And now we come to the “guilty pleasure” edition of Required Reading. Of any major genre of fiction, few are less respected than horror (with the possible exception of romance). Horror novels are usually just fluff designed to give the reader a cheap thrill… but that doesn’t mean all horror novels are fluff. There are a great many classic tales of terror out there, that will appeal to all lovers of reading.
These are a few of the best of the best.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – When it was originally released in 1818 it was called “Frankenstein, the Modern Prometheus” with no author credit, because it was somewhat scandalous for a woman to write such a dark and eerie tale. Controversial and popular at the time, the story remains a well known, well written classic slice of fear today.
Dracula by Bram Stoker – It’s the pulpy, bloody, unrelenting classic about the most famous vampire in the history of entertainment. You need to read it.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – After penning the classic “Treasure Island” the Scottish author turned his sites to this dark tale of a scientist turned into a beastial madman. But is it science, or is it psychological? The genius of this book is making it a cautionary tale of man versus his darker self. This book still resonates throughout popular fiction today. Just look at the Hulk.
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty – The movie version of this novel has widely been called the scariest movie ever made. And the book is every inch as terrifying, easily the scariest book ever written about demonic possession.
At the Mountains of Madness by HP Lovecraft – Lovecraft was a lesser known contemporary of Edgar Allen Poe. His works are brooding and atmospheric, and deal with ancient demons trying to break through into the human world. This is perhaps his best work.
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – King is rightfully considered a modern master of horror, with over forty best selling books to his credit. For my money, this one (his second novel) is still themost chilling. An ancient evil moves into a small Maine town and starts to spread its wings.
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin – Rosemary is pregnant, and she’s starting to suspect that her neighbors secrely want to steal her baby and sacrifice it to the devil. The turth is actually far worse. This pulse-pounding novel is intense and sinister, and still holds its own after forty years.
I am Legend by Richard Matheson – This 1954 novel deals with the last man on earth, after a vampie plague has turned every other human into a blood sucker. His days are drudgery, his nights filled with terror… and his journey to a shocking conclusion remains one of the most fresh and surprising horror stories of all time.