"Will You Step into My Parlor?"
This guide will introduce you to horror fiction, describe its major subgenres, and help you find your next scary read..
Traditional Horror Subgenres
Why won't the poor soul rest?
Ghost Story (1998)
In this tale of supernatural revenge, five men accidentally kill a young woman and conceal her death. Eva Galli, the victim, avenges her death in a frightening way.
In Thane's two-hanky ghostly romance, death does not end a relationship; it begins one.
What is more frightening than a house possessed?
Hell House (1971)
A physicist and two mediums, hired to determine the truth about the afterlife, discover how a creepy old house in Maine got its name.
A Winter Haunting (2002)
Simmons' small-town midwestern upbringing served as inspiration for this novel, in which an ex-novelist retreats to a deserted farmhouse in his boyhood town, hoping for peace, and finds the reverse.
The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
Shy, vulnerable loner Eleanor Vance receives an invitation from Dr. John Montague to a ghost watch at Hill House, a notorious estate in New England.
Anne Rivers Siddons
The House Next Door (1971)
Stephen King described this book as an example of "the new American gothic."
Darling, don't you think your makeover is a bit too extreme?
Many of Lovecraft's legendary (and weird!) stories, written in a highly distinctive style, feature Cthulhu, whose "pulpy tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings."
Mary Wollenscraft Shelley
A young Swiss student discovers the secret of animating lifeless matter and, by assembling body parts, creates a monster who vows revenge on his creator after being rejected by society.
Robert Louis Stevenson
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)
This landmark work, based on a dream and written and printed in ten weeks, has inspired at least twenty screen adaptations and several sequels by authors such as Loren D. Estelman, Robert Bloch, and Valerie Martin.
Occult, Supernatural, and Demonic Possession
Hey, Hon, what's got into you?
The Exorcist (1971)
The inspiration for Blatty's best-known work dated to 1949 when Blatty was a student at Georgetown University and read local newspaper accounts of an exorcism involving a fourteen-year-old boy in Mount Rainier, Maryland.
Rosemary's Baby (1967)
Levin's most famous work, in which an apparently average couple find new friends among devil worshippers, was a huge best seller, and the film version starred Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes.
The Picture of Dorian Grey (1891)
As a young man Dorian Grey wished that a portrait of him would grow old and ugly, and that he would stay young, innocent, and fresh forever. It almost worked.
Sink your teeth into that-AND THAT-AND THAT!!
The Historian (2005)
Three generations of scholars follow the trail of Dracula from medieval times to the present.
The Vampire Chronicles and the New Tales of the Vampires
The elegant, passionate heroes and heroines of these series altered our way of thinking about vampires.
Stoker's novel about the infamous Count Dracula has spawned an enormous and long-standing interest in vampires.
Werewolves and Animals Run Rampant
Madam, curb your beast!
One of horror's most popular, talented, and prolific writers, Koontz creates grotesque worlds filled with high suspense. In Watchers, a man, woman, and dog flee a horrific result of genetic manipulation, a freakish beast called "The Outsider."
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)
The survivor of a shipwreck is rescued by the infamous Dr. Moreau, whose island is inhabited by half human and half animal creatures.
Newer Horror Subgenres
Medical Horror: Where's My Pancreas?
Doctors, sometimes mad, and hospitals in which unnatural medicine is practiced.
Since the publication of Coma in 1977, Cook, who is a physician, has been the leading writer of medical horror.
Gerritsen is a retired physician, whose inspiration for writing Harvest, her first novel, stemmed from an alleged incident involving missing Russian orphans who were being shipped abroad as organ donors.
Palmer's novels center on physicians attempting to get to the bottom of dark, frightening events.
Psychological Horror: Mental Mayhem
A dark atmosphere in which the characters' own thoughts, fears, guilt, and emotional instability take over their physical world.
Daphne Du Maurier
After a naive young woman marries a wealthy Englishman, his dead prior wife, Rebecca, haunts their marriage.
After a car accident, a romance writer becomes the helpless hostage of his "number-one fan."
The Unloved (1988)
When a man brings his wife and children to visit his hated mother, in South Carolina, terrible family secrets threaten to destroy them.
Splatterpunk: Horror's Cutting Edge
Less mainstream and more experimental, with graphic violence, harsh language, and sexual descriptions.
Finding Horror on the Web
Guides to Types of Horror
Library Booklists--Horror and Gothic Literature
List of themed horror booklists.
Library Thing--Tagmash Search
Search for your favorite kind of book in the box on the upper right, using words other people would be likely to use and separating them with commas (for example, "scary, zombies" or "vampires, fiction").
Award Winners and Favorites
The International Horror Guild Awards
These annual awards are based on public recommendations.
The Bram Stoker Awards
The Horror Writers Association bases these annual awards on the recommendations of its members.
If you would like to know more about horror fiction, e-mail us through our Ask-A-Librarian service, call us at (410) 396-5484, or mail your questions to:
Enoch Pratt Free Library
State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201