Shadows and Monsters and Things that Go Bump!

Halloween is almost here, and today at Mysteristas we pause to think about the things–and more importantly the stories–that scare us. Some people love to be scared, watching every hair-raising, chill-causing, pull-the-blanked-over-my-head-I-can’t-look movie they possibly can, for the thrill of feeling frightened for a short while. Others seek fear in the written word, devouring horror stories in big greedy gulps.

I have loved the work of Edgar Allan Poe ever since my mother (my English teacher in junior high) introduced me to him. Being from Maine, I’ve also read almost all the older work by Stephen King; it’s kind of required, really. And in graduate school, a dear friend introduced me to the work of H.P. Lovecraft. We even presented a paper on Lovecraft (and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!) at an annual International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) conference. But, I don’t live in the world of the scary, the frightening, the horrible. Instead, I visit every once in a while, and then go back to my comfortable home surrounded by murder and mayhem of a tamer sort.

So, what stories do the Mysteristas find most frightening?

Pamela: THE RELIC by Douglas Present and Lincoln Child. My husband and I listened to this in the car (on tape, can you believe it?) during a trip, and it’s by far the scariest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m not sure it would have been quite so scary if I’d read it, but darn close. Still gives me chlls!

Kait: THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite scary books, followed closely by HARVEST HOME by Tom Tryon.

Cynthia: Mine would be Stephen King’s THE SHINING (fiction) and Jon Krakauer’s INTO THIN AIR (nonfiction).

Sarah: TROUBLE by Jesse Kellerman

We’ll be adding other favorites as the day goes on, so come back later and see what we’ve added! Dearest readers, what’s the scariest story you’ve ever read? Do you seek out the scariest of scary stories?


Author: Pamela A. Oberg

Pamela is a portfolio manager at an educational assessment company by day, writer by night. Founder of Writers on Words (a discussion and critique group), Pamela enjoys spinning tales of murder and mayhem, with an occasional foray into the world of the paranormal.

12 thoughts on “Shadows and Monsters and Things that Go Bump!”

  1. Kait, The Lottery, definitely. Creepy, creepy, in a delicious way. I haven’t read Harvest Home, though.

    Cynthia, I didn’t even think about non-fiction. Yes, Into Thin Air. I haven’t read that one in a while, but I’m not sure I want to read it again!


  2. My immediate thought was Stephen King. I don’t read a lot of King because his imagery is so vivid it stays with me. But then there’s Poe. I heard a version of “The Tell-tale Heart” that was just heart-stopping (pardon the pun). And the “Cask of Amontillado”? For the love of God, Montresor!


  3. Pamela, I don’t think I can read it again, either.

    Mary and Kait, I agree about Stephen King. He’s a master. I think IT is also absolutely terrifying. Poe is brilliant, too…he doesn’t scare me in the same way, but he is always unsettling.

    Keenan, those birds ARE freaky!


  4. The Other, by Thomas Tryon was my favorite until King’s The Shining scared me so silly that I swore off scary stories for about 10 years. Fortunately, I got over that!


  5. Keenan, my aunt has a terrible affliction to crows because of watching The Birds too young! I remember reading the short story version of it and being soooo creeped out!


  6. Great post! I love Krakauer, too. I haven’t read all of Stephen King’s work yet. I should get on that! I just bought Who Died in Here? by Lance Zarimba. It’s about haunted outhouses. I’m really tickled by that idea.


  7. Well, I love “scary” stories. That’s why I read all those mysteries and why I have a shelf full of old (some VERY old) Hitchcock movies. I agree with Kait and Pamela, “The Lottery” is very scary. Several years ago there was an “objection” filed with the local school district about this story, and I was on the committee that reviewed the use of it in the (high school) classroom. The objection was not to the story, but to the accompanying file/video of it. We all read the story first, and then watched the video. It’s a short story, so it didn’t take long, but having read the story, I sat there (in a room full of school board members, principals, and district administrators) just panicked, clenching the edge of my chair, the whole time because I knew what was coming. It was a very well done video, and the committee did not remove it from the curriculum. I think it was more “scary” to watch the video since I had read the book.
    The Lottery — very scary indeed


  8. I haven’t read many scary books, but two that I remember were HOBGOBLIN by John Coyne (I think I read this in my teen years), and FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, by V. C. Andrews, creepy from an entirely different angle. I think I still pause before eating a powdered doughnut!


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