3 Amazing Horror Authors and Why You Should Read Them

I’m doing a giveaway! To celebrate Halloween, I’m participating in All Hallow’s Read by giving away two of my very favorite scary books: the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King’s The Shining. You can enter by commenting on any/all of my blog posts this month. If we break 50 comments (we’re already almost halfway there!), I’ll throw in a third favorite scary book: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. If you missed the announcement last week, you can view the rules here. So today I thought I’d take some time to talk a little about these books and their authors, both so you know which book to choose if you win and just because I love talking about my favorite books! Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Edgar Allan Poe

The Relevant Work

Because Edgar Allan Poe is a short story author and poet, it’s easy to get books that have almost everything he’s written, sometimes even including his literary criticism and essays. He was so prolific that most people will want to start with the highlights. My don’t-miss list includes these poems: “The Raven,” “A Dream Within A Dream,” “The Bells,” and “Annabel Lee.” My don’t-miss short stories are: “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

Why It’s Amazing

Poe excels at many things. The atmospheres he creates are unmatched by any other writer, living or dead. I don’t believe you can sit down to read one of Poe’s masterpieces and not become deeply drawn into the mood he’s created. On top of that, his best stories are surprisingly modern in their entertainment value. His prose is more flowery than that of most authors today, but if anything that only serves to heighten the sense of magic when reading. Poe knows how to weave a short story plot like none other, and his poetry shimmers with brilliance. (Convinced yet?)

Who Should Read It

Everyone. Yes, everyone. And no, I won’t say this for all three authors. Every person should read at least some Poe in their life. Even if you don’t like macabre things, Poe has options for you. He has plenty of poetry that is deep and melancholy rather than scary, and his short stories range far beyond horror with mysteries, science fiction, and even humor. Not sure where to start? Tell me your tastes and I’m happy to give you a recommendation!

Stephen King

The Relevant Work

I’m giving away my favorite King novel. The Shining is about a family of three who spend a winter as the off-season caretakers of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. With a touch of supernatural and a nerve-wracking atmosphere of psychological terror, this is absolutely the scariest novel I’ve ever read. If you’ve already read The Shining, my other favorites by King include ‘Salem’s Lot (vampires), Pet Sematary (the one with the toddler and the cat), and The Tommyknockers (aliens). It (clown) is still on my to-read list, but it’s also popular.

Why It’s Amazing

There’s one thing Stephen King does better than any other author: fear. There have been three scenes so far in my life that have scared me on a physical, visceral level (afraid to get out of bed, stomach churning – that type of thing). Two of those three scenes are in The Shining. Ironically, neither one is in the movie version with Jack Nicholson, so I always encourage people to read the book even if they’ve already seen the movie. If you’re wondering, the third scene that scared me was in ‘Salem’s Lot. See? King’s the master of scary.

Who Should Read It

Anyone who wants to be well and truly scared by a book! Also: brave writers studying commercial fiction craft. King has it down.

Mark Z. Danielewski

The Relevant Work

House of Leeeeaves! I fan-girl pretty hard over this one. It doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m with: if someone brings up this book I am going to be entrenched in animated discussion for at least the next half hour. This is a book you could read and re-read for the rest of your life and still find something new every time. The deceptively simple premise: a young family moves into a house that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Why It’s Amazing

I’ve done a full-out rave post about House of Leaves before, but I’ll give you the highlights here. House of Leaves is the most ambitious book I’ve ever read. It’s layers of story mixed together in a clever, thoughtful way that forces the reader to become an active participant in interpreting the text. It’s an assault on the nature of story itself. The dark humor behind this method lends itself to satire, but the complicated maze of structure, narrator, and plot creates a disorienting, claustrophobic effect that becomes unsettling if not downright scary. Add on top of all this moments of bright humor, touching poignancy, chilling fear, and unbelievable originality. You guys, this book changed me. Even though this behemoth is 700 complex pages, I read it in less than a week and I was breathless when I finished. I devoured every word. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I even read the index.

Who Should Read It

I do not recommend this book for everyone. It definitely isn’t for readers who want a fast, easy read. Who it is for: readers who love intellectual, literary fiction that you can really spend time on and become lost in. Readers with ambitious taste who like to be challenged. A taste for horror is probably helpful, although I don’t think this book is “scary” in a way that would put off people who avoid scary movies. It will, however, mess with your mind, so House of Leaves is best suited to those with dark propensities.

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There you have it: my three favorite scary books, why they’re amazing, and why should read them. Want a chance to read them for free? Comment below to be entered to win! And don’t forget: the more posts you comment on this month the better chance you have at being drawn.

Now it’s your turn. I am always looking for more books that will well and truly get under my skin. What’s your favorite scary book, and why?

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