What Do You Suggest For Good Horror Reading?

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I love reading. For entertainment it has to be something riveting - good horror, sci-fi, or thrillers mainly. Though I do love the classics as well. Being eclectic and trying new things sometimes is also important.

In one of the book groups I'm a part of I was recently asked: "What do you suggest for good horror?"

I thought I'd share my answer.


Well, the obvious is Stephen King (Night Shift; The Shining; It) and Dean Koontz (Phantoms; Midnight). I wrote about their works here.

A recent (for me) novel I loved was The Descent (Jeff Long): I wrote a review here but I'd actually recommend going into it without knowing anything.

If you can deal with something riveting and horrible and surprising, consider Housebroken by The Behrg.

Oh, and some short stories. As I said here:
"Sometimes short stories can stand alone, and have the strength to survive through time. In the past I’ve written about my love for many of these, such as The Yellow Wallpaper, and The Lottery. And as a fan of horror, I can’t neglect classics such as I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison (five people trapped inside a sadistic computer which tortures them forever); I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (last man on an Earth of monsters); and Who Goes There? by John Campbell (paranoia and alien body horror in the Antarctic). Count them as recommendations."
Some people may ask "Why should I read horror? Isn't it ... horrible?" I would suggest the case I made for horror over on this blog.

A quick self-promo (I can't get shot for it on my own website): I tried to fit a range of styles of horror in my latest book, They Move Below.

Regarding that work, the author Julie Cohen told me:
"You are really good at building up a slow atmosphere of uncanny and suspense, and also in creating characters in oblique strokes so that the reader has to do some satisfying work. [...] This is so freaking scary. [...] Okay, so I am properly terrified at this point reading this story [...] This is so clever and awful. [...] The stories I’ve read remind me really strongly of Stephen King’s horror shorts (which I LOVE): they have the same feeling of creeping, growing menace, the same sort of foreshadowing and inevitability, and then a twist of gut-churning horror at the end. And they all explore, to some extent, the idea and tropes of good old-fashioned horror movies: the teen party, the boat in trouble, the monster in the deep, the horror stories that come true. To a lover of the genre, they are an enormous treat. [...] I absolutely LOVED reading these."
My more traditional horror novel Turner is probably the most Koontzian thing I've done. Basically it's set on a Welsh island you do NOT want to visit.



Alyson said...

I'm not a big horror reader in terms of monster/alien/sci-fi horror, but what I find frightening or horrible is realistic 'near future' scenarios. We read Z for Zachariah at secondary school and it terrified me and I would say it's an excellent book. A few by Ira Levin are in the same vein.

Karl Drinkwater said...

I agree, they're both good choices. The Road - that's another book that fits into your category and is horrible/terrifying.

Bettina said...

I was going to mention the Road too! The Girl with all the Gifts is an apocalyptic mad max/aliens/28 days later mash up that you might like. I'm too scared to read the Shining but I love Koontz and Edgar Allen Poe.

Karl Drinkwater said...

Thanks Bettina! I hadn't heard of The Girl with All the Gifts - looks good, but it's one of those crazy ones where the publisher charge almost as much for the e-book as print. I'll keep my eye out for a sale. Hey, if you can read Koontz and The Road you could definitely read The Shining! It's possibly my favourite haunted house book, with a brilliant setup and packed with details. I really should read it again soon!

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