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On NPR, 7000 People Vote on the Scariest books, novellas, and short Stories (and My Opinions)
Who would have ever thought that Stephen King's novella, The Body, (made into the movie, Stand By Me) would be on a reader's list of the 100 scariest books, novellas, and short stories? It did, and that fact makes me want to read the story though I'm not a huge Stephen King fan.
However, I am sucker for lists, so when I heard someone on NPR talking about the scariest books, etc. I had to give the list a look-see.
To begin with, it's broken down into categories--my favorite being, "Scar Your Children: Horror For Beginners." Nothing there to interest me though three of the books, Goosebumps, Coraline, and The House With the Clock on its Wall resulted in movies. However, I have read three of the books under "Blood Roots: Fundamental Horror" Dracula, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Turn of the Screw. And since the list includes synopses, I learned that Carmilla, a vampire book, predated Dracula. Also, couple of things caught my attention: Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad has creepy goings-on at a boy's boarding school, and The Willows has willow trees with unusual attributes. Hogwarts and whomping willows, anyone? I might read The Willows, though, it looks interesting.
"Zombies and Vampires and Werewolves: Oh, My" books are not my cup of tea, unless I give The Hunger a try. As if the Donner Party didn't have enough trouble, something might be following them in the snow. Anne Rice shows up under this category, but I don't like her books and Brad Pitt looked awful in Interview With a Vampire.
Nothing under "The Fear in Our Stars: Cosmic Horror and Weird Fiction" was familiar or appealing but "Horrible Homes: Ghosts and Hauntings" has The Haunting of Hill House, The Shining, and The Woman in Black, all good books and movies though The Woman in Black book has a better ending than the movie. The big omission here is The Uninvited. It was published in 1942 under the title, Uneasy Freehold. The author was Irish feminist and the Irish Times wrote, "the author makes it all enjoyably eerie – and throws in a few pithy social observations as well." It's a favorite movie with the hosts on TCM, too. I might look into Wylding Hall. What's not to like about a British acid-rock group sequestered in a "remote country house?'
"Final Girls: Horror By and About Women" has 8 suggested books, only one of which I've read, Rebecca. A good book, a good movie, what more can you say? Except Caitlin Kiernan's The Red Tree has possibilities.
Nothing under "Horribly Ever After: Fantasy and Fairy Tale Horror" looked appealing and that includes White is For Witching where a teen age girl has cravings for non-food items, such as chalk. Cab you say, pica? However, "Hell is Other People: Real World Horrors" has Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, a Dean Koontz book, and Lord of the Flies. But can someone tell me why Toni Morrison's Beloved is included? Feels either insulting or gratuitous.
I write short stories but I don't read them, so I scooted right on past "Short and Sharp: Story Anthologies" and met up with Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, and the above-mentioned The Body under "The Kids Aren't All Right: Creepy Kids." But what this? The Other by former actor Thomas Tryon? Which meant, of course, that I had to google him to see if he's still alive. He isn't.
So what can we (or did I) learn from this list: First, stories from 200 or so years ago still resonate. Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown is still being read. Second, when a book such as The Lute and the Glove is in stacks at the library, no one can have the pleasure of finding it to read. Third, boarding schools are becoming an old standby and maybe a trifle overused. And, fourth, no one seems to write good psychological thrillers such as The Turn of the Screw anymore. That being said, if you know of one, please let me know. I'll squeeze it in between my preferred genre, non-fiction.