Book Corner: Spooky stories for the modern reader

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By Milan Perera, Arts writer

Horror, fantasy and supernatural tales have cornerstones of storytelling for generations. The following list proves that, even in the 21st century, the horror genre is bursting with fresh possibilities and is well and truly alive.

Horowitz Horror - Anthony Horowitz

The creative genius behind Foyle’s War and Alex Rider refuses to be pigeonholed. His enormous repertoire covers genres ranging from historical fiction (Robin of Sherwood with Richard Carpenter) to semi-fictional world war dramas. This collection of ghost stories could be described as ghost stories for the Harry Potter fandom. Although the targeted audience is young adults (due to the omission of gratuitous sex and graphic violence), the collection can still be enjoyed by readers of every age. This compilation of nine short stories, each consisting around 20 pages, keeps your pulse racing as you navigate through scenes of malevolent ghouls and their mayhem. Out of the first volume, for instance, Killer Camera is a dark and disturbing account of a ghostly spirit trapped in a camera, brining destruction to any object or person it snaps! The sequel is equally enjoyable.

Procession of the dead by D.B Shan

Procession of the dead's author Darren O'Shaughnessy (also known under the pen name D.B. Shan) enjoyed meteoric success with the childrens' series The Saga of Darren Shan and The Demonata. He now turns his attention to adult fiction with this promising debut. In this curtain raiser to a three volume series the action takes place in a nameless city, simply called The City. Given some scathing one star Goodreads reviews, I had very little faith in this book upon purchased. The premise, however, certainly does not disappoint. As a novel that simulaniously brings to mind The Sopranos and Philip Pullman, it breaks the horror mould. Young protagonist Capac Raimi dreams of becoming a big time gangster. Equipped with confidence, intelligence and eagerness Capac Raimi embarks on a journey to materialise his dream, until he crossed paths with Cardinal, the don of the underworld. Cardinal is no ordinary mafia boss but an odd mixture of an eccentric ignoramus and a vengeful god. The plot is well constructed and the storyline moves at a rapid pace; an enjoyable and quick read.

Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch

Set in modern day London, the story kicks off with the discovery of a decapitated body, bringing protagonist DC Peter Grant to the scene. His main witness, without spoiling anything, is ghostly to say the least. A worthy successor to Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber, Aarovitich changes the pace by incorporating aspects of the magical realism genre and beautifully weaving the geography and underbelly of London into the narrative. The book's first third is a marathon of steady-paced unfolding action, but your perseverance will be rewarded as you fully immerse yourself into the carefully crafted and well plotted storytelling of Aaronovitch. The novel's magical, haunting and mysterious elements create a tour de force of a fantasy thriller with a satisfying ending. There are seven more books in the series with a ninth in the pipeline!

Dead Boys by Gabriel Squailia

While she may not be a household name, Gabriel Squailia is a writer with an extraordinary imagination as well as a transgender activist who highlights the lack of trans-visibility in the fantasy/horror genre. The premise of the fiction is fresh and bold. At times it borders on the idioms of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman but enumerates its own cosmology with no traces of plagiarism. Her ‘Land of the Dead’ destines all who arive to live out eternity. Death is no laughing matter but the author engages a wickedly funny discourse about death and life thereafter. Laced with strands of philosophy and intellectual musings, the story revolves around a dead taxidermist who is on a quest to find the Living Man who appeares to have cheated death.

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Have you read any spooky fiction this season so far?

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