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This section contains both recommendations for contemporary horror novels as well as accompanying analyses of those novels to exemplify the complexity of books in this genre.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
House of Leaves by
Publication Date: 2000-03-07
House of Leaves is a horror novel published in 2000, examining a fictional documentary about a family whose house begins to grow additional rooms. It is well known for its unique format, including unusual text layout such as upside-down text and use of extensive footnotes containing additional stories. While it is traditionally shelved as horror, its genre has been debated as both romance and “satire of academic criticism.” With text that is often intentionally tedious in order to create atmosphere (such as several pages of footnotes referencing books that do not exist), it may not capture the interest of younger readers. It is available in paperback at most libraries and major bookstores.
It by Stephen King
Publication Date: 2017-07-11
It is a 1986 horror novel by renowned horror author Stephen King. The story is about seven children and their experiences with an evil creature known as “It” who mainly takes the form of Pennywise the clown to lure and kill children around town. The novel won the British Fantasy Award in 1987 and was adapted into a film duology in 2017. Though the story features children, the length of the book may appeal more to adults. It is widely available in most libraries.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
American Psycho by
Publication Date: 1991-03-06
American Psycho is a black comedy novel with horror elements. It tells the story of Patrick Bateman, an investment banker by day and serial killer by night, through a present tense stream-of-consciousness style and unreliable narrator who slowly loses his grasp on sanity. The novel is widely considered a critique of the shallowness of capitalism and materialism. The explicit violence of the story renders it most suitable for adults rather than children. It is available at most libraries.
Analysis of House of Leaves
Matrix Pauoris: Material Dislocation in House of Leaves
This chapter from the book Diseases of the Head: Essays on the Horrors of Speculative Philosophy explores the way that House of Leaves embodies the theme of space (or lack thereof) visually through the formatting of text, attempting to define an abstract and multifaceted idea—the presence of “nothing” in the space that is created within the house. This chapter is complex and lengthy, most appropriate for those familiar with philosophy. It is open access, and is published by Punctum Books, and open-access and scholar-led independent publisher.
Link to chapter
Analysis of It
A Psychiatrist Explains Why Clowns Freak Us Out
This article discusses the common fear of clowns with psychiatrist Steven Schlozman. It discusses the “uncanny valley” phenomena and how our brains respond to fear in fiction compared to fear in real life. Schlozman is a Harvard professor who teaches a seminar on the neurobiology of horror. This article is available for free from Inverse magazine, which is published for casual consumers rather than academic researchers, so the information is accessible for many audiences.
Link to chapter
Analysis of American Psycho
Serial Masculinity: Psychopathology and Oedipal Violence in Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho
This article examines American Psycho as a representation of modern masculinity and the violent consequences it has on both men and their partners. It argues that stereotypically masculine traits, as seen in American Psycho, are often legitimized as examples of strength when many can actually be tied to mental disorders. The subject matter of the article is explicit (not for children) but the vocabulary is accessible for non-experts. This article is from the journal Modern Fiction Studies, which is published by the reputable Johns Hopkins University Press. It is available with a subscription to JSTOR.
Link to article