Becky Siegel Spratford, The Reader's Advisory Guide to Horror (2nd edition). Chicago: ALA, 2012. ISBN: 9780838911129.
Subgenre: Library science, readers' advisory, horror
The book focuses on horror; it does address what could be labeled as "related" genres such as dark fantasy or paranormal, but the bottom line here is true horror. However, in this day and age where paranormal fiction (often romance with paranormal elements) is such a big hit with readers, it needs to be acknowledged in any discussion of horror, and the book does that, providing some small guidance on those given the crossover appeal. This is to address, for instance, the nice lady who reads, for example, Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series and wants to read more "horror." What that reader probably wants is more paranormal fiction, possibly with romance elements, but it has vampires and werewolves, so it has to be horror, right? The librarian does not have to "correct" the lady. Just know the distinctions so you can provide the best advice possible and help your reader get to their next great read. Yet at the end of the day, the core of the book is horror.
For the purposes of the book, the author defines horror as:
"a story in which the author manipulates the reader's emotions by introducing situations in which unexplainable phenomena and unearthly creatures threaten the protagonist and provoke terror in the reader" (13).
That definition is the starting point.
The book's first three chapters provide a history and genre overview. The next set of chapters provide annotated lists with some readalike suggestions in these horror topics:
- ghosts and haunted houses
- monsters and ancient evil
- witches and occult
- Satan and demonic possession
- comic horror.
The book is mainly designed for librarians, especially public librarians. However, I think the chapters with book lists could help some advanced horror readers as well as readers new to the genre. As I mentioned, I do read some horror; I have read some of the basics, including some mentioned in the book, but I also found some new reading suggestions that I jotted down.
Overall, this is an accessible, concise book that provides a lot of reading ideas and suggestions. As a reader and librarian, I really liked this one. It does make me willing to go look for other books in the RA series too.
I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
This is the list of titles I jotted down from the book to add to my TBR list. In parenthesis, I am putting the label the book used and any comments I may have. I am also including WorldCat links to help my four readers and me find them later.
Books I jotted down from the opening chapters (i.e. caught my eye right away):
- Joe Hill, Heart-Shaped Box (I have been told this is pretty much classic. Only Joe Hill I have read, which I enjoyed, is his Locke & Key graphic novel series.)
- Brian Keene, Castaways (the author mentioned this book a few times, deals with one of those "Survivor" type of reality shows.)
- Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes (I have read Bradbury, and I can't believe I have not read this. We need to fix that gap.)
- Arthur Conan Doyle, Tales of Terror and Mystery. (1906)
- H.P. Lovecraft (I have actually read some of his works, but would love to read more)
- Ray Garton, Live Girls (vampires)
- Otto Penzler, ed., The Vampire Archives: The Most Complete Volume of Vampire Tales Ever Published.
- Brian M. Stableford, The Werewolves of London (shapeshifters. I have read his The Empire of Fear, which is a vampire novel.)
- Bentley Little, The Return (Monsters and ancient evil)
- Bryan Smith, Depraved (Monsters and ancient evil)
- Martin H. Greenberg, et.al., eds., 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories (Witches and occult)
- Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart (Satan and demonic possession. This is the basis for the film Hellraiser. I have seen the film. As for his books, only one I have read is the graphic novel adaptation of Great and Secret Show- link to my review.)
- Joe Hill, Horns (Satan and demonic possession.)
- Tim Pratt, ed., Sympathy for the devil (Satan and demonic possession.)