What could be better than hiding under your sheets to enjoy a good scare at Halloween? Discover old and new horror fiction assembled by novum publishing to make your blood run cold.
Although gruesome costumes may instil fear and horror, they will never send quite the same shivers down our spine as a really good horror novel. So let’s celebrate Halloween from a literary perspective and find out more about horror fiction, startling characters and scary sceneries.
Classic horror fiction
Dating back to a wide range of stories about demons, ghosts and the afterlife in Greek and Roman mythology, horror fiction began focusing on death in the last few centuries. Among the most famous representatives of early horror fiction is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), in which the author portrays a scientist obsessed by the idea of creating life. Edgar Allan Poe became a classic representative of gothic horror, most famously with The Tell-Tale Heart (1843), in which a killer tries to convince the reader of his sanity. Following in the footsteps of Mary Shelley, Louis Stevenson turned his main character into a murderer by awakening his mad alter ego in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). Bram Stoker, on the other hand, created the stereotypical vampire from Transylvania in his famous Dracula (1897).
Dark fantasy, vampires, zombies and demons
The first entry in this category falls to a grand master of horror fiction: H. P. Lovecraft. His novella The Shadow over Innsmouth (1931) is part of Lovecraft’s epic Cthulhu Mythos and lets a young student discover a mysterious cult in an isolated town. Swiftly crossing the line between vampire-zombie and survival stories, Richard Matheson’s I am Legend presents a scenario, in which the last survivor of a plague must fight the flood of vampires (1954). Adding children as the victims of horror to the mix, William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist portrays the struggle between a mother and her daughter on the one hand and two priests trying to exorcise the demon possessing the daughter on the other (1971).
Another stroke of genius in the world of horror was the combination of demons and clowns, masterfully accomplished by Stephen King in It (1986). In Joe Hart’s Obscura, a scientist travels to a space station to find a cure against a terrible dementia virus (2018). Justina Ireland chose the distant past as her horror setting, where the combatants of Gettysburg need to learn how to kill the walking dead in Dread Nation (2018). If you are into epidemic horror, then you might also like to read Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers, in which sleepwalkers cause violence and terror (2019).
Gothic horror, ghosts and haunted houses
Dealing with questions of death and the afterlife, the idea of ghosts and haunted houses keeps us awake at night. Starting out as a wonderful romance, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca soon turns into a struggle between her husband’s deceased and his new wife (1938). How and why certain houses are haunted is precisely what the scientist in Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House wishes to find out at the haunted mansion (1959). Another spin at the classic ghost story provides Susan Hill in The Woman in Black, when a lawyer travels to England to settle the affairs of his late client (1983). Exploring the challenges of English society after World War II, Sarah Waters has her doctor travelling to an old estate to help a family in need in The Little Stranger (2009).
Survival horrors, mad violence and serial killers
Stories about survival and psychotic killers spark a very special kind of fear in our hearts – possibly because they might just be true or are actually inspired by real events. When Robert Bloch created Psycho, for example, his main character, working for his mother at a remote motel and confronted with a series of murders, is based on the real-life story of a killer (1959). In Stephen King’s The Shining (1977), a writer and his family discover a hotel’s horrific past during a blizzard. Whether all murderers are evil or psychotic is a question best answered by Thomas Harris in The Silence of the Lambs, when an FBI agent seeks help from a cannibalistic serial killer (1988). Dean Koontz provides another classic horror theme: a hunting murderer and his fleeing victim in Intensity (2007). When young Wen and her parents encounter a group of strangers at their remote cabin, Paul Tremblay has all the right ingredients for The Cabin at the End of the World (2018).
These great works of art provide a first introduction to the world of horror and fear. Which scary stories have been haunting your imagination? What makes a good horror novel? Write a comment and let us know!
Keep writing, keep typing!