Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween Reads - What Frightens You?

What frightens you?
By Maryom and The Mole

Because of the season people have been talking about the most frightening book that there is. One such candidate offered recently was "The Exorcist" by William Peter Blatty and when we received a copy in the post Maryom took the opportunity to read it.

She will be reviewing it later this week*, but I don't think we are letting too much out in that she didn't find it at all frightening. One wonders why?

Another candidate has to be "Dark Matter" by Michelle Paver and this one Maryom did find frightening but I also read it and while I did really enjoy it didn't frighten me at all. And maybe we start to see a little of why.

Maryom feels that one book that she read as a child and found frightening was "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen" by Alan Garner and the reason was the tunnels.Tunnels have recently reappeared in the form of potholing in "Torn" by Cat Clarke (another review due this week) in which one of the characters is absolutely terrified at the prospect of going down a narrow tunnel. Both these stories play on Maryom's claustrophobia because if a writer does their job properly then the reader really feels they are entering the tunnels and so brings out the fear that the reader already has.

When it came to "Dark Matter" the subject of the fear is two fold:- the total dark and the ghost that lives in it. Maryom is also extremely uncomfortable in total dark while I am quite happy in the dark (and having worked for a large company for 27 years, am used to being kept in it!)

With "The Exorcist" Maryom felt that you needed to believe that "demonic possession" was possible before it would bother you. At one point the child vomits and a big play is made of this in the film (apparently because I haven't seen the film) but it's important to remember that in the early 70's Monty Python was getting laughs from people vomiting.

So what have I found to be a frightening read? Well it has to be "Shadow Bringer" by David Calcutt. We've all heard noises, as children, that we couldn't understand what they were and exactly where they were coming from and, to me, it's the most terrifying thing imaginable.

So what does an author need to do to write a terrifying novel? They need to find something that frightens most people and play on it deftly. Or they must set out to make you terrified of it, which has to be a whole lot more difficult.

*Review of The Exorcist

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