Books around the Web: Horror

It is October; so that means that in some parts of the world it is autumn, full of red leaves and orange pumpkins. It also means that All Hollow’s Eve, more commonly known as Halloween, is fast approaching. And you know what that means? Ghosts, skeletons, witches, zombies and other assorted monsters will start to roam the streets, and houses, of the world. It’s time to scare yourself silly – join in the monster fun, or at the very least curl up with a book guaranteed to give you the heebie-jeebies. A book that forces you to check the outside doors and windows are all securely locked. Then close all the internal doors, turn on your bedside lamp and cover yourself in blankets.

Because everyone knows that a blanket is going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – won’t it?

I fully believe that horror books are worse than horror movies! Why? Because you can walk out of a movie theatre, or turn the TV off – but even when you close a horror book it sits there on the shelf shifting, creaking while it growls threateningly at you. It watches you. It sneers at your fear. A well written horror story starts off by curdling the contents of your stomach, then you break out in a fearful cold sweat and your limbs to start trembling; as the fear builds up – because you just won’t stop turning those pages – you start to cry, funny little gaspy noises and then in sheer desperation and armed with the book you walk through the house turning on every light you can find.

Because everyone knows a fully lit up house is going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – doesn’t it.

Why is reading horror so popular? Why do people get a pleasurable thrill out of reading it? Well there has been research – yes all those taxpayers dollars at work! Apparently thrill can produce dopamine and dopamine is a chemical that is released when we anticipate rewards. Dopamine is also released during sex and other pleasurable activities – personally sex is way more appealing than being scared to death – but that’s story!!! So people read scary books for the thrill – the adrenaline rush – for the dopamine to kick in! Just as an aside dopamine deficiency results in Parkinson’s disease, and people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction. Maybe the drug rehabilitation centres should stock their libraries with horror stories!!!

Because everyone knows that getting a thrill from a scary book is going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – unless it’s his book and you haven’t asked permission to read it!

Of course fans of the Horror genre will scoff and tell you that scary books can’t hurt you because you are not in them, you are nothing other than a passive onlooker to horrifying events. It is not you waking up to see a shadowy figure with a machete raised above her head standing beside your bed, it’s just a make believe character. The mass murders, vampires, zombies, demons, and other horrifying characters are not real. The screaming women being dragged off down a dark hallway, the child being sucked into a TV and the teens in the forest in the middle of the night being dismembered one by one – none of it real.

Because everyone knows that just knowing he’s not real isn’t going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you.

Horror stories have been around for thousands of years, fear is one of our primal emotions it is inbuilt from prehistoric times to keep humans alive; fear of what the outcome could be keeps us away from animals with sharp teeth and dangerous places. Around the campfire the stone age elders would tell stories to the little ones to keep them scared witless and safe. Word of mouth progressed to written stories and now there are many books designed to scare us silly. Horror stories reflect their time in history. Prehistoric man, without the scientific knowledge we have today, would have made up stories to explain what they couldn’t understand would invent monsters in the woods and caves that explained disappearing tribe members or unexplained deaths. The middle ages brought out ghosts and vampires, while modern times lean towards technology with scenarios such as alien invasions, zombie plagues, dystopia and psychological terrors such as chain saw massacres. Then there was revenge – killed people coming back as monsters to wipe out all those involved in their death.

Because everyone knows being dead is not going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – again.

SO, if you insist on scaring yourselves to death this Halloween, or indeed any time, here are some links to some ‘horror-able’ book suggestions

· The 50 Scariest Books of all time

· Best Classic Horror Books

· A website devoted to horror fiction

And if you’re not contented in scaring yourself silly – why don’t we let our children horror – here is a link to an article, and book suggestions, telling you why children should read horror.

This post can also be found at Books and Musings from Downunder


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