Hello bookworms!! Welcome to Top 5 Tuesday!! This week’s topic is top 5 horror/thriller tropes that don’t scare you. Which means, we are in the spooky month of October!!
I actually don’t read a lot of thriller books (and no horror books), so… not exactly sure what I was thinking when I wrote these prompts. It’s entirely possible that I wasn’t thinking at all. But here we are anyway!! So, with that in mind, most of my responses will be fantasy based. Because if there is one thing I DO love, it’s a dark fantasy thriller.
top 5 horror/thriller tropes that don’t scare you
Yeah… monsters don’t really scare me. But when I say monsters, I mean the fictional kind. You know, vampires, werewolves, zombies, giant things made of clay with teeth that will rip you apart. In fact, I’d say it’s possibly the opposite. Sometimes I fall a little bit in love with the monsters. I’m sorry, I was trained by the Sarah J. Maas’ of the world to see the monster as a love interest. And now I can’t stop.
Favourite monsters include Cardan, Rhysand, Nikolai, Morozko, Victor, Jaxon… but one of my all-time favourites is Prince Rennar from Megan Shepherd’s Grim Lovelies. I don’t know what it is about Rennar, but I would totally just hand him my trust, wholly unearned. Yes, I will live with you in your creepy, evil palace.
I do know that lots of people find this squeamish. But honestly, I cut my fantasy teeth reading this when I was a teenager. And with the amount of needles and blood and whatnot I’ve dealt with since childhood, blood could be water for all I care. So this one is probably less scary, as opposed to icky for some. Also, one of the things that usually goes hand in hand with blood magic, is self-harm. Even if it’s not purely intended for self-harming reasons.
A recent story that has blood magic that I’ve fallen in love with is Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone. Lakesedge is a gothic-inspired fantasy take on the Hades and Persephone mythology, and it is SO GOOD. Highly recommend. And there’s really only a little bit of blood… 👀
Just like with blood magic, I’ve been reading necromancy stories for a looooong time. I was maybe 16 or 17 when I really remember reading one. Although these are less about zombies than actually reawakening the dead, with the original occupant’s soul still inside. And then controlling them. Which, now that I’m thinking about it, possibly more creepy than I let myself believe before.
My first love of necromancy is still probably my strongest. It helps that the characters are so delightfully unsure of how to do anything that it could end in disaster at any turn. And that book, of course, is Sabriel by Garth Nix. This is the first book in the Old Kingdom series (yes, we’re so far beyond a trilogy with a prologue and then an extra story now that it is AMAZING. If you haven’t read Sabriel, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s still my favourite of Nix’s books, even after all this time.
I guess this is probably more common in movies, but I just don’t really find this spooky in books. (Have I been jump scared by them while watching the latest Nancy Drew tv series? You bet.) But, ghosts aren’t super creepy to me in books. Maybe it’s that they can’t get you from a jump-scare perspective because there’s no music? But whatever it is, I can read all the ghost stories by book with not a care in the world.
I think one of my favourite actual vengeful spirits story is The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw. If you don’t know the book, it’s amazing. It’s about three dead sisters who were killed for witchcraft 100 years ago, and every year, they come back and take over the bodies of three girls for a month. And local boys start drowning. The ending is a bit sweet for me, but the the story itself was atmospheric and dark.
I will preface this by saying that I have never seen the Exorcism in full, but all the cuts I’ve seen of it are not remotely scary. Maybe this should be a subcategory of monsters, but I’m putting it out here by itself anyway because I am running out of tropes (and had to google classic horror tropes just to get these). Maybe I’ve just never seen it done well?
In saying that, the only time I can think of (in recent years) that I have read about demon possession is my reread of The Mortal Instruments. Which, despite being tropey and somewhat problematic for other reasons, is FILLED with a lot of these. Monsters, check. Blood magic, check. Necromancy, maybe not in TMI, but I’m pretty sure it’s in TID? Vengeful spirits, uhhhh, ok maybe not that one. But demon possession? Hello Master Herondale, nice to see you again.
If you’re wondering why I don’t read horror books after this long list of things that don’t scare me, that’s totally fair. And the main reason is this: I don’t like psychological horrors. At all.
Also, as soon as you bring clowns, sharks, creepy dolls, giant spiders or creepy children into things, I am out that door. Just no.
Please don’t forget to link to one of my posts (not my homepage or a category, as I won’t get the pingback), or comment your link below, and I will link back to all of your posts as soon as I can!!
What are 5 horror/thriller tropes that don’t scare you?