Review: Elitist Classics–Part 2
Horror & Mystery
While Horror and Mystery typically have their own sections in a bookstore, we’ve heard it argued that Horror and Mystery are styles as opposed to genres. To an extent we agree, and certainly we see aspects of both across all the genres. After all, some of the best fiction involves blending genres and styles.
We are big fans of both Horror and Mystery. We are talking about Michael Connelly’s straight up Detective Mysteries, or even Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series that takes a detective-like element and throws it with some serious magic and mythology. We are referring to Brian Lumley’s pure Horror, or Monster Hunter International is an awesome combination of B-movie Horror and Urban Fantasy. The point is, all of these awesome stories come from somewhere. Keep in mind that the following picks are not an all-inclusive list. There are a ton more, and feel free to give your personal favorites a shout-out in the comments.
Sherlock Holmes–Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Come on. You had to know this was going to be on the list. Holmes is one of our favorite characters in all fiction, and perhaps our absolute favorite in Mystery (Hercule Poirot is up there too though). Thankfully the new movie is causing people to get interested in Holmes again. Holmes is an incredible and flawed character that it is near impossible to grow tired of. Our best advice? Go do what Steve did and pick up the three-volume set of The Annotated Sherlock Holmes. 3000 pages of awesomeness that have had subtle and completely obvious influences (you did read THE AFFINITY BRIDGE right?) throughout nearly all genres.
Bram Stoker’s DRACULA
Maybe you feel like this is too easy a pick. That’s OK, it was a no-brainer. We aren’t going to get into too much detail here since Vanessa is going to give us all an Elitist Classics Review of it shortly. Let’s be honest. Can you go anywhere without all sorts vampire tales jumping (or sadly, sparkling) at you? We have wondered if the method for the telling of DRACULA is partially what influenced the style of Christopher Priest’s THE PRESTIGE (one of the most awesome novels EVAH!!). Look to Vanessa’s review for what makes this story so interesting (see EBR review here).
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson
One of our favorites. There is so much psychology that can be discussed here. Or Mystery. Or Horror. You’ve gotta love Victorian Horror. Written in the late 1800’s you’d be hard pressed to find a story that better describes the horror of a double-life. What’s even cooler is that Stevenson wrote it based on vivid dreams he was having. The characters of Jekyll & Hyde have been used as inspiration, and have literally been used in themselves in works of fiction. Fan-freaking-tastic.
We simply refuse to talk about the fathers of Horror and Mystery without mentioning Lovecraft. His works are bizarre, bleak, imaginative, depressing, scary, and SO unbelievably engrossing. Now we have mentioned Lovecraft before in our Fantasy 202 post, so we won’t keep beating the dead horse. Go grab The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre, and treat yourself you one of our favorite all-time authors.
Alexandre Dumas’ THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK and THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Some of the best revenge stories you will ever read. We once heard Dan Wells (author of the Horror novels, I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER and MR. MONSTER) talk about how people used to ask about the Horror novels that inspired him. He said that the Horror he read wasn’t what people expected, and specifically mentioned Dumas’ works. Think about the circumstances in those incredible novels. Those are some seriously horrific events. We also get some mystery and adventure in them. Full of win. They should be required reading in all schools.
A few other notables we won’t talk about too much, but that we really felt like we should mention:
FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelly
THE TELL-TALE HEART by Edgar Allen Poe (and really most all of his poetry)
Robert E. Howard’s Horror
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde
HAMLET & OTHELLO by Shakespeare