Horrorfest Post…Spooky Stereotypes

Twilight Every genre has stereotypes, but perhaps classic horror has more than most… Remember the outcry about sparkly vampires? Did you think it was an interesting twist, or a tad cheesy – do you prefer your vamps more fangy than blingy? Stake-able or solid as a rock?

I’m a bit of a mixed bag, if I’m honest. I love classics like Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula – imagine writing a book that establishes, such powerful and enduring characters? That people would write and re-write over and over again, re-imaginging them in new settings… I can’t imagine any author not wanting that.

And that’s the next part – as much as I like the classics, where the core themes of the genre appear, I also like it when people twist them. I might not buy in to sparkly vegetarian vampires, as much as I do their blood-thirsty, monstrous cousins – but I like how Meyer twisted the genre. Vampires that sparkle, is a good excuse to stay out of the sun, whilst not ruining the romantic / attractive bits the author was aiming for.

I think the biggest challenge when you’re twisting something is striking the right balance – I read the Sookie Stackhouse books, and then moved on to True Blood on TV – the gore, sex, and rather heartless predators were all what I would expect, but the twists were good: synthetic blood (vampire sci-fi), vampire blood as an illegal drug, vampire integration into society…

No one will have missed that the undead have been very popular over the last few years, particularly in the YA world – Being Human was one of the good ones I came across, which gave a very personal view of becoming a vampire and how that changes you as a person, others I think didn’t hold together as well, (review here) perhaps going so far away from the genre that they weren’t plausible. (Blood cola, anyone? C’mon – at least pretend you want to bite someone and not just fill up on blood related junk food!)

Some of my favourite books play on genre expectations and twist them, either poking fun at your expectations, or using them to give a whole new view on a topic. Zed was a neat twist on the zombie genre – told from the perspective of a ‘thinking’ zombie with a brain. I liked the way the author integrated zombies back into society with zombie-treat dispensing headsets, that helped them work in fast food outlets or rounding up shopping trollies.

So how do you like your horror, straight up, with a twist, or something else entirely?

Horrorfest Post…Best Horror Books of All Time…?


Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Used Book Search.net and originally featured as an article on their site earlier this year. Who better to tell you about the best horror books of all time, than a blogger who spends much of their time reading and reviewing books? 🙂

Used Book Search is a free, simple to use book price comparison tool. They also have a team of book lovers writing book recommendations and reviews. If you’d like to find out more, check out the link to their site, or stalk them in the following locations:


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The Best Horror Books of All Time…?

Most people like a good scare. Stories that get the adrenaline flowing have captivated us throughout much of recorded history, as dark and sinister legends are perhaps older than the written word. While many horror films rely on the element of surprise, with monsters jumping out from the shadows, books often offer a slower burn, one that’s oftentimes more terrifying. So if you like the thrill of wondering what’s lurking behind the shadows or making sounds in the night, we’ve got you covered with five of the best horror books of all time.

Now, we’ve already covered the Best Stephen King books so that eliminates those from contention here. Certainly, The Shining and Misery (among others) would have been considered, as King is the modern master of the genre. And Dracula is so notable that it was featured in our Best Classic Literature list. But that still leaves us with five of the most truly terrifying and mesmerizing horrors books ever put to print.

What horror books should you read if you haven’t done so already?


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

One of the more frightening aspects of Mary Shelley’s classic mad science tale, Frankenstein, is that she got the idea from a dream and penned it at the tender age of 19. Cinematic adaptations have morphed the Frankenstein monster into the green, bolt-necked icon that’s deeply ingrained within our cultural consciousness today, so it’s easy to forget that Shelley’s classic focuses more on Dr. Frankenstein himself and his mad wonder at having created life only to be horrified with the monster he has unleashed upon the people close to him and the world at large.


The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

One of the most frightening horror films of all time was based on one of the most terrifying and suspenseful novels. Just as a Jesuit priest is having a crisis of faith, he’s called upon to tend to a girl who has been afflicted by some powerful diabolical force. The priest initially only wants to treat her as psychiatrist, but soon the disturbing physical transformation leads him to believe she is in fact possessed by a demon. When a more qualified exorcist dies of a heart ailment while attempting to perform the rites, the protagonist priest is left to do battle with a demonic force that beyond his comprehension.


The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft

It’s difficult to even imagine where the horror landscape would be today without 20th century scary story pioneer H. P. Lovecraft. This anthology of some of his best and most unnerving short stories continues to influence the genre to this day. The titular story introduces the reader to the frighteningly enormous tentacle-faced beast of Cthulhu who slumbers at the bottom of the ocean for all time, destined only to emerge once the Earth reaches an apocalyptic age. However, a cult works feverishly to hasten his inevitable awakening. And that’s only one of the many spine-tinglers in this marvelous collection.

let the right one in

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

This Swedish vampire novel is both full of a mix of suspense and chills, and it also tugs at the heartstrings more than most horror stories are inclined to do. When the often bullied 12-year old Oskar befriends a strange neighbor girl, he doesn’t know how dangerous she is. Turns out the girl is a vampire, one who is eternally preserved in childlike form and whose adult guardian undertakes the grisly business of killing community members in order to harvest their blood so she can eat. Oskar’s bond with Eli grows, as does their co-dependence, which is both sweet and intensely ominous in its implications.


House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

Much like the domicile in its title, House of Leaves is both agoraphobic and claustrophobic due to its bizarre and unsettling structure. Formatted with footnotes, shreds of documents, and strangely-shaped paragraphs and sentences that sometimes include only a few words on a page, this book details the supernatural dimensions of a room in a house that seem to go on infinitely into darkness. As the house’s occupants eventually explore the vast labyrinth of paranormal space, the sanity of all involved begins to unravel in this chilling and mesmerizing work of fiction.

Fifty Shades of…Granger

You would need to be living in a cave to have missed the recent Mr Grey mania – ASDA bookshelves across the UK have found themselves picked clean as ladies go out in force to grab the book. But what’s it all about? I’d like to say I knew – but from reading the Kindle sample, I’ve not felt especially inspired to spend my money on the book itself. So instead – I’ve taken what little I know from work colleagues who are reading it: there’s a contract, a dungeon and lots of saucy conditions…and instead given the Fifty Shades… treatment to some other areas of literature.


Just sign the contract!

Just sign the contract!

The Gryffindor common room was buzzing with the sounds of early evening activity. Several tables were occupied by groups of students: heads down, lips pressed tightly together in concentration; diligently completing their homework. In a dark corner, away from prying eyes, the Weasley twins were testing their latest lunchbox items on unsuspecting first years. A small girl was turning blue as she had a severe reaction to a Cough-it-up Drops. “More cough, less choke needed,” Fred nodded, making notes on a dog-eared scroll. Several members of the quidditch team were playing ‘dodge the bludger’, near the stairs leading up to the dorm rooms. That is, until Katie Bell nearly got hit in the face by it and swiped the bludger away with an over-zealous bat of her textbook, directing it straight into one of the ornate, stained-glass windows.

Fenestra Reparo,” Hermione muttered as she passed by the still shattering window, absently waving her wand in the direction of the wall. As her charm caught the glass shards, they swirled upwards and flew back into the frame, repairing the window perfectly.

There was a determined expression on Hermione’s face as she marched towards the fireplace and Lavender Brown – taking note of this – swiftly dodged out of her path. An instant later, Hermione was standing before the two boys sitting on the sofa, who up until that moment had been happily chatting about the pros and cons of performance enhancing magic in sports.

“…it’s just unethical, mate.”

“A-hem,” Hermione coughed quietly.

Two faces turned towards her, wondering at her abrupt intrusion into the conversation.

“What’ve you done now?” Harry asked, taking one look at Hermione’s face and then swivelling to look at Ron.

“What…me…?” Ron scrambled, sounding a little confused, but also a tad guilty.

“Yes, you!” Hermione confirmed, fixing him with one of her sternest frowns.

“What has he done?” Harry asked, looking to Hermione for clarification.

“Ron made a wager with me that I wouldn’t be able to cast a particular spell – I did it and now he won’t pay up!”

“Well…it wasn’t a fair spell…” Ron began to protest, before meeting Hermione’s gaze and falling quiet.

“Oh, mate,” Harry laughed, shaking his head. “You bet against Hermione on something magic? Guaranteed fail.”

“That’s not the point.” Hermione insisted. “Ron’s forfeit is to become my slave for a week and now he won’t make the unbreakable vow to do it. I have the contract ready and everything.” She brandished a sheaf of papers in front Ron’s nose to reinforce the point.

“Help me out Harry – she wants me to spend two hours a day working with the house elves to help me appreciate their situation…”

“You agreed to the terms,” Hermione reminded Ron, ignoring his pleading tone.

“She wants to dictate how long I sleep for at night…” he went on.

“It will help you perform better in lessons during the day – you’re always staying up too late, then moping around in class.”

“And I’m only allowed to eat at the times she tells me I can!”

“It’s all for your own good!” Hermione exclaimed, gesturing towards Ron’s stomach with her wand, eliciting a nervous squeak from him, before he realised she wasn’t actually going to do anything to him. “No one wants a chubby Keeper on the team now, do they?”

“What do I get if I stick to the contract?” Ron asked, looking hopeful for the first time since the conversation began.

“You get rewarded,” Hermione said.

“And what happens if he doesn’t stick to the contract?” Harry asked, inquisitive eyes darting between his two friends.

“Then he gets punished.” Hermione confirmed, with a business-like nod of her head.

“Oh, fudge,” muttered Ron, beneath his breath.

Harry nodded. “Don’t ever bet against Hermione on magic – definitely a fail, mate.”