Top 5 Literary Monsters – A Beginner’s Guide
October 25, 2013 § 3 Comments
Bram Stoker’s DRACULA was first published 116 years ago, but don’t go thinking that this means Count doesn’t belong on this list. The myth of the vampire is centuries old, but Stoker’s Gothic tale is widely considered the vampire’s true introduction to popular culture. Since the publication of Dracula in 1897, vampire stories have retained the popularity of Dracula. Compared to the uncanny creepiness of Count Dracula, though, many vampires…pale in comparison (not sorry).
The Count has manifested in other literary incarnations over the years. Of particular note is Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, which brings the Dracula mythos into the realm of historical fiction. NOS4R2, another recent success in the world of vampire lit, is the breakout novel of Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, and it’s worth a look if you’re a King fan!
Dementors are among the creepiest beings I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. Skeletal, hooded creatures with decaying skin and rattling breath, they guard the wizard prison Azkaban. They serve dual functions at Azkaban: they’re both a deterrent against criminal activity, and they stop prisoners trying to escape. How do they do this? They gradually suck the intelligence, hope and happiness out of anyone near them. Those deserving of the gravest punishment will be subjected to the Dementor’s Kiss, which is essentially spiritual rape – the Dementors forcibly pull the very soul out of your body. If they didn’t make your skin crawl when you first read about them, you’re made of stronger stuff than I.
If you didn’t suffer from coulrophobia before reading It, you probably came down with a strong case afterward. Although Pennywise is actually a shape-shifting being with the capacity to take the form of whatever its victim most fears, most of us remember It as the clown lurking in the storm drain. Although the book is widely considered to be one of King’s best, it is undoubtedly Tim Curry’s nightmarish portrayal of Pennywise that haunts our nightmares. The combination of his gravelly voice, the absurdity of the clown make-up and the sudden shock of the fangs is sure to have your skin crawling.
Immacolata’s sisters from Clive Barker’s Weaveworld
Clive Barker blurs the lines between horror and fantasy in Weaveworld. Not your typical sword-and-sorcery tale, Weaveworld is about a world encapsulated within a woven tapestry, and the forces that are unleashed when it comes to life. Immacolata, the Big Bad of Weaveworld, is an all-powerful witch with some serious skeletons in her closet. Although she strangled her triplet sisters in the womb, they continue to exist as monstrosities in the Weaveworld. The Hag and The Magdalene, as the sisters are known, are co-dependent ectoplasmic entities. The Magdalene frequently accosts unsuspecting men and then gives birth to monstrous children; The Hag then divines the future from their afterbirth. Needless to say, Weaveworld is a dark book…
I think we can all be glad that there are no photos of these things floating around online…
What would a post about literary monsters be without The Great Old One himself (itself?)? Cthulhu first emerged from the depths in H. P. Lovecraft’s story, “The Call of Cthulhu”, published in 1928. When I first read this shorty story, I was taken aback by its overtly academic tone. Having prepared myself for a primitive creature feature, I was surprised to find that “The Call of Cthulhu” is essentially about one man’s research into a cult that worships The Great Old Ones – beings that slumber in the recesses of the earth, preparing to one day rise again. Our protagonist ends up being driven mad by the very reality of Cthulhu, who is said to resemble a hybrid of octopus, dragon, cuttlefish and humanoid. Oh, and he’s green.
In the interest of coming clean, I am not a true horror aficionado. I do enjoy the occasional horror novel, but I think the true experts in the field are you, the readers. So tell me – what monsters should be on this list that I’ve missed out?
If you would like to order Stephen King’s It, Joe Hill’s NOS4R2, Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, Weaveworld or any of Lovecraft’s works, head over to Pulp Fiction Booksellers, give them a call on (07) 3236-2750 , or add them as a friend on Faceboook.