With Halloween just a few days away, Rachel Vincent shares with us what scares her…
I come to urban fantasy by way of horror. I grew up reading horror—you know, those books in which the vampires and werewolves will actually eat you, instead of sparkling at or flirting with you. I’ve been reading Stephen King, Robert R. McCammon, Dean Koontz, and John Saul since I was in junior high, and at that time, they were all classified as horror. I read and loved stories of possessed cars, genetically altered people/creatures, post-apocalyptic battles between good and evil, and monsters galore.
In my youth, if no one was possessed, gored, murdered, mutilated, or tortured, I had no use for the book.
They still haven’t figured out exactly what’s wrong with me.
But out of all the horror I’ve read, and all the horror movies I’ve watched (and I’m a big horror movie fan), it’s the human monsters who scare me the most. Every. Single. Time.
I think that’s because for me, horror (much like romance) always seemed to be more fantasy than anything else. I don’t actually believe in ghosts, or vampires, or mythological monsters (or flawlessly handsome, patient, hot-for-only-me men), so it was impossible to truly be scared by them. But real life monsters? Psychopaths and sociopaths. Sadists. Cannibals. The truly insane. Those willing to do anything for profit—or worse, for entertainment.
Those are the things of my nightmares.
So, here are a few of the books that terrified me. [Warning: these are some seriously disturbing reads. Also, they are not the kind of thing I actually write.]
The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
This is the based-on-a-true story of a set of sisters who were left in the care of a psychopath who tortured them (mainly the older girl) in her basement and encouraged the neighborhood children to both watch and participate. Truly horrific. Difficult to read, and terrifying, because this really happened. Someone really did those horrible things to two innocent girls. And what’s even worse than that is the number of onlookers who let it happen.
The Hannibal Lector books – Thomas Harris
Hannibal Lector. That should say it all. Way scarier and more disturbing than the movies. Also, fantastic reads.
The Kay Scarpetta novels – Patricia Cornwell
These aren’t horror in the traditional sense; they’re murder mysteries, solved by a medical examiner. But the crimes she’s solving bothered me. Some of the murders are…sadistic.
And here are a few of the movies that scared that terrified me:
Psycho. Both the original and the remake. It’s the insanity factor. Not to mention the voyeurism, violence, and that creepy, off-the-grid feeling of the practically abandoned motel.
Borderland. This is another based-on-a-true story about some kinda-spoiled white college kids (though, to be fair, they’ve just graduated and are about to go to grad school) who head down to Mexico for some it-would-be-illegal-here fun and games—and wind up victims of some seriously vicious, gruesome Santeria-practicing locals. Again, the bad guys are insane. And psychopathic. And they don’t just kill/sacrifice their victims. They cut them into pieces first. And that evidently really happens. There’s nothing in the world scarier.
Last House on the Left. I tried to watch the original, and couldn’t get through it. The dated film quality and poor acting just didn’t hold my attention. But the remake is… Well, the first half is horrifying. Innocent people tortured, physically and psychologically by a foursome of psychos. Fortunately, the last half of the film is all about revenge, and…well, I love some revenge violence.
Rachel Vincent is the author of Alpha, part of her Shifter’s series about a pride of werecats which is out now from MIRA books £6.99, and in our shop. We’ll be bringing you our review of Alpha here soon.