Yet, many now report the opposite.
“I haven’t read a decent scary novel in a long time. What about you? Do you have any recommendations for a truly frightening read?”
I can empathize to some degree. After all, how many horror novels have actually scared me? I can name some titles - in fact I already have in an earlier blog where I recounted some favorite reads. But, what I consider scary reads, someone else may not. Horror, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Some people really get off on gore, but for me that is quite boring. Zombies have been beaten to death, it seems to me, yet others can’t get enough of them.
I prefer my horror with ghosts and supernatural twists, with maybe a little subtle demonic entities on the side. For my money, horror is built into a story not through the gore, but through the characters and their honest expression of complex feelings – usually dread, anxiety, and, well, fear – in the face of something unfathomable. Sometimes the unfathomable is jolting while at other times it is like a hint of a draft brushing the nape of your neck. Neither of these requires the gore and flinging body parts (although they can be present). In fact, quiet horror (see Paula Cappa’s blog for further discussion) has a greater impact on me because it is so accessible and often inescapable.
Sorry, I’m rambling here. I honestly think that there are multiple versions of horror, and one person’s scares are another person’s boredom. The novel that creeped me out may bore the hell out of someone else. If I feel the hairs on my neck rise just a tad during a passage along with a few accompanying goose bumps, then that novel is a truly scary read. The chill got to me, and got under my skin. I may recommend that novel to someone, who may agree, or may not and they wander on looking for that elusive scary read. We may never satisfy each other’s need for scares.
Horror is a solitary experience sometime.