I am not a huge fan of the typical horror novel. I much prefer psychological horror to the blood and guts variety. However, there are quite a few creepy tales that I do enjoy, simply because they find the balance that I love between supernatural events and psychological fear.
Today, I am sharing with you four classic creepy stories I enjoy.
The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book is a classic Neil Gaiman story about a boy who is raised by ghosts in a graveyard. One of the creepiest things about this story is that it is billed as a children’s tale. Being incredibly creeped out by it myself as an adult, I can only imagine how terrifying it would be for a child to read. The story starts out with a killer named Jack murdering a family. He misses the baby, though, because he escapes out the window and travels to the graveyard where he is raised by ghosts and given the name Nobody. When he becomes a teen, Nobody finds out that Jack is still trying to kill him because of a prophesy that says the boy will kill Jack if he doesn’t kill the boy first. This engages the two into an epic battle.
My favorite part of this story, and any Neil Gaiman story for that matter, is that is mixes creepy events and people with heartbreaking stories. I love how the ending of this story is both happy and incredibly sad at the same time. For me, the creepiest part about this story is not the supernatural creatures or even the murderous crazy man, but rather, how the story is told in a haunting way.
The Invisible Man
I find old horror novels quite interesting, although not as scary as I imagine they were meant to be. The Invisible Man was written by HG Wells in 1897 and follows the tale of insane doctor/scientist Griffin as he struggles against his own invisibility. Griffin found a way to refract light, then made his cat invisible and finally himself. After he became invisible, he realized that it wasn’t so great after all, so he tried to become visible again. In the process, he starts to hate life and everyone who is visible. He decides to start what he called a “reign of terror” where he would kill and terrorize as many people as he could. He planned to kill an old friend first.
The Invisible Man reminds me a bit of Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde. According to Wikipedia, The Invisible Man was influenced by the old myth of the Ring of Gyges mentioned by Plato. This fable questions whether a person would remain moral if they had no consequences for their immoral actions. Of course, in The Invisible Man, there are consequences for his actions, because he is caught multiple times.
If you like old Victorian novels and H.G. Wells, then you will like this story. I like it because it focuses on the sort of psychological haunting and moral dilemma that I love best in a story.
Another sort of creepy story that I love is Treasure Box by Orson Scott Card. This story follows the adventures of a man who loses his sister at a young age and puts his life on hold for decades. When he is in his mid-30s (and rich from programming), he decides to find a wife and settle down. Of course, he ends up choosing the entirely wrong wife. I love this story because it is a strange mix of completely mythical and entirely realistic. It makes the supernatural feel like it is lurking around the corner. I wrote a full review of Treasure Box back in 2013, which you can read here.
Lost Boys is probably the creepiest story I have ever read (expect for Coraline, which I could not finish because it creeped me out so much). In this story, Atari programmer Step moves his family (3 kids and one on the way) to North Carolina for a new job. All seems well at first, but their new house keeps getting invaded by bugs. An elderly handyman, known as Bappy, helps them drive the bugs away. After the bug invasion, Step’s eldest son starts to withdraw at school. As the story progresses, more and more creepy events are revealed.
I think I found this story creepy simply because the events seem almost normal. The family is normal, and the supernatural events slip in so slowly, you don’t even realize what they are until it is metaphorically too late. This book embodies everything I find terrifying, which is why it remains on the top of my creepy book list. If you like stories about normal life going horribly wrong (almost Gone Girl style), then you should like this book.
What are your favorite creepy tales?