Literature is littered with unnerving individuals, ghouls, and goblins who creep off the page and into your nightmares. Well, good news! I’ve curated a list for you! Here are five of the most unsettling freakazoids prowling the pages of a book near you.
1. The Grand High Witch (The Witches by Roald Dahl)
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I wrote about her not long ago, but I couldn’t make a list of scariest characters and omit the one true embodiment of evil. Roald Dahl’s head witch from his novel The Witches is a genuinely terrifying creation and leads the list of most frightening witches in literature. Quentin Blake’s chilling illustrations of her (spooky both before and after removing her disguise) assist in rendering you totally petrified as you read (or have read to you by your dad as I did, while I cowered under my duvet). Anjelica Huston plays her flawlessly in the 1990 movie adaptation, which is not a children’s film despite what anyone says. It’s too scary. Too. Scary.
Dem eyes | Image Via Time
Okay, an obvious one. He’s evil. He eats people. He’s wildly intelligent. He’s inspired by AT LEAST three real life serial killers: Dr. Alfredo Ballí Treviño, Albert Fish, and Andrei Chikatilo. His name has become synonymous with psychopathic serial killers the world over, and, perhaps most upsetting of all, he has maroon eyes. *shudder* What more needs to be said?
3. Judge Holden (Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy)
Mercifully, there has yet to be an adaptation of this novel, but artist Jarrod Owen captured The Judge brilliantly in this drawing | Image Via DeviantArt
Harold Bloom called this character “the most frightening figure in all of American literature.” He’s based on the historical figure Judge Holden, who was said to have been a professional scalphunter. Judge only cropped up once in Samuel Chamberlain’s memoir My Confession, which follows his life with John Joel Glanton, an early settler in Mexican Texas, who, along with Judge, led a gang of scalphunters in the mid-1800s. In McCarthy’s novel, Judge partners with Glandon to lead a group who murder, rape, and torture their way across the borderlands of Mexico and the United States. Blood Meridian‘s Judge takes on an almost supernaturally evil form. His skin is so pale it is almost transparent, he is completely without hair and he is over seven feet tall. He assaults and kills children, luring them with sweets. Even reading the description of him before learning of his horrifying crimes is enough to make your blood run cold. In his own words, “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge, exists without my consent.”
4. Mrs. Danvers (Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier)
Spooktown | Image Via The Guardian
Mrs. Danvers is the creepy housekeeper of Manderly, the mansion belonging to Maxim de Winter. Mrs. Danvers, still unhealthily devoted to Mr. de Winter’s deceased wife Rebecca, makes life hell for his new wife, attempting to sabotage the marriage and even trying to convince her to commit suicide. She is described in the book as having a ‘skull’s face’, while in Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation she looks austere with black hair and dressed in black clothing.
5. Kevin Khatchadourian (We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver)
Ezra Miller in the really well cast but poorly adapted film | Image via Pinterest
Kevin, the endlessly unsettling titular character of Lionel Shriver’s famed book about a school shooter and his despairing mother, is a creepy dude. He’s creepy even when he’s a baby. As he ages, his behavior escalates into ever more disturbing incidents, while his mother, who is also a bit creepy but not as creepy as Kevin, grows ever more unnerved by her son. God, he’s so scary.
Featured Image Via Phoenix New Times