Subgenres You Should Know About: What is Horror Romance?

What do you expect when you come across a Horror Romance novel? Freddy Krueger with roses? Leatherface baking a cake with his own skin? Yeah, both sound gross.

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Romance is such a gooey read; don’t you want something more exciting? Add a little blood to the mix? Sounds scary, right? Well, with spooky season just around the corner, I’m going to let you in on a little secret regarding horror-themed love. Here’s what you should expect within the Horror Romance genre.

Formula for Horror Romance

So, the basic formula when it comes to romance is pretty simple. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Boy meets boy. Girl meets girl. A person meets a person. There’s that cute moment, but it doesn’t last long. A semi-huge conflict comes into the woodwork and boom! Will these two lost souls end up together? OF COURSE! Unless one of them dies… then it becomes The Fault in Our Stars or A Walk to Remember trope real quick.

However… What if the person that died becomes a ghost? Invades your dreams? Haunts your every move? 

Horror faces a similar pattern. The difference is you can find terror in every corner of the world. It can be a call from a stranger, a knock at the front door during the dead of the night, a monster from your dreams, or a monster you created with your own hands. A demon on your right shoulder is begging you to murder someone who’s in sight. 

So how do we get two polar opposite genres to coexist into one plot, you ask?

Goth Frankenstein Dracula History

Gothic Romance was the Predecessor 

A brief little snippet about Gothic Romance– Romance during the 17th century didn’t always mean what it means now. No passion, no heartaches, and deep feelings. Instead, it was associated with fantasy, and within this fantasy, we were met with the supernatural.

We have classic monsters such as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula that intermixes Gothic Horror and Gothic Romance. Either way, the Gothic genre is the darkest genre from the past, yet there’s a clear difference between Horror and Goth. The latter is more about the atmosphere and the ghosts you find in the walls and within yourselves. You might get scared, but you will probably be a little sad. Want to know the History of Gothic Horror and Romance? Click here if you dare…

The Characters Have to be Messed Up

Yes, two people will meet for this romantic aura to happen. They aren’t considered normal– one or both will be messed up in some way. We have the story Dead Inside by Chandler Morrison to be our test subject. Here we meet a necrophiliac, and he meets a cannibal woman. She falls head over heels with him; the problem is she isn’t his type because, well… she’s not dead. Shocker, I know! 

It’ll be Steamy

It might not be pleasant to read because who knows? The main person might be a necrophiliac who meets a cannibal! Better yet, Caroline Kepnes’s story You is a prime example. The boy meets girl, but the boy is a psychopath who starts to stalk a girl. And since this is such a taboo genre, we got to give the readers what they want—sexy scenes between a psychopathic killer with his prey. 

Horror Romance

Remember when I said Gothic Romance was a gateway to Horror Romance? Think of the scariest thing you’ve ever read or seen on TV, and add a romantic subplot to the mix. Are you picturing Freddy Kruger tonguing down Nancy’s mom? Yeah, that’s where most of these stories go.

They question your sanity while also pulling at your heartstrings. Am I genuinely rooting for this character? Take, for instance, You. Joe Goldberg is crazy, but to some extent, you can’t help but understand why he does what he does. In some twisted way, you understand him. Joe is nowhere near a saint, but with the mixture of his charm, good looks, and a great plot, you want to see where he goes next. How far will he go until it’s too much? 

Check out the TV show You, based on the novel here!

Horror Romance questions your morals and puts a mirror in front of your face. We as a human race always want what we can’t have, and sometimes it’s okay to lose yourself in a world different from ours. 

There you have it, folks. We solved the mystery. Horror Romance shows individuals who aren’t your typical protagonist. They make a lot of mistakes, and in some cases, they will be the villain in their story. We can go as far back to Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and as recently to Joe Goldberg in You. These characters are flawed, but somehow we feel for them in whatever endeavors they encounter. 

Want more Horror related reading material? Click here!