So, a couple of weeks ago I brought you my take on five not-so-scary books. I also promised that I’d list the opposite: books that deliver actual scares. Here they are, in no particular order, my Top Five Scary Books:
One Second After – William R. Forstchen
First, this is not a horror book. It’s not even a thriller, suspense, or mystery. What this book is, is a work of fiction imagining what would happen should the power go out of our very power-driven society. And, no, it’s nothing like Revolution (small tangent: this show should have been knock out good, but I never could get past the first half of the first season; I mean, those people are too clean! Their clothes look like they just came out of J.C. Penney. And the militia has spotless, matching uniforms? Stepping down from my soapbox now.). Set in a small town outside of Asheville, North Carolina, this tale follows a family’s struggles to survive in a no-electricity world. Truly, utterly chilling – because it’s something that could conceivably happen to us. And to think we’d go from superpower to third world-esque in the space of a month or so… Shudder.
The Mist – Stephen King
Not so much a book as a very long short story (or novella, I suppose), this was first included in Skelton Crew, a collection of Steven King stories. Then, they turned it into a movie with Thomas Jane (hello!). But the book, short as it is, really had me turning the pages and cringing and rooting for the main characters. Not only is there an imagined plethora of goblins in a very spooky mist, there arises another kind of monster among the thrown-together survivors in a small town supermarket: a religious zealot who thinks sacrifice might be a good idea.
World War Z – Max Brooks
You may recall, this book made an honorable mention in my first Top Five post, my Top Five reads of all time. There’s a reason for it: it’s a genius piece of work. I’m totally in awe of Max Brooks and his efforts. World War Z is an overview of a worldwide zombie apocalypse, told around a decade after the fact through interviews of various people Everyone has a story – from the military to the local mom trying to keep her kids safe to those who escaped north to escape the walking dead only to face starvation and an unbearable winter. Every voice is unique, every story quite believable in a genre that’s become almost tired and clichéd, and Brooks delivers plenty of heart-pounding suspense. Even if you don’t like zombie books, I think you’d like this one – because it’s that good.
The Hot Zone – Richard Preston
Fair warning: this stellar read will leave you wanting to 1) buy a Hazmat suit or three; 2) drop Africa way down on your list of places to visit; and 3) not have a monkey get near you. Ever. The Hot Zone takes some true events of the 90’s (the looming potential deadly and contagious outbreaks of a few truly and horrendous viruses) and turns said events into a riveting, scary-as-heck page turner. The scariest part about this book? Seeing how something like this could very well happen – even in a country as advanced as ours.
Intensity – Dean Koontz
I’m putting this one on the list based on my memories of reading it as an impressionable young adult. One of the main things I remember about this book is a scene in which the heroine, as a young girl, hides beneath a bed while a huge Palmetto beetle runs over her. That’s the kind of creepy-crawly-major-ick-factor imagery found between the covers of Intensity. The name delivers, too; it is an intense read as we follow the already-emotionally-damaged heroine on her journey into terror as a madman interrupts what should be a quiet weekend in the country with her friend. Add in a teenage girl held captive by the madman and (if I remember correctly) a bunch of well-trained-yet-uber-deadly dogs, and you have a very scary read.
How about you? Yeah, you, out there in cyberspace. What books are included in your scary reading list? Or do you keep things mellow and opt for less thrills and chills?