There’s nothing like cuddling up on a dark October night with a creepy horror novel—or hunkering down to watch a scary anime. In this season of terror, we’ve got four pairs of horror books and anime to check out, from favorites to stories you shouldn’t miss.
With horror fiction and horror anime both being such incredibly in-depth areas, we’ve narrowed it down to pairings of stories that focus on people and the relationships between them. While many of the stories possess paranormal elements, the real terror lies not in the monster you’ve barricaded out, but the person you’re locked inside with.
Read The Devil Crept In, Watch When They Cry
Small towns in horror can be home to truly terrifying things. Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In is the tale of one such small town: Stevie’s cousin and best friend has gone missing, and he knows as well as anyone else who’s seen a cop show what that might mean. Except that in Deer Valley, children and pets have gone missing or been found dead more than once over the years. And even though Stevie is searching for the truth, he can’t imagine the answer he’ll find in Deer Valley.
Similarly, the anime series When They Cry (or Higurashi: When They Cry) introduces a horrifying mystery set in a rural village in the Japanese countryside. When Keiichi moves to Hinamizawa, he befriends a group of girls near his own age. It might sound like heaven for some teenage boys, but after the manager of a controversial dam project is found dismembered, the girls’ behavior grows increasingly bizarre, and Keiichi soon finds himself in grave danger.
Read Lord of the Flies, Watch Future Diary
William Golding’s 1954 classic The Lord of the Flies isn’t strictly a horror novel, but this story about a group of boys stranded on a mostly deserted island asks questions and provides answers that might bring dread to any reader: what are the lengths to which people will go when their lives are in peril—or when they have the chance to seize power? Ralph, one of the novel’s key characters, wants the boys to work together to succeed, but the tenuous civilization they build on the island soon begins to unravel.
Future Diary is a tale about the balance of safety and power with a supernatural twist: to find the world’s next god, the current god gives twelve people a cell phone diary with a specific power—and Yukiteru has one of the most valuable, a diary that can predict the future. Like in Lord of the Flies, the relationships between people take center stage in this anime, depicting the loyalties and betrayals of people desperate to preserve their own lives—and people greedy for power.
Read Misery, Watch Perfect Blue
Paul, the author protagonist in Stephen King’s Misery, is known for his romance series surrounding the character Misery Chastain—and he’s ready to move on from Misery’s story to new opportunities. But a car crash in Colorado leaves him injured and in the hands of a crazed fan of the Misery Chastain series, who’s enraged by Paul’s plan to move on. She’s prepared to do whatever it takes to get the ending she wants for her favorite character… even at the expense of Paul himself.
In Perfect Blue, Mima is leaving her spot as the lead singer in a popular musical group to pursue a career in acting. Like Paul in Misery, Mima seeks new opportunities in her career, but the move to acting angers one of her fans—one who turns into a terrifying stalker. As the only film on this list, Perfect Blue is the shortest anime to commit yourself to during the spooky season, but it’ll still leave viewers with a lingering sense of paranoia.
Read Another, Watch… Another?
Is this technically cheating? Who knows—and really, it doesn’t matter, because Another is an exemplary work of Japanese horror in both novel and anime form. Originally published in Japan in 2009, Another follows Koichi Sakakibara’s transfer to a middle school in the countryside, where everyone seems to be ignoring Mei, one of the girls in class. Contrary to their warnings, Koichi tries to befriend Mei—but by doing so, he unleashes a chain of gruesome and horrifying deaths of his classmates and the people around them.
Like When They Cry and Future Diary, Another is a supernatural story, though Koichi is pretty reluctant to admit that at first. But in a lot of ways, what’s truly terrifying is the things people will do to their friends when they’re frightened… and the lengths to which they go in an attempt to avoid triggering the curse in the first place.
Feliza Casano writes about science fiction, manga, and other geeky media around the internet. She currently lives in Philadelphia, where she moderates two book clubs and lines her walls with stacks of books. Visit her online or follow her on Twitter @FelizaCasano.