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    HalflingRogueGuy

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    Default Favorite Horror Novels

    Hello folks, I felt like reading a horror story, but I can't figure what to read. In the mean time, I'll probably chack out a Stephen King from the library, but what are your favorite horror stories? By the way, this probably goes without saying, if you must include them, please spoiler your spoilers.
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    Like one, that on a lonesome road
    Doth walk in fear and dread,
    And having once turned round walks on,
    And turns no more his head;
    Because he knows, a frightful fiend
    Doth close behind him tread.
    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner -- Samuel Coleridge Taylor

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    King is a good choice. Best horror novel I believe I've ever read was "It", and I ended up reading it multiple times. The pacing is great and the storyline is complex enough to remain interesting throughout. His characters are easy to relate to and the level of detail he used brought fear out of everyday things that I thought I was bored with.

    It also gives a wider view into King's overall universe and the sources of horror. Forget the Tim Curry travesty, give the novel a shot. I think you'll like It.


    EDIT: I'm going to throw out another one as well. "The Further Adventures of the Joker". It's a collection of short stories about, well, The Joker. Some of them are slightly campy, but most give some insight into just how horrible life around him can really be.
    Last edited by Fragenstein; 2012-11-05 at 11:30 AM.
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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    Whenever someone asks about horror books I toss out something that may be a romance, or an adventure tale, or somewhere in between but definitely has a lot of horror aspects, and that is the House of Leaves. It's by Mark Z. Danielewski. Try it out, it's an interesting experience even if you don't like it.
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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    For King, one of the creepiest books he wrote was Needful Things, involving a little shop that sells extremely unusual collectibles that exert a powerful attraction on the right person, and all he asks for payment is a little prank.

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    The shopkeeper is Flagg, the demon Big Bad from The Stand, Eyes of the Dragon, and a lesser villian in the Dark Tower series. His pranks are intended to inflame simmering hatreds and drive the townsfolk over the edge. He always sells weapons last, and people always buy them.


    For other writers, The Amityville Horror was extremely frightening to me, not least because it conforms to traditional demonology.

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    I'm not a huge fan of King. I thought It was ponderous and took way too long for the payoff. And the payoff sucked. Twice.

    Then again, I actually like Dean Koontz novels, so my taste might be questionable. I like creeping psychological horror. Watchers is mostly great. Demon Seed is creepy. The Moonlight Bay novels are pretty good too. Just don't read too many, or you'll notice his books are pretty much all the same. Heh.
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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    F. Paul Wilson. Nuff said. I think Fragenstein would recognize the name, as Wilson wrote Definitive Therapy for the Further Adventures of the Joker.
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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    I can recommend a terrific English horror writer - James Herbert. He's like Stephen King except his stories feel more centred in reality than some of King's works. Recommended titles include:

    * The Rats (everyone should read this ^_^)
    * The Fog
    * Lair
    * Haunted
    * The Spear (kind of okayish)
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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    I loved Needful Things. Other recommendations of King's are The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and Cujo, which are more low-grade and less supernatural, as well as his short stories and novellas (e.g. The Mist and Nightmares and Dreamscapes) - I think short stories are my horror medium of choice. I also love Through the Eyes of the Dragon, but as a fantasy, not horror.

    I believe the only James Herbert book I've read is Once..., which was, iirc, described as an "erotic fantasy horror". Very good, not for kids due to sex scenes, adult themes, and horror.

    Hm... Most of the other horror I've read has been in short story anthologies... If you're interested in them I might be able to offer a few suggestions.

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
    I I also love Through the Eyes of the Dragon, but as a fantasy, not horror.
    Minor nitpick there, but the word Through does not appear in the title.

    Another suggestion I would make is Those Who Hunt The Night by Barbara Hambury. It's about a British Professor/Secret Agent that gets drafted by Vampires to hunt whatever's opening their coffins by day.

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    Let Me In (Or: Let The Right One In) is good, and you even have a pick of two movie versions to watch if you wish: The original Swedish version and the english one. Both have there merits.
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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    House of Leaves is definitely a must-read. The classics (Lovecraft, Machen, Poe) are not to be overlooked. Thomas Ligotti is another favorite of mine (if you can find a copy of The Nightmare Factory, grab it).

    That said, my go-to for Horror will always be Clive Barker. Like King, he's often at his best when he's somewhere between fantasy and horror. Brilliant shorts from both...horror really rocks as short stories, doesn't it? But Mister B. Gone is astounding, and Coldheart Canyon is a great ghost story (as with Serpentine's warning, lots of graphic sex in that one, and with Barker in general, usually to disturbing effect).

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    I also recommend House of Leavez. Very experimental, unusual formatting and hard to really nail down to a single genre. I found it very creepy and disturbing throughout.


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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    Needful Things was quite good; and this is coming from someone who finds most of Stephen King passable to mediocre.

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    Quote Originally Posted by JoshL View Post
    The classics (Lovecraft, Machen, Poe) are not to be overlooked.
    Ironically I started this thread because I needed a break after getting about a third of the way through my Lovecraft anthology(I love the stories, I prefer novels over short stories, and three hundred pages of nothing larger than a slim paperback was starting to wear on me). Machen wrote The Great God Pan, correct? I've been meaning to read that for some time.
    Last edited by White_Drake; 2012-11-09 at 07:38 AM.
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    Like one, that on a lonesome road
    Doth walk in fear and dread,
    And having once turned round walks on,
    And turns no more his head;
    Because he knows, a frightful fiend
    Doth close behind him tread.
    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner -- Samuel Coleridge Taylor

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    Frankenstein. By far, Frankenstein.
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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    I always thought that Frankenstein was more philosophy than horror. That's not to say I didn't find it a great story, but I found the ethical questions it raised more interesting than the horror elements (although in many places throughout the book, I suppose that they are the same thing.) Also, a number of people have recommended various short stories; I always thought that without a full novel, you couldn't build up the tension and suspense necessary for a truly great horror story?
    Last edited by White_Drake; 2012-11-10 at 02:15 PM.
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    Like one, that on a lonesome road
    Doth walk in fear and dread,
    And having once turned round walks on,
    And turns no more his head;
    Because he knows, a frightful fiend
    Doth close behind him tread.
    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner -- Samuel Coleridge Taylor

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    In b4 John Dies At The End.
    PS read John Dies At The End if you want comedy horror. Its sequel, eh.
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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    Quote Originally Posted by White_Drake View Post
    I always thought that Frankenstein was more philosophy than horror. That's not to say I didn't find it a great story, but I found the ethical questions it raised more interesting than the horror elements (although in many places throughout the book, I suppose that they are the same thing.) Also, a number of people have recommended various short stories; I always thought that without a full novel, you couldn't build up the tension and suspense necessary for a truly great horror story?
    Well. for one thing, "short" is a variable category. Some are 20 pages or less, while others are nearly 100. For another, it's quite possible to build suspense in a single page, as long as the writer is skilled. The first page-sentence of Tale of Two Cities does a fairly good job of it, for example.

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    Arthur Machen did indeed write "The Great God Pan", which is an excellent story. Most of his are pretty short though, so if you're not in a short story mood, now might not be the time to tackle Machen.

    Now, that said, novel vs. short. I find horror works better as a short, whereas novels are better if the blend other things (Barker and King are best as horror/fantasy, long form). Novella is perfect...gives you time to establish atmosphere, but not so long that you become desensitized to it.

    Imagine walking down a long corridor. Spooky. After five minutes of it, your imagination starts to go crazy. After ten minutes you are terrified. After fifteen minutes, you start to get used to it. After twenty minutes you start to get bored by the monotony. After thirty, when the monster/ghost/axe murderer/etc jumps out at you, it becomes less scary and more a change of scenery. This is obviously an over simplification of it, but it does feel a lot of horror, both book and film has a lot more filler than atmosphere. Just my perspective on it!

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    I should definitely mention American Psycho; probably the only piece of fiction I've read to date that managed to legitimately unsettle me. Ellis clearly visited some very dark places when he authored that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by White_Drake View Post
    Also, a number of people have recommended various short stories; I always thought that without a full novel, you couldn't build up the tension and suspense necessary for a truly great horror story?
    I think it depends on what you like in a story, and what scares you. I think short stories work for me because:
    - It gets straight to the point. The author has to introduce you quick-smart, and if the characters matter has to introduce the characters within a few paragraphs; if they don't matter (e.g. if it's a second-person narrative making the "reader" into the protagonist), then they can skip that completely. It dives straight over the set-up into the good bits.
    - There's no room for faffing about. There's no space for subplots, and anything extra has to be sparse - which also leaves extra room for your own imagination, where single sentences can carry all sorts of meaning.
    - It preserves the mystery. I think there's a fairly common sentiment that explaining everything tends to take away the scariness - certainly I think that's a big part of why in monster movies you generally don't get a good look at the monster until the very end, and what's more when it finally happens it tends to be kinda disappointing - it never lives up to what you can build inside your own head. Just look at the response to Cloverfield (which incidentally I loved). A short story is often obliged to, and has the luxury of, reveal very little. It doesn't need an answer, you don't have to have a happy ending. Isn't there some old adage along the lines of "there's nothing more terrifying than the unknown"? That's exactly what short stories get to play with.
    - The bite-sized, all-at-onceness might have something to do with it, too. A full-sized novel, you'll usually read over several sittings. It gets broken up, and due to the fluctuations of plot some readings will be more intense than others; in some cases nothing scary might happen for chapters. Conversely, you'll usually read a short story in one go: you'll see the whole horror unfold all at once.

    Mostly, though, it's just a purely subjective aesthetic thing. I like the way horror short stories work, the way they have to unfold quickly with no chaff whatsoever and have to/are free to leave things ambiguous. I think they're also more able to have really ridiculous, silly stuff that would make a full-sized novel make no sense at all, but that work well in a short story because it doesn't matter so much if it doesn't make sense, you'll just be moving onto the next one shortly; it's more the atmosphere that sticks with you. You can also have some different types of story in a short story than in a novel, plots that you'd be hard pressed stretching out into a full-sized book, but that fit neatly into a short one.

    A couple of examples from some Stephen King short stories (spoilers, I'm afraid, and I can't remember the names of them to warn you ahead of time :/ I've got them in two layers of spoilers: a brief description so you can tell what it is without getting any important information if you don't want it, the gist of the story, and then the conclusion of the story, so you can decide just how spoilered you get):

    In the first one, a man is terrorised by a finger sticking up out of his bathroom piping, starting with his toilet.
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    I can't remember exactly how it's a threat to him, but it seems to be - I think mostly he's just disgusted and horrified by it, though. He spends the whole story trying to destroy it, and then finally he chops off the finger.
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    But then he hears more splashing in the pipes, and it occurs to him... Fingers usually come in sets of 5.
    This story is completely absurd, utterly ridiculous. But the surrealism is part of it - the creepiness sneaks up on you, hidden under the silliness. And the ending... Well, that's the whole point of it. But if it was a novel, you couldn't stop there. You'd have to find out what happens then, you'd need an explanation for why there's this finger hanging out in the pipes, you'd eventually find out
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    what the finger is attached to.
    And that might be a pretty good story, but it would be a completely different one.

    In the second, a man wakes up to discover that the door to his apartment has been bricked over.
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    Over the next few days and weeks, his windows also get bricked over, and no one ever seems to try to find him or anything.
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    Eventually he dies of thirst and hunger, never knowing what happened to him nor why. I think there may have been some sort of conversation with some being, but I can't remember whether that was actually the person who bricked him in, or just his imagination, or what.
    Again, a huge part of the horror of this story is the meaninglessness of it and the lack of any explanation. But more to the point, it would be almost impossible to turn this into a full novel, and have it still be interesting. Because... nothing much happens.

    So yeah. I like my horror in short story format :3

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    I actually also prefer short horror and sci-fi stories rather than novel. While we're at it, Kris Straub makes some excellent short horror stories. My favourites are:

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    Quote Originally Posted by Fri View Post
    I actually also prefer short horror and sci-fi stories rather than novel.
    Aha! A chance to mention my old favourite: World Zero Minus is my favourite sci-fi anthology, and several of the stories have horror elements (although some of them depend on a slightly flexible definition of "horror").

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    My favorite horror story of all time was Pet Semetary by Stephen King; I don't recall its exact length, but I want to say between two and three hundred pages. It gave it enough time to really build up the tension over time as Louis (the main character) delved deeper into the horror. I agree with you though, the best part of Pet Semetary was never finding out what could do this. Similar thing to The Shining. However, I'm hardly an authority on the subject, I've read surprisingly few short horror stories, aside from a King anthology containing about a dozen.

    Of course, for science fiction I love Andre Norton's stories, which are rarely above 150 pages. I also really liked Robert E. Howard's Conan stories, which are also mostly short (although I believe that a novel crept in somewhere).
    Last edited by White_Drake; 2012-11-12 at 08:21 AM.
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    Like one, that on a lonesome road
    Doth walk in fear and dread,
    And having once turned round walks on,
    And turns no more his head;
    Because he knows, a frightful fiend
    Doth close behind him tread.
    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner -- Samuel Coleridge Taylor

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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    Just about anything by HP Lovecraft from time to time.

    Stephen King's The Shining as well. It's my favorite King book, bar none. In my view, his best.
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    I don't usually read much Horror, but Neil Gaiman writes excellent short stories, some of which are quite horrific.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I don't usually read much Horror, but Neil Gaiman writes excellent short stories, some of which are quite horrific.
    Yup. Someone mentioned A Study In Emerald in another thread, which is pretty great. I like how the Outsider aspect is made so mundane.
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    Default Re: Favorite Horror Novels

    So far as shorts go, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is probably my favourite to date, assuming it qualifies as horror.

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    I'd say it's sci-fi/horror. So yes.

    Two of my favourite ghost stories are tiny:


    A man wakes in fright alone in his bedroom. He reaches for a match, and one is placed in his hand.

    A man goes to stay with a friend, but they only have one room left and they beg him not to use it, as it is haunted. The man scoffs at the claims and insists on sleeping there anyway. As night closes his courage fails him, however, and he examines the whole room: he looks in the closet and under the bed, checks behind the curtains and peers into the hallway in case anyone is there. Finally, satisfied, he locks the door, puts out the light, and gets into bed.
    Then a small, content voice, coming from the inkwell on the desk, purrs "There, now we're all locked in for the night."

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    Okay, I admit, those were freakin' creepy. Although the fact that I'm reading them at one in the morning may be influencing that. I guess what this stems from is a varied perception as to what makes horror stories good. I thought, although I'm reconsidering my position, that it was the build-up of tension and suspense over the course of the story, which I believe is still important. However, even creepier are the unanswered bits and the vague "this could happen to anyone" vibe in a suitably short story. Also, tension can be built up in less than a dozen words by a good storyteller. Even better, you can recite short stories around the campfire with ease .
    Last edited by White_Drake; 2012-11-13 at 12:57 AM.
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    Like one, that on a lonesome road
    Doth walk in fear and dread,
    And having once turned round walks on,
    And turns no more his head;
    Because he knows, a frightful fiend
    Doth close behind him tread.
    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner -- Samuel Coleridge Taylor

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