As the leaves curl and fall from the trees and the night creeps upon the day earlier and earlier, it is time to curl up in a chair with a blanket (and maybe a glass of wine) and read a tale or two of horror. Make sure the doors are locked and the windows firmly closed. And that creaking sound upstairs? That’s just the pipes of the central heating. Probably.
Right through to the week of Halloween, I will be giving a few horror novel recommendations to get you in the spirit (ghost) of the holiday: a season of horror, if you will. Some you will likely have heard of but hopefully there are some you haven’t.
This week is monster week. What is it about creatures, apparently not of this earth, that makes them so terrifying? Is it their unfathomability? Their size? The fact that nine times out of ten they come off as psychopathic? The mind boggles.
Grab yourself a coffee and sit tight while I run you through five horror novels featuring some of the most horrid creatures imaginable. I hope you are wearing brown pants.
Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
Intelligent and rather macabre, Victor Frankenstein decides to play god while he studies at university. This would surely be his magnum opus, a creation to change the world. And indeed it is, but not the world as Frankenstein imagined it. He creates a living being from the dead parts of other creatures and—unsurprisingly—finds his creation absolutely abhorrent. A monster. But the monster is sentient, and feels Frankenstein’s horror and disgust, and decides to exact his revenge.
You probably read this in school—perhaps you hated it—but I highly recommend giving this classic work another read for the sheer joy of it.
The Deep by Nick Cutter
The world has gone to shit and most of the population have lost their marbles owing to a virus, known as the “Gets,” which leaves the infected unable to remember anything, not even how to breathe.
A potential cure for the virus may have been found and a team of scientists descends into the deep of the ocean to study it. But then the team on the surface lose contact with their undersea colleagues until one lone message drifts up from the deep.
It falls on Luke to brave the depths of the ocean to find out just what is going on with his brother and the team. When he finally gets down there, nothing could have prepared him for the claustrophobia and the strange behaviour of the scientists. A weird tale through-and-through, with many a nod to Lovecraft, that really gets under your skin.
It by Stephen King
Something is murdering kids in Derry: a clown, a mummy, a werewolf, or your garden variety lunatic? Whatever It is, the old members of the Losers Club must come back to the town of their childhood with all its ghosts of memories because they promised they would when they were children. Or at least they think they did. For some reason, they can’t quite remember.
Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
Never go to Boo’ya Moon after sun down. Things lurk there in the dark that are best left alone.
Lisey is dealing with the death of her author husband as best she can, but a crazed fan harasses her and becomes increasingly aggressive as she tries to sort through the boxes of her husband’s life’s work. As she works her way through his office she finds herself dragged away by the memories that just won’t stop coming; dragged away to the pool where we all go down to drink.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
A young solicitor is held captive by a bizarre Count, Dracula, in Transylvania whose castle is haunted by all manner of horrors. Dracula, having used the solicitor’s skills before locking him away, travels from Transylvania to England to conduct some “business”.
While the solicitor recovers from his ordeal, his fiancé’s best friend begins to act in the most peculiar manner and becomes increasingly ill. A doctor, Van Helsing, is called in to assess her health but he suspects there may be some malignant force at work, and he vows to stop at nothing to prevent its influence spreading.