Curl up next to the fire with a blanket, some tea and a new read
Avery Nowicki // Communities Editor
Andy Poystila // Crew Illustrator
You’ve been told to read the classics of skin-crawling horror time and time again. However, this list will not endow you with more recommendations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, or (almost) anything by Stephen King, as we’re sure you’ve heard about those enough. Instead, let us introduce you to the unexpected horror novels beloved by true thriller fans, with some must-read classics to gather from the library.
All authors and books listed can be found at CapU Library, Vancouver Public Library, or North Vancouver Public Library.
Dark Tales (2016) by Shirley Jackson (1916 – 1965)
The wonderfully terrifying writings of Shirley Jackson never fail to induce a fear that sticks to your skin. From her famous 1948 New Yorker short story The Lottery, to her ever-beloved 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson writes horror like no other. While many horror fans may have read (or rather watched) The Haunting of Hill House, her beautiful collection, Dark Tales is a resurgence of the magnificent mid century author. With an introduction by BookTok darling, Ottessa Moshfegh, authour of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, this collection is a must own for many, including yours truly.
Shirley Jackson’s novels and stories are available at the VPL.
Interview With the Vampire (1976) by Anne Rice (1941 – 2021)
For any of us not alive in 1994, you may be somewhat unfamiliar with Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire or the subsequent film adaptation. The story follows a vampire named Louis as he recounts how he became a vampire and his indoctrination into the eternal lifestyle. It’s conversion into a star-studded film, featured Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt with fangs, and a 12-year-old Kirsten Dunst in her debut role. Interview With the Vampire changed the way vampires were written, carving out the path for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries, and the unforgettable Twilight.
Available at NVPL, and VPL.
Haunted (2005) by Chuck Palahniuk (1962 – )
Chuck Palahniuk, the infamous author of Fight Club (1996), has a storied past as an author. His 2005 short story collection sees him dabbling into the horror genre, combining his wit and clever undertones in these 23 stories. Told from the perspective of a group of people who have answered an ad for a writer’s retreat and accidentally joined a Survivor-esque horror scenario, the ruthlessness of the plot boils over as they continue on, creating a truly disturbing read. This story could only be plucked from the mind of Palahniuk.
Available at the VPL.
Providence (2021) by Alan Moore (1953 – ) and Jacen Burrows (1972 – )
H.P. Lovecraft is known for his near-perfect horror, though those of us who want to enjoy his literary world while boycotting the author and his bigoted views, allow me to introduce you to Providence. Written by Alan Moore, author of Watchmen, and V for Vendetta, Moore is the king of the satiric comic novel. He writes from inside Lovecraft’s world, following a gay man as he discovers that the ‘horror’ he is facing is his repressed sexuality. A masterpiece in many ways, Moore delivers the horror you love, while satirizing its influence.
P.S. for CapU literature students, can you guess who this recommendation comes from?
Alan Moore’s other works can be found at NVDPL.
Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013) by Ahmed Saadawi (1973 – )
Finally, take a turn from Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein to a gut-wrenching novel of political activism and horror fiction. Set in the streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, author Ahmed Saadawi follows Hadi, a scavenger collecting human body parts. Hadi begins to stitch them together to create a corpse. His goal being for the government to recognize the parts as people and give them a proper burial. Though, when the corpse not only goes missing, but begins a murderous rampage, Hadi soon realizes what he’s created.
Available at CapU Library.
In closing, whether you are reading an old horror classic, short story, or contemporary thriller, I encourage you to carve out some time this October to read something frightful. Step away from the textbooks, and go explore the horror fiction in your local library. You never know what you may find, or what terrifying nightmares are bound to follow you for months to come.
A special thank you to CapU’s beloved literature professor, Kent Lewis, for the horrifying recommendations.