Top 10 Books That Should Be in the Horror Section but Aren’t
Written by: Erin Shaw
These books are really sneaky – somehow they’ve evaded classification as horror books so they may have slipped under our radar. Nonetheless, they still bust out the icky good times just as well as our venerable old genre standbys.
10. Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
This is Ellis’ masterpiece. It is a novel about a character who is almost exactly Ellis himself down to the same name who finds himself slowly swallowed by his own demons coming in the form of characters from his books. Patrick Bateman returns!
9. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Immediately there is a child abduction that plays out horrifically for one of the main characters. If that isn’t horror enough, there’s a brutal murder and along with it, the moody, plotting silence of the close knit neighborhood surrounding the crime as it pulls in on itself and slowly implodes.
8. The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge
Disaffected employees of a British bottle factory are reluctantly coaxed out for a day of merriment that starts out strange and becomes even stranger as a shocking event occurs that leaves the factory boss morbidly determined to finish the outing no matter what.
7. Noise Abatement by Carol Anne Davis
The hustle and bustle of city life and the nuisance of noisy neighbors is something we can all relate to, but for Scottish writer Davis; noise is a madness inducing cause for murder. After reading this you will go next door and kiss your neighbors – guaranteed.
6. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
While most of McCarthy’s books are dark and brooding, this one packs an extra punch. This tale of a necrophilic pariah in a small rural community is dark, depressing and downright chilling.
5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
This novel is poised to be thoughtful and poignant rather than outright horrific but when the facts of the book are examined, they are thoroughly gruesome. Children are raised to farm their organs out one by one until it kills them and they never question it. The clinical coldness with which this is treated makes this one of the creepier books in recent history.
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
In some ways it could be said that any book chronicling the cruelty of school bullying deserves a spot in the horror cabal but this one stands out for the sheer efficiency and diabolical craftiness of “the vigils” – a group of students who covertly run their school through assignments given and punishments meted out.
3. Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
A book about an African lullaby that kills whomever it is recited to and the group of people racing to destroy all evidence of it. Enough said, I wager.
2. The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons
A beautiful Southern gothic book in its own right with the added bonus of having a malignant house in its midst with a vendetta against anyone who tries to live in it or disturb its murderous agenda.
1. The Sluts by Dennis Cooper
Pick any Dennis Cooper book and I guarantee you it belongs in horror fiction – I don’t know why the horror world isn’t over the moon about this guy. His world of super sadistic sexual violence is depraved and cruel and lacking any moral compass. This book in particular is about a group of Johns looking for a certain male prostitute who is gaining fame on a website where men go to cruise and share experiences. All sorts of bloody, nasty things ensue. Cooper is a marvel in that I have never experienced an author so adept at reducing a human life to an absolute pile of worthlessness.
Cows and High Life. Both by Matthew Stokoe. Both totally destroy every other title on your list. You’ll thank me. Really.
I really enjoyed this article. Haven’t read all the books on the list, but the ones I have read are ones I’d call horror. The McCarthy, the Siddons, and the Palahniuk, particularly, are frightening books. Great job!
Thank you for this. I did love the slurs. Will check the rest out. Please keep the recs coming !
Reblogged this on The Horror Journal and commented:
This is my first repost here, and I simply had to because I love the content. I loved The Sluts by Dennis Cooper, and Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk, but not so much The Chocolate Wars( required reading) I will have to check the rest out!
In some ways, this article opens the debate as to whether or not southern gothic should actually be classified as horror. A lot of what southern gothic is in regards to tone, complexity, and delivery is actually horrific. McCarthy’s work is great. I love this list. One author that springs to my mind, that has nothing to do with southern gothic or anyone who is on the list, is Michael Crichton. I loved his books and always got a horror vibe even though I do not think he has ever been labeled as such. I mean when you think about it… his pseudoscience gone awry is what most twentieth century horror was really all about.
Great selection, a couple I wasn’t aware of but will definitely check out!