Why do Readers enjoy a good scare?

Guest Post by Danny Weston, author of The Witching Stone.

The gothic is imprinted into us from childhood.

Think for a moment about the first stories we are given as children – Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel… these are horror stories, pure and simple. Here’s the basic plot of H & G. ‘A female serial killer lives in the woods and entices small children into her house so she can cook and eat them. At the story’s conclusion, she is pushed into an oven and burned alive.’  We read that to tiny children, then switch off the lights and tell them to have a good night’s sleep!

In many ways, these Gothic tales become the blueprint for our lives, the stories we use as we’re growing up, to decide about the real life horrors we encounter every day. 

In so-called fairy stories, good always triumphs, evil is always punished – it’s the natural order in that world. It’s quite unlike the hard realities of real life, where the crooked and corrupt dominate so many aspects of society, where acts of everyday heroism largely go unnoticed. 

Such stories help young minds to create some sense of order in a turbulent universe – and besides, isn’t it comforting to be ‘threatened’ by something we can immediately defuse… simply by putting down the book?

By reading scary stories, we are indulging in a vicarious pleasure. We might be terrorised for a little while, but then we close the book and go on with our lives…

The Witching Stone was published by UCLan Publishing on 1st October 2020, and is available to purchase from all good booksellers.

Any opinions expressed may not truly reflect those of the FCBG.

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