Today being Halloween here are several scary classics (and not-so-classics) that people looking for a good scare, or just pure entertainment, will be sure to enjoy. This is a small sampler of horrific novels but if you have another suggestion feel free to list it in the comments!
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Will Smith movie of the same does no justice to the power of Matheson’s original short novel. Robert Neville is the last man alive after the world has been transformed into vampires. The novel details his daily struggle to stay alive while holding on to what remains of his humanity and his past life. The broad themes of the novel would inspire George Romero while he was preparing to make Night of the Living Dead.
Writing for the pulps of the 1920s and 1930s Lovecraft remains an important influence in the world of horror fiction (and other media) today. Forbidden knowledge, fate, inherited guilt, strange cults, and unknown terrors from beyond our universe impart on Lovecraft’s work a sense of cloying dread that few other authors can manage. Some of my personal favorites include “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” “The Call of Cthulhu,” “At the Mountains of Madness,” and “The Dunwich Horror.”
The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Kiernan is one of modern horror’s best and The Red Tree, her most recent novel, is a terrifying treat. Following an author’s retreat to a wilderness cottage the novel details her strange experiences there. Experiences predicated on the horror embodied, or imprisoned beneath, the titular red tree. Kiernan has a masterful command of language and excels at the conjuring of a dark, cloying atmosphere even during the brightest days of summer.
John Dies at the End by David Wong
John Dies at the End is not the most literary of novels but it takes the off-the-wall craziness of classic 70s and 80s horror films and distills it into near perfect solution. The film adaptation, directed by Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubbo-Ho-Tep) is currently in post-production and a sequel novel is in the works.