Every morning on my way to work I pass a man who walks along with his head buried in a book. He is so engrossed that he almost bumps into passers-by. Yesterday I noticed what he was reading. It happened to be a James Herbert horror.
Horror! You can’t beat it in any season. We might be almost as close to Xmas now as we are away from Halloween, but I’m still working my way through a list of great scary books. Here are a few I recommend:
Barbara Erskine – House of Echoes:
This one had a nice slow build. The spooky atmosphere was hinted at from the start but I enjoyed how it didn’t follow the expected horror plot of the narrator telling the tale in retrospect. We follow the protagonist, Jocelyn, on her journey as she discovers an inheritance of the somewhat dilapidated but still beautifully romantic Belheddon Manor. Many twists ensue involving crazy-making by ghosts and resulting human drama from her husband and sister on top of the supernatural occurences. Very enjoyable.
Susan Hill – The Woman in Black
A classic ghost story, which has not only made it into theatres and the cinema but is on many GCSE course lists. A traditional first person ghostly account with some frightening extras that reminded me more of Japanese ghost stories in terms of how the ghosts can follow people and wreak havoc away from the source of the haunting. Unexpected ending too.
Jonathan Aycliffe – Naomi’s Room
Very frightening! This was my favourite overall as it dished out a good serving of classic psychological horror along with a fair amount of gore. I enjoyed the character development (or maybe degeneration is more accurate!)
Jonathan Aycliffe – The Matrix
Nothing to do with the movie of the same title, The Matrix is a nice change of pace from ghost horror, instead dealing with witchcraft and sinister dark-arts cults. I haven’t yet finished this one but it has me gripped! The journey of the main character from ordinary academic into shady occultist is an intriguing idea.