The Shinning by Stephen King really scared me towards the end when Dick was driving in the blizzard to the hotel, and the houses’ voice popped into his head screaming at him a racial slur, telling him to not come. Just that the hotels’ apparation could jump into Dick’s consciousness as he was driving to help Danny scared me, and I remember going to sleep that night scared that such a powerful entity (though fictional) could jump into someones consciousness like that.
Definitely “House of Leaves” by Danielewski. I was obsessed with the story and the sense of claustrophobia and emptiness really haunted me and stayed with me long after I finished reading this amazingly weird novel.
i read a ton of stephen king and similar when i was a kid/teen, and the only things he wrote that scared me – while also being the only writing to scare me, period, besides some parts of HoL – were the parts of Insomnia where shit goes bonkers (mostly due to the weird, as I’d only read stuff like Carrie & Cujo before it) and the story “1408”, after reading it halfway through then trying to go to bed. it wasn’t scary to me anymore after i finished it, which may be one of the reasons i pretty much always read something 100% through on my first sitting if time allows.
but, god damn, that part of HoL where johnny wigs out in the tattoo parlor.
I loved The Room by Selby Jr., especially the way it was told. The teenage flashbacks, the frenzied thoughts, the lack of reason for incarceration. Have you read “The Demon” by him? That one gets crazy.
i dunno if it’s the scariest book i’ve ever read, but the scariest reading experience i ever had was while reading a novel called *one*, by conrad williams. he’s a good writer and it was a really good book, but the thing is i started reading it in a cabin in the woods on a night we had a big storm and the power went out.
so, by kerosene lamplight, i’m reading this postapocalyptic horror thing about a dude traveling on foot by himself down the UK, and everything he sees is dead. meanwhile it’s late as hell, my girl’s asleep, and the storm is over, but for hours the trees keep dripping water on the cabin and branches keep falling outside in ways that sound EXACTLY LIKE SOMEONE COMING TO CHOP OFF YOUR HEAD. and in the book the dude holes up in an abandoned house for the night, and he hasn’t seen a living soul since like the second page of the book, and suddenly he hears a door creak or a footstep or something in the middle of the night and i’m in this cabin in the middle of nowhere w/the sound of slasher killers creeping up from all sides and pretty soon i’m basically like sitting there gnawing my knuckles.
the sounds from outside were so fucking scary that at one point i actually got a hatchet and pressed myself against a wall near a corner for i don’t even know how long.
i remember It being pretty terrifying in parts, mostly the ones where all the friends were in a house, silently dreading what is about to happen/remembering their past clown terrors. i think the book was long enough (and maybe the key to horror is to make it long) that the suspense kept building and building. it’s probably not a very scary story when told quickly. but when dragged over a thousand pages it becomes a bit more precarious, i think mainly due to the fact that king will overexplore every character to the point that every detail becomes a facet of fear.
I’m a lifelong fan of horror fiction, but I don’t really go into it for the purpose of being scared. I look for the same things I want from any fiction: good writing, interesting ideas. People such as Thomas Ligotti, Ramsey Campbell, Steve Rasnic Tem, Joe R. Lansdale, Robert Aickman. The list is a long one. I guess I’m pretty jaded by now, and sometimes wish that I could react more viscerally to the stuff I read, but there’s a deeper satisfaction to be had there than mere frights. Actually, when I stop to think about it, the most disturbing things I read these days come from the news.
One book I remember being a bit freaked out by in my early days as a reader was Peter Straub’s Floating Dragon. As I’ve gone back to re-read it though I’ve found myself appreciating the writing more than anything else (though the ending left a lot to be desired.)
I’m so late to this thread, ug, but I love that scary shit! Bernhardt’s The Lime Works gives me the creeps real hard. I’m so sensitive to those frenzied paranoiac narrators and that really thick language.
I had to stop reading Eden, Eden, Eden because I wasn’t in the right headspace: all that rape and ragged meat made me too anxious.
I’m gonna second those comments on DFW’s Oblivion.
Reading Beckett’s Lost Ones kind of messed me up when I was a kid. :'(
2 scarrry! I’m also too chicken shit to read Elfriede Jelinek anymore, even though I love her work. I was just at the beginning of Greed and got this SOMETHIng terrible is going to Happen!!! ( >_< )vibe and had to put it down.
i saw It before reading It, and also while young enough, that that trauma overrode any that i could have/would have felt while reading. i remember feeling like “oh man thank god this isn’t as scary as the movie” without questioning why that was the case
Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith. I knew it was going to be a hard book to read, and couldn’t keep the tears away as I read it. It’s not purely scary, but the existential heart-fuck is terrible and unavoidable and necessary.
Is it considered to cliche to mention There Is No Year by Blake Butler on htmlgiant? Definitely a book that got under my skin. Another weird one that has always stuck with me is a Stephen King short story called “The Lawnmower Man”. Seemed ridiculous and even comical when I read it, but the imagery has stuck with me and more and more creeps me out.