Random (but not really)

Thursday, May 9, 2019


Here’s a question for you: What is horror?

Specifically, horror in books.

What qualifies a story as horror? Is it a feeling it gives you? Is it the presence of monsters? Is it terrible things happening to characters?

I’ve always had an odd relationship with dark fantasy and horror. I’m fine with monsters and murder (though not with details about torture) but because of my hatred of horror movies, I’ve always avoided anything categorized as horror. I am easily started and HATE that feeling, so I’ve always associated horror with monsters jumping out from behind doors.

But I’m not necessarily sure what I’ve been avoiding is the thing that I hate so much.

I love Simon R. Green and Thieves’ World. Mike Carey’s Felix Castor and Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series are full of demons and monsters. And I think the movies based on Sergei Lukyanenko’s Night Watch series were classified as horror.

On the other hand, one of the most distressing books I’ve read was Joyce Carol Oates “Blonde” which was the fictionalized story of Marilyn Monroe. And I’d rather stab myself in the thigh with a fork than ever read China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station ever again.

Are those horror? I found them both horrific and they both made me completely and utterly miserable.

I enjoyed “The Sandman” comics but really disliked “Preacher”.

So what is horror? Have I been missing things I might have liked because they fell under the umbrella or horror? Or have I mostly been avoiding things that would make me miserable?

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