I wasn’t really feeling the Top 10 prompt this week (bookish settings…I feel like I did something similar), and Meegah’s prompt for this week was really speaking to me.
I don’t often read super scary books because I have a rough time sleeping anyways and nightmares are fun times (or I find that scary books are not scary at all, but predictable and boring), but these are some of the books that scared the living fuck out of me.
I did read a fuck ton of Goosebumps books as a kid, and while many haven’t aged well in my mind and quite a few that were goofy as hell, there were a couple that scared the shit out of me. Lemme just say, Stephen King has nothing on RL Stine.
I’m Crying Listing These
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
Right off the bat this is the first book I can think of that scared the ever living shit out of me. I do not like small spaces. I do not like them at all. This is ironic, since I grew up loving hide and seek and contorting my body into cramped, dark spaces that a person would never expect a child able to squeeze into. However, there’s the relative safety of the game, and the very real reality of being underground with millions of tons of dirt above you, or swimming through cave pools where one itty bitty wrong move can kick up sediment and blind you, or weird shit that happens on alien worlds with an overseer who drugs you without your consent and lies constantly, or crawling through an ever-narrowing tunnel and getting stuck. The fact that I’m about to pick up Starling’s most recent release means I probably deserve a medal for bravery or something, honestly.
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Like Luminous Dead, this involves an expedition into an isolated space for ✨dubious reasons✨ with little hope of rescue when shit goes down. There’s the element of deep foreboding running rampant alongside unapologetic hubris, and then when the weird shit starts happening (from the fucking deep) I started thinking about all of the things down there lurking miles (miles) below seal level in the nooks and crannies and valleys and underwater mountain ranges of the ocean. Definitely gonna think twice about getting on another boat.
Fully Body Burden by Kristen Iversen and Chernobyl by Andrew Leatherbarrow
Name something scarier than a nuclear incident? I’ll wait.
Because there is nothing, and despite the nuclear advocates out there who wax on and on about how clean and efficient it is, I’m just sitting here like, radiation? Leaks and waste? I dunno, but something that poisons something for a bunch of time freaks me out a little, despite all of the failsafes put into place to make the super dangerous thing that can cause a global environmental event as safe as possible. I think much of my fear was based upon a really fucking scary movie/documentary on Chernobyl I watched as a kid (so can’t remember which it was, too scared to go back and find it).
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Speaking of shit that terrified me as a child—this fucking book.
Who the fuck wasn’t terrorized by this book as a kid? I sure as hell wasn’t immune. This book still scares me, and I’m in my thirties. Although, now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder if I’d be as scared if I revisited it as an adult—no. Nope, no. Some things are meant to remain in childhood, and this book is one of them.
I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
There’re two reasons I often don’t read true crime, the first being I don’t particularly care about reading the often sensationalized ways the deaths of the victims are portrayed, with their torture, deaths and everything else described in lovingly dehumanizing ways as a kind of tragedy/torture porn. Thrillers? Sure, I’ll read them, but there’s something about reading about the graphically described gruesome death of a real person that makes me feel like I’m crossing a line. Also, the second reason is because I get scared easily and true crime is scary as hell.
Anywho, as someone who did treat victims well in her storytelling, this is one of those books. And it’s also scary as fuck and very well written (minus the last bits that were compiled from her notes after her unfortunate death).