Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Confession + A Few Exceptions

Not me.
Confession: Books don't normally scare me. They just don't. The written word can provoke many different emotions in me (anger, love, joy, triumph, annoyance, etc.), but fear just isn't one of them. So when I see different posts about "scary" books, I just can't make it compute on a personal level. [It should be noted that this confession does not include books where I fear for the characters on account of the author's reckless willingness to slaughter her darlings for the good of the story. I'm talking about being generally scared.]

Take, for instance, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. It's a frequent resident of the "scary shelf" lists, which makes sense. After all, it's about a horror story about a ghost that murders people in various gruesome ways. Spooky! I can believe that it frightened some people, but at most I felt squeamishness at the gorier scenes. I wasn't ever afraid.

I despaired over writing this post, because how can I write about Halloween without writing about scary books?

And then I remembered The Tombs of Anak by Frank Peretti. Great heavens, my insides quiver just writing that title.
When Jay and Lila Cooper enter the cave-tombs of Anak with their archaeologist father, they hope to find a co-worker who has unaccountably disappeared. Instead, they stumble onto a frightening religion and new mysteries that soon put them all in incredible danger.

Who or what is Ha-Raphah? How does he hold the local villagers in such overwhelming fear?

Knowing they can't avoid confronting this villain--whatever he is--the Coopers desperately search for answers. As they begin to unravel the mystery, Jay, Lila, and their father face even more perilous adventures. Will they understand the truth in time to avoid disaster, or will they be swept away in a last desperate attempt by Ha-Raphah to preserve his evil powers?

A spine-tingling thriller as current as today's newscasts yet as timeless as the age-old struggle between good and evil.
Doesn't sound like much, right? I assure you, as an eight-year-old child alone in my bedroom, this book was the scariest thing I had ever read. There's a crazy, peg-legged man who spouts dire warnings, a forbidden crypt, and a monster. I think I could have dealt with those three if it hadn't been for the dismemberment and the most frightening chase scene IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!! (So says my eight-year-old self.)

Below are a few more titles that managed to make me jump.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This book will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was the first Agatha Christie I'd ever read and undoubtedly the scariest of them all. Ten strangers are lured to a remote island and killed off one by one. As they race to find the killer, it soon becomes clear that the killer is one of them and that help will not arrive in time. It's definitely a book to make you look at the people in your house suspiciously.

Thr3e by Ted Dekker
In this book, Kevin is told in a mysterious phone call to confess his sin to the world, or he will die. Three minutes later, his car explodes. The calls continue, threatening to end his life unless he confesses his "sin." As a middle-schooler, I sat tense and wide-eyed on my mom's bed as I tore through this book. Who would want to kill sweet Kevin? What was his sin? Did it have anything to do with the sicko who had stalked his childhood friend? So many questions! The Big Reveal might seem old hat nowadays, but it rocked my world in middle school.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories That Scared Even Me
As with any collection, some stories are better than others. The one I particularly remember was "Men Without Bones," but "Camera Obscura," "A Death in the Family," "Party Games," and "Curious Adventure of Mr. Bond," among others, all made me widen my eyes and/or shudder.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Serial killers. What else do you need to know? Okay, this book left me scared spitless. I was jittery all day. Even now, over three months after finishing, when Barry Lyga wrote on Twitter, "Billy is currently... busy," my stomach plummeted and my heart started racing. Ridiculous!

So tell me, what books scare YOU? Or do you not scare easily either?

Also, in honor of Halloween, I give you the one movie scene that never failed to frighten me as a child:

Don't laugh. That storm scene (1:46) is TERRIFYING.