When I was 14 my parents took my best friend Chris and I away on holiday to Devon. As usual I packed a bag full of clothes and a separate bag for books. At the time I was obsessed with fantasy. From Phillip Pulman’s dark material trilogy to Harry Potter I was happily spending my time in different lands and places. Chris was into a different style of novel though and when I had finished all of my books I picked up his copy of Carrie by Stephen King and started to read. This was my first step into reading Horror novels and I never looked back.
Last week I read Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris for the first time. I’ve seen the film with Anthony Hopkins many times but this was the first time I’ve read Harris’s depiction of the infamous cannibal. It was a reintroduction for me to the world of horror that I have been away from. My reading list for this year has many classics and books I think I should read but for some reason I had missed out one of my favorite genres. Joining Clarice Starling on her hunt for the serial killer Buffalo Bill brought me back to my love and joy of books that could genuinely unnerve me. It lead me to ask, why do we so like to be scared?
Let’s face it, we live very safe lives today. OK, we have the threat of Isis and various diseases that can lay us out but if we really think about it, we’re very safe. In the last 10,000 years the human DNA structure has changed less than a 10th of a percent and 10,000 years ago our ancestors lived in very different conditions. Fear for them was a part of daily life. For us it’s a rare occurrence. Is our love of being scared just a reach back to the days when it was a regular feeling?
In this humble bloggers opinion, we like being scared because it breaks us out of our day to day normality. We spend so long going about our day in peace and happiness that a chance to be scared is a break to the norm. It puts us into situations that we will never have to face in our day to day lives and in that way is just as much about escapism as any fantasy or science fiction novel. The Juxtaposition of a day spent in the office and Pennywise the clown is so totally alien that we relish the unknown feeling that has been hiding in us for centuries. That and the fact that clowns are horrifically scary!
If anyone is reading this and is not a horror fan or has never read into the genre, then give it a go. enjoy the late nights with the lights on. Relish the cold chill that creeps up your spine.Take comfort in the fear caused by words and have fun with the sense of danger. After all, how often do we really get to feel it?