There’s incredible power to Bloodborne. It’s not just an amazing dance of dodges and swipes through encounters that often push the limits of reflexes and endurance, it’s a thought-provoking experience that’s wormed its way into my mind and melted my resolve. But through perseverance, patient growth, and determined skill, it’s proved itself an unconventional adventure that ultimately gives much more than it takes – which at times can be a staggering cost. By the end, the only frustrations that don’t turn to triumphs are the technical ones. After more than 60 hours of grappling with its terrors, monsters, and the environment itself, I’m left dumbfounded by Bloodborne’s capability to draw powerful emotions from me, and make me earn the successes that I’ll remember for years to come.
There is also the fact that hauntings in books often either stem from or cause domestic disruption, further destabilizing the interior of the home and annihilating any feelings of being safe or protected. Even the Gothic romances, from which the modern haunting story stems, were about the inversion and disruption of the domestic space. So their modern descendants come by it rightly. There is also a good deal to be said with regards to the relation between women, hauntings, and domestic spaces, and if that is an area which interests you make sure you check out Sarah Smeltzer’s post on Women, Trauma, and Haunted Houses.
Looking out your window and seeing something staring back at you is scary. But lying in bed and hearing something move inside your house? That’s always going to be worse. Thankfully, there are a whole slew of writers who have shared that sentiment! When it comes to haunted house books we have plenty of scares to fill our shelves.
“CLASSIC” COSMIC HORROR BOOKS
I’m fudging the term “classic” for this category, but there are a number of semi-legendary books that make up the roots of the lineage of modern haunted house books.
The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H. P. Lovecraft
A first person narrator comes to visit a decayed fishing town named Innsmouth and is having an nightmarish time there. You’ll hear about the cosmic horror, read about ‘The Order of Dagon’, meet Zadoc Allen and his gruesome tale what actually befell the town. Who are the queer people of Innsmouth? How are the ‘fish devils’ described? Our narrator flees the town by night chased by strange looking humans (are they still humans?). On his research of family history he discovers a relationsship to a Mrs Marsh who was married to the most influential man in Innsmouth. This is one of the eeriest stories I know. Here you get insight what the Old Ones really plan. Very elaborate, very detailey and very scary. This certainly is one of my favourite Lovecraft stories. Absolutely recommended! What a shocker.
Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti
Thomas Ligotti may not be a household name, but it should be. Ligotti’s visions of a hostile universe are subtle and terrifying on a deeply existential level. “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto name-checked Ligotti as an inspiration for season one’s nihilistic police detective Rust Cohle, if that tells you anything. This book collects two volumes of Ligotti’s short stories under one cover and features an introduction by Jeff VanderMeer, one of modern fiction’s great masters of Weird literature.
Shadows of Carcosa by Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, Arthur Machen, Henry James, and more
This collection comes from the twisted minds of many iconic horror and sci-fi writers — including Lovecraft, with his short story “The Colour Out of Space.” However, what’s really interesting is to see other authors, most known for their own particular brand of horror, write with a slightly more “cosmic” inclination.
For instance, Bram Stoker’s story “The Squaw” turns to enigmatic rather than folkloric frights: it implies that the spirit of a grieving woman has followed her enemy to another country, where she intends to enact revenge in a non-human form. And Edgar Allan Poe’s story, “MS. Found in a Bottle,” takes his talent for the uncanny and brings it out to sea — a vast, unknowable expanse where our narrator finds himself unable to save a ship from Antarctic doom (a strikingly similar scenario to Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness).
Modern Cosmic Horror
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng
There are many books I sought to escape into from January to March, but none grabbed me by the collar as hard as Jeannette Ng’s mind-blowing debut novel. Ng won multiple awards for this book and rightfully so. Under the Pendulum Sun is the gothic, psychological fantasy horror tale that delves deep into the power of stories and the double-edged sword that is faith. Victorian missionary Catherine Helstone travels to Arcadia, the magical land of the fae, to find her brother, who’s the second missionary to attempt to preach there. While in Arcadia, the very sun and moon do not abide by the same logic or science as the world we know. And when the very land and its people no longer conform to the faith you’ve built your entire life and emotions around, what is there left to believe in? What emotions are valid? What exactly is the definition of evil? I can’t stop thinking about this book. It’s beautiful, haunting, terrifying, and utterly brilliant.
From The Wreck by Jane Rawson
So what more can I say? This book had it all for me; originality, wonderful writing, a brilliant twisting plot, fantastic characters and some themes within it that you can really get your teeth into, should you want to – though obviously there is nothing wrong with reading a book to simply escape. I feel that this book has it all and can almost 100% promise you that if you give it a try you will love it. What I can also promise you is that just when you think the book is going to go a certain way, it just won’t (which you will love it all the more for) instead it will probably head somewhere a bit stranger and almost definitely somewhere a bit darker.
The Devoured by Curtis M Lawson
Although released just a few short years ago, ‘The Devoured’ draws upon a proud literary legacy to get inspiration for its story and characters. It is a sci fi reimagining of the Old West which also manages to draw upon some truly creepy cosmic horror influences. The plot centers on a world where the Elder Gods have entered into the world of the Old West. An old man whose world has been turned upside down as a result decides he has nothing left to lose and stages a fightback against the forces. Lawson’s main character is a gripping and engaging presence that readers are sure to enjoy and relate to. If you are a fan of imaginative science fiction which manages to draw influences from different parts of the genre together, there is well worth your time and attention.
Bloodborne: Death of Sleep by Ales Kot (author) Piotr Kowalski (artist)
This series is a tie-in to the cult classic video game of the same name. Just like its source material, Bloodborne: Death of Sleep is a gory, heavily detailed adventure in the Bloodborne universe. The comic promises the same action, blood, and darkness that the video game delivers, thanks to talented writer Ales Kot. In addition, Piotr Kowalski’s art is eerie and dynamic, perfect for the atmosphere that the game created in its players.