What do you find scary? It is not always the obvious monster in the dark that is truly scary. Sometimes it is the monster in ourselves, people in power, our loved ones, or even that innocent looking child down the street that is the most frightening. Here are some books that might scare you in unexpected ways, and make for a supernatural read at the same time.
Toni Andrews scares us with her Mercy Holling series, which starts with Beg for Mercy. It is not the things that go bump in the night that will make you nervous in this series. It is the abilities of Mercy, whom developed a special ability at puberty to influence people’s will. If Mercy is angry and tells you to go jump off a bridge, you will. Imagine that as a teenager, all the implications of losing your temper ad saying something rash. Now imagine trying to control what you say while drunk, angry or joking to be sure that you do not hurt or kill someone. If she can do all of that then what can your next-door neighbor do?
Laurell K. Hamilton writes a more traditionally scary set of novels with her Anita Blake series. Starting with Guilty Pleasures, we are immersed in a world of vampires, shape shifters and power struggles to be in charge or kill those that defy you. Anita is a vampire hunter with some added abilities. She kills the monsters, but on some level, she is not very different from them. As the series progresses lines between human and monster are bent and broken and leave the reader wondering about the true nature of the own self as well as that of those around them. One word of warning, the plot seems to fade and fall away for a few books in the middle of the series and the books tend to revolve around the more intimate moments of the character’s lives. Do not read this series if you are offended by sexual situations. Frankly some of what Hamilton writes in that arena might be as scary as her vampire and zombies if it catches you unaware.
I now have to admit it; a teen novel series scared me. Darren Shan, known for a vampire series recently made into a movie, has a series called the Demonata. The first book, Lord Loss, bothered me enough that I have yet to be able to go back and finish the series. The books are all short, but extremely disturbing with visions of our world and that of demons being very close, with only a very thin veil between them. There is gore, more than I usually need in a horror book or movie, but plenty of physiological fear inducers too.
I have been focusing on novels published fairly recently, but if you really want to be scared then I suggest looking into some classics. Stephen King’s Misery or The Shining will get to me every time. I cannot even read It because clowns already bother me, if I read the book I would be traumatized at the next child’s birthday party sporting a clown. No thank you. Like in the Mercy Holling series, what make these so scary is that the action does not seem too far removed from reality. It feels like it could happen, and the worst things are what you see in your mind rather than what is spelled out for you on the page. I remember reading a couple books by Dean Koontz and Robin Cook in the 1990’s that seriously frightened me, and though I can almost picture the covers, I cannot seem to recall the titles.
To continue in the theme of slightly older material than check out the work of Algernon Blackwood. The Wendigo and The Willows give me the shivers just thinking about them. H.P. Lovecraft’s works are also guaranteed chill inducers and completely disturbing. I am barely even scratching the surface of paranormal stories that can completely freak me out, there are just too many out there to name, but these are my go to materials for when I want a scare from my reading material.