Dear Tribune Readers • You know how I occasionally like to make book recommendations? Well, October seems like the perfect month to talk about “horror” as a genre — which, btw, I never read, unless you count the daily news. So I asked my friend Claire Margetts, bookseller and horror aficionado extraordinaire, to a) explain why she loves herself some horror and b) to make a few recommendations for you.
“I like the feeling of being scared for characters,” Claire says, “and I know this sounds crazy, but I like the blood and guts and screams. Sometimes it’s really fun to look at a page and think, ‘GROSS!!’”
Claire goes on: “The stories usually have interesting characters that you can root for — and you can invest more of your emotions in them since you know so much more is at stake. And the feeling of being scared for them and not knowing what’s around any corner is thrilling!” She acknowledges that the emotional roller-coaster ride that good horror novels provide can be cathartic. And, finally, Claire observes that horror is “just far-fetched enough that it’s not like reading about real life. Sometimes dramatic realistic literature hits too close to home with the real horrors we encounter in everyday life. Even though horror can get serious, you know there is going to be at least SOME victory in the end, which I like. In a way, horror books are super optimistic because usually at least one person makes it out alive!”
Here are a few of Claire’s recommendations, her comments included:
- “We Sold Our Souls” by Grady Hendrix — funny and intense. What happens when the frontman of a metal band sells the souls of his bandmates without them knowing it?
- “The Troop” by Nick Cutter — it’s like “Lord of the Flies” meets “The Thing.”
- “NOS4A2” and “Wraith” (a graphic novel) by Joe Hill — Hill is Stephen King’s son and has the vibe of a young Stephen King. Take a trip into Christmas Land … if you dare!
- “Lost Gods” by Brom — a journey through hell but with great world-building.
- “The Boy Who Drew Monsters” by Keith Donohue — atmospheric and good for someone who isn’t into blood and guts.
- “The Hunger” by Alma Katsu — something plagues the Donner Party more than just their usual nightmare scenario, and that’s saying a lot!
- “Little Star” by John Ajvide Lindqvist — the music industry has never been so horrifying.
- “Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll — a beautifully illustrated graphic novel with short stories. It’s simply gorgeous, and the bite-size chilling stories are incredible.
I also solicited recommendations from members of Utah’s thriving community of writers for children and young adults. A few of their suggestions (not for children) are listed alphabetically by author below. Enjoy!
- “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake
- “World War Z” by Max Brooks
- “The Halloween Tree” and “The October Country” by Ray Bradbury
- “House of Leaves” by Mark Danielewski
- “The Haunting of Hill House” and “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson
- “Salem’s Lot,” “The Stand,” “Misery,” “Bag of Bones,” “Needful Things,” “IT” and just about anything else by Stephen King
- “Odd Thomas” by Dean Koontz
- “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova
- “Songs of a Dead Dreamer” and “Grimscribe” by Thomas Ligotti
- “Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft” by H.P. Lovecraft
- “Bird Box” by Josh Malerman
- “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson
- “Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea” by Mike Mignola
- “Slade House” by David Mitchell
- “Swamp Thing” by Alan Moore
- “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
- “Summer of Night” by Dan Simmons
- “Dracula” by Bram Stoker
- “A Head Full of Ghosts” by Paul Tremblay