Close
Enter your search into one or more of the boxes below:
You can refine your search by selecting from any of the options below:
Search
Your Shopping Basket
Total number of items: 0
Sub total: £0.00
Go to Checkout
Our Birmingham Shop
Our Bristol Shop
Animators Survival Kit

Hallowe'en: The evil read

28th October 2011 - Gary Perry


The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan PoeAt this time of year we like to think about the books that scare us. Here at Charing Cross Road, I asked my colleagues to curate a selection of the books that haunt and unsettle them (see the titles below). No restrictions were placed on genre and, as a result, suggestions were intriguingly varied. From Ayn Rand and her potentially terrifying theory of Objectivism in Atlas Shrugged to the transformation of Gregor Samsa in Kafka's Metamorphosis, each title encourages us to consider quite what we mean by horror.


My own selection, Conrad's The Secret Agent, is a case in point. While unlikely to be found in any bookshop's horror department, I have long thought this novel to be part of the same disturbed family as the works of M R James, Poe and Stoker. Its political subject matter, a botched terrorist attack in Greenwich Park, is just as unsettling for us as it was for its earliest readers. Different causes, same violence. However, it is in atmosphere and personal drama that Conrad brings forth the most horror. His London is dangerous, gas-lit, disorientating. The domestic tragedy at its bleak heart is a reminder that home can be the most terrifying of places. Hence the continuing popularity of the haunted house novel.


Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeEver since I first encountered this novel, three or four years ago, certain images have stuck with me: limbs strewn across a London park, a sister's face frozen with grief and revulsion, the discarded hat of a murdered man. This is another important aspect of a work of horror, the presence of a defining and haunting image. Frankenstein's monster running across the frozen waste, Mr Hyde knocking down a child in the street, the final appearance of Dorian Gray's portrait. Horror exists wherever a character or a scenario continues to unsettle us for years after we have first encountered them. They lurk at the corner of our vision, at the back of our minds, beneath our beds.


I should confess that I am easily frightened and have an imagination that is far too romantic. I avoid black cats. Creaking floorboards make me nervous and I am currently convinced that my boiler is home to several minor devils. Therefore, my definition of horror may be too broad for some. At the very least, it's a reminder that horror crosses genre boundaries and that there is not a single reader amongst us untouched by its withered hand. What books keep you awake at night?

 

Comments via Facebook

Leave Comment

Related Items

Lunar Park
(Paperback)
Bret Easton Ellis
 
 
£8.99
 
From Hell
(Paperback)
Alan Moore; Eddie Campbell; Eddie...
 
£24.99
 
Coraline
(Paperback)
Neil Gaiman; Dave McKean
 
 
£6.99
 
The Call of Cthulhu: And Other Weird...
(Paperback)
H. P. Lovecraft; S. T. Joshi; S. T....
 
£9.99
 
The Secret Agent: a Simple Tale
(Paperback)
Joseph Conrad; Michael Newton; J. H....
 
 
£7.99
 
The Enemy
(Paperback)
Charlie Higson
 
£7.99
 
Atlas Shrugged
(Paperback)
Ayn Rand
 
£10.99
 
Metamorphosis
(Paperback)
Franz Kafka; Adam Thirlwell; Edwin Muir
 
 
£7.99
 
Latest Blog
The Lost City of Z and other Explorers' Tales
23/03/2017

As the film is released of The Lost City of Z, we take a look at other Explorers' Tales. Plus, see some footage from the film intercut with readings by Charlie Hunnam from The Lost City of Z.

Sally Emerson Relives Her Life
21/03/2017

Are the novels Fire Child and Heat still shocking? They certainly are, says their author Sally Emerson, six of whose novels are being republished this year.

How Eating Well can lead to Living Better
20/03/2017

Myles Hopper describes how and why the pair became preoccupied with healthy eating.

View all Blog Entries
Twitter
Show/Hide Tweets
© W&G Foyle Ltd