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Best Classic Horror Books

As humans, fear is built into us, it is the oldest and strongest emotion. I believe fear to be the core of all human actions, not sex, sorry fans of classical psychology. We work because we are afraid of being poor, we go to the doctor because we are afraid to die, we marry because we are afraid of being alone. It is strange then that as humans we are of a mind to seek out the things that scare us, we build and frequent Haunted houses. We spend money to visit Horror Movies. We seek out and read Horror Novels. Unfortunately here, now, in modern times we are painfully short on fearful things, as a people we have no great war, and so we live in a time when finding our own fears is more important to our psyche than ever.


Horror novels are my poison of choice, there is something about the unknown factor that is found in reading. There are many authors now and then who weave tales of suspense, paranoia, and flat out pant-shittery. The horror genre has evolved over the centuries, and in this list I will be expounding on the authors who shaped horror, bringing it to life and ensuring that it had a future in our hearts. Many authors on this list are long dead, others are still writing. Others still are dead but may yet be writing still. No name on this list can be truly held over the others, each has their own unique style, their own quirks. One might be led to believe that they are all out of their mind, and truthfully many of them may be. But I feel a prevailing message expressed in many of the works here is this: You are not so far from this, you are not high and mighty, you are one of us. Over all I believe that the classical horror genre is a unifying force among the gently disturbed and mildly insane. I will close the intro with a quote from my personal favorite author, who encapsulates the truth of human fear.

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age.”

― H.P. Lovecraft, The Call Of Cthulhu

 

The number one position took some thought; there was no doubt in my mind that it belonged to Lovecraft. The question that provided me trouble was: Which of his many brilliant works deserves to stand on top of all of the greats represented here? As I pondered this dilemma I became aware of the subtle but definitive thump. This sound was most pronounced and became a greater drag on my thoughts than was reasonable. Soon it became a hateful drum, the vile crash of heinous waves, gently and terribly eroding my sanity. That was it! That is when I realized that the number one spot belonged to The Crawling Chaos!

From start to finish Lovecraft builds a growing sense of dread, a feeling that coils itself up in the bottom of your heart, reminding you, in the dark of the night, that it remains, waiting to devour your mind. In the years since I first read read The Crawling Chaos it has stuck with me. The way Lovecraft weaves a surreal tale, dripping with a palpable feeling of building, unavoidable, unnameable terror is awe inspiring. To this day I could not tell you what the horror of The Crawling Chaos was; but I can tell you that I harbor no desire to find out.

 

 

 

Living a life of decadent sex, unashamed dining, and absolute pleasure seeking can never end badly can it? Well The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde addresses this question. And let me spoil the ending for you (in case you just can not wait to get started on this life of sex, food and happiness) yes, yes it can and will end badly. In fact, it sucks horribly.

When beautiful young Dorian Gray makes his own Faustian deal with the Devil (accidentally) he is able to live a life of unparalleled decadence and debauchery. Readers are in for a show as Dorian explores the depths of pleasure and pain, examining every lust and sin with impunity. Living without age and doing whatever, and whomever, he damn well pleases Dorian lashes out at those who love him and brings sadness and pain to anyone who gets too close.

The Picture of Dorian Gray can be read as a cautionary tale as to the corruptions of the big city. A warning to be careful what you wish for. Or even an old fashioned testament to abstinence. Any way you read it The Picture of Dorian Gray is a powerful moral tale, a strong social commentary, and a beautiful story of redemption. And of course a terrifying read!

 

There was a time in my life when I thought that it would be bad ass to be immortal. That time is over, largely thanks to Ann Rice and her monumentally successful Interview With the Vampire. Interview with the Vampire is a two-hundred year journey that details the life of Louis, an unwilling vampire, and the pain and death he experiences. Rice is brilliant in describing they trials of an overlong life, and bringing to life the various locations featured throughout the book.

At the beginning of the book, not ruining anything, its in the title of the book. Louis, our protagonist, is turned into a vampire by the enigmatic Lestat to be his partner. Immediately homoeroticism returns to our list. At first (due to his monumental bitchieness) Louis refuses to feed on humans, instead draining the blood from animals, (later giving Stephanie Myers another way to attempt to kill the genre) for some time. As time goes on Louis mans up and begins to feed on humans. In order to bring a new dimension of complexity, and horror, to their relationship Lestat turns a young child for them to raise together. Eventually they have a heated (haha get it? [read the book and you will]) breakup bringing issues associated with divorce into vampiric focus. Interview With the Vampire is without a doubt one of the greatest works of literature, let alone horror, to ever be written.

 

If you have been on the internet anytime in the past decade, and if you happened to search for the word "horror" you've probably come across this little gem titled "The Shortest Scary Story Ever" which goes more or less like this: "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door..." Chilling in its own right, Knock is a different story all together, but the first two lines are a good preview for what Irving has in store for us in I Am Legend.

While he is a legend in his own right Will Smith simply can not fill Robert Neville's shoes. I Am Legend paints a dim and dreary picture of the trials and tribulations of the last human on earth. Though our hero may be the last man alive, this does not mean that he is alone. (Sorry no mannequin buddies) Living in the ruins of a world readers will find eerily familiar, Robert deals with bouts of depression and alcoholism (YAY!) while constantly on guard from a vampire-like threat. All of this culminates in a brilliant finally and a powerful epiphany that could well leave readers in tears! I Am Legend will suck you into its marvelously realized world, only spitting you out when it has had its fill.

 

Carrion Comfort could possibly fall under the classification of Science Fiction Horror, but seeing as how this is my article, I am going to call it straight up Classic Horror. Carrion Comfort collects many recountings of the use of "the Ability" which allows its practitioners to remotely control people. Though at first glance this is a cut and dry Sci-fi, user's of "the Ability" gain vitality and youth when a person they are controlling kills another living being.

Through the events of Carrion Comfort we meet Nazi's, Televangelists, billionaire playboys, and FBI investigators just to name a few. Damn what does this story not have? Oh I know, Horror? Nope. The story builds paranoia in its readers as the godlike practitioners vicariously murder innocents at a whim, using old men, children, and occasionally each other, as pawns in their own twisted games. At one point two users use a series of people as literal pawns in a game of chess, failed pieces being executed. One reason I love this book so much is the way it treats its own genre. It is a: Sci-fi, Horror, Vampire, Body Snatcher, Classic. Where the Carrion Comfort shines however is how it gives the reader a taste of power, then uses that same power to paint a picture so horrific that I still shudder to think of the person I would be, if only I had "the Ability."  

 

 

 

The Phantom of the Opera is here! Inside your mind! The novelization of the Phantom is a sadly underrated thriller about a monster of a man, who despite his genius, is positively broken mentally, and who finds his last true pleasure in the arts. Like many other antagonists in our list, the Phantom is man made. He is the product of human cruelty which makes him frighteningly realistic. There is a point in this book where you stop and think: "How many wedgies/swirlies/trash cannings have I administered?" If the answer is more than two, you've probably created a psychopathic villain of your very own. Congratulations!

The Phantom of the Opera is a gripping psychological ride that just as often as not inspires love for the antagonist. Descending into the depths of madness the readers experience equal parts pity and disgust as they explore the complex and dangerous waters of the human mind. And of course once more we see the theme of obsession as Leroux delivers creepy atmosphere, beautiful artistry, a scathing social commentary, and the distinct terror of a stalker in this wonderful book, which, with the help of the screen and stage, has transcended literature to sit among legends!

 

Psychological stories make up a great many of our top twenty five, and this is with good reason. "No one could begin to describe the cumulative suspense and ultimate horror with which every paragraph abounds" HP Lovecraft. If my all time favorite author Mr. Lovecraft has spoken well of a book there is no question that it will land among my favorite horror stories. Though the super natural aspect of the Great God Pan may be terrifying on its own, one aspect that I find most disturbing is the undertone of greed and power lust that brings about the events central to this story.

The Great God Pan is a story thick with sex, science, and the supernatural. Beginning with an experimental brain surgery, seemingly copied verbatim into the handbooks of supervillains throughout history. This surgery is intended to open its recipients mind to "the great god Pan" a way of seeing the greater world. For some unknown reason (I personally think it was the whole "sawing open the person's head and screwing with their brain" thing) the victim of this surgery became absolutely batshit.

Machen proceeds to tell a wonderful, terrifying, story of lust, murder, suicide, and intrigue with a stunning finally that twists just before letting the reader down. This is a read that can not be ignored.

 

 

Uncle Einar: One of two stories in this collection that features members of the Elliott family, a really fucked up group of supernatural monsters and immortals. This story focuses on a character named Uncle Einar, who tries to find a way into the skies after forgetting that the skies are, as a general rule, almost always above.

The Jar: A poor farmer buys a jar with something floating in it for twelve dollars and it soon becomes the conversation piece of the town. However his wife begins to realize that she cannot stand the jar or him. Homecoming: The main story concerning the supernatural Elliott family. It chronicles their return to the ancestral home in Illinois for a gathering, and is seen through the eyes of Timothy, a mortal child left on their doorstep and who longs to be like them. Einar from "Uncle Einar" figures prominently. Thus story later formed the basis for the 2001 novel From the Dust Returned, which also featured the "Uncle Einar" story in its narrative.

The October Country is a collection of short stories like those above. Each story bring a new terror to the table, The October Country is often a jaring but brilliant journey.

 

 

No one knows how to ruin a party quite like horror great Edgar Allen Poe. The Masque of the Red Death exemplifies this unique calling. Poe spins a yarn that hits home, not just in the day and time of its publication, but today. With the rise of the Tea Party Movement, and the much less known, Grumpy Middle-Classman's Movement, the divide between classes is more pronounced than ever. Poe's Masque is perhaps more relevant now that it has ever been. This is the reason that Masque bumped the Raven for Poe's entry in our list.

When put shoulder to shoulder with other Poe works like: The Cask of Amontillado, The Raven, and A Tell Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death goes relatively unnoticed. Don't let that fool you though, Masque takes readers to a schnazzy party for the extremely rich. This party is closed to the general (poor) public, who are forced to wallow in filth with a horrible fatal disease. Presumably because he did not get an invite to their bitch'n party, Death is pissed and decides to crash it in a shocking personal appearance.

Filled with color (or colour if your a schnazzy rich guy [or European]) The Masque of the Red Death is a superb show that thoroughly deserves its spot.

 

Our number ten position rest firmly in the, surprisingly ungruesome, hands of an adorable little girl. Well Shelley may not be young in the sense of being twelve years old. She was nineteen when she started Frankenstein and was twenty one when she finished it, making her definitively younger than most other authors listed here. The young and profoundly disturbing Mary Shelley was stuck indoors with a group of other authors, while perusing works of horror fiction they devised a race to create the most frightening story. What results as Mary's entry in the race undoubtedly inspired her colleague's need for new trousers, and proved to all of London that it was a terrible idea to fuck with Mary Shelley.

Frankenstein is a dark tale of obsession, self loathing, and sheer existential terror, with some perennial longing salt and abandonment pepper to ensure that the reader's depression is absolute and complete. Young Victor Frankenstein sets out to play God by creating life. Shelley treats Victor as a doll for the playing with, dragging him deeper into the twisted depths of taboo. Eventually she shatters Victor by giving him exactly what he wants. While the epistolary style of this novel is a turn off to some readers, Frankenstein is well worth the read, and the sleepless nights!  

 

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a frightening story, but I must first speak to something that has been on my mind for a while. I am going to go ahead and say that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is, and this is my totally unqualified opinion, a story entirely about sexual repression and sexual conquest. And here is my totally unqualified reason why: (feel free to quote me as an expert imparting absolute truth) Sleepy Hollow is the story of an effeminate young man who comes to Sleepy Hollow in hopes of marrying a wealthy young lady. While in the old town Crane, our protagonist, learns the story of the Headless Horseman, a warrior the pentacle of manliness, who roams the country side in search of head. ... his head I mean. As the story progresses our effeminate hero becomes more interested in the manly horseman in need of head ... a head, until they finally have their "climatic" meeting.

Homoerotic undertones aside (undertones I hope have ruined the book for our homophobic readers) Sleepy Hollow is a tale of a small down deeply rooted in the superstitious horrors of the past. Irving brings greats amounts of detail to his story fleshing out a culture that is rooted in fear.

 

 

The Exorcist is a delightfully awful ride that takes readers, kicking and screaming, into the heart of darkness, as the forces of good desperately battle for the soul of Regan MacNiel. The Exorcist, later adapted to a movie, is responsible for more wet undergarments than pools and self conscious teen showers put together. I brushed up on a number of the stories here in this list, but the Exorcist has been clear as crystal since I first read it, creeping in the back of my mind, projectile vomiting all over my memories, and making vulgar comments about my mother.

The Exorcist is a story that is close to home for many of us. It depicts life with the worst possible roommate. But instead of leaving dirty dishes all over the apartment like a dick and losing the remote (which to be fair is pretty demonic in itself), this roommate takes pleasure in torturing your immortal soul with hell fire, making your only waking thought that is not "AHHHHHHHHHH!!!" a virulent wish for the sweet mercy of death. The Exorcist, even today, is a brutal, shocking, vulgar, and disturbing journey. So here it is, the Exorcist is here, possessing our list at number twelve.

 

Through the eyes of an anonymous narrator, who trips balls so hard he experiences the life of protagonist Athanasius Pernath, we experience life in the ghetto. To be specific this ghetto is in Prague. Much of The Golem focuses on the mundane and often depressing life in this ghetto, but it is through this dismal daily life that the reader learns of the Golem. Once every thirty three years the Golem appears, arriving in a room with no doors. Even more disturbing the Golem seems to share a face with the narrator. The Golem is the manifestation of the soul crushing misery and negativity of the old Prague Ghetto and as such this piece is filled with dank and heavy atmosphere.

Deploying the tools of melodrama and exploring the deep and dark corridors of the human mind Gustav Meyrink creates a story that is so atmospheric it is only a few steps from developing its own ecosystem. Dripping with psychologically disturbing themes, identity crisis, and did I mention atmosphere? The Golem tells a tale that almost honestly makes me happy with the unbelievable hellhole that is my home town. If the reader can get past the somewhat overdone amnesiac protagonist and ambiguous antagonist The Golem is sure to please!

 

The Turn of the Screw is a beautiful and yet terrifying look into the Gothic genre, fulled with stuffy, mysterious, and looming buildings, and atmospheric lighting, the turn of the screw incorporates Henry James' personal view on the horror genre. Rather than making the notion of ghosts a dark pseudo science, James prefers to look at ghosts as "the strange and sinister embroidered on the very type of the normal and easy." Though The Turn of the Screw is somewhat of an alteration on his formula it is a book that has inspired wonderful reviews and a great amount of debate among critics.

Our story starts as we listen to an unnamed narrator read a manuscript written by a governess depicting her strange experiences. The manuscript tells the story of how the young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the passing of their parents. Living primarily in London the asshole is totally not interested in raising the children himself. The Uncle of the children who has assigned the governess the task of raising them explicitly tells her to basically, "Raise them for me, don't tell me anything about it, I don't care." The Governess quickly realizes that all is not as it seems. The Turn of the Screw is a masterpiece of literary skill which still puzzles scholars today!

 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde is a tale that has inspired a great many other stories, movies, and giant green destruction machines. TSCODJAMH (for "short") brings out both social and mental issues, discussing them in depth. Constant paranoia, fear, self loathing, and violence run rampant throughout the TSCODJAMH plot as Robert Louis Stevenson takes us to the dank streets of London to follow the brilliant Dr. Jekyll, his life, and his battle for control that would eventually define him.

Our antiprotagonist Dr. Jekyll is involved in science gone wrong, surprise! As a result, when he gets angry he utters some cliched tagline, turns green, and ... wait, wrong story. As a result of the failed science Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde; which answers the question "Does one's doctorate apply to their psychopathic alter ego?", no it doesn't. This will undoubtedly lead to several colorful years in college. The story is overshadowed by a crushing sense of paranoia and distinct duality. Jekyll's unique condition resonates with many real people who feel that they lead double lives, and their rage and unease with the things that force it upon them. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a hit that should not go unnoticed.

 

 

Witchcraft and murder! What is wrong with witchcraft and murder? Well if you have no problem with it consult your psychiatrist, then move into the Bramford. Rosemary and her husband (inventively named Guy) move in not caring about the horrible and bloody history of Bramford. Rosemary and Guy deal with pretty typical married couple problems such as: should we have a baby? Why don't you make more money? Why can't you get a real job like a doctor? Are you going to take out the trash? When are you going to remodel the kitchen? Why do you keep visiting our satanist neighbors?

Marital troubles are short lived as Guy's career as an actor takes off. His meteoric rise in the actor ranks is surrounded by intrigue and mystery. Before long Rosemary decides that there is something odd about her neighbors, who to all the world appear to be your typical kindly old couple. Eventually Guy gives in to Rosemary's demands to be impregnated (I imagine the argument was not long winded.) and she becomes pregnant. As most parents do Rosemary fears that her baby may be sacrificed to the Devil and so she begins investigating her neighbors. What ensues is a shit storm that twists and turns wildly. Rosemary's Baby is a wonderful read and should not be passed up!

 

 

Carmilla is a book that saw its day twenty five years prior to the release of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Dracula owes a substantial amount of influence to Carmilla, being one of the oldest true vampire stories. Carmilla grows as it goes, expanding and expounding upon subtle fears that are introduced throughout the tale. Building a strong base at the beginning of the book that would become a glaring "In your face" to readers as they go. Carmilla draws the reader down a rabbit hole that for its time was unquestionably unique!

Dreaming of a "beautiful visitor" in the night young Laura asserts she has been bitten. With no evidence she is dismissed by her father. 12 years later a carriage wreck outside of her home brings a beautiful visitor into her life. Carmilla is introduced and from that point forward the story takes a dark turn as the beautiful visitor begins to show strange traits. Developing a close relationship, Laura is met by strange homoerotic advances, frightening mood swings, and terrifying dreams of vampire attacks. Carmilla brings a great many features to the vampire subgenre which have since sunk its fangs deep and have not been shaken off yet. If its a creepy, atmospheric vampire story you are craving then take my word, Carmilla is for you!

 

The search for the paranormal has taken Joe Schmoes, Sports Hero's, and Scientists to some crazy places. Sometimes it takes some crazy people to some pretty normal places. The Haunting of Hill house brings together a misfit crew who are determined to prove whether or not Hill House is haunted. The fear that Jackson builds in this masterpiece of horror literature are largely unseen, or vague, this gives the reader the opportunity to picture for themselves what godless evil stalks our heroes, all without feeling too lazy. Just to be clear how amazing The Haunting of Hill House is, one must understand that it has been adapted into film twice, was named the greatest novel of 1959, and was touted by Stephen King to be one of the finest works of horror literature ever written.

The story of The Haunting of Hill House begins when one of the four protagonists Hugh Crain assembles Theodora, Elanor, and Luke to live in the mansion for the summer. As the summer continues the house-guests experience a number of paranormal activities. (not the terrible movie, though that would be equally horrific) As the book draws closer to the end, Jackson begins to play with the readers perceptions. The Haunting of Hill House is in my opinion, the greatest Haunted House book ever written.

 

Touted as a true story by many, an opinion I will not weigh in on for one simple reason, it does not matter. What is important is that the Amityville Horror is a horrifying and surreal story of fear, pain, and creeping malevolence. Jay Anson captures the events that result in a normal family fleeing from their recently purchased home after only four weeks in stunning and frightening detail, punctuating the awful events with just enough breathing room so that the reader does not suffocate.

The site of a mass murder only one year prior to the Lutzes moving in, the infamous house depicted in the Amityville Horror, 112 Ocean Avenue, wants the Lutzes, and probably you too, dead, and proceeds to do its damnedest to make it happen. The horrors of the house included: Flies regardless of the winter weather, untimely awakenings in the dead of night, unwanted ghost sexy time, and the almost too good to be true red glowing eyes, floating outside the second story window no less.

This is a good reminder to anyone to have their new homes blessed by a professional before they move in. ... No wait, they did that. The evil of 112 Ocean Avenue bullied the Lutzes until they eventually picked up and left, and they say to this day ruined their marriage.

 

 

The Day of the Triffids is a brilliant novel that brings together many wonderful fears that are not as readily addressed in many of the other works on this list. John Wyndham creates a story that deals with the raw fears of the Cold War, role reversal, and stranger danger. Though Triffids are one of the primary antagonists in this story it is believed by the protagonist Bill Masen to be engineered by the USSR. He deepens his suspisions across the span of the story. However, the fear of the communist threat slowly takes back seat to the threat that comes from the inside.

Temporarily blinded by Triffid poison Bill Masen is spared from a global event that, in stunning irony, blinds the vast majority of the world populace. Removing his bandages the world that Masen sees is a bleak and frightening world where governance is falling apart, and hundreds of thousands of people are now falling prey to the Triffids. I am sure that you have read the word Triffid all four times and though "What the hell are you talking about?" Well Triffids are enormous plant creatures that are intelligent, mobile, and poisonous. Whats more is that the Triffids seem to communicate with each other. What do they say? I can not be quite sure, but you can bet your ass that it is something along the lines of "Man would I like to feast on that guy's rotting corpse!" Read The Day of the Triffids!

 

 

Fear is a primal thing and among the things that frighten people some things are particularly touchy. One of these things is rape. Not something to make fun of. Cape Fear/The Executioners is a story that sickeningly realizes this fear. Though there aren't any XXX descriptions of rape, the antagonist of Cape Fear is a particularly brutal and virulent rapist. A story filled with paranoia, a word I feel appears altogether too often in this list, which gives the reader an unquestionable feeling that they are being watched.

Protagonist Sam Bowden witnesses antagonist Max Cady in his vile act, putting the monster away for fourteen years. Surprisingly Cady does nothing over those years but develop a burning, unwavering hatred of Bowden. Unsurprisingly Cady get out of jail for good behavior (or you know general plot deviseness) because, you know, that's a thing in the US, and immediately begins menacing the Bowdens. Nothing ruins family time like the ever looming threat of a brutal rapist. As our really bad bad guy steps up his game Sam is forced to take measures into his own hands to protect his wife, and children. Rife with violence, evil, and Batman worthy justice, Cape Fear/The Executioners is worth the read!

 

Psycho is another example of duality. While the duality in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde is of a more cut an dry, the picture painted in Psycho is more of a terror, one that will haunt readers long after they have closed the book. Psycho takes on heavy themes and and fills them with unbelievable horror. Made into a film by the brilliant Alfred Hitchcock, one that very faithfully follows the novel, Psycho came to be known as one of the greatest works of horror ever written or realized on the silver screen.

The theiving young lady Mary comes to the Bates Motel, run by Norman Bates and his mother, fleeing the law after stealing $40,000 from someone stupid enough to trust her with their money. The Bates Motel is an awful place to go, dusty, ugly, and hostile, but apparently it was enough for Mary. Not questioning the shadieness that abounds at this Motel Mary decides that she wants to have dinner with they creepy Norman. His weirdness is enough to convince Mary to return the $40,000, which I assume would have simply resulted in a slap on the wrist and a stern warning to stay on the straight and narrow. But before she can leave everything falls apart. Psycho earned its title of Horror Legend, if not its literal title.

 

 

If there is anything in this list that I would elect that my readers take away with them, it would be the concept of "do un to others." Carrie is a story of overdone revenge and power. Carrie is one of Stephen King's most disturbing works, and is for me, one of the closest to home. King cautions the readers on the dangers of bullying little girls (Mary Shelley) because, after all, you don't know if that little girl may be a telekinetically powered revenge driven killing machine. As a result of the many disturbing events in Carrie, King's work is more often than not barred from schools.

In her first depicted display of power we have the unlimited pleasure of witnessing Carrie's first period, and first hand the brutality of teenage girls. Coming into her own Carrie begins to explore her powers and standing up for herself against her religious nut of a mother. Why Carrie doesn't simply drop out of school at this point, being a super powered psychic (like Mew 2 only not purple), to be something like, oh I don't know, Dictator Supreme is beyond me. No matter her poor power financing decisions Carrie stands strong in my top twenty five Classic Horror Stories.

 

Maturin, though a capable writer, overuses the mechanic of stories within stories, and at times can lose the reader in the noise. Despite this I enjoyed Melmoth the Wanderer. Faustian deals with the Devil, wandering demons, and gut wrenching sorrow are the foundations of this story. As is a theme with many books in this genre Melmoth is here to tell us that money and power are not all they are cracked up to be.

Though the story can be hard to follow it is well worth it. The primary story focuses on Melmoth who, fearing death, turned to darker arts in order to remain alive. The power he gains corrupts him, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Melmoth the Wander straddles two worlds, being born in a time when Gothic stories began to depend less on physical terrors and more on psychological ones. Throughout readers are greeted by graveyards and dungeons, while also at times experiencing terrible paranoia and claustrophobia.

Author Charles Maturin cautions readers on the dangers of strangers by terrifying the shit out of them. Ultimately a religiously, old timely religiously, based book, Melmoth the Wanderer is a tale about the price of power and the danger of earthly desires. Melmoth is a solid choice for anyone willing to tread its shifting waters.



 

While Dracula is not one of my all time favorite books, few stories have had a heavier impact on the genre of horror, and thus Stoker's Dracula earns my respect. No list of Top XX Classic Horror Stories can be complete without it; and so Stoker's masterpiece earns it's place at number twenty five!

Stoker devotes a great deal of time and effort to environment, atmosphere, and cultivating a sense of paranoia in his reader. I must say that it is a success. Readers journey through Dracula's, unreasonably dark and dingy, manse. Throughout this trip Stoker builds the almost physical sensation that Dracula is breathing down your neck, perhaps sniffing it and preparing the pepper. Speaking of Dracula, everyone is speaking of Dracula. Despite baring his name Dracula actually appears very little in his namesake novel. For the duration of this ride Dracula primarily appears in the words of other characters, Stoker preferring to let the bloodsucker's reputation speak for him. This does serve to make Dracula's appearances a creepy and exciting treat to the reader. Though Dracula may not be first in my mind when horror is mentioned Stoker has forever left his mark (two tiny marks that look suspiciously like fangs) on the genre through this strongly atmospheric piece about a man whose reputation precedes him.

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