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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

Movie and a Book! By Sonja Ska

It's Tuesday, horror fans, so prepare for another list featuring horror movie and book pairings. Remember, pairings may be based on similar plots, settings, or general vibes, so don't expect carbon copies of your favorite flicks. Trust me, it's more fun this way.


If you like the Strangers (2008), read Anybody Home by Michael J. Seidlinger

As fun as it is to read about ghosts, bizarre creatures, and demons, a home invasion is one of the most terrifying things to think about. Having someone slip into your home and hold you hostage or take pleasure in tormenting you strips away the perceived concept of safety so many of us have when it comes to our home, and the horrible reality is that it can happen to anyone. The Strangers is the best film to capture the utterly world-shattering realization that killers don't need a motive - they just need someone to be home.

Seidlinger takes the concept of The Strangers one step further by placing readers directly into the killer's head as he's coordinating a home invasion. While the whole thing reads as a gross invasion of privacy and makes you realize how easily you can become a victim, the true horror of the book is how detached the killer is from the living, breathing family he's targeting. This isn't a mother, a father, their child, and the family dog. They are victims, nicknamed Victim #3, etc., making you realize how horrifying a random attack can be.

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If you liked Men (2022), read You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann

Few things can capture the hallucinatory, mind-bending trippiness of Men, but You Should Have Left certainly steps up to the plate. Both feature someone moving away from their situation for a more idyllic setting only to slowly realize that things aren't quite right.

In Men the peculiarity lies in well, men - or one man in various forms, whereas it's a little more abstract in You Should Have Left - think, unexplainable scratches in a notebook and reflections disappearing. Both counterparts continue to rationalize their bizarre circumstances, leaving the audience wondering if they are truly experiencing what they are seeing or whether they are hallucinating and, in the case of the book, potentially projecting something sinister of their own onto their current situation.

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If you like Scream (1996), Read A Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Ceasar.

If you're hunting for the metacommentary of Scream, you may be better off reading My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones, but if you're looking for a fast-paced, fun slasher, A Clown in a Cornfield may be more your vibe.

Slashers don't get enough love, so part of me wants to list multiple books that pair well with Scream, but Clown in a Cornfield edges out the others for a few reasons. Like Sydney, Randy, and Dewey, who came before, Quinn is likable and relatable. It's easy to fall into stride with Quinn and her friends as they navigate the town's growing hostility toward the youth, and although their predicament goes a little overboard, all the supporting characters are believable enough to ground everything in reality.

So, while you won't get characters breaking the fourth wall to speak about horror movie tropes, you'll get a group of teenagers battling it out with a fleshed-out murderer whose motives feel very engrained with the town Quinn finds herself in.

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If you like Lamb (2021), read Only The Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Lamb works best when you let go of traditional expectations and submit to plunging headfirst into the mind fuckery of it all. What else can you do when you're presented with two unhappy Icelandic farmers who stumble upon a half-lamb, half-human baby and begin raising it as their own? While Only the Good Indians isn't quite as odd, readers will likely have to find their footing with the rhythm of its structure before confronting its take on an anthropomorphic "villain."

While Only the Good Indians is a little more straightforward than its counterpart, it relies on the same creeping tension to lead you through the repercussions of four Blackfeet men trespassing onto sacred land and taking what isn't theirs to take. Fans of Lamb will love Graham's unsettling atmospheres and disturbing flashes of gore in a story that perfectly blends the psychological with the supernatural.

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If you like The Exorcist (1973), Read Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi

Boys in the Valley is exactly what you expect from possession horror, but it's so much more. Pitched as The Exorcist meets Lord of the Flies, Fracassi seamlessly captures the aura of both while making this coming-of-age story entirely his own.

Boys in the Valley and The Exorcist centered around the unsettling exploration of demonic forces intruding into the lives of ordinary individuals. Instead of a single mother and her ailing daughter, Boys in the Valley focuses on a group of boys at St. Vincent's Orphanage. While having a group of in-house priests might initially seem like an advantage, their (mostly) questionable morals and the facility's isolated setting during an intense snowstorm make them ill-equipped to fight off the demonic presence that comes knocking at their door.

Like The Exorcist, Boys in the Valley achieves what many horror books don't quite manage to do: scare the readers. Fracassi taps into the fear of seeing Ragan spider walk down a flight of stairs while simultaneously adding heaps of paranoia and claustrophobic dread. It's not just fear that Fracassi manages to tap into. The use of gore is so gruesome it will have your stomach rolling the same way it was when Ragan projectile vomited all over Father Karras.

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