We don’t really celebrate it here in Australia but that doesn’t stop businesses trying to commercialise it or some of the kids going door to door despite the neighbours not having a full comprehension of the event (Exhibit A: in my neighbourhood, someone tried to give the trick-or-treaters a carrot).
Nevertheless, even though I occasionally get incredibly overwhelmed by American over-saturation of pop culture, there’s nothing wrong with having more holidays and celebrations to be a part of, so to get us all in the mood, here are my horror recommendations:
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. This was the first horror story I ever read. My dad had gotten me a series of summarised classics designed for children when I was about 8 and Frankenstein was one of them. I was so scarred by the experience that I didn’t have the guts to touch the damn thing again until I was 10.
- Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. If you ever went through a ‘phase’ (like emo, goth etc) when you were a teenager (and I know I did), you would have read and loved ‘Interview with the Vampire’, though unlike my friends, I never got into the whole series.
- Ring by Koji Suzuki. I still remember exactly where I was when I bought it and where it was located in the bookstore. I loved the mystery element as Asakawa tries to find a cure, though I have never seen the movie.
- The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Better known as the movie where Daniel Radcliffe has to fight ghosts, it focuses less on gore and more on the destructive power of hate and malice.
- Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. A vampiric coming-of-age story set in Sweden, I can finally read a Swedish novel that’s not ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’.
- Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. The original story about a satanic cult that became all the more unfortunate after the Manson murders, it’s increasingly claustrophobic atmosphere gives it it’s terrifying feeling (read my review here).
- Horns by Joe Hill. Better known as the movie where Daniel Radcliffe grows horns on his head, it’s deeply religious undertones gives the story greater depth and I expected nothing less from the son of Stephen King.
- Any short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The original master of gothic suspense, the stand outs for me would be ‘Red Death’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, and ‘The House of Usher’.
So I think for a novel to be classified as horror, it needs both the supernatural or gothic element and the author’s intention to scare their readers. For example, Harry Potter has supernatural elements but it’s more fantasy than anything else. And some novels contain some pretty messed up scenes (‘The Silence of the Lambs’) but you couldn’t classify them as horror.
I tried not to include anything that was too sci-fi, such as ‘I am Legend’ since despite exploring the vampiric folklore, the story is more about being the last person on earth than anything else.
I try not to read too much horror since I’m such a wuss so I prefer stories where they challenge the traditional elements of horror (like vampires) as opposed to using them in a straight forward manner (so I’m quite partial to ‘Let the Right One in’). Generally speaking, I get pretty freaked out about anything with ghosts
(and even typing about this stuff out is making me a little nervous).
Please leave your recommendations below (though anyone who recommends paranormal romance is dead to me).