Another year means another Friday the 13th and another excuse to read horror fiction, watching scary movies and start to break out your Halloween decorations. Here are thirteen quotes from some of our favorite horror novels by some of our favorite horror writers that might make it hard to sleep tonight!
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“We’d stared into the face of Death, and Death blinked first. You’d think that would make us feel brave and invincible. It didn’t.”
― Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave
“I have seen the dark universe yawning Where the black planets roll without aim, Where they roll in their horror unheeded, Without knowledge, or lustre, or name.”
― H. P. Lovecraft, Nemesis
“[Horror fiction] shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on chaos and oblivion.”
― Clive Barker
“Eddie discovered one of his childhood’s great truths. Grownups are the real monsters, he thought.”
― Stephen King, It
“It is only when a man feels himself face to face with such horrors that he can understand their true import.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula
“It was so close to October that Halloween was knocking at his heart.”
― Barry Eysman, Candles for November
“-there was something in her, something that was…pure horror. Everything you were supposed to watch out for. Heights, fire, shards of glass, snakes, Everything that his mom tried so hard to keep him safe from.”
― John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In
“Walking out in the middle of a funeral would be, of course, bad form. So attempting to walk out on one’s own was beyond the pale.”
― Steve Hockensmith, Dawn of the Dreadfuls
“What looked like morning was the beginning of endless night.”
― William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist
Before Todd Phillips sends in the clown and unveils The Joker on a silver screen this October 4th, let’s look through some of the some of the best books about absolutely losing your mind.
This movie is a tough cookie for us. Yes, it’s based partially on The Killing Joke, but what it’s taken from Alan Moore’s iconic graphic novel appears to just be a few bits and pieces (although I’m making a bet right now that the scene when the Joker goes on stage is the beginning to that horrific scene from The Dark Knight Returns), but besides that, the influences on Todd Phillips’ newest ‘comedy’ is mostly from old Scorcese films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Mean Streets, and King of Comedy.
So how do we talk about this film? Well, we’re going to do exactly what the title of this article says and go through the top eight greatest books about descending into madness. You know the meme.
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Well, turns out that society has always been pretty terrible, a hotbed for madness. But how mad is that madness? Let’s find out. Viewer discretion is advised.
I believe that whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you… stranger. – The Dark Knight
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I know what you’re thinking: this is a book about a boy living on a boat with a tiger after a shipwreck, but is it?
Let’s start at the beginning: Pi was bullied by his peer relentlessly before writing out the square root of pi (well, as much as he could) in order to change his nickname from ‘Pissing Patel’ to ‘Pi.’ Thus, he faced society’s onslaught, and that’s only in the prologue.
Do things get better from there? Well, he was certainly one of the few survivors from a shipwreck but after that things get fuzzy.
He tells a writer he’s interviewing with that he survived on the lifeboat with a tiger, a spotted hyena, and a zebra with a broken leg. The hyena kills the zebra and the tiger kills the zebra, and Pi manages to befriend the tiger before returning to land. Pi is saved and the tiger escapes, wandering into the wilderness never to be found again.
But the official story is far worse. The survivors on the boat weren’t a zebra, a hyena, and a tiger, but rather Pi’s mother, a brutish cook, and Pi himself. The cook killed his mother and then Pi killed the cook, feasting on human remains and using other pieces as fish bait.
Which is the true story? Did Pi do the impossible and live on the water with a tiger, or did he go crazy and imagine a tiger to make himself feel better?
Maybe Pi did descend into madness and cannibalism, or maybe the tiger story is true, but either way he now lives in a world filled with those that doubt him.
They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out—like a leper. See, their “morals”, their “code”… it’s a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble. – The Dark Knight
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An important early work of American feminist literature, due to its illustration of the attitudes towards mental and physical health of women in the 19th century.
Narrated in the first person, the story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman going through postpartum depression whose physician husband (John) decides to treat her by not treating her. He forces her to live inside a boarded up room where she is told to simply eat well and get plenty of air.
The only stimulus in this room, the only thing she can be interested in, is the room’s yellow wallpaper.
From there, her mind slowly unravels. She starts believing there are things behind or inside the wallpaper and, as she grows into madness, she starts chasing the wallpaper and creeping like a spider beside the wallpaper. Her life becomes this wallpaper.
This treatment was common during the early 19th century and, since the book was published in 1892, it shows a woman’s steady descent into madness thanks to society’s indifferent ignorance.
The mob has plans. The cops have plans. Gordon’s got plans. Y’know they’re schemers. Schemers trying to control their little worlds. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. – The Dark Knight
In case you haven’t read this book, Holden Caulfield is an outsider living on the brink of society. Everyone thinks he’s crazy, a drifter, but he rightly criticizes and critiques adults for their superficiality. ‘Phony’ is what Caulfield calls them, as he dreams to be a child again when times were simpler.
After spending a novel-length amount of time floating through the town, going largely unnoticed except when he’s mugged by a pimp, he ends up in an asylum. Yes, he pledges to get his life on track, but can we really believe him?
When the chips are down, these…these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. – The Dark Knight
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Following his divorce and the death of his sister, Dr. Robert Laing moves into the twenty-fifth floor of an apartment complex. From there, he’s continually bombarded with negative events, including a costume party he’s invited to where everyone mocks and degrades him. Eventually, he goes over the edge, not to spoil the plot, but it ends with cannibalism as the once-peaceful residents of the apartment complex descend into madness.
The similarities to the film should be obvious. Laing and Arthur Fleck are both beaten down by society and eventually crack, proving that the worst monsters don’t have sharp teeth and bear-like claws, but a human face and simple words and judgmental glares.
This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. – The Dark Knight
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Rodion Raskolnikov is a law student who dreams of enforcing the law, but those morals go out the window because of poverty. Society has cast him out, and poverty forces this ex-student to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her money.
After the murder, Raskolnikov is morally racked by his deed, tormented with confusion, paranoia, and disgust, forcing him deeper into poverty.
Poverty pushes him to kill, and once he’s killed his misery drives him deeper into poverty. This vicious cycle is one society forces on him, and with each passing moment he falls deeper and deeper into madness.
For some reason, there is a man who lives with an older man who has a ‘vulture’ eye. Why does he have a vulture eye? Does the vulture eye represent something? Is the man his father, his landlord, his master? Is the narrator a servant?
The exact circumstances are left unclear, but the narrator’s decent into madness isn’t.
After a carefully calculated murder, a ‘perfect crime,’ the narrator dismembers and disposes the body under the floorboards. Then the police came and they talk to the man about this unidentified old man. During the conversation, the narrator hears a a beating heart and grows concerned, then realizes that the police are openly mocking him, ignoring the heartbeat and watching him suffer.
The twist? It’s subtle, you might miss it, but the heartbeat the narrator hears isn’t the old man’s, but his own. Talk about madness.
After Delapore, an American, moves into an English estate, he and his cat start hearing the sounds of rats scurrying behind the walls. Finding himself in a society that doesn’t accept him because he’s a ‘foreigner,’ Delapore tries to find the truth about the rats behind the wall, but his psyche starts to unravel.
After a series of dreams, Delapore learns that his family maintained an underground city for centuries, where they raised generations of ‘human cattle’—some regressed to a quadrupedal state—to supply their taste for human flesh. Is this true, or is he simply mad?
Well, after, Delapore attacks and cannibalizes one of his few friends, he is locked in a mental asylum. This ends his reign of madness but he continues losing his mind, proclaiming that it was “the rats, the rats in the walls,” that ate the man.
The society that rejected him continues to do so given that the investigators of the case tear down the estate, covering it up and excluding one of their own officers after he goes insane as well. It truly is a funny world.
Does it depress you, commissioner? To know just how alone you really are? – The Dark Knight
A stockbroker in midtown Manhattan, Patrick Bateman lives in a world where people don’t talk to each other, don’t listen to each other, and don’t really know each other. People know him, but they don’t know the “real” him. He exists as a part of the crowd. He’s not rejected by society because that means they’d have to notice him.
This world of superficiality gets to him, and he turns full killer, or does he?
It’s the main question of the novel that no one, not even the author, can answer. At the end of the novel, he goes to the apartment where he’s killed numerous people to find it perfectly clean. Is this because he’s been hallucinating all these murders, or was the apartment cleaned because the owners doesn’t want a negative reputation to affect its resale value?
He killed a man, but then he’s told the man is on vacation. What’s happening here?
The answer is we don’t know because we don’t know the real Patrick Bateman, and we don’t know the real Bateman because he doesn’t know himself. It’s not a look into insanity, it’s us drowning in a world brought to us by a man who is utterly alone.
In this novel, we live and breath madness, and that’s about as close as the Joker’s world as we’re going to get…
…until the film comes out. Will you see it opening day, or will you be too busy cleaning up a murder scene that might not even exist?
In celebration of Lovecraft’s birthday (August 20th), we’re posting some Lovecraft related horror goodness!
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Often with Lovecraft, a lot of his work tends to boil down to his most infamous creation: Cthulhu. Yes, Cthulhu is quite memorable, being an octopus-headed alien sea monster with giant wings, but there’s tons of other Lovecraft stories out there beyond Call of Cthulhu, each with their own weird, terrible, and petrifying monsters.
So, let’s celebrate Lovecraft’s work through going over some of his other creations and let old Cthulhu have a rest! Brace your mind, here are the varied creations of the Lovecraft Mythos!
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This writhing mass of tentacles is said to be Cthulhu’s sister and mate (yuck). She’s describe as literally just a big pile of tentacles and in turn gave birth to Nctosa and Ncothlu, Cthulhu’s daughters. Incest seems a minor horror in the Lovecraft universe but its pretty gross nonetheless and shows that Great Old Ones’ family trees are messed up. As for Kassogtha herself, her abilities are ill defined but she can grab her victims with her tendrils and yank them in to devour them whole. She’s also noted for particularly bad tempered and violent, causing other Old Ones to tread carefully around her.
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Hailing from Lovecraft’s surreal Dream Cycle, ghasts are humanoid creatures that live in the vaults of Zin. They have a vaguely human face, but lack noses or ears. They also have kangaroo-like legs which they use to hop around on and are very swift, strong, and agile. They hate sunlight and thus dwell in complete darkness, with sunlight capable of destroying them. Hunting in packs, they are fearsome hunters who will practice cannibalism if they get too hungry.
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Aliens that looks like a cross between fungus and lobsters, mi-gos sure are strange. They fly through vacuum of space, zooming between Earth and Pluto with the aid of their supernatural wings. They worship other Lovecraft gods, acting as servants to them, being classified as a hostile and rather vicious alien species. In ancient times, they waged a war against the Elder Things on Earth before humans came into existence.
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The Shoggoths were created by the Elder Things as a slave race, taking the form of grotesque blobs covered in dozens of eyes. They have tremendous strength and are nearly invincible against forms of physical attack. Eventually, they developed a consciousness of their own and rebelled against the Elder Things, resulting in them roaming the dark spaces of the world in the modern day. Pray you don’t need one.
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A deity who rules over the Deep Ones, Father Dagon, as he’s called by his worshippers, is gigantic sea creature that dwells in the seas. Worshipped by a devout cult of humans and Deep Ones, Dagon only appears physically in a short story named after him, where he erupts from the ocean to embrace an unholy monolith but his presence casts a long shadow over the series, with his children being extensively featured.
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“The Blind Idiot God’, Azathoth is basically a sentient singularity, sitting at the very center of the universe. Azathoth lies constantly in a deep slumber, kept there by other powerful deities who constantly sing to the creature to keep him in his induced, eternal hibernation. For if Azathoth were to ever awaken, the entire universe would end just like that. All it would need is a moment where it opens its eyes and boom! Everything just gone.
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Nightgaunts serve many gods and sometimes capture people climbing the mountains in the Dreamlands. They were inspired by nightmares Lovecraft had in his youth. Slithering through the Dreamlands, they collectively gave birth to the human conception of demons, with their long tails, closed feet, horns, and great bat-like wings. They’re said to have been inspired by nightmares Lovecraft himself suffered from.
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Y’golonac is a god of pure evil and sadism, who gets his kicks from torturing humans. He gets off on dozens of perversions that can barely be conceived by human imagination and perception, his acts stretching the limits of human comprehension. He takes a physical form through possessing human hosts, manifesting as a obese man without a head or neck, with a mouth in the palm of his hands. He seeks humans with similar perverse tastes to become his servants, coming to them when they read forbidden literature. His true form is sealed behind a wall of bricks, deep in ancient ruins beneath the earth.
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Yog-Sothoth is another incomprehensible being. It defies visualization. Although it does appear to humans usually as a mass of glowing orbs or other strange tendrils reaching out from the abyss. There is an agreement between many writers and fans that Yog-Sothoth is an omniscient being outside of the material realm, meaning that it is ultimately a god that knows all.
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Nyarlathotep is also known as the crawling chaos. It is an evil god that can shape-shift into over a thousand different forms. The character was first found in Lovecraft’s poem titled Nyarlathotep. It was published in 1920 and is part of the original Lovecraftian canon. This being also appeared in a few other stories published throughout the years. This beast is so scary that like the sight of a basilisk, one glance is enough to drive a man insane. When it assumes the form of a human, it turns into an Egyptian Pharaoh. Under the auspices of humanity, this sinister man reels in followers with his slick tongue and turn of a phrase.
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Cosmic horror is gaining more and more fans as the year go by. However, once a fan is finished with all of the works of Lovecraft himself, they often run into a dead end in not being able to find anything else to read afterwards. Well, have no fear! Your friends here at Bookstr got you covered with a reading list of five books to read to expand your dark, Lovecraftian fantasies.
1. The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers
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The King in Yellow is not only the name of a deity, but also Chambers’ largely celebrated work. The book is a collection of ten short stories, all of which refer to, in some way, shape, or form, a cursed play read throughout the book. The play shares the same name as the title and is talked about as a book that has been banned because of its imminent secrets and belief that it causes immediate madness. For anyone obsessed with Hastur or the origins of the idea of The Yellow Sign, this is a must read and indeed a classic inspiration on Lovecraft himself.
2. The Three Impostors by Arthur Machen
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Arthur Machen’s The Three Impostors is a collection of short stories that served as another of Lovecraft’s inspirations. Machen’s collection of short stories all revolve around a species that descended from man, but began to differ as evolution continued. Our ancestors and townsfolk would have called them Devils and Fairies. Within Machen’s collection, The Novel of the Black Seal and The Novel of the White Powder stick out the most as the closest to Lovecraft’s own horror.
3. Dark Gods by T.E.D. Klein
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Klein will blow you away with Dark Gods. As a collection of four novellas, each story draws significantly from Lovecraft’s way of storytelling as well as including the Cthulhu mythos and further expanding it in the author’s own unique way. Reading it may feel as a genuine tribute, but Klein’s own style is ever present in his writing. Another must read for fans; one that came after Lovecraft as opposed to the previous two entries.
4. The Inhabitant of the Lake and Other Unwelcome Tenants by Ramsey Campbell
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Another collection of stories,The Inhabitant of the Lake and Other Unwelcome Tenants, contains Ramsey Campbell’s best additions to the Cthulhu mythos. Campbell’s work was highly regarded by Lovecraft scholars and was even hailed as one of the best weird stories available for its time. This stays true to present times and is a highly recommended read for anyone wishing to continue their Lovecraftian adventures.
5. Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti
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Many updated fans highly recommend Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe since Ligotti portrays Lovecraftian horror very differently. Instead of dark gods and eldritch monsters, Thomas Ligotti uses insects, clowns, mannequins- more grounded real things that further explore the horror of our own existence. Although hard to read for beginners because of structure and vocabulary, a fan of Lovecraft can enjoy Ligotti’s masterwork if they have read Lovecraft’s own classics.
H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos is incredibly expansive with the amount of deities present. Although the author himself did not add all of these additional creations, they are nevertheless interesting creatures and gods. And despite the fact that the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods are supposed to be incomprehensible, they all have certain characteristics that make them distinct from one another, just like people!
Therefore, we here at Bookstr decided to make a quiz to see which deity suits you! Answer these few questions and discover your true power and nature!
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