Autumn of Terror keeps on trucking like that big truck from Duel,down the highway of October. Only stopping once a day to deposit a blog and then ever onwards to November. Todays blog takes us back before there was electronic entertainment, before movies, before video games, when people had to read books in order to be transported to different worlds, that, or visit the local Opium Den. Anyway, this intro has become mired in awkward metaphor and strange references. Today, I hope you will enjoy my list of Classic Horror novels that have thrilled and inspired readers for hundreds of years, so lets get our book on shall we?
Dracula by Bram Stoker
I guess this would be the big one, the one most people will know, but it was not the first, and for my money, not the best on this list. Dracula is however, a fantastic read. I have read this book a few times and it always draws me in. If you have never read it, but have seen the numerous movies etc. I would definitely recommend reading the original, as it might be quite different to what you are expecting. Written as a series of journal entries and letters, from different perspectives, the story of the Transylvanian Vampire, who seeks a new home in Britain, and runs afoul of his greatest nemesis Professor Van Helsing, is a stone cold classic gothic horror novel. Sexy, scary, exciting, this book runs at a breakneck pace, particularly at the end. I highly recommend this book if you haven’t read it, and why not read it again, if you already have, it’s almost Halloween after all.
Frankenstein; Or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
Written during a ghost story contest whilst on holiday with her husband and Lord Byron, Mary Shelley clearly beat both men hands down when it came to hugely successful gothic horror behemoths. The tale of a scientist who wants to create life in his own unique style, Frankenstein is a classic of the horror genre. I will be honest and say that I didn’t initially like this book on the first read, but I gave it another chance, and it clicked for me. I think what I found off-putting at first was it was quite a bit different to what I had imagined it would be from all the films based on the book, I had watched. In the novel, Adam, or the monster, is not a shuffling moaning monster, as in the Universal films, but a scheming and intelligent threat to his creator. The novel may be seen as quite tame now, but must have been very controversial at the time. There are few novels more gothic-y than Frankenstein, and as such, it should be enjoyed on a cold, dark autumn night, whilst the wind blows and the rain pours, next to a roaring fire, in a grand drawing-room.
(The) Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
This was the first novel on this list that I read, when I was around 9 I think. It scared me, especially the cover of my copy which I could not find, but the painting of a simian looking man, in top hat and cane spotlighted in moonlight. The book itself is the tale of a good scientist who wants to release mans potential, but ends up unleashing mans animalistic murderous side. I suppose the scariest aspect of this novel is the suggestion that everyone has the potential to unleash the scary brutish nature that normally we keep to ourselves, just look at Dr Bruce Banner.
The Hound of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
My personal favourite book on this list, The Hound of the Baskervilles has been read and re-read by me countless times. There is just something about this story that I can’t get enough of. The story concerns the recent death of a Devonshire Lord, seemingly at the hands of a spectral hound, when the new Lord of the manor arrives to take up residence in Baskerville Hall, Sherlock Holmes is called in to offer advice and protection from the hell hound, or other evil forces. I do love detective fiction, and Holmes is the top guy in the field. When Conan Doyle added his love of the paranormal to his most beloved character, it was quite simply dynamite. Nothing would be scarier than being on a moor in the middle of the night and hearing that long mournful howl.
The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes
This book was influenced by the Jack the Ripper murders and concerns a similar serial killer dubbed The Avenger. A strange man moves into a lodging house, who’s owners are down on their luck. He pays his way and suddenly their fortunes turn around, but he keeps odd hours, and acts very strangely. Meanwhile, a series of ghastly murders takes place, who could be responsible for said crimes? Well, obvious really isn’t it? But that does not detract from the greatness of this novel, which is gripping to the last. As I am fascinated by the whole Jack the Ripper mystery, I loved this novel, but I think even if you knew nothing about the Ripper murders, this book is still well worth checking out.