The power of literacy comes at little cost, but sometimes we read too much. However, although we may read things that scare us often enough, to be disturbed by something is a very different feeling entirely. There are certain things that we watch, read, or hear that stay with us for life in the darkest recesses of our minds. So, in the spirit of the Halloween season, here are five books and stories that have scarred some of us here at Bookstr!
Image Via Goosebumps Wiki – Fandom
This book freaked the living crap out of me before I even read it. As a child, I would always stare at the cover at my school’s library, almost as if to challenge myself to pick up the abomination and face my fear. Eventually, after weeks of being too scared of the cover and the demonic ventriloquist dummy that would stare directly into my young and innocent soul, I took out the book in an effort to conquer my fear.
Sadly, I only had the chance to barely read a couple chapters. One night, shortly after I had taken out the book, I went over to my cousin’s house to watch a movie. There were five of us there, with me being the youngest. I just read up that this specific Goosebumps tale wasn’t even adapted, but we still watched some film about an evil ventriloquist dummy. I was hiding behind the couch in the dark, barely peeking through the blanket I was under.
I’ll never forget seeing that evil face flash on the screen. Every time I saw that dummy I screamed or yelped, much to the annoyance of my family. So, they set out to scare me good enough to shut me up. All of a sudden, at some random point, they all jumped on me while yelling loudly. I was FREAKED OUT, but they took it further by then locking me in the closet for a while.
Ever since that ordeal, every time I see those dummies on any book cover, I turn in the opposite direction and get the heck on outta there!
Image Via Amazon.com
I read this book when I was ten or eleven, old enough for what subsequently happened to probably not have happened, but I am who I am. The story of Coraline follows a little girl who stumbles into another world, similar to her own, but with unsettling differences. Differences such as her Other Mother who has buttons for eyes, and a whole differing colour scheme, which may not sound frightening in itself, but would play a key role in my misery later on.
Around the time that I read this horrifying book, my family were moving houses which necessitated many trips to places such as carpet shops, which would have been pretty mundane for most kids, but for my anxious child-brain they were merely blank spaces on which to draw NIGHTMARES. While in this carpet shop, I pushed through a rack of carpets in a perfectly innocent attempt to emulate Lucy Pevensie discovering Narnia. But it then occurred to me that instead of Narnia, or even better, nothing at all, I may be somewhere far worse.
My father was on the side of the carpet rack and I urgently asked him if I was in the Other world. He responded by speaking backwards to me, literally managing to say words back-to-front. Not sure how he did this so quickly but he did. Speaking backwards isn’t even something people in Coraline do, but MAYBE EVERY OTHER WORLD WASN’T THE SAME AND THIS WAS JUST MY VERSION OF THE OTHER WORLD AND INSTEAD OF BUTTON EYES EVERYONE SPOKE BACKWARDS.
I obviously commenced freaking out, and my dad stopped speaking backwards and assured me he was just playing along, obviously perplexed as to why I was getting so worked up about a game that I had initiated. But after that day, I was plagued with intrusive thoughts that I had somehow crossed over and there was no going back. If it was true, I had no idea where that carpet shop even was or how to get back to it or how I would ever reverse the curse, the terrible, terrible curse.
I re-read sections of Coraline to try and convince myself that my life (even if I was now in the Other world) was nothing like hers. However this did little to assuage my fears, as I came to the realization that when Coraline is in the Other world, her bedroom colour scheme is different: it’s peach and green. MY bedroom color scheme was peach and green. HAD IT ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY? HAD I JUST FORGOTTEN WHAT MY OLD ROOM WAS LIKE?
It was a terrible time and this fear raised its head periodically for the next couple of years. I think I occasionally even worried about it when I was in my early teens. I’m totally chill about the whole thing now though, like I definitely don’t think any of that could have really happened and I am fine. Happy Halloween.
3. The Girl with the Green Ribbon – Submitted by Madison
Image Via A Reader’s Journey
This is one of those scary folk tales that are just told around a campfire to scare little kids. But let me tell you, I was kind of scarred from this story. The premise is simple: There’s this girl who wears a green ribbon around her neck for her WHOLE DAMN LIFE. Then she meets a man, falls in love, HAS CHILDREN, and eventually lies on her deathbed.
Now, here’s where it gets freaky. The husband has been dying to know why she never takes off the ribbon ever since they met. He’s asked countless times, but now since she’s going to die anyway, she finally chooses to let him find out. As he takes off her ribbon HER HEAD FALLS CLEAN OFF!
Now, headless corpse and all considered, I was rightfully terrified as a child. It took me a while to even bare to look at any ribbon of any color. I had this feeling that if I, or anyone, put on a ribbon on any place on the body then that appendage would immediately fall off. Plus, there were logical loopholes that I found incredibly bizarre. For example, HOW DID SHE HAVE KIDS IF SHE WAS HEADLESS? CAN ZOMBIES MAKE CHILDREN? WHAT IS THIS WORLD?!?
Oh yeah, and the color green would trigger flashbacks for me to the image of the girl’s head falling off. Happy Halloween, kiddies.
Image Via Wikipedia
This book… like wow… so much messed up stuff! The Witches is a timeless horror delight by Roald Dahl. And it also was, coincidentally, one of the books I had to read in fourth grade. Now, as a young adult looking back, it was a great story. It’s just not one I would tell children at the age of nine.
What got me was the fact that these witches weren’t the B.S. ones you’d see on Scooby-Doo. These were real witches, the type that ATE CHILDREN FOR SUSTENANCE AND FUN! And that being the main premise of the story genuinely screwed me up. For a while, I didn’t necessarily fear being chased or caught by witches; I feared imagining these disgusting beings ripping children apart and devouring them.
Besides the talk of cannibalism, I was formally disturbed by the fact that they would also change children into animals like mice or chickens. That scarred me even more, as I struggled for a short time in distinguishing which animals had souls and which didn’t. That book did a number on me, man. Happy Halloween!
Image Via Good vs Evil
I’ve read a few good scary novels whose titles I wish I could recall; they gave me chills. However, one short story that’s not exactly horror, but still disturbed the hell out of me was The Most Dangerous Game. My class and I had read it when I was in seventh grade and I was struck with an uneasy feeling about the work.
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell opens with two friends boating to a destination in the Amazon in order to hunt big game. However, one friend, Rainsford, falls off the boat and ends up swimming to a nearby island known for its shipwrecks. Rainsford comes across a mansion that houses General Zaroff and his servant Ivan. Zaroff takes Rainsford in and discusses hunting, explaining that he’s bored with the usual wild animals he shoots and longs for a challenge. Soon, what Rainsford thinks is his chance to be rescued is actually his turn to be hunted.
I remember being terribly creeped out by the dialogue of one specific scene. When Zaroff sits down to dine with Rainsford and slowly indicates what he plans to do, it’s absolutely chilling. Rainsford’s slow realization makes you feel so uneasy, like that feeling washing over you when you know you can’t escape something. What are the odds you ended up on this dark and horrifying island?! It’s a weird animalistic tone and Connell makes you feel like you’re the one sitting at that table, wondering if you’re going to make it out alive. Scary as hell; I’m already sweating thinking about it, but I highly recommend it!
Featured Image Via Tablet Magazine