Fuck zombies. Fuck ghosts. Fuck Godzilla and d’ya know what? Fuck Mothra, too.
(can I just point out this is the metaphorical ‘fuck’ and not the, er, literal ‘fuck’. Fucking a zombie would be classed as necrophilia, I do believe, and I really don’t want you guys hanging out in cemeteries, saying Jazz from I swoon over fictional men sent you…)
But yeah, metaphorically fuck these guys because do you know what is way, way scarier than all these beings combined? Normal, everyday things being implemented as tools of horror, that’s what!
For me, a truly terrifying horror novel revolves around something that we traditionally perceive as safe or, at least, relatively harmless suddenly becoming completely and utterly unsafe and capable of killing you within the time it takes you to yelp out “No, not my intestines!” (that damned Cujo)
As a result, my top 4 unexpected horror reads are themed around seemingly mundane things such as dogs, spiders and mirrors and while some might argue that these aren’t things that strike fear in our hearts quite in the way that long-haired ghost ladies do…
…they’re still terrifying in their realism alone. They make our blood run cold with the realization that the events contained within their pages (for now) could happen.
Let’s begin, shall we? Clocking in at number 1, we have…
Cujo by Stephen King
Now, a lot of people don’t agree with me, but I think Cujo is a fantastic little horror novel (perhaps novella would be a better term). It has a couple of minor supernatural elements that come into play later in the story, but the main focus of Cujo is, obviously, Cujo, a St Bernard struck down with rabies. What makes Cujo so terrifying for me is the fact that he begins life as a beloved family pet before his descent into rabies-induced madness. All of us, I imagine at some point or other, have had a pet and the thought of them turning on us with such horrific and devastating consequences is beyond scary. I picture my guinea pig lunging for my jugular and it genuinely makes the contents of my bowels move down a notch or two (more than a healthy dose of sarcasm there, just so you know). There’s themes of loss of control and identity running throughout this book and these are two of the biggest things that we as a species fear (perhaps generalizing a tad).
The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone
For the most part, spiders are relatively harmless (at least on this little island they are). Sure, they can be horrifically big and hairy, but there’s not many of us who can say they once knew someone who met their grisly end at the legs of a spider, right? The Hatching takes something we see everyday – be it in the garden or in our bathtub – and turns it into a monster that can strip the flesh and muscle from our bones in mere minutes. The horror lies in the fact that spiders are, quite literally, everywhere. If they turn against us, there’s nowhere to run or hide…
Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
I won’t reveal too much about this book (which, last time I heard, was being turned into a TV series? Are my sources wrong?), but I will say this; while it might seem the town’s resident witch is at the epicenter of all the evil and horror, the truth might just surprise you. To use an old cliche, the real horror can be found within…(is that a cliche or is that just something semi cool-sounding I made up?)
Ghost in the Mirror by R.L Stine
I can hear certain people sniggering and I can tell you this right now; this book is genuinely really fucking scary! I might be nearing 25, but the memory of this book still haunts me and I still have difficulty looking in a mirror too long in case my reflection winks or grins at me. Mirrors are everywhere and the thought of them displaying something that isn’t standing in front of them is genuinely a massive phobia of mine. This book scared me so much as a kid, I hid it under my chest of drawers and when I accidentally pulled it out some years later, I near enough screamed. If you haven’t quite grasped just how much mirrors terrify me, perhaps the knowledge that I turn my bedroom mirror around at night, so it’s facing the wall, might convince you. I’m not having my reflection crawling out and replacing me in the real world!
What are some of your unexpected horror reads? Let me know in the comments below!