Halloween Spotlight : Simply Terrifying Books


By Umi Chilemba

5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

The intense portrayal of jealousy, intrigue and fear in Du Maurier’s work effectively makes Rebecca, as the sole novel written by a female writer in this rundown, one of the best crafted psychological thrillers of any era. The uniqueness of the horror represented in Du Maurier’s Rebecca is that the unnamed protagonist’s principal nemesis is at once deceased and yet simultaneously entirely omnipresent. The conclusion to Rebecca serves as perhaps one of the most effective, and the most memorable of any fiction novel in its genre.

4. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Published in 1897, Bram Stoker’s Dracula essentially set the mould for horror storytelling, and soon gained pre-eminence as the undisputed work of a genius. The effectiveness of this novel as a horror is to be located in its author’s ability to use vampirism as an allegory for sexual and psychological repression, whilst combining this with visceral and frequently shocking representations of violence. A classic masterpiece, but most certainly not for the faint of heart!

3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Although not strictly a horror novel, Capote’s finest and most controversial work provides some of the most chilling and suspenseful moments in its faithful rendition of the murder of a middle-class American family in Kansas in 1959 at the hands of two disfranchised young men.  In Cold Blood provides a hauntingly bleak examination of the psyche of the two killers at the centre of the text, and most memorably, reconstructs, with grim precision the events which lead up to and follow a seemingly senseless murder. While seamlessly walking the line between journalism and fiction., the brilliance of Capote’s writing is such that he manages to maintain suspense throughout the book, despite the fact that the audience is already aware of its outcome.

2. The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe’s work combines physical horror with intense suspense to deliver a short but brilliant representation of paranoia, fear and mania; the beauty of this story is its brilliance in drawing the audience into the mind of an irrational killer, as well as the protagonist’s utterance of perhaps one of the most memorable lines in literature (‘here, here! — it is the beating of his hideous heart’). The story also explores the significance of the link between hyper-rationality and insanity, providing its readers with a representation of evil which shies away from reassuringly cliché motives, implying something perhaps more sinister about the nature of iniquity.

1. The Shining by Stephen King

Stephen King’s supernatural thriller combines psychological horror with haunting visuals to provide some of the scariest modern fiction of the twentieth century. In his representation of illogical violence and madness King’s brilliant use of suspense makes for both terrifying and spellbinding reading. A long, but essential read for fans of terse and intense horror, from the master of storytelling.

~ All photos supplied


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