Scary Good

Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Happy Halloween! Was there any doubt I would write about my favorite scary literature on this special day?

But first, a word on the chilling and eerie. I’m a horror lover by nature. I always gravitated towards the paranormal as a child and, by the time I was in high school, I sat at the back of my classes and read Stephen King novels - not in English, of course. Though the amount of gore I can stomach varies year to year, my love of all things scary, mysterious, dark and horrifying has never changed.

Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley
Let me start with a few classics. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Edgar Allan Poe, the “father” of the macabre. He delves into psychological horror with The Tell-Tale Heart, Cask of Amontillado, and his famous poem The Raven. I mean, the man lost both women he ever loved to tuberculosis, so we can hardly blame him for his twisted tales. But he weaves stories that deal with our deepest fears: intense guilt, the paranormal, and being buried alive. His unreliable narrators are often mad, which only ups the insanity. Shirley Jackson gives a more modern take on the macabre with her less-paranormal horror short stories, like The Lottery. If you’re looking for a longer classic, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein gives you a monster, his creator, and a tragically scary story that you’ll never forget.

Scary Stories Artwork

If you’re more young-adult literature oriented, try reading The Witches by Roald Dahl, where a boy discovers that witches plan on turning all children into mice. It may sound tame, but these witches are particularly mean and merciless – even to children. I also must mention the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, which terrified me as a child. I have a memory of it lying face-up on my floor one night, the pale white of the twisted face on the cover staring up at me. I catapulted out of bed, grabbed it with the tips of my fingers to avoid too much contact, and threw it out into the hallway. It’s that scary.

And then, of course, there are the horror masters like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, and Clive Barker. My life would not be the same were it not for Needful Things and The Stand. I faced my severe clown phobia and read It, only to conclude that I would never get over my coulrophobia. The Taking by Dean Koontz is one of the most fascinating and horrifying looks at the second coming I’ve ever encountered, and Interview with a Vampire only solidified my intense fear and fascination with vampires.

I can’t write horror. I wish I could. But I can worship those writers who make me look over my shoulder at night, race up the basement stairs when the lights are off and I’m by myself, and huddle under my covers as my mind imagines every scary thing that haunts my bedroom.

So Happy Halloween horror lovers everywhere. Hope it’s the scariest one yet!

Bethany Masone Harar is an author, teacher, and blogger, who does her best to turn reluctant readers into voracious, book-reading nerds. Check out her blog here and her website here.


Marcia Peterson said...

Great idea for a Halloween post. I read The Lottery in middle school English and it still haunts me! Love Poe and King too.

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