SUGAR, DARLING?

BY NANCY WHITTINGTON-COATES

Tales of Terror


I don't know about you but I love a good scare. I've always loved horror movies and ghost stories since I was young and would often lie on my bed for hours getting lost in supernatural tales, hiding under the sheets with a torch late into the night scaring myself silly! I thought I'd share some of my favourite scary books with you today in case you fancy giving yourself a fright too!

First up I had to start with my favourite scary story teller, H.P. Lovecraft. I first read his stories when I was about 12 years old and I had no idea he was such a cult figure - I just picked the middle book out of my dad's bookshelf because the cover was pretty awesome! I can still read those stories over and over again to this day and I don't think I'll ever get sick of them. They're complex and compelling and the way Lovecraft builds suspense is just incredible. You must remember that these stories were written pre-1930's and so the language and general writing style is very different to that of today and it may take you a while to get used to it, but that just adds to the scariness I think as it separates you even more from the world you know and are used to!


Another favourite author of mine is M.R. James. The fabulous Mark Gatiss did a documentary and a dramatisation of one of James' most famous stories last Christmas so you may well heard of him. His stories are brilliant, featuring mainly ghosts and spectres rather than the other worldly creatures that Lovecraft created. Reading James' work you'll notice a lot of now traditional ghost story themes. You're reading the master here people and many have imitated but no-one has bettered! 

I don't think I even need to say anything about Frankenstein as pretty much everyone knows that tale, but I'd always recommend picking up any scraggly old ghost stories compilations that you find in a second hand book shop, you'll often find a real gem in there somewhere!


Last up we have Susan Hill, a contemporary writer most famous for her story The Woman in Black which was turned into a film starring Daniel Radcliffe last year. It has all the trappings of a great horror story, loneliness, a big scary house, separation from other people, creepy children - it's a good one! I've read all of her ghost stories and enjoyed every one but the three above are definitely my favourites. If you're looking for something a little easier to read but still with that Victorian spookiness then I'd definitely recommend you try something by Susan Hill. She also writes non-horror stories and one of my favourites is called A Kind Man.

Do you like scary stories? I'm always on the look out for new ones to read, please share them with me if you think you know some I might like!

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