A Horror Book That Scared The Socks Off Ya

Fried Egg

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The horror stories I have read recently that had the most profoundest, distrubing effect on me which lingered for days afterwards would include:

"Hallucigenia" by Laird Barron and "Into the Wood" by Robert Aickman

In the former it was the way in which the damaged body of the protagonist's wife was transformed into a gateway to a demonic dimension.

The latter was a story about insomnia and it stayed in my thoughts for many days afterwards.
 

D_Davis

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"The Frolic," by Thomas Ligotti

That story scared me, really scared me. And I read it when I was 35! :D
 

JustPassingThrough

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I must say here and now and now and here, I've yet to read a book that scared me so much that I thought about it day and night and night and day, and I don't say that in boastful pride, I would rather like to have a literary excursion that gives me the willies!

Perhaps the Bible bothered me in my younger days.
 

Fried Egg

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Personally, I find I'm more likely to be terrorfied when the author allows my imagination to fill in the most gruesome gaps. The job of the horror story is to put you in the right frame of mind to construct your own terrors. When they are too explicit, when they try to spell it out for you, they end up becomming too visceral, disgusting you rather than horrifying you.
 
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JustPassingThrough

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I will say this about The Pet Sematary. I was reading that one week, going along, going along, thinking, "Good story. Damn good story." So I keep reading, enjoying the story and then, ooooh, maybe a day or so after I've completed it, it starts to bother me a bit. Oh, not a lot. Not to the point where I have all the lights on and am lighting candles and saying ancient Latin prayers, but enough that it made me think over and over: That's kind of messed up (about scenes that I cannot say as I don't want to spoil any of the book).
 

dlsevern

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H.P. Lovecraft: Lurking Fear, Dreams in the Witch House, Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness
Stephen King: It, Pet Semetary, The Shining
John Skipp and Craig Spector: The Scream
Bentley Little: The Return
Brian Keene: Dark Hollow
Dean Koontz: Phantoms
Edgar Allen Poe: The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
Gord Rollo: Crimson
Mary San Giovani: The Hollower
Dan Simmons: Summer of Night
Peter Straub: Floating Dragon, A Dark Matter
F. Paul Wilson: The Keep

These are all novels that have kept me up at night.
 

JustPassingThrough

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You know I just recently discovered Poe, had never really given him any thought and then one night I found myself staring at one of his stories in a anthology I picked up. Read it and was impressed that it put to shame some of the other newer stories in the book.
 

HoopyFrood

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The Shining is about the only book that's brought out the goosebumps. I much prefer subtle, scary stuff, the things you can't see, so footsteps in closed rooms and doorhandles moving by themselves give me the chills much more than monsters jumping out.

I am somewhat oxymoronic -- I am sceptical about all things supernatural and will often be looking for more rational explanations for stuff, but at the same time I ruddy love a good ghost story. I was especially hooked to stories you'd swap as kids -- stupid ghost stories, but the fact they'd be "my friend knows this person who..." made them much closer to home. A recent book I read for research purposes was about the famous Enfield Poltergeist back in the later 70s. Who knows what went on during that case, but one of the investigators documented it all in this book and I gotta say, reading until 3am and then turning off the lights to go to sleep felt dicey at times...
 

JustPassingThrough

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Real life stuff can be scary. Knowing that we don't know what lies beyond, is it good stuff or bad stuff. Or knowing that a madwoman walks amongst us on the streets. I don't envy today's horror writer who has to dream up new stuff to get our heart's racing and truly scaring us.

That said: The last time I looked at my bank account it scared the hell out of me!
 

nomadman

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I don't recall if any story has ever "scared the socks off me", but a few short stories I've read over the years have had significant emotional effects on me.

I've realized that I have a mild phobia to rogue bodyparts and stories that contain them. Both Whitehead's The Passing of a God and A Planet Named Shayol (nominally SF but with a firmly horrific element) made me feel distinctly queasy both during and a little after my reading of them. Likewise, stories that contain killer midgets/fetuses (quite a niche genre I'd assume) give me the willies: Henry S Whitehead's Cassius and Jean Ray's My Cousin Passeroux being notable examples, the latter story being one of the creepiest horror stories I've ever read.

Several pieces have a depressing effect on me. Most of M John Harrison's stuff, and quite a bit of Joel Lane's as well. Ligotti's stories tend to linger with me for a while after reading, making me see the world in a slightly more bleaker tone. Robert Aickman's stuff makes me feel similar, not depressed so much as thrown out of kilter. It's not a pleasant feeling, but then again it isn't unpleasant either.

I'm not his biggest fan but Ramsey Campbell's excellent short story, Mackintosh Willy, has stayed with me ever since I read it, particularly one scene involving a radio and the static-filled voice that comes through it. Both Laird Barron's and TED Klein's superb novellas The Procession of the Black Sloth and Black Man With a Horn perfectly ramp up the dread and weirdness its protagonists suffer to a fever pitch.

I didn't used to think it possible, but a few pieces I've read recently have actually made me jump, in the pleasant way a good slasher flick can do. Jean Ray's two masterpieces, The Shadowy Street and The Mainz Psalter have scenes that made me feel besieged and on edge, a combination of alternating scenes of calm strangeness and brutal sudden violence. Edogawa Rampo's The Human Chair has, despite its horribly disappointing ending, one of the best, simplest and most horrible ideas in horror fiction, and it's executed wonderfully. Try reading it whilst relaxing in one of those big sofas they have in coffee shops.

The Willows and The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood, The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson, Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness all inspire that wonderful awe of being exposed to a vast and utterly alien other world. In its own way, this is horrifying.
 

BigBadBob141

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When I first read Stephen King's "The Shining" it made me keep looking over my shoulder, same with James Herbert's "The Survivor" & "The Spear".
Recently I've found King's "Duma Key" particularly creepy!
 

Kylara

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Ring and the shorts in Dark Water by Suzuki...Just seriously well written and very creepy. A japanese friend got me beautiful english copies to read and boy did it turn into a daytime only job! This was when I was about 14 but even now they creep me out a fair bit. Well worth the read (especially after the appalling american and alright japanese film versions of Ring)
 

Triceratops

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Believe it or not, it was the Amityville Horror (sp?) that really socked it to me. That damn pig with the red eyes, and his hoof prints in the snow. Guh.

chris
 

barrett1987

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Books have never scared me. I don't know why, maybe just not got the imagination for it. Films do scare me now and then and a few days after watching a movie ill be wary in dark rooms etc. But books? never.
 

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