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Guest Post: A Book That Scares Scott Tracey

(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

Follow @scott_tracey on Twitter.

Comment on this guest blog and you’ll gain an extra entry for the big Halloween giveaway on October 31, containing prize packs of signed books plus books and ARCs donated by my publisher Penguin Teen!  

You can keep track of all the “What Scares You?” guest blogs with this tag.

15 thoughts on “Guest Post: A Book That Scares Scott Tracey

  1. One of my profs ended our semiotics section by daring us to read this book. Some of us picked it up, but in the middle of midterms none of us were brave enough to detract from studying, and I don’t think any of us got back to it.

  2. That is the best thing about scary books, when you start seeing similarities or even little things that happen to you that are part of the story also. There is nothing creepier.

  3. I don’t blame you for being freaked out after that. I don’t think I could’ve kept reading. Psychological thrillers scare me more than anything. Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. I want to read Witch eyes SO bad!!!!!

    I do love psychological thrillers! They creep me out, and I have an over active imagination which makes them even more spooky!

  5. I am actually ashamed to say I have never read this one, especially since one of my college roommates loved it so incredibly much. She had a copy that was so worn, the pages were falling out. I bought her a new one for her birthday right after the school year started. Then she loaned it to several friends that by the holidays, it was kind of a mess. So I bought her another one. And yet, I’ve never read it. Though she tended to loan it so much I couldn’t just steal hers. Still, this makes me want to read it, and understand hers (and your) fascination. Thanks, Scott! =D

  6. My water pipe didn’t burst while I read this book, but I did start doodling crazy notes in the margin and having insane dreams about neverending hallways. Agree that this is pretty much the scariest book ever.

  7. That book is sitting on my bookshelf just waiting to be read. I may just move it closer to the top of my to-read pile now.

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