It’s Friday the 13th. I waited and waited, nothing spooky happened. But Blogchatter’s friendly ghost Mohan Das has been super active today snooping around and asking us to share our favourite trysts with the horror. As a person who used to watch and read horror back-to-back, this came as an opportunity to pick some of my favourite reads.
When R. L. Stine gave us Goosebumps!
I was 8 years old when I first discovered the world of R. L. Stine in a library. The glossy embossed covers with colourful pictures of gooey monsters, ghouls and Slappy, the evil dummy immediately got my attention. I liked that some of the stories let us choose from 3-4 different endings. When I was done reading whatever I could find in the library I waited for the Scholastic Book Fair at school to get new ones. My most favourite books in the Goosebumps series have to be Bride of The Living Dummy and Let’s Get Invisible. What I really like about R. L. Stine’s stories is that even though you may find the creepiest and most grotesque elements they still manage to come off as light-hearted enough for kids. I was so in awe that I wrote Mr. Stine a letter and asked grandpa to post it. Months later I was spooked with the best surprise ever, a response from him! It still brings a smile on my face when I think of the day my childhood favourite author wrote to me.
Cute as a button, Coraline
I watched the stop motion animated movie Coraline at least 5-6 times and was spellbound each time by the bizarre and eerie story. This dark fantasy by Neil Gaiman tells the story of a girl who moves into a huge mansion with her very busy parents. She goes exploring beyond a door that she discovers in the house during her lonely wanderings. From there the adventure to a marvelous other world begins where everything seems perfect, cute as a button. Or was it? Buttons for eyes, souls of children trapped and waiting to be rescued, a cat that talks- this book will send your imagination spiraling into a new land.
A boy named Nobody’s story, The Graveyard Book
Another dark fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book has a Jungle Book like vibe to it, only here Nobody Owens is raised by ghosts in a graveyard after his family is murdered.Even though there’s technically no ‘life’ apart from his in the graveyard, it is a very happening place and the kind ghosts offer the finest education they could that consisted of interesting history lessons and things only ghosts could know. The relationship between his guardian Silas, a vampire is endearing and protective. Silas teaches him whatever he needs to know on his first ventures into the living world. It is a bittersweet story of an orphan child trying to find himself in the world where cold ghosts display more warmth than humans.
Exploring death, regret and loss, mysterious writings of Edgar Allan Poe
The first work of Poe I read was his poem The Raven in school. Ravens are often associated with death and the powers of darkness. The unnamed narrator mourning the loss of his love and a mysterious visitor, a raven keeps repeating the word Nevermore. The Raven has several mentions in popular culture to this day. The Fall of the House of Usher is a short story that dives into themes like insanity and the supernatural. Another masterpiece by Poe that is not just read but extensively studied is The Masque of The Red Death that explores the inevitable nature of death is based on a mysterious disease the red death that consumes a kingdom like wild fire. With his macabre imagination and versatility Poe artistically managed to highlight the greater mysteries of humans and philosophical principles using dark themes such as death, grief, intense torment and dread. His life story and tragic death with no known cause have piqued curiosity in the literary world and beyond.
Chills from a wordless protagonist, The Silent Patient
In more recent times, I had heard a lot about The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides and decided to give it a read because psychological thrillers and me go way back! The brilliant thing about this book is having a silent protagonist who conveys so much without saying a word, carrying the suspense through the story. The tale is gripping and even if you’ve read enough thrillers to be able to guess the ending, this book will still have you till the end until the true psychopath is revealed.
All said and done, as much as we enjoy reading horror for thrills, there’s more to it. By consuming horror we are also sub consciously building a toolkit for how to deal with fear or anxiety, letting us venture into our own dark side- to face our deepest fears!
To play with the darker aspects of existence and be spooked or charmed is up to us 🙂
This post is part of Blogchatter Half Marathon