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Analyzing Horror Fiction: Modern Horror

A guide to critical analysis of both classic and contemporary horror fiction


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

It by Stephen King


American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis


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