Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd Edition

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd Edition

Article excerpt

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd edition. Becky Siegel Spratford. Chicago: ALA, 2012. 170 p. Paper $48 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1112-9).

Horror has been a popular genre in literature at least since the publication of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto in 1765, and there are no signs that it will ever fall out of readers' favor. Becky Siegel Spratford's Readers' Advisory Guide to Horror should help the public services librarian feed her horror-loving users' appetites. This second edition updates The Horror Readers' Advisory: The Librarian's Guide to Vampires, Killer Tomatoes, and Haunted Houses, co-authored by Spratford and published in 2004.

Spratford's definition of horror requires a story to introduce "situations in which unexplainable phenomena and unearthly creatures threaten the protagonists and provoke terror in the reader." She cautions that some readers themselves do not adhere to this definition, so a bit of initial reconnaissance might be required to determine that, for example, the patron really wants a frightening zombie novel and not merely a story that happens to feature zombies.

Spratford provides a brief history of the genre, dividing the 250 years' worth of writing into six clearly delineated eras and providing examples of major works from each. She also puts forth some theories on why readers crave novels that scare them silly, including the opportunity to let us safely explore our darker natures, the desire for escapism, and the validation of belief in the supernatural. …

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