Not-so-Horrific Horror

Halloween or not, I can only read so many scary books at a time.  As much as I love twisted stories, my brain can only take so much.  So I tried asking my fellow librarians for help.  I asked them to send me the titles of their favorite horror novels, so that I could make a list.

The nearly unanimous response?  “I don’t really read horror fiction.”

‘kay then, I’ll just sit here…alone…reading scary books…alone…sigh…

Apparently I’m the only librarian at CPL who really enjoys twisted, gory, disturbing, terrifying books.

Not to freak you out or anything.

And you know, it’s okay.  Not everybody likes to be scared or disturbed.  All the same, we wouldn’t want to leave you slightly squeamish folks out of the Halloween fun.  “Continue Reading” to see some not-so-scary reading suggestions.

Sometimes genres are tricky to define.  Particularly nowadays, when genre-bending and blending is all the rage.  Romantic vampires, sympathetic serial killers, monster novels based in science.  What did my fellow librarians hear when I mentioned horror?  What do I mean when I say “Horror Fiction”?

Blending “kitten” with “witch hat” and “happy ghosts.”

Joyce Saricks, a Readers’ Advisory librarian and author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, puts it like this: “Horror fiction has as its goal producing fear in readers.  It contains a monster of some type, and supernatural elements figure prominently…What is important is the feeling of foreboding that permeates the novels, the sense of unease.”

So there you are–the important thing when it comes to defining Horror is the book’s intention.  A book can scare you or creep you out without technically falling into the Horror category, after all.  A story can contain monsters and not be trying to scare you.  What’s important is the general atmosphere.

So today I’ll offer you some titles that have horror elements, but are not actually Horror novels.  They’re not trying to scare you.

Or if they are, it’s just for class credit. But don’t worry, they’re quite incompetent and the whole situation will be very entertaining and hilarious.

I made a special, affectionately titled Chicken List for those of you who don’t like intense horror.   It’s dark fiction for the delicate.  Becky at RA For All: Horror has some wonderful lists, including Horror for the Squeamish.  The list of books I made for those who like Tim Burton movies might also have a few titles of interest.

Here are a few of my favorite not-so-scary reads:

The Gates by John Connolly
Very Terry Pratchett-esque, a story about a boy and his dog who uncover some strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road three days before Halloween.

Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
A vampire romance wherein a young writer from Indiana falls in love with a freshly-turned vampire in San Francisco.  Lots of jokes, great characters, giant turtles, and turkey bowling.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Coraline discovers a mysterious door in her new house that leads to a strange sort of mirror universe–complete with her Other Mother.  Everything is wonderful in this Other place for a while, but soon things take a dark turn…

My passion for the twisted and scary really comes out at Halloween.  But I’m not actually scary.  Really.  Come by the library and ask me for a horror (or not-so-horror) reading suggestion–you’ll see!

“Don’t be afraid.”

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