What are the scariest books you’ve read?
The Shining by Stephen King. Atmospheric and hair-raising.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Another atmospheric one.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It’s more “chilling” than scary, if you know what I mean.
1984 by George Orwell. This book has more than its share of suspense, but for me the most genuinely frightening aspect of the novel is the dizzying depiction of power as an end in itself: the global war to maintain the status quo; the insignificance of the individual, with even Inner Party member O’Brien confessing that he is nothing but a slave to the ideals of the Party; the deathless logic behind the “collective solipsism” and continual rewriting of the past to create a present in which the Party can state that 2+2=5; the arresting image of the future as “a boot stamping on a human face – for ever”.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. 1984 kind of prepares you for this one. People are brainwashed to the point that they really believe that they are actually “happy” the way things are (think China). They are conditioned that all they need in life is offered to them readily (mostly materialistic) and “a gram of soma” will solve any problem. It is this pseudo-happiness and satisfaction that makes it more unnerving, in my opinion. In 1984, there is the open hatred and visible shortcomings of the society, which, in a way, prepares the reader for the worst.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Psychologically scary.