I love a good scare. And seriously, who doesn’t? Being frightened is a catharsis you don’t find with any other emotional response to an external stimulus. And even better when you’re being scared out of your underpants, nightgown, boxers, or skinsuit, when tucked in safely under mounds of blanket.
And as a writer of horror, I have my own favorite scary books. Naturally it has come time to share the five books I have always regretted reading at night. Are you ready? Are you absolutely sure?
The Girl Next Door (by Jack Ketchum)
This is not really horror, but it will scare the crap out of you. This is based on the real-life happening of Sylvia Lykins (which happened less than an hour away from my home). Here you see just how depraved humans can become and how easily children are manipulated into being little more than animals. Knowing much of this actually happened makes this book hard to read. This was the first book I have ever read that caused me to lose sleep.
The Exorcist (by William Peter Blaty)
Very little frightens me these days. But for some reason, possession hits the spot (which is made rather strange once you get to know me). And when anyone thinks of possession, one immediately defaults to The Exorcist. Be it because of the brilliant film or the novel — this is one hell of a frightening story that WILL keep you up at night. It’s classic, true horror.
The Hellbound Heart (by Clive Barker)
I cannot possibly have a list of scariest books without including a book by my idol, Clive Barker. This is the novella that inspired the movie Hellraiser and is, in my opinion, the single greatest horror film of all time. The book — just as scaretastic. And, in typical Clive fashion, it is written with an elegance and grace few horror writers can touch.
Skin (by Kathy Koja)
There is something about this book — some call to an inner sexuality that will frighten you into wondering why you’re so drawn into Koja’s exploration of the performance art scene evolving into a state of dementia. Sculptor Tess Bajac agrees to incorporate her metal constructs into dancer Bibi Bloos’s performance pieces, which include violence and tribal ritual. Bibi slowly draws Tess into an emotional and physical relationship that is overshadowed by Bibi’s increasing preoccupation with transcending the limits of her body through cutting, scarring, and piercing.
City Infernal (Edward Lee)
This book might stop most readers simply because it belongs in that niche genre, Splatterpunk. This is Hell as seen through the eyes of a seriously messed up, depraved mind…yet written so well, you can’t look away. In the end, though, you’ll wish you had looked away. In this book, Hell is a city — a bustling, demented city where people get transmogrification surgeries and things tend to wind up very backwards and very nasty.
There you have it my lovelies, five nasty little reads I’m both glad I read, but regretful I read at night. Well, not really… as I don’t scare very easily. But you, on the other hand, might well pee your pantaloons when you behold the horror listed above. You’ve been warned.