I was looking for a book to read in the local library. I was facing a kind of ‘reader’s block’, where I couldn’t find books of the genre I wanted – that genre being horror. I was exhausted with the usual stories of adventure, action, and thriller, and I wanted to explore stories related to the paranormal, which was when I stumbled upon Horowitz Horror, a collection of horror stories by renowned author Anthony Horowitz.
Now, I’d heard of Horowitz. He had written some brilliant books starring teenage spy Alex Rider, but I was surprised to see that he also dabbled in horror. It piqued my interest and I ended up taking it home. The book contained 17 stories that ranged from chilling to macabre to absolutely horrifying. As I flipped through each page, the imagery from the stories was etched into my mind, and I must admit, that Anthony Horowitz is someone to look out for in the coming years.
Almost all of the stories are set in England, where Anthony Horowitz is from. It is true that a story is defined by the surroundings it is set in, and Horowitz does justice to all his stories by doing just that. From the loud suburbs of central London to the wide empty fields of Suffolk, Horowitz manages to capture the attention of the readers with his colorful descriptions and his vivid imagery. With the opening paragraphs or two in each story, Horowitz makes the reader feel right at home by describing the surroundings to every last detail. While the stories themselves start out as normal, everyday tales, they suddenly take a twist into the paranormal. Be it a killer camera or an eerie photographing machine, the machinations that Horowitz uses to make the story more haunting is brilliant in itself. The reader is made to wait with bated breath as they try to guess the possible ending of the story.
As mentioned before, Horowitz Horror contains 17 stories in total. The reader has no choice but to marvel at the sheer variety of Horowitz’s story-telling. It is quite safe to ascertain that no two stories are even remotely the same, which can be seen in some short story collections. Each story is a tale of its own as it weaves in and out of the reader’s imagination and brings the words to life. The stories include a serial killer’s bathtub, a ghostly bus that only seems to go to cemeteries, a field in which scarecrows magically appear and a monkey’s ear with a humorous defect. While a couple of stories are centered on using humor to achieve horror, some stories are downright spine-chilling. A good example is The Sound of Murder, in which an innocent schoolgirl discovers that she has a terrifying power which does not let her sleep at night. The very description sends shivers down the reader’s spine as they are kept guessing until the very end. Another disturbing story is The Lift, which is about the disappearance of a boy who went into the lift whose passengers are one of a kind.
The stories mainly use protagonists who are described as cruel or spoilt, which does not make the reader sympathize with them. This almost makes the reader support the horrifying things that happen to the protagonist, which is what Horowitz excels at. But I would be wrong if I said the stories are all ten-fifteen page stories that describe different elements of the macabre. One particular story, The Phone Goes Dead is a touching story of people trying to contact their relatives from beyond the grave, which reminds us that our departed ones never truly leave us.
Each story in Horowitz Horror carries a message of its own, which is what makes them horrifying and endearing at the same time. The stories never fail to fill us with a thrill of excitement and a final reveal, which sometimes takes our breath away. Anthony Horowitz has proven himself to be very capable of wielding the meticulous task of narrating horror stories with the guile and panache of a seasoned author. If you are a fan of this genre I will recommend you to give Horowitz Horror a chance.