(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)
By Scott Tracey, author of WITCH EYES
The scariest book I’ve ever read is definitely, hands down, House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. It beats out books like It, by Stephen King (the clown in the storm drain? I STILL check them when I pass to this day); and the Dean Koontz book where a boy became some kind of cyborg/computer thing (the whole people becoming robots thing has freaked me out ever since that Superman movie where the girl gets sucked into the supercomputer). House of Leaves is scary not because it could happen to anyone, but because it makes you understand HOW it could happen to anyone.
If you haven’t read it, you won’t understand when I say it’s kind of like a horror novel (but it’s not), and it’s kind of like a love story (but it’s not), and it’s definitely like learning how easy it would be for you to succumb to schizophrenia (but it’s not). The premise of House of Leaves is that somewhere, there is a house that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. And the deeper you try to dig into how this works, the weirder things get. It’s a very, VERY psychological book to read, and it messes with your head a little bit, trying to follow all the different threads, and put it all into some kind of order.
So there’s two parts to the story. There’s the narrator, Johnny, and during the course of the novel, he’s reading and organizing the record of investigation into the house. At one point in the record, there’s mention of a water heater bursting, and then in Johnny’s section, he notes that as he read this part of the book, HIS water heater also burst.
So I’m reading this book at six in the morning (because at the time I was working morning shifts and I was killing time until I had to leave). I read about the burst heater, and then as I’m reading Johnny’s heater ALSO bursts. And then it’s time to get ready for work…and the pipe in the ceiling of my bathroom exploded…
I have never been more freaked out in my life. I almost put the book down for good after that. Because I was sure I was going crazy. I was almost afraid to read more, because what if there were other things that happened in the book, that then happened to me? That’s how a good horror novel gets you—it feeds both your fear and your imagination.
Scott Tracey lived on a Greyhound for a month, wrote his illustrated autobiography at the age of six, and barely survived Catholic school.
His career highlights include nearly being shot by the police after accidentally setting off a panic button, and sending the health department after his place of business. His gifts can be used for good or evil, but rather than picking a side, he strives for BOTH (in alternating capacity) for his own amusement.
Witch Eyes is his debut novel.
Visit Scott at scott-tracey.com.
Follow @scott_tracey on Twitter.