The horror genre is all about the things that make you shiver, or which give you a certain nervous feeling about climbing those dark stairs to bed. Horror is all about the darker side of life, and you’ll find that it comes in many different flavors.
Stephen King is often described as the Master of Modern Horror, and with classics like “Carrie” and the “Shining,” his impact on the genre is immense. However, he is far from alone, and Peter Straub, Poppy Z. Brite, Seanan McGuire, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker have all left their marks on modern horror.
At the most basic level, the horror is all about the things that scare and startle. For some people, it’s the idea of serial killers, human predators that lurk in the shadows. For other people, it’s all about the body horror of zombies, which lurch after their prey and only become more numerous when they feed. For a more elegant side of horror, there are vampires.
For a more gut-level kind of horror, there is splatterpunk, where the gore is described as extensively as possible. There are also more haunting psychological tales, where the horror may be in one character’s head, as in the case of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House.”
Horror isn’t a new genre by any means. The Victorians thrilled to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Before them, there was Dr. Polidori’s “Varney the Vampire,” and the gothic tales from the century before. People have always loved to be scared, and there have always been writers who love scaring people.
Reading horror is not for everyone, but if you are curious, there are plenty of different works for you to try. Think about how you like to be scared, and then find someone who can provide it!