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Why Horror Books Just Aren’t That Scary

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Instead of grabbing Disney movies, I worked my way through the Friday the 13thand A Nightmare on

I’ve watched a lot of horror movies over the years from George A

Romero’s zombie flicks to Paranormal Activity to over-the-top gruesome movies

But unlike movies or even TV shows, I’ve never been really scared by a book

I say thing, but atmosphere is really a collection of aspects

It’s the place, the sounds, the light levels, and the overall tension of the people in

Perhaps it’s just how I read and absorb the world of a book, but books just

The next paragraph can describe the smell of rotting flesh on the wind or the sound of

Jennifer McMahon and Rivers Solomon are two of my favorites for atmospheric horror in their novels like

But the aspects of their atmospheres just cannot all layer and persist in the same way as

A movie can immerse you for a couple of hours, particularly in a darkened theatre

You think The Ring is scary? Try playing Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly or Eternal Darkness: Sanity’

I adore books, but there are some things they just can’t do like film or video

Fight scenes lose something without actually seeing trained fighters on the screen

Okay, sure, some authors put together playlists and share them

And yet, we have horror books even though horror movies always rely heavily on their soundtracks

Now, most people cannot hear Oldfield’s iconic track without shivering from remembered images of Linda Blair’

Certain chords from an orchestra will immediately put you in a horror film mood

Imagine a protagonist shuffling, weeping in fear, flashlight winking out in their shaking hands, knowing the killer

Being a writer myself, I can’t shut off that part of my brain

You have to be along for the ride with the protagonists, fearing for them and understanding how

Immersion is hard for me (and many writers) because I’m paying attention to precisely how the

How are they building tension? How are the playing with my expectation and meeting out details?

I’ve read The Shining, a book so scary that Joey had to throw the book in

That’s part of the fun of watching or reading or playing horror, after all

Am I just reading horror wrong? What are your tricks for making your reading experience scarier?

If you are looking for some great horror reads, check out these 2022 horror releases and 50 of the