A Horror Book That Scared The Socks Off Ya

Toby Frost

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Ugh - I'd forgotten about the Bertie Bassett monster! That was very sinister!

There are three or four Agatha Christie's that I think are really quite disturbing, all the more so because they're usually considered "cosy". It tends to be the "novelty" ones like Crooked House or Curtain. There was also a TV adaptation of Nemesis that unsettled me as a child. I think she was quite good at giving her books a near-supernatural feeling of evil floating around, even when it was just one person's actions to blame.

I found this. It's still quite creepy, I think. Those poor people!

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BAYLOR

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The Abyss by Jeremy Cunningham written 1981. A long sealed of mine shaft which contains the most nightmarish horror one can imagine.
 

Toby Frost

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Strange to go back to this thread, since I've just written a draft of a novel that includes a monster living in a lake and pulling people down into it. Not exactly a case of "write what you know", but sort of...

I'm sure Carmilla haunted the dreams of many Victorians, but I'm not sure if fear was the principle emotion involved.
 

Christopher Lee

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When I was but a sixteen-year-old pup in high school, I read Peter Straub's Ghost Story. It terrified me in the best way. I've been a voracious reader of Horror ever since.
 

Pedro Del Mar

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I read Ghost Story at a young age too. I started with Stephen King and had read The Talisman which at the time was my favourite book, so I thought I'd try some Straub and picked up Ghost Story and was terribly disappointed.

Strange how we both have a similar enjoyment of horror but completely different opinions on Ghost Story!
 

Toby Frost

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I'm quite pleased to find that some other people have heard of Ghost Story. After King's glowing review in Danse Macabre, I wasn't terribly impressed. It seemed much too much like something King might write: a small town in America is besieged by evil forces but with some ghosts instead of the vampires from 'Salem's Lot. It had some good elements - the characters of the old men were well done, I thought - but I much preferred The Talisman.
 

Randy M.

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Wow. Maybe I should go back and reread it, but my memory of Ghost Story is that it's better than King's work in almost every way. And I am not a King detractor -- The Shining, Pet Semetary, and Bag of Bones among others are books I greatly enjoyed.


Randy M.
 

Toby Frost

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Well, it's probably just a matter of taste. I think if I'd read that and 'Salem's Lot in a different order, I might have my opinions the other way around. For what it's worth, I think King can be very variable, ranging from brilliant to lazy, so I wouldn't say that Straub was bad at all or even necessarily worse. And Ghost Story has some really good moments.
 

Randy M.

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That could be, Toby. Straub has mentioned being influenced by King, so parallels are certainly possible.

My impression over the years has been that King is a story-teller who (mostly) writes well and Straub is a writer who tells good stories. The intricacy of the telling and how you have to tease out the story and the significance in Ghost Story impressed me on first reading. I have it on my radar for a reread and just haven't gotten there yet. Sometimes I'm a bit wary of rereading books I loved when I was younger.


Randy M.
 

BAYLOR

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I very highly recommend the Ramsey Campbell short story Down There.:)
 

Toby Frost

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Campbell's done some excellent stuff. I liked The Doll Who Ate His Mother very much. The first time I read it, it rather underwhelmed me, but the second time, I was stuck by just how sinister it is, especially because the Epic Evil Forces in it could just as well be one character's sad delusions.

One of the most unsettling books I've ever read was Communion by Whitley Strieber. Part of this comes from the events of the story, which are often without meaning or real explanation, and even more frightening for it. But the really odd thing is that the author believes this stuff to be true. So the "best" outcome is that you are reading the very calm, measured thoughts of someone who genuinely believes that he's been abducted by alien-type-things, and that's an unusual place to be.
 

Pedro Del Mar

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I'd forgotten about Whitley Strieber! I've read quite a lot of his works, one that stood out for me beyond the rest was 2012: The War For Souls. From what I remember (it was a good while since I read it), it was a rip roarer of an adventure with a good dollop of horror thrown in. It involved aliens, trans-dimensions, apolocalypse - quite an exciting read. I remember enjoying it a great deal, I might even go dig it out and give it a re-read.
 

Foxbat

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I found Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive pretty scary and disturbing.
The novel might not be of the horror genre but humans are arguably the most terrifying creatures ever to walk this Earth.
 

The Neon Seal

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Dark Matter. A proper ghost story set on Svalbard in the run up to arctic winter. Read it in winter. It was terrifying - in a good way. :D
 

BAYLOR

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I found Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive pretty scary and disturbing.
The novel might not be of the horror genre but humans are arguably the most terrifying creatures ever to walk this Earth.

That one does fir into the category of horror. It would make a great film. Maybe David Cronenberg could direct and produce it?
 

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