Satanic Horror

What is the Satanic Horror Subgenre?

Satanic horror is similar to haunting, supernatural, or creature horror in that a supernatural monster is plaguing human protagonists. In satanic horror, the monster is the devil himself. This is an easy scare because there is no other character that is more closely associated with evil. When the devil is mentioned in books, the instinctual reaction is to expect terrible things to start happening, though this has diminished in recent years due to stories that portray demons, and even the devil as sympathetic characters. To truly scare, good writers of Satanic horror will not only rely on the gut instinct of the reader to prepare for terror, but they will also deliver it in spades. Satanic horror can be broken up further into four subgenres, all of which are plot elements of Satanic horror.

These are: demonic possession, Satanic ritual, curse, or Satanic bargain. Often, Satanic horror will combine many of these. In demonic possession, a demon, or the Devil himself will possess a human character, often an innocent or a child. This subgenre tends to have the most religious connotations of the Satanic horror subgenre. In Satanic ritual, a rite will be performed, often to the detriment of the human characters, and sometimes, this rite also brings about a curse on the protagonist, or they are dealing with the effects of a curse cast upon them. Finally, the Satanic bargain is an old and familiar tale, in which the human character makes a deal with the devil. Often, plots in this subgenre involve the human protagonist somehow running afoul of Satan and battling all the legions of hell which he has unleashed upon them. Hell can even serve as a setting for some stories in this subgenre, where the human characters are attempting to escape its clutches.

Satanic Horror Characteristics

Level of Characterization: In Satanic horror, the level of characterization is moderate to high. This is because through their interactions with the devil, the characters often also face their own weakness or darkness.


Level of Plot: The level of plot in this subgenre is generally moderate to low. Usually, satanic horror plots will contain one or several elements of demon possession, curses, dark rituals, or deals with the devil. There are very few twists and turns as the characters discover and do battle with the sinister forces that plague them.


Level of Supernatural: In Satanic horror, the level of supernatural will be very high, since the devil is a supernatural entity and is at the center of this subgenre.


Level of Scary:  Scares will be high in this subgenre, as even its name conjures up creep factor.


Level of Violence: Violence in satanic horror will be moderate to high given the level of malevolence of the sinister forces that the human protagonists are dealing with.


Typical Setting: As in supernatural horror, isolation is important in stories of Satanic horror. So, expect stories to take place in small towns or other isolated areas. Hell, too, is also a popular setting for this subgenre.

Related Horror Subgenres

Creature horror and supernatural horror are easily related to this subgenre as both deal with supernatural entities plaguing human protagonists. Also, Satanic bargains and demon possession would also be related, as they are subgenres of Satanic horror. Occult and religious horror are also subgenres that can be related to Satanic horror as both deal with religious elements or themes.

Don't Read Satanic Horror If You Dislike…

The devil. If stories of Hell, the devil, or demons scare you, but not in the good way, this is not the subgenre for you. If you prefer your scares to be more atmospheric and vague, this is also probably not a good subgenre for you.

Damned by Chuck Palahnuick- When 13 year-old Madison Spencer winds up in Hell, she and a group of teen misfits journey across the abyss to confront Satan himself.


The Root of All Evil by David Farrow- When Harry Holmes investigates a series of South Carolina murders, he discovers a strange root entangled in the hair of all of the victims, a root linked to a fatal curse.


The Sorrows of Satan by Marie Corelli- Starving artist, Geoffrey Tempest believes that his luck is changing when he receives three letters which change his fortune. In these letters, he inherits a fortune and is introduced to the aristocratic Lucio, whom he befriends. Lucio instructs Tempest on how best to use his wealth, but the aristocrat may have dark intentions.


Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker- When hedonistic Frank Cotton attempts to open a portal to a realm of a infinite carnal pleasures, he unwittingly enters a realm of eternal torture.


When Shadows Fall by Brian Scott Smith- Martin discovers that his aunts friends are actually a satanic cult when investigates his aunt's sudden and mysterious death.


Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin- Rosemary Woodhouse and her husband, Guy, get a lot more than they bargained for when they try to start a family in their new home, an apartment building with a disturbing and gory history.


Hell by Robert Olen Butler- Hatcher McCord is an anchorman for the evening news in Hell, where he reports on all the usual tortures. The trouble is, he can't seem to figure out why he's down there, and as he investigates, he discovers he may have found a way out.


All the Bells on Earth James Blaylock- Three businessmen are tricked into making a deal with the devil, but when one of them tries to thwart the bargain, his lucky talisman is accidentally delivered to the home of a very ordinary salesman, Walt Stebbins. As Stebbins tries to puzzle out the mysterious object, he finds himself thrown into a battle between good and evil.


Needful Things Stephen King- Leland Gaunt has a special shop in Castle Rock, Maine where the town's inhabitants can get anything they want from rare baseball cards to charms that relieve arthritis pain. The only price is that the customer play a little prank on their neighbor, but Gaunt knows what dark secrets lurk in the town of Castle Rock, and his pranks escalate until the town erupts into violence.


Dark Debts by Karen Lynn Hall- The last surviving Landrys are cursed, victims of the family's Satanic roots. Murder, insanity, and death follow them everywhere, and when Cam Landry, Randa Phillip's former lover, falls victim to the curse, she heads to his ancestral family home to investigate. Meanwhile, a young Jesuit priest is also making his way to the Landry family to confront the demons that plague him.

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