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Four Horror Literature Recommendations

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The horror genre for any media type is intended to scare, startle, and disgust audiences. Its origins begin in folklore, focusing on death, the afterlife, and evil forces. As time went on, the horror began to be less about abstract concepts and more about fictional creatures; some of the favorites being werewolves and vampires. Those monsters became popular in the 19th century, with works like Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818) and Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897).

The horror genre as we know it took shape in the 20th century. H.P. Lovecraft wrote stories of Cthulhu, defining science fiction horror, also known as cosmic horror. The horror genre in film took inspiration from true crime, specifically serial murderers. When slasher movies became successful, literature reflected.


In 1974, Stephen King published Carrie, starting his career and becoming an iconic novel. It became highly successful, and he could commit to writing full time. King has written 63 novels, becoming known as the king of horror. It can be challenging to search for a new book to read, especially horror. Although Stephen King is an excellent writer, there are hundreds of compelling books. As a fan of the horror genre, here are four books I think you should read.

Room by Emma Donahue


Five-year-old Jack and his mother, Ma, have one of the closest relationships that a mother and son can have. They spend all of their time together – playing games, homeschooling, and whatever else they can do in the 11-foot by 11-foot room where they reside. We learn that Ma has been in this room for eight years, but what happens before Jack’s fifth birthday is unknown, where the story begins.

The horror is not how Ma arrived or what happens to her and Jack, but instead that Jack is the narrator. Within his limited worldview, we see a mother who is trying her hardest to ensure that her son is as healthy and safe as can be – but to Jack, she is only being mean. The main conflict isn’t seen right away, not because Jack isn’t aware of it, but because Ma doesn’t tell him. They need to get out of the room, away from Old Nick, the man who abducted Ma.

Room is a thriller, but the events in the book are horrifying and disgusting. I was amazed at how Ma created an entire life for Jack. Their days are filled with activities to make sure he grows up properly. When Jack starts to question everything he sees on the TV, Ma is hurt, knowing she can’t take him out of the room. When this starts to happen, the book picks up speed. The heartbreak I felt through reading the beginning of the book is replaced by excitement and hope when Ma starts to figure out a plan to escape, to give Jack a new life.

KIN by Kealan Patrick Burke


In rural Elkwood, Alabama, the story begins when Claire Lambert escapes the Merill family, who tortured herself and killed her friends. After reaching the road, she is helped by two locals, Pete, and his father, and survives. When she returns to her hometown, Columbus, Ohio, the criminal justice system has failed her, so somebody takes matters into their own hands.

Many things are unique about this story, the most important being the written perspective. The story is told in the third person, showing the aftermath of Claire escaping. The book doesn’t only tell her story, and it shares what happens to Pete, his father, and the Merrill family. Not only does it give more depth to the world and the characters, but it also adds a new layer of horror to what happened to Claire and her friends.

From the second Claire survived, I needed to know how this book was going to end. I was hoping that the rest of the book would be her getting revenge, but instead I saw the dynamics of the Merrill family. Seeing the family dynamic and the reason they killed was the most interesting part of the book. The delusion that the family has shows who they are; sadistic people who are willing to do everything, even kill each other, to complete the mission.

Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu


Published almost three decades before Dracula, Carmilla is one of the first works in vampire fiction. This story takes place in a remote castle in Styria, occupied by Laura and her father. Since they live in the deep woods, they rarely have visitors – until a carriage breaks down. When Carmilla stays with Laura and her father for three months, a strange amount of deaths surround them. Suddenly, Laura starts to get sick.

For the year it is written, there is a solid lesbian element. Upon meeting, Laura is infatuated by Carmilla, and they develop feelings for each other. Laura notices that Carmilla is acting strangely; she had nocturnal habits and reacted poorly to hymns. Within all of this confusion, Laura ends up getting sick for weeks, getting bit by a vampire.

I read this book because I was curious about how vampire fiction became popular. The story itself was great, but my favorite thing is how beautifully it was written. I loved how Laura spoke about her feelings towards Carmilla, and I adored how they talked to eachother. I have never heard such endearing expressions before.

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica


Animal meat is now contaminated by a virus, leaving humans unable to eat it. Fortunately, the market has created Special Meat to consume instead. Throughout the novel, we see the societal transition to eat Special Meat and other practices. Marcus Tejo works at one of the factories that process the new meat, giving a different perspective. Not only do we get to see an individual who doesn’t seem to like meat, but we also see how humans are bred and processed.

Marcus’s wife has been living with her mother since their newborn baby died, and his father’s dementia is getting worse. Then, he is gifted a top-grade human, Jasmine, along with all of this stress. He has a few options; sell, slaughter, or breed. He keeps Jasmine in the barn outside his house, not sure on what to do. This is where we see how Marcus feels about life after the Transition through how he treats Jasmine, if he considers factory-breed humans to be human.

This novel is intense, I was shocked and disgusted reading most of it. The idea of Special Meat itself is disgusting enough, but reading about how it is processed is even worse. Although we learn how it became a societal norm, you still wonder where people’s morality went. The circumstances of this book were enough to keep me reading, but after Jasmine moved into the house, I didn’t put it down.

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