Multcolib My Librarian Nick: Horror for the non-horror reader

The Wasp Factory
The Wasp Factory A Novel By Banks, Iain Book - 1998 FICTION BANKS Available in some locations

Annotation:I cannot think of a better place to start than this searing first literary novel from the late Banks. Set on an island off the coast of Scotland, this tense, lean narrative from the perspective of sixteen-year old Frank Cauldhame defines true family dysfunction. There is nothing evil in this exceptional character study, just the horrific yet fascinating glimpses into isolated minds.

The Deadly Percheron
The Deadly Percheron By Bardin, John Franklin Book - 2006 FICTION BARDIN Available in some locations

Annotation:A psychological corkscrew full of originality and madness, this novel published in 1946 was sold as crime fiction but descends into a blurred carnival of twisted noir. An inventive mind hurricane, for those noir lovers who don’t like everything wrapped up in a tidy bow.

Something Nasty in the Woodshed
Something Nasty in the Woodshed By Bonfiglioli, Kyril Book - 2005 MYSTERY BONFIGLIO All copies in use Availability details

Annotation:The third book in a trilogy featuring the wisecracking, immoral, and gluttonous art-dealer Charlie Mortdecai is so full of laughs and politically incorrect humor that one can forget how the story descends into grim lands. This 1976 novel reads like a sarcastic mix of "The Wicker Man" and Monty Python.

Here Comes A Candle
Here Comes A Candle By Brown, Fredric Book - 2006 MYSTERY BROWN Available in some locations

Annotation:Brown, a prolific pulp writer of many genres, experiments with different narrative devices to tell the story of young Joe Bailey, a boy psychologically scarred from a childhood nursery rhyme. Dreams, trauma, and romance drive this suspenseful novel initiated entirely by the jingle: “Here comes a candle to light you to bed/And here comes a chopper to chop off your head.”

The Fifth Child
The Fifth Child By Lessing, Doris Book - 1989 FICTION LESSING Available in some locations

Annotation:Before Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature, she penned this dark, probing study of the fragile state of a seemingly ‘perfect’ suburban family. Very real and chilling portrait of human reactions. Highly recommended.

Child of God
Child of God By McCarthy, Cormac eBook - 2010 3M downloadable ebook Check availability»

Annotation:An early novel from the lyrical wordsmith and definitely his darkest, most disturbing work. The tale of Lester Ballard is similar to that of Frank Cauldhame (see Banks, above) in its window into the mind of an isolated protagonist. Not for the squeamish.

Bellefleur By Oates, Joyce Carol Book - 2013 FICTION OATES 2013 Available in some locations

Annotation:A sprawling Southern Gothic classic from the prolific Oates. The story of six generations of a rich, influential family in upstate New York who breed a Gong Show of descendants: serial killers, religious fanatics, vampires, scientists, gamblers, and a carnie-esque heroine. Be patient, for this novel is hefty, but once you peek inside the tent you’d better make sure you have enough change to see the entire sideshow.

The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares
The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares By Oates, Joyce Carol Downloadable Audiobook - 2011 OverDrive downloadable audiobook Check availability»

Annotation:Whenever I read Oates, the same buzzwords always remind me of Poe: gothic, grotesque, and macabre. Her canon is endless it seems and her place in literary history long since respected but at least ten of her books could be on this list. For her effective short stories try this most recent collection and...

The Museum of Dr. Moses
The Museum of Dr. Moses Tales of Mystery and Suspense By Oates, Joyce Carol Book - 2007 FICTION OATES Available in some locations

Annotation:...this dark collection too. She crafts tiny snippets of true human terror within bleak territories.

The House Next Door
The House Next Door By Siddons, Anne Rivers Book - 2007 FICTION SIDDONS 2007 Available in some locations

Annotation: Like haunted houses? Southern Gothic? Read this. Now. No ghosts or supernatural forces at play, just the erratic horrors of suburban life where the house itself turns its occupants into fierce caricatures of their normal selves. Makes "The Amityville Horror" look like a Nicholas Sparks novel. Highly recommended.

The Art of Murder
The Art of Murder By Somoza, José Carlos Book - 2005 MYSTERY SOMOZA Available in some locations

Annotation:Another unique novel that can’t decide whether it’s a mystery, thriller, speculative sci-fi, or horror tale. The setting is 2006 as the “near-future” where men and women are sold as art objects and displayed in museums all over the world. Rituals, fetishes, and suspense keep the tension strong. You’ll never look at a Rembrandt the same way again.

Savage Night
Savage Night By Thompson, Jim Book - 1991 MYSTERY THOMPSON Available in some locations

Annotation:Like Oates, there are a handful of titles written by Thompson that could be featured here. Here he is at his best: dialogue, p.o.v. narration, tone, and bubbling tension. Proceed without caution.

The Snake Pit
The Snake Pit By Ward, Mary Jane Book - 1946 FICTION WARD Available in some locations

Annotation:Anyone who has experienced a friend or family member with mental illness can painfully relate to this trailblazing novel from 1946. This book hit the bestseller list yet it also brought to attention the barbaric and dated treatment of electro-shock therapy. A humbling journey of a read, way ahead of its time. Avoid the sanitized film adaptation.

The Siege of Trencher's Farm
The Siege of Trencher's Farm The Novel That Inspired Straw Dogs By Williams, Gordon M. Book - 2011 FICTION WILLIAMS 2011 Available in some locations

Annotation:After viewing Sam Peckinpah’s film version of this novel, "Straw Dogs," I had to read the source material. Williams’s story is infinitely more gripping and rewarding. Another glimpse into society’s hazy reactions to mental illness and the paranoia it can instill, this story of an American family in rural England displays the fine line between civilization and the fringes of human prejudice.

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For those discerning readers who wouldn't be caught, well, dead in the stacks with a horror book. Try one of these dark yet 'respectable' literary and mystery fiction titles that have no supernatural or traditional horror elements, just the ominous psyches of everyday people. True horror is right next door!

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