While my time in the Army was coming to a close, I felt a real drawback to books and writing. Something was happening to me on an unconscious level; the need to write was slowly beginning to reemerge. Looking back at my kindle purchases from that time, it’s now so obvious that I wanted to write a horror novel. In preparation to write my own story, I searched the web for what people regarded as the best in the genre. I consumed a lot of books during that time. Some of them I number as the best books I have ever read, and others I found just weren’t for me.

What you fear and what you find scary are deeply personal and subjective things. I believe it speaks volumes about the kind of person you are and what values you hold most dear. The following books speak to my own fears, my own values. I make no guarantee that they will speak to yours, but if you let them in, you just might find them sneaking back into your conscious on those darkest of nights.

Note: The following recommendations are given in no particular order.

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1)The Howling

Year
1977

Author
Gary Brandner

Summary

Karyn Beatty and her husband, Roy, move from L.A. to a secluded mountain town to escape the painful memories of a recent trauma. As Karyn becomes more and more convinced that a darkness looms over the town, Roy sees his wife become increasingly unstable. Can Karyn convince her husband of the impending doom before the town of Drago reveals its dark secret and consumes her family?

Notes

Horror film enthusiasts may recognize this novel as the inspiration for the 1981 film of the same name, which is regarded as one of the best werewolf films to have ever hit the big screen. While I am a fan of the film, the book is even better. The advantage of a well-written novel is the ability to fill the pages with your characters thoughts and fears. If done perfectly, they become your reader’s thoughts and fears. In this regard, the novel outshines the film. It’s a must read for werewolf fans or anyone who enjoys a pluck at the heartstrings.

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2)Penpal

Year
2012

Author
Dathan Auerbach

Summary

An unnamed narrator finds himself the subject of an unknown stalker’s obsession. Through a series of non-linear flashbacks, the narrator stumbles upon the truth of his childhood in which an array of bizarre and downright creepy events unfolded.

Notes

David Auerbach’s novel is the embodiment of a self-made dream come true. Penpal finds its roots in a series of Creepypasta Reddit posts that Auerbach published under the pseudonym 1000Vultures. There was such a demand for more of his posts that he decided to flesh it out in a full-blown novel, which he successfully Kickstarted and self-published.

His novel plays with the idea of the ever-changing nature of context in our lives. We see things differently as a child than we do as an adult looking back at those same events. Auerbach’s narrator never saw anything wrong with his childhood until he took a trip down memory lane and connected the dots of a terrifying puzzle. What’s worst is his family’s involvement with his ignorance. It makes you wonder what kind of things your own parents may have hidden from you…

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3)Salem’s Lot

Year
1975

Author
Stephen King

Summary

Ben Mears has returned to his small hometown of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine. The author hopes to write a book about the enigmatic Marsten House, an abandoned home that terrified him as a child. However, when the town’s folk begin dying and disappearing, he realizes the evil of Marsten House has attracted a greater evil. Barlow has come to Jerusalem’s Lot and he’s claimed the town as his own.

Notes

In my mind, Salem’s Lot is the quintessential vampire novel(behind Dracula, of course). The funny thing is the vampires aren’t the stars of the show, nor is the imposing Marsten House. They are merely the symptoms of an ever growing cancer: the town of Jerusalem’s Lot.

Stephen King clearly knows a thing or two about quiet New England towns. They have a picturesque beauty about them that screams classic Americana. King pulls back the veneer to show that the citizens of Jerusalem’s Lot can be just as rotten as people living anywhere else. It’s the evil within their own hearts that allows Marsten House to exist and it’s their sin that lures Barlow to the cozy town. Jerusalem’s Lot was already a place of evil. Now it’s just as monstrous on the outside as it is on the inside.

Have you already read these? What did you think? Sound off in the comments below.