For my own mysterious and currently undisclosed reasons, I am in search of a scary horror novel. I have never read anything that could be considered scary – with the exception of a fine children’s story called Skräcknatten i Fasenbo (“Hiidenperän kauhuyö” in Finnish) by Gunnel Linde.
The label “horror” is, sadly, often given to works that are simply all about a mad axe murderer. Those can be great books as well, but I’d rather categorize them as thrillers.
After some recommendations, I took it upon myself to read Misery by one Stephen King.
First I must point out that I very much enjoyed that book and that it wasn’t Mister King’s fault that a guy I know claimed that it was a horror novel – and that Amazon has the same claim. The story was full of despair and bad things. It was so well written that most of the time I felt extremely uncomfortable reading it… But was it scary? No. It was about being the prisoner of a mad(wo)man and getting chopped up.
I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I found out that Stephen King was a pretty good writer, so I got sidetracked and read another of King’s novels – The Long Walk (which he, for whatever reason, wrote with a fake name). A good novel again – maybe not as good as Misery, but definitely worth a read.
From these two books I made one important observation: Stephen King never missed a chance to mention if some character had large breasts. As you read on this blog post, you will notice why this observation is relevant…
Getting back to the main track, I tried to google some horror novels and found something interesting: Stephen King had claimed that the “Mount Everest of haunted house novels” was a story called Hell House by Richard Matheson. I had never read a haunted house story before, so I tried that one.
I was disappointed right from the first page as the point of the story was that the people going into the haunted house were the best of the field in paranormal activity. It seemed to me that true fear can’t be experienced through those characters as they will be expecting all kinds of poltergeist phenomena. But I still decided to give the story a chance to prove me wrong.
…It didn’t. In my opinion the story can be summarized in one sentence: “Anything can happen to anyone at any time anywhere.” An invisible force could whenever take anyone of the characters and do anything it wanted with them, which resulted in some unpleasant scenes of gore.
If you’re still reading, you would be justified to ask where the large breasts come in. Well, they came in very early in the story. The writer made absolutely sure that the reader knew exactly how big they were and how they bounced when the character did this and how they dangled when the character did that. Later on they were several times involved in ghostly sexual violence. Was it unpleasant? Yes. Was it scary? No.
Based on my kitchen psychology, I’d say that Mr. King had his own valid reasons to like Hell House, but it didn’t bring me any closer to finding a novel that is actually scary. So far the piece that has got closest to what I’m searching for is The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft, but that’s a short story, so it doesn’t really count.
I also read an essay by Lovecraft about the history of horror literature in which he had one excellent point: The only source of true horror is the collapse of the most fundamental rules we base our understanding of the universe on – when the laws of physics appear to come crumbling down. I completely agree with him. And I have a story to back it up!
When I was in the army, I, being extremely tired, looked up at the sky on one particularly beautiful winter night spent in the woods. The sky was clear and the Moon was full. I focused my naked eyes on the Moon for a while.
The more I looked at the Moon, the more I started to feel that there was something wrong with it. After a while I couldn’t fix my eyes on it anymore and the Moon appeared to be shaking. I knew it was because I was so tired, but the effect felt too damn real and no amount of reason can nullify the fear of paranormal. If the Moon could suddenly shake, everything we have known about this universe of ours would be rendered invalid. I remember being really scared.
So I’m actually looking for that scary feeling again, in novel format. I’m open for recommendations!
I’ve always considered King to be one of my go-to for “horror”, he is a very mixed bag though. Since you’re already into Lovecraft I can also plus-one that for you, great stuff and you should keep going with it.
The sort of more visceral-yet-psychological horror you’re looking for … I don’t know. I’ll probably remember one as soon as I click Post Comment.
You could look into Koontz, his stuff is pretty cool.
My hilarious image about male writers writing female characters didn’t show up, I’ll try one more time. This is so much easier on my blog where I have Godlike powers.
That could be a quote from the Hell House novel.
It sounds hilarious!