Ever since I was young one of the best forms of Horror for me was and always has been literature. I think most of us grew up with some form of horror literature in our lives especially since the Goosebumps anthology by R.L. Stine was extremely popular, and to be honest was one of my favorites. To this very day I still love Horror fiction, from poems to short stories I still find myself drawn to the darkest side of literature.
The Goosebumps trilogy is probably one of the most popular collections, everyone seems to know about Goosebumps and some of us were lucky enough to even watch the nightly episodes of the books turned into shorts on television. Some of them of course were better than others but in some form or another they were all enjoyable. From the town filled with dead people who want to feed off of your life force, to the Slappy the evil haunted ventriloquist dummy; each one of them was unique and different and the collection is immense. They were enjoyable and simple yet creepy as well, they were the first Horror themed books that I enjoyed the most.
I was very young when I was introduced to Edgar Allen Poe, it was Halloween and it just so happened that Vincent Price was reading his rendition of “The Raven”. From that moment on I was immediately hooked, I was obsessed with him. The more I began to read the more I began to see that he is loved by so many, from his earlier lighter pieces such as Eldorado to his darkest moments on paper such as The Raven and Tell Tale Heart to all of those poems in-between his popularity only increases. Edgar Allen Poe is one of the most magnificent writers to date, and not just because of his darkness but also his deep passionate love for women that he boasts with each passing word. If you haven’t read Edgar Allen Poe your missing out, nothing in the world compares to him when it comes to dreary poetry and dark obsession.
Not so much horror as it is grim and eerie Cremation of Sam McGee is one of those poems that once read will make you feel captured. I never really can explain why I love this poem so much or why I find it enthralling and creepy, heck I can’t even explain the poem itself but every-time I read the first few lines I feel the dread you feel when you hear a creepy legend or a story that is to scary to believe yet you can’t help but feel its real. With figurative language its hard to come to a direct conclusion but all I know is that The Cremation of Sam McGee is one of those poems that every once in awhile I have to read.
For many people Stephen King is a hit and miss and some of his books are as well. I have come to find that in each book there seems to be something captivating. I myself have yet to find a book of his that I don’t like for some reason or another. Although not every single one of his books are directly “horror” they all fall under some sub-genre of odd. I can always appreciate a well written descriptive book and even though they aren’t all 100% they are all enjoyable and worth the read. I honestly can’t pick a favorite, I do however love The Green Mile and Pet Sematary and of course the underestimated Rose Red. Many people enjoy his new books such as The Dark Tower Series but for me I prefer his older work.
I was thirteen years old when I first picked up a book by Dean Koontz “The Funhouse” ever since then I became a avid collector of his work. Funhouse was a dark story of secrets and revenge and I loved it. One book that was terrifying for me to read and was quite hard to get through (not everyone would agree) was False Memory. Imagine being afraid of yourself? That is what this book focuses on and it freaked me out so much. Just like Stephen King for many readers he is a hit and miss, some good some bad but most of them are good and creepy and are perfect for that stormy night.
My favorite aspect of Neil Gaiman is his eccentric writing style, from a strange tale of a Mirrormask to my ultimate children’s tale Coraline. Neil Gaimans stories are twisted fairytales held together by odd and eccentric characters but with always a very strange conclusion. To explain Neil Gaiman is impossible, because to explain him would ruin what makes his writing so mysterious. Nothing I have read to date compares to his style and if you haven’t read anything of his I suggest you pick up a book of his, by the end of it you will fall in love with the dark melancholy strange world that he builds around you.
Lets delve a little into the past once again, not many people have appreciation for old literature especially horror stories. They are known yes but due to their often times confusing and bewildering grammar they are avoided now and often times brushed aside with the claim “I seen the movies” I myself however can’t even describe or exaggerate how different this story is from the movie. Mary Shelley is a terrific writer and her book is filled with sorrow and loneliness. Its a beautiful, dark and eerie story and in the end every horror fan should read her work.
Another writer who has influenced our present from the past is the popular Bram Stoker. Although he is well known from Dracula, he has many other novels. Bram Stoker was one of those writers who many people struggle to read often times referring to him as boring saying they would much rather watch the movie. For me I gained a whole new appreciation for the movie by reading Dracula also his other books are just as good if you have the patience and time to sit down and read. Bram Stoker has had such a impact on horror literature and film that to this very day we still make movies about his story Dracula and vampires. Every single vampire is essentially based on his book in some way isn’t it?
The Traveling Vampire Show was the very first book I read of Richard Laymon’s. Unlike most vampire novels which turn it into a romance this book was completely different and I think that is why I love it so much. If you love the world of vampires but are sick of them being romanticized this book is for you. I have read many of his other books and he is one of those writers that use descriptive words in a ingenious way to the point where your captured and you can almost see it in your mind. I have yet to find one book of his that I don’t like. Everyone should read Richard Laymon at least once in their lives and to get started The Traveling Vampire Show is the perfect introduction.
I could go on and on with talented horror writers and when it comes down to it I can’t help but admire the works of H.P Lovecraft, H.G Wells, and the list goes on and on. Horror Literature is constantly changing and turning in modern society. Every day we come across new and developing horror authors and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for horror literature. Its ever changing, always scary and I hope that it remains that way for decades or maybe centuries to come.