As you may or may not have (depending on if you’ve read my last few blogs) noticed, I’m on a crusade to cut down the amount of time I spend in front of computer/laptop/phone screens working. This has had a lovely side effect of pushing me back towards some of my older hobbies, drawing/painting, photography and reading.
I’ve been re-reading some old favourites and today I want to share with you my top five horror stories. Some spoilers below so make sure you are careful if you don’t want certain stories spoiled for you. I have done my very best to keep spoilers to a minimum though and have put warnings throughout.
So without further delay and in no particular order…
Thief of Always by Clive Barker
Synopsis: Harvey Swick is a 10-year-old boy who finds himself bored. A Stanger tells him about the Holiday House where there are all the sweets a person could ask for, four seasons in a day, Halloween every evening, Christmas, with whatever gifts you could wish for, every night, and everything else you could dream of. However, when Harvey visits the House he finds out that it is certainly not a children’s paradise.
Why I Love It: My mum read this book to me when I was little, so I think it will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason. But even re-reading it as an adult I can say that it is a marvellous story. The imagery is spectacular, Harveys night as a vampire especially stays with me due to the vivid imagery. As well as the ‘creatures in the pond’ (trying to not spoil anything too badly here). Overall, it’s a well written, imaginative story that sucks you in and holds you tightly right up to the end.
Pet Cemetery by Steven King
Synopsis: after moving to a new home Louis Creed is shown to a native American burial site by his neighbour. The family cat Churchill, who was killed on the road is buried there and comes back to life, although reborn Churchill is much more aggressive than his previous incarnation. When his youngest son is killed on the same road Louis must decide if Dead is sometimes better.
Why I Love It: I love that characters in this story, my favourite being the old neighbour Jud. All the characters in this story feel well thought out, real and sympathetic. The main character and narrator Louis’ voice rings clear and you really feel for him when his son dies and he has to make his decision, even when he ‘SPOILERS!’ makes a horrible decision you understand why he does it and you really hope it will work for him, even though you know it won’t, hey this is horror from a reason.
Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite
Synopsis: the story of a teenage vampire and his journey to find his family.
Why I Love It: I found this book when I was in college, and oh boy did I love this. I was fed up with vampire romance stories, and tired of thoughtless monster stories and this story was a saving grace when I was getting a little bit fed up with typical teenage monster stories. The vampires in Poppy Z Brite’s novel are nothing like traditional vampires, they are not humans who became vampires they are their own sperate species and as they age they become visually more like traditional vampires. Their supernatural powers are thin on the ground beyond healing, strength and sharp senses. It’s a refreshing take on the vampire and I loved it.
At The Mountains of Madness by H P Lovecraft
Synopsis: A group of scholars set out on an expedition to Antarctica, where they discover ancient ruins and a dangerous secret, beyond a range of mountains.
Why I Love It: Who doesn’t love a good Lovecraft tale! But this one has a special place in my heart as it was the first one I read. I love the atmosphere that Lovecraft creates in his stories, the sense of awe and impending doom that he manages to weave into every sentence.
Phantoms by Dean Koontz
Synopsis: Jenny and Lisa, two sisters, return to Jenny’s hometown of Snowfield only to find the entire town empty, save for a few mutilated bodies left behind. The manner of the disappearance is unsettling as it seems the town was taken without any warning or struggle on the part of the victims.
Why I Love It: I love the set up for this story, the build of suspense and mystery that Koontz crafts are very well done. The sense of overall dread that permeates the story doesn’t dissipate, even when more and more characters arrive in the town. Usually, we feel safe in a group but the sense of threat here is so well done that even when there are lots of people, they’ve identified the threat and are trying to find a way to resolve it you still have the same intensity and dread that you had when Jenny and Lisa first arrived.