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On Display at Odum 2022: Horror

Second Floor Display

Horror Genre Group Recommendations

About the Genre

An overview of the genre

“The horror genre plays on and speaks to our worst fear. Horror novels are emotionally resonant books that seek to upend the comforts of the reader and create feelings of foreboding and unease; typically, though not always, through the use of supernatural events or beings.”

Saricks, J. G., &; Wyatt, N. (2019). The readers' advisory guide to genre fiction: Third edition. American Library Association. 

“In literature, horror (pronounced hawr-er) is a genre of fiction whose purpose is to create feelings of fear, dread, repulsion, and terror in the audience—in other words, it develops an atmosphere of horror. The term’s definition emphasizes the reaction caused by horror, stemming from the Old French horror, meaning “to shudder or to bristle.”

Literary Terms. (2015, June 1). Retrieved November 3, 2015, from

“Horror is a story in which the author manipulates introducing situations in which unexplainable phenomena creatures threaten the protagonists and provoke terror in the reader.”

Becky Siegel Spratford. (2012). The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror: Vol. 2nd ed. ALA Editions.



While the horror genre is closely related to thriller and suspense, there is a distinction between the three. A thriller excites the audience with high tension, huge stakes, and a fast pace. The excitement is not necessarily created from fear, unlike horror.

A suspense story also leaves readers on the edge of their seats, but with a slower pace and larger sense of foreboding. While a thriller’s protagonist is in an almost constant state of danger, the protagonist of a suspense novel is largely unaware of the dangers that await them (but the readers are very aware). In a horror story, the protagonist faces danger, fear, or evil much more directly and earlier on. “

Genre basics - horror - article. Author Learning Center. (n.d.). Retrieved July 3, 2022, from  


Descriptions of common sub-genres within the genre (e.g., Cozy mysteries, Historical romances, etc.) and the plots within those sub-genres

“The horror genre has several sub-genres, each with its distinct characteristics.

1. Gothic: horror novels that focus specifically on death, buried secrets, and past sins, often featuring large houses of formerly wealthy families.

2. Paranormal: horror novels involving ghost stories or supernatural horror events that do not exist within the context of scientific explanation.

3. Occult: horror novels about ritual practices that are not considered religion or science.

4. Dark fantasy: horror novels that blend dark elements of fantasy.

5. Survival: horror novels in which the main character is being hunted and trying to survive within their circumstances.

6. Science fiction horror: horror novels that blend elements of science fiction.”


MasterClass. (2021, September 7). What is horror fiction? learn about the horror genre, plus 7 classic horror novels you should read - 2022. MasterClass. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from


We can’t begin without starting with this cornerstone of horror fiction. The 18th century saw the rise of romanticism and with it emerged the gothic horror genre. This genre evolved into what modern literature now recognizes as horror fiction in the 19th century.

Gothic horror usually combines fiction, horror, death, and at times, romance. Edgar Allen Poe is credited with producing some of the most seminal works of American gothic horror. He also pioneered combining romanticism with the dark and macabre in his chilling tales.


This sub-genre includes supernatural stories, dark fantasy, and ghost stories. The defining feature is that elements that do not exist within the scientific realm drive the plot forward.

These stories usually consist of ghosts, apparitions, monsters, aliens, zombies, etc. Common themes include haunting, possession, invasion, or cursing.


In these novels, there are no supernatural forces at work. The element of horror comes from “dreading the unknown” and our day-to-day fears. These stories are scary because they reveal how plausibly fictional events can occur in our daily lives.


This crossover genre illustrates in vivid detail graphic violations or mutations of the human body. This genre usually overlaps with zombie fiction, monster, or slasher horror. Frankenstein could be categorized under this category.


This genre is categorized by the gory, disturbing depiction of violence, which stands in sharp contrast to “the meekly suggestive horror story”. An American writer, David J. Schow, is credited for coining the term “splatterpunk”. Schow’s credits include movies such as The Crow and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning which comes under the cinematic category of torture porn.”

Saleem, R. (2020, April 24). Your guide to the popular horror subgenres. BOOK RIOT. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from   

Contact us

These lists and genre information are brought to you by the students in our genre literature class in the Master in Library and Information Science program. Thank you for sending in such good books, materials, and information. I hope you had a good time with this project!

If any material listed is problematic or you would like to suggest future recommendations and themes please contact Crystal Miller at! They would love feedback, or just to talk about books!