Horror Novels that Affected My Childhood in a Big Way


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Scary Stories Can Never Be Too Scary

One of my all-time favorite book series ever written is RL Stine’s Goosebumps series. Another very similar series that is a runner up to being my favorite is a set of 3 books called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. As you can probably tell from the title, these novels involved fear and inducing fear into the reader’s mind. These books had a largely positive effect on me as a child. As a child, I could never put these books down while I had the free time available to read them.

I must have owned somewhere between thirty and forty different Goosebumps books, every single one was unique and more or less scarier than the other. Most of these stories featured a somewhat modern era time period like setting with normal sized families and the main characters were usually teenagers. Other places used as settings were different typical parts of a teenager’s life, schools, college campuses, and summer camps, etc. For some reason, if I remember correctly, the author chose to place most of the stories on the East or West coasts, mainly California or New England. I connected so well to these different features because at this time in my life I was around the same age as the characters and I was doing the same things as them like going to school full time and summer camps and such. I am mostly connected to the West Coast and the East Coast idea because recently in my life I have been noticing that I want to live on the West Coast in a state like California. The twist that gave all these different settings uniqueness was that each one had a certain aspect to it that was “haunted”. The hauntings ranged from possessed items to ghosts to other non-human beings that the author creates committing mischief.

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R.L. Stine also included several different forms of supernatural and alien life into his novels. In his Goosebumps books the antagonists that he includes are not your typical villains. He writes in actual monsters that enjoy feasting on human flesh and aliens that play on the human’s mind to take control of them in a way. He also uses very descriptive writing methods to describe what happens to the main character when they get trapped in the lair of the scary flesh eating monster or how they deal with the camp counselor that is disguised as an alien that wants to enslave humans. These features made it so easy, almost effortless, to get a mental picture of what he was writing and the writing really sticks out to me if it is easy to picture in my head as an image. All of these features combined are what made his writing style so interesting and these novels so hard to put down for me.

Another set of scary novels that was a huge part of my child-hood was Scary

Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. There are 3 different books that are all part of this series. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 1, 2, and 3. These books actually just made you cringe with fear and shake inside your skin sometimes. Some of these stories could be very dark too. The author would like to include stories around ghosts, people’s deaths, hauntings, and even sometimes, the characters would find body parts that were cursed and be tormented by them. The best part of these books was that the author included amazing illustrations to go along with his stories. Just looking at these illustrations themselves could make you have to change your undergarments from being in that much fear. Including these amazing illustrations is just another example of a thing that really lets me connect to the writing.

To expand on the amount of darkness that Alvin Schwartz wrote into his books he would include some extremely twisted stories that would make even the most skeptical, iron-willed readers slightly shiver. His stories are placed in America and include some very scary things according to American culture. Some of these things are like scarecrows that come to life at night, possessed animals, buried treasure and restless spirits. These things were genuinely creepy in their nature. I was a huge fan of all these things though, obviously, especially the “restless spirits” because to me those were the creepiest things in the universe and were the things that not a single other person liked.

Alvin Schwartz’s books appealed to me a lot too because as a younger kid I was just searching for excitement in anything and everything. I was a thrill seeker. Reading all of these creepy stories was a huge thrill for me. In a way it made me feel alive, unlike all of the ghosts and things from the countless scary stories I read. To this day, I still enjoy reading and watching anything scary like movies, books, television shows, and even just surfing the internet reading stories created by people late into the night.

It’s hard to explain the kind of thrill that one gets from reading horror/scary types of literature because it’s not your typical form of thrill seeking. Most people get their adrenaline rushes from doing crazy things like skydiving or driving motor vehicles at really high speeds. Other people who are huge fans of this probably will understand what I am talking about. But for me, I just really tried to immerse myself in the books as much as I could.

This form of literature also helped me shape my mind as I got older and really let my thoughts develop and set the way I look at things. It kind of reminds me to keep in open mind in a weird way. It does this because these stories remind me very strange things can happen and more importantly, not to mess with the dead and that kind of stuff. It also helped shape what experiences I would go on and experience in my future. For example, I visited a couple different haunted locations during family vacations and I even got positive feedback from the other side. But that’s a story for another time.

Recently, in my life, I have been noticing there is less and less to read though with this type of literature. I have read countless other books but none of those others have really stuck out to me like these did. I think I would still like to pursue this thrill that reading scary things gives me, so in the future I would probably need to spend some time and just surf the internet for material. Some of the most entertaining, besides the books I talked about, are actually ones I have found on the internet even though they are all created simply for the reader’s entertainment and are just fiction. So, I would like to get back into reading these stories because I have been on a slight hiatus from them and I still have the same passion as used to.

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