Oh, Horrors!

‘Tis the month of Halloween, during which we make light of death, the supernatural, and terror. What fun.

For me, the quintessential Halloween book is Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October. (What, you haven’t read that yet? Go hence and remedy that deficiency post haste.) But is it quintessential by default? Are there other Halloween fantasy/science-fiction novels?

I must confess at this point that I am not a fan of horror. I don’t like horror films. I don’t read horror novels. I have made a few exceptions, but they are exceptions. And yet…

There is a powerful streak of horror that runs through fantasy. The fantastic is necessarily outside the mundane. It can either be delightful and charming, which is occasionally fine in narrative, or it can trigger alarm, which is better at creating conflict and maintaining reader interest.

Horror in fantasy is most pronounced, perhaps, in swords and sorcery. Consider Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane novels. Or the frequent Lovecraftian monstrosities Conan constantly stumbled across.

But horror is a constant in even epic fantasy. Consider the lodestone of the genre, The Lord of the Rings. What are the ringwraiths but embodiments (so to speak) of fear? And is not a gigantic spider a fundamentally horrific figure? I’m sure you can add examples.

So, while Zelazny’s book remains my go to Halloween book, I suppose most any fantasy snatched from my shelf might do just as well.