens in several colors, and on releasing the bird to join a flock of ravens, the colored bird is attacked and killed by the rest of them. The story is a social comment on the racial discrimination that was prevalent at that time.
Best Quote: “There’s a place beyond words where experience first occurs to which I always want to return. I suspect that whenever I articulate my thoughts or translate my impulses into words, I am betraying the real thoughts and impulses which remain hidden.”
“IT” by Stephen King
What It’s About: This book narrates the story of seven teenagers who experience spooky incidents in their vicinity, Derry. They observe how the city’s children go missing one by one, and in order to protect themselves, they fight against the evil creature that has been preying on the kids. Years later, the kids (now grown up) find themselves in the same city, once again battling the monster that thrived in Derry.
Why You Should Read It: What makes this book a must-read is how King balances horror with entertainment. The narratives of the seven children are relatable and enjoyable. IT may remind you of your adolescence and of some repressed memories from a spooky summer holiday. The language used is easy-to-read and will resonate with the large majority of adult readers.
Best Quote: “We lie best when we lie to ourselves.”
“House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski
What It’s About: House of Leaves is the story of Johnny Truant, an employee at a tattoo parlor in Los Angeles. He has recently moved into a new apartment that belonged to the deceased Zampanò, a blind elderly man. In the house, Truant comes across a manuscript written by Zampanò that turns out to be an academic study of a documentary film called ‘The Navidson Record.’ Truant is intrigued by this manuscript, but cannot find any evidence that the film or its subjects ever existed. He starts reading Navidson Record, which is based on the life of Will Navidson, a photojournalist, and his family. The more he reads about Navidson’s house, the more frightened he becomes. Fear prevails as he starts noticing things changing around him.
Why You Should Read It: This mind-blowing story comprises all the traditional elements of a haunted-house story. Additionally, the anticipation and suspense in the plot add to the spookiness of the book.
Best Quote: “Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.”
“Voices in the Night” by Steven Millhauser
What It’s About: This is a collection of stories describing incidents that occur in a small, yet relatively affluent suburban fictional city. The story ‘Phantoms’ documents some unusual incidents that keep occurring on an everyday basis. A third-person narrative journals these spooky activities in great detail. Another interesting story in the collection is ‘Mermaid Fever,’ which describes how the citizens are petrified for months after a dead mermaid washes up on the city’s shore.
Why You Should Read It: Steven Millhauser’s stories are known to be timeless in nature. The stories in this collection closely examine how rumors about paranormal activities snowball into myths and lead to tragic incidents like suicides.
Best Quote: “We are happy to be here, where the sky has always seemed a little bluer, the leaves a little greener, than in other towns we know.”
The idea of reading scary books can, in fact, be spookier than actually reading such books. Eerie books weave together the fear of both the real and the supernatural in the most seamless manner. It is this creativity of an author that makes his/her book chilling in the true sense!
Thanks Rose! So readers, any favourite scares, here?
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
May 3 Question:
What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?
So, just in case: If you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in a position where drowning is inevitable, it’s best to suck in the water and die quickly, rather than fight with the water and gravity. That way lies terror and panic, and that causes the most distress.
Qu: What weird delights have you been researching?
UPDATE: Forgot to add, I have news on my poetry blog about a horror poem I published with Sirens Call Publications. If you click this you go to that blog and can get the free eZine which includes lots of horror or dark literature short stories and poetry and art! Go, go!