Readers familiar with horror surely recognize the ghost story as a pillar of the genre. Dating back to Biblical times (ever heard of the Holy Ghost?), the idea of ghosts continues to capture our curiosity. Whether they exist or not remains up for debate, adding to their mystery and stimulating our imaginations. Horror writers tap into this to craft different versions of ghosts, be it literal specters or metaphorical apparitions.
This month’s theme for JUVEN has been history. Aside from being a long-standing horror tradition, ghosts represent history in a more metaphorical sense, too. They’re manifestations of a tragic past and trauma. A ghost in literature often embodies either trauma of a character or a collective trauma within a certain location.
Minor spoiler warning for The Haunting of Bly Manor
Although it’s not something that is talked about very often, reactions often play a huge part in the way horror affects people. When a character unwittingly wanders into the home of a chainsaw wielding maniac, they run away, as we expect them too. Naturally, upon seeing any kind of threat, we will feel fear, and this is no different in thriller and horror stories. Our hearts beat faster as we helplessly watch characters go to investigate that noise (which was totally just the wind by the way) and hug our pillows and grab our sheets in anticipation for the monster to finally appear. But what happens when there are no screams and no fear in the face of these monsters?
Let's take this same situation again: your character is walking into the house of the chainsaw killer, but instead of screaming, or freezing or fainting or any of the natural responses we’ve come to associate with fear, they just continue walking on. This could tell us a myriad of things: the character is familiar with the killer, the killer is not a threat nor are they worthy of attention, maybe the killer is not a killer at all, but someone in a cheap halloween costume. But the most important thing we learn about this reaction is that the killer is not something to be feared, and so the audience won’t be scared either (for the most part).
Surprisingly, for a lover of horror, it’s not often that you’ll find me reading a book about vampires. This may be in part due to the saturation of them in the media, or my preference of werewolves (#teamjacob) but this only makes it more intriguing for me to find well written pieces of vampire fiction. That’s why I was lucky to come across the Forget Me Not book tour and engross myself in its first chapter.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Book Review by Parisa Afkham
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving follows the story of a poor schoolmaster called Ichabod Crane as he tries to woo the Heiress Katrina Van Tassel to obtain some more money. However, he must beat his rival Brom Bones, to marry Katrina. This story takes place in the mysterious town of Sleepy Hollow where things aren’t always as they seem.
Frankenstein Book Review by Pei Fu
In this suspenseful, tormenting tale, Mary Shelley lays bare the limitations of humanity that must not be defied. Merging science-fiction and Gothic horror, Frankenstein pushes readers’ conception of nature and morality. The foreshadowing and dreadful inevitability present throughout make it a frightening demonstration of how glory and genius may in fact brink on devastation.
The Tell-Tale Heart Book Review by Elena Juarez
Imagine nails on a chalkboard. Imagine the sound of styrofoam rubbing together. Imagine the sound of someone chewing with their mouth open or the non-stop clicking of a pen. How far would you go to make it stop? This is what “The Tell-Tale Heart'' by Edgar Allen Poe explores.
Dracula Book Review by Asher Lee
Dracula is one of the most iconic, oldest monster and horror creature. It is most notable for its slow burn horror, written in letters from different perspectives. It is also experimental; back then the horror always ended when you escaped the 'haunted mansion'. In Dracula the horror follows you home
Since the existence of humans, there has been an interrelationship between humans and the environment. We consider ourselves the grandest, smartest, and most resourceful creatures that ever scaled this planet. We have utilized every resource this planet could provide to fulfill the needs of the ever-growing population using our intelligence, memory, imaginary ability, skills which only we, humans possess. We pride ourselves on dominating this planet. But what if there is something stronger than us, something beyond humanity, something beyond our imagination? We as humans are a minuscule part of this vast universe. Humans always have had the fear of the unknown. From this fear sprung the genre of ‘horror'.
Did you know The Young Writer’s Initiative (TYWI) hosts a podcast? It’s true! Moving Write Along is a podcast made by young writers, for young writers. Whether you like listening to original stories or debates about plotter vs. pantser, this podcast has you covered. You wouldn’t know from listening that the three hosts have only just met, and this speaks to their chemistry and wit. Moving Write Along fosters a community of encouragement and accessibility, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to interview the three lovely hosts — Ruby, Kat, and Ray — of this writerly podcast. Would you like to meet them?
Not all horror mediums function the same way. Movies have an advantage when it comes to portraying horror, thanks to the combination of audio and visual components. You see something scary, but the music builds up tension until released by a slasher or ghost jumping out. With books, the audience receives neither of these, but gains the freedom to imagine things in a way that’s terrifying to them. If a character in a book gets decapitated, the reader gets to envision how the head flies off, where it lands, how the blood spills, all of that.
Horror comics work differently. They contain the visual aspects of film, but lack the advantage of audio. There’s some space for the reader to influence the action with their imagination, but not as much as traditional books. It’s an awkward middle ground to navigate, but writers continue to make successful horror comics.
So how do they do it? What’s the trick? Here’s a couple tools horror comic writers use to their advantage.