Anyone who loves a great horror tome has heard of Stephen King and the authors like him. They reinvented the horror genre in the ’80s. How many teens developed a fear of clowns or pet Cemeteries? The ’80s were flooded with new and exciting horror movies, from slasher specials (Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street to name a few) to the horror genre in novels. The question is though, who did it better? Maybe these were the novels to get you into reading, or rekindle your love, but, is it just nostalgia? I would like to think that we’ve moved forward a long way and have left behind unfavourable tropes that wouldn’t be accepted in today’s stories (and rightfully so).
I will be examining pieces of works from both generations and investigating just why I think author’s and publishers alike are producing horror on both a more frightening and exciting scale.
Stephen King’s IT (1986)
Malignant Summer by Tim Meyer (2021)
A massive generational gap with these two. I was in the camp of absolutely adoring IT, it was a gateway drug, it started my love of horror and gobbled up the movies as soon as I could. Fast forward to this year and I discussed the delight that is Malignant Summer by Tim Meyer. This dude can write – it is definitely an IT for a new generation. It’s more refined, old tropes of sexuality are left at that closed door to the 80’s and its refreshing. One thing about the 80’s is just how terrible the attitudes to race, gender and sexuality is in its writing. Meyer has created a coming-of-age tale on crack…
Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988)
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beuke (2014)
Silence of the Lambs is a stonking novel. It’s a novel that started an obsession with serial killers (screwed up, I know), its as much a psychological horror as it is a shocking one, especially of its time. However, the outright winner in my opinion is Broken Monsters. The cast is made up of broken people. The atmospheric worldbuilding drew me in immediately – it’s urban decay in its rawest form, the writing is designed to crack open the stereotypes of American living – and its succeeds with vigour. She also uses the modern medium of digitalization, text messages, emails and social media which I think gives a deadlier edge to the storyline.
Haunted by James Herbert (1989)
Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike (2016)
What list would be complete without a haunted house story? Well, I have a haunted house story and a haunted apartment complex story. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that these are on par with each other. James Herbert is one of the unsung heroes of British horror. If you haven’t checked out his work, then you are definitely missing out. He does dark, sinister and atmospheric with a sense of urgency. Apartment complex is another outstanding piece of sinister horror. This Japanese masterpiece is not something you want to read alone or in the dark. Its gruesome in its purest form. If you are looking for something to scare the crap out of you then this is a novel for you.