Imagine you’re on the road one night and suddenly spot a massive beast just up ahead. It stands on its hind legs and stretches its arms while maintaining steady eye contact. To your bewilderment, while you are shaking in fear, the monster begins to sway its body and dance. Is he charming or frightening? Literary monsters transcend genre, culture, and the human experience. Authors use the actions of homes, animals, humans, and magical beasts to transform a character into a monster. It is the quality of character that establishes if someone is creepy or sweet, and we here at Bookstr compiled our favorite characters to take a closer look at what makes a monster friendly or creepy.
Nos is a forest god of old who has recently found his mate in the woman who her husband murdered only to be reborn a skinwalker. He is fierce and terrifying to all but her. He would literally burn the world down to make sure she was safe and happy. The fact that he is a handsome six-foot-plus shapeshifter is just a bonus.
Aro was an absolute lunatic and psychopath. His entire demeanor on the page was creep-tastic, but Michael Sheen’s rendition on film solidified his creep factor and endeared him to me at the same time. It was a stellar performance.
- Kristi Eskew, Editorial
Charming: Crowley from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett Creepy: Hill House from The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Crowley is a demon, and his bare minimum attitude toward carrying out Satan’s evil plan is endearing. His adoption of a normal human lifestyle, his precious relationship with Aziraphale, and his overall humorous antics are entertaining. In the end, he stopped the apocalypse and saved all of humanity. Plus, David Tennant’s portrayal of him in the adaptation is incredible, so what’s not to love?
Hill House is a living, sentient being. It preys on anybody inside by toying with their psyches. The concept of a house being an evil entity rather than a holding cell for ghosts or demons is unique and makes The Haunting of Hill House a terrifying concept.
- Lauren Nee, Editorial
Charming: The Color Monster from The Color Monster by Anna Llenas Creepy: The Dog from The Little Black Dog by Alvin Schwartz
In between its colorful personality, The Color Monster has an important message: we should identify and control our strong emotions because they impact the people around us. The Color Monster uses a striking character design to visually connect with a young reader and teach emotional intelligence at an early age.
The Little Black Dog explores the consequences of murder by following Billy who ruthlessly kills his neighbor and their little black dog in a fit of rage. Billy becomes mad and convinces himself the dog is torturing him. This spooky tale is sure to keep even the fiercest horror fans up at night.
- Olivia Salamone, Editorial
Charming: Selene from Underworld by Danny McBride Creepy: Akasha from Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
Even though Selene can see through the world around her as a vampire, she doesn’t want to destroy it. She is a strong female character who has confidence and works to save humanity from a vampiric takeover, and she does it in style! Selene is not the monster of her story. She is a creature who still has compassion for others despite being from the undead world.
Akasha is scary! A vampire who feeds on humans and other vampires is about as lethal as they come. She never feels satisfied and has a bloodlust that rivals any monster. If given an opportunity, Akasha would drink the world dry because no amount of flesh would ever be enough for her. Akasha is aggressive, and strikes fear in the heart of all her brave readers.
- Quiarah B, Editorial @v.p.nana
Charming: The Wild Things from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Creepy: The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro
The illustrations in Where the Wild Things Are bring to life a whimsical kingdom of furry horned monsters who love to play and romp around the forest. Although things can get quite grizzly at times, young Max forms a charming relationship with these monsters, who teach him a thing or two about bedtime.
Guillermo del Toro has a way with fear, and Pan’s Labyrinth is no exception. When the protagonist, Ofelia, meets the Pale Man sitting at the end of an extravagant dining table, del Toro’s nightmare comes to life. She accidentally awakens the monster; he places his eyeballs in the palms of his hands and holds them up to his face with blood-tipped fingers. The pale man’s character design is as creepy as they come.
- Sarah Anderson, Editorial
Charming: Lee from Bones and All by Camille DeAngelis Creepy Joe Goldberg from You by Caroline Kepnes
Lee is just a guy living his life in the best ways possible. He isn’t afraid of controlling his issues and chooses to embrace himself. By eating bad guys, Lee never denies himself and focuses on making a positive contribution to the world despite having an uncontrollable condition.
Joe is a creep. Plain and simple. He manipulates the people around him, most frighteningly, the audience. He stalks his victims obsessively and kills maliciously. Joe is an abusive monster who tries to convince himself he’s a good man.
- Sierra Jackson, Editorial
If you want to check out another Bookstr crowd-sourcing article, try Bookstr Team Confessions: Our Bookish Beige Flags.