What Scares Us Blog Tour
Clay and Susan Griffith
We are pleased to make a stop at the blog of Jon Sprunk, one of the most talented fantasy writers working today. His Shadow Saga (Shadow’s Son, Shadow’s Lure, and Shadow’s Master) is an amazing work of dark fantasy. It is full of assassins, secrets, adventure, and mysterious ethereal women. We highly recommend it!
Today, we’re talking about our Scariest Books. So without further ado…
I’ve read a lot of scary books in my life. However, very few have scared me. Rather, I like them for the adventure and the tension and the occult aspects that reach into the real world. Around age 12, I read Dracula by Bram Stoker. This was a formative book for me as a lover of horror and Victoriana, but it wasn’t scary. I read a lot of H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos. I loved the history he created and the intertwining elements of myth that connected from story to story. I found the shadowy world compelling and intriguing, but not frightening. I read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It was terrific. But it wasn’t scary.
What was scary then?
Real things were scary to me when I was young. When I read books that were supposedly about real monsters or true hauntings, my flesh would creep. It didn’t matter if I believed them to be real or not, the fact that they were presented as fact, told within a real world setting by writers who claimed to be telling the truth, made them scary.
However, the one book that combined the concept of real monsters with actual reality for me was Helter Skelter. This was the story of the Charles Manson family and the Tate-LaBianca Murders of 1969. I read it while in high school some ten years after the bloody events in the book. In many ways, the book is a relatively dry retelling of the aftermath of the murders from the point of view of the prosecuting attorney. It is a much less evocative book that the granddaddy of all true crime books, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, but I read Helter Skelter first, so it has more power for me. This doesn’t mean I’m a true crime fan; in fact, I rarely read in that genre any longer because I find them so disturbing. This one book can probably not be fully appreciated any longer since the libraries full of murderous mayhem portrayed in true crime books over the last few decades have overshadowed the Manson family. But for me, there is something so terrifyingly simple and abominable at the heart about Helter Skelter. It’s the story of how beliefs and behaviors can be created and shaped within the cocoon of a comforting “family” structure, and then emerge into the outside world as evil. There is nothing scarier than that, nothing more horrifying.
I don’t tend to read a lot of horror books except once for a literature class. It was Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. And even though I thought vampires wouldn’t scare me, having read Dracula and watched every vampire movie on television, this one made me glance up and examine the shadows every once in a while. Though that wasn’t the scariest book I ever read.
The comic book Walking Dead gave me nightmares once, but I hate zombies anyway so that was an easy scare. It doesn’t count since you could say the word zombie to me and produce a shiver.
Only once did I ever have a book truly frighten me. Not because it was a horror book or because there was a unreal creature in it. Those don’t seem to frighten me because my rational mind knows they aren’t real.
The book was Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. It was terrifying in a new way because I got my first look inside the head of a killer and found it to be unfathomable. Serial killers exist. The thought of a human being so cold and indifferent, so brutally violent was startling. I finished the book somehow though it took far longer than it should have. I only read it when someone was in the house and in the daytime. I locked my doors, carried mace, and went to self-defense classes. That was a book that changed my way of thinking. There are few books in this world that could have done that. This was one of them.
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Hey folks. This is Jon. On a person, Clay and Susan are fantastic people and superb writers. I hope you'll check out their Vampire Empire series.