Horror Literature – Why this genre is popular and an important one

Regardless of the time of year, horror fiction aka dark fantasy is in high demand with people across many walks of life. What is so fascinating about this genre? Why do so many people like to read scary stories or watch horror movies? Vampires keep getting new lives and zombies are around every corner – movies, books, TV and even in commercials.

When the topic of horror fiction is brought in a discussion, a few do shudder involuntarily and express the opinion that it is not for them. The idea is that it is gruesome and all about psychological manipulation. This genre is not just about ghosts and ghouls but also about a person’s innermost fears. Horror literature is all about what a person dreads most and strikes terror into their heart. And this varies from person to person.

Like mythology, romance, mystery and suspense, horror is here to stay – for the simple reason that people like to feel the gamut of emotions, including fear. Writers like Stephen King and others recognize the universal need to feel our fears and come to terms with them.  Even in real life, we hear stories of mass murderers, terrorist attacks and disease outbreaks which we have to deal with. There is a certain comfort in dealing with fictional situations and hope that we can develop mechanisms for real life.

How horror fiction helps us cope

Facing fears: Many of us now know that childhood is also a scary time. In changing times, children don’t have it easy and their survival is at stake. They don’t have any power – everything is handled for them, including what to eat and picking their clothes. Horror literature is especially popular with kids as they get to see giants blow themselves up, lose their jobs, and ruin their lives. Many of these stories offer parallels to real life and teach them important lessons on coping and facing their fears. Stories are a great release valve.

Empowering: Experiencing horror is also a way to find catharsis. How many times have we experienced relief after walking out of a movie, scared out of our minds but also knowing we are not alone? Fictional horror offers adults and kids alike a safe space to deal with, overcome and survive their fears. It teaches all of us that the power is within us and how we can be a strong protagonist and deal with what life throws our way.

Anecdotal: Back in the old days, fairy tales were based on real life incidents and designed to teach ways of avoiding dangerous people and situations. Every story is a cautionary tale where a character faces death and other horrors every day and finds ways to survive. The real purpose is to teach one to watch for threats in the real world. Each one offers ways to understand ourselves and find the strength to cope and survive.

Confirming known truths: Another way horror stories help us prepare for real life is by showing us our guardians who speak the truth. There are few people in every person’s life who plays a role in bringing us back to the light. Often, adults don’t seem to know that children are very aware of their surroundings and what is going on.  Not knowing the truth lets the imagination conjure up something far worse. Stories with endings of all kinds help people cope with life and find resolutions.

Bringing people together: Stories, whether they are happy or scary, bring people together. Imagine finding someone else who finds the same things you do, interesting? Whether it is Goosebumps or The Blair Witch Project, it is great to compare viewpoints and parts which one finds interesting. Horror stories offer readers common ground and the knowing that we are not alone in our journey.

Facts of life: Every phase of life presents challenges – imagine going through bodily changes and dealing with all the changes. For instance, imagine the Frankenstein monster who didn’t ask to be created but was abhorred for everything he stood for. Or Dracula, who seeks sex and companionship and considered dangerous and a potential threat. This genre offers us all a clear view of ourselves as it lets us face the scary parts of ourselves and we learn by analyzing our fears.

Horror literature offers us unique ways to face our fears and not pretend that it is just a figment. Crafting stories for kids takes a lot more finesse and presenting stories which are easier to understand. It is important to keep the narrative tight and also reach safe ground sooner. Take the chance and present scary scenarios to people of all ages – children are very resilient and can grasp concepts.  Of course it is not advisable to have a young child watch movies like The Exorcist or the Shining – they would be terrorized.  Done right, it can be a positive and powerful tool to bring interesting thought processes and concepts to kids.

No doubt, there will be parents who will be against scary movies and literature, but let the kids figure out what they like and want in a safe space.  Most children are smarter than they are given credit for and able to deal with situations with grace and panache. Let them choose and figure out how much they can handle. Parents want to protect their children from scary stuff but it is better to let them choose and then guide them appropriately.  Does that mean that you should take them to watch the newest horror flick, the Ring Part 2?

About horroryearbook.com

Horroryearbook.com is a website dedicated to promoting the horror genre whether one chooses to read books or watch movies based on books. The underlying theme of the site is to encourage reading and to also clarify that horror literature is more about just getting scared.  Many of the authors base their books on real life incidents and scary situations with the intent of tackling ways to handle situations. The premise is that it is better to read a book and find ways to face your fears, which then makes it easier to face similar situations in life easier. And, we are not alone.


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