Reading With My Eyes Closed

I’ve always enjoyed a good horror story, whether on film or in a book. If a film, I’ll watch like a frightened child, with my hand covering my eyes, peeking through my fingers so as not to miss too much of the action on the screen. It’s kind of silly to expect a mere hand to protect me, though it does give a measure of comfort. But I was thinking . . . when I read a horror novel, it’s ludicrous to peek between my fingers as I would during the scary parts of a movie. I can look away from the written words, but what’s to keep my mind from picturing the scenes of horror I’ve just read?

The scariest novel I’ve ever read is Dracula by Bram Stoker. It is so, so, so much better than any of the movie versions. I read it during the day, when the sun was out (though, do you know, in the book, Dracula can be out and about in the daytime because the sun doesn’t kill him, it only reduces his powers). Several years before discovering Dracula, I’d made the mistake of reading The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty, at night when everyone else in the house was asleep. I was terrified, but darned if I would put that book down for one second! The devil couldn’t have pried it from my hands.

I’m a Stephen King fan. Among my favorite SK books are Salem’s Lot and The Shining. Of more recent reads, probably the scariest for me was Help for the Haunted by John Searles. Creepy book. I’m always open to suggestions, if you have any favorite horror novels to recommend.

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