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Three Books to Keep the Scary Going In Between Sagas of Sundry: Dread
Sagas of SundrySagas of Sundry

Three Books to Keep the Scary Going In Between Sagas of Sundry: Dread

Have you seen Sagas of Sundry: Dread yet on Alpha? It is, no joke, creepier than finding a cockroach nest in your pillow. But what to do between episodes? We here suggest you turn to the bleeding edge of 15th century technology: the printed book. These tales have been made role-playing games, television shows, and movies. They are scary enough to take the edge off while you wait for the next episode of Sagas of Sundry: Dread to drop!

The Laundry Files

Imagine.

One day, you are working on some advanced calculus on your computer, and suddenly an inter-dimensional gateway opens in your dorm-room and you run screaming into the night, but not before you see your business major roommate swallowed by an angle that shouldn’t Atrocity Archivesexist. Shivering in the cold, you reflect on the money you loaned your roommate, and the unlikelihood of you ever recovering the cash when representatives of Her Majesty’s Government arrive to deal with the slathering horror. You are told that the calculations you performed inadvertently opened the gateway, and that they are recruiting you into their ranks. At least, as soon as you fill out this form in triplicate.

The Laundry Files novels by Charles Stross, which begin with The Atrocity Archives, are a heady brew of HP Lovecraft, James Bond, and The Office In an interview, Stross described the Laundry Files thusly:

Magic is a side-effect of mathematics, Lovecraftian elder gods have noticed us using it and are coming to eat us, but don’t worry: Her Majesty’s Government has a plan for that. There are a lot of committee meetings involved …

Our hero, Bob Howard, was forced into the Laundry, a super-secret British government agency designed to defend against the supernatural, when he accidentally contacted another world via math. Bob says of the experience, “I thought I was just generating weird new fractals; [the Laundry] knew I was dangerously close to landscaping Wolverhampton with alien nightmares.”

And Case Nightmare Green (the time when the Old Ones return to make amuse-bouche out of humanity) is rapidly approaching…

Night Shift

Published in 1980, Night Shift is Stephen King’s first collection of short stories. Short story collections by major novelists can often be considered an afterthought for readers. But some of the greatest writing of King’s life lurks between the pages of Night Shift. Six feature films have been adapted from stories within the collection. King himself has raided the collection for material, expanding the concept of a short story entitled “Night Surf” about a disease called Captain Trips into The Stand.

Authors, as the become famous and rich, have a tendency to become long-winded. After all, if their novels are selling, who is going to argue with them? (See J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series for but one example, and watch as the books get fatter and fatter as the series goes on.) Yet shorter, tighter, works often allow all their elements to shine out the brighter without the burden of bloat, and that is why this book is a must-read. The short story form takes King’s genius for writing, and forces him to polish it down to a diamond.

My favorite story from the collection is “Children of the Corn,” which was made into a just-okay movie in 1984 starring Linda Hamilton. The film, to say the least, does not do it justice. The story is a catalog of abominations that will keep you up at night, and a master class in good writing.

The Last Werewolf

For a chance to see things from the monster’s perspective, there is The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan.

The title of this 2011 novel, while certainly encapsulating the premise, simply hints at the horrors within. The novel is by turns sexy, disturbing, horrifying, funny, and reflective.  The novel covers the trials and travails of Jake, a 200-year-old werewolf, the last of his kind, who is trying to make his way in the 21st century.

Last WerewolfAuthor Glen Duncan said in an interview that he wrote the novel in a “foul mood I got into when, having published seven overtly literary novels that had been read by virtually no one and hadn’t won a prize, I learned from my agent that my chances of finding a publisher for an eighth were nil.”

Duncan brings a powerful instrument to horror fiction, using words the way Van Gogh used paint, but what Duncan reveals to us is a sky of clotted blood. Most of the time, Jake is an erudite, wealthy, jet-setter, but when the moon is full, he kills and eats people. And the most disturbing feature of this novel is that when Jake transforms and takes to the night to eagerly consume some unfortunate, Duncan’s writing is so compelling that the reader roots for the kill.

What to you read to send a chill down your spine? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature image courtesy Geek & Sundry 

All other images courtesy: Ace Publishing, Penguin/Random House

Ben Riggs speaks five languages and has lived in four countries on three continents, but still manages to lose his keys in the bathroom. A friend to man, animal, and werewolf alike, you can discover more of Ben’s thoughts on game, the universe, and everything on Twitter, or on the Plot Points podcast. He is also the liberal voice on Across the Aisle, a podcast where a liberal and conservative work together to solve the 21st century’s problems. 

 

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