It’s nearly midnight on Halloween, and a few moments ago I could actually hear the wind whistling through the trees–spooky in a pleasant sort of way. Sure beats last year, when Hurricane Sandy pre-empted not only trick-or-treating but normal life. Now that was a frightening Halloween.
Though I love looking at lists like this one from Flavorwire in which readers nominate the stories that scared them senseless, I very rarely read horror or anything that bills itself as spine-tingling, bone-chilling, or terrifying. This is less a genre bias than it is a failure of courage. Plus, I find so many things scary about the real world: antibiotic resistant bacteria, global water shortages, human bloodthirstiness (really any one of the four horseman of the apocalypse; war, famine, pestilence, death–take your pick) so who needs Stephen King to frighten me further? I just read the draft memoir of a civil conflict specialist who worked in Rwanda after the genocide and in Charles Taylor’s Liberia, who adopted a child from Sierra Leone. That gave me more nightmares than Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House or the Poe’s (admittedly freaky) Mask of Red Death ever did. But I may be missing the gene for scary books. I’m no fan of horror movies and detest the stomach-dropping sensation of rollercoasters.
But what about you; What novels did you find frightening? Do you enjoy being creeped out?