Haunted – Sifting Through the Pages of Mortality

I honestly do try to find horror books that are out of the ordinary, a taste of something different, if you will.  That is why I truly enjoyed reading Chuck Palahmiuk’s exciting book, “Haunted”.

I’ve frequently asked myself, what exactly defines the genre of horror?  Do people have to die?  Does there have to be monsters or ghosts, just how dark does it have to be?  That is why this particular book intrigued me.  It differs from so many books within this genre in so many different ways, yet it covers so many possible categories of the realm of horror.

Chuck Palahmiuk is also well known for writing the books, “The Fight Club” and “Diary.”  Anyone who is familiar with his work knows that he is not afraid to go above and beyond what a person may expect from any given situation.  I’ve asked people who have read this book, how, exactly would you classify this amazing read?  Most people simply responded, “It’s absolutely horrifying.”

Haunted contains 23 short stories that are entwined into an amazing abstract novel.  The story starts with a number of people who are blindly taken away to a three month retreat specifically for writers.  The bus takes them to an abandoned theater, where the fun truly begins.  One by one, throughout the story, each individual tells their horrifying, sickening, or bewildering tale.  After exploring the psyches of these amazing individuals, a person might ask themselves, just how much horror is wrapped and hidden within every person we come into contact with?

While we are invited to sit and explore the darkness behind each and every person who has attended this retreat, a fun part about the book is that no-one’s identities are truly revealed within the book.  Each character is given a nickname either due to their appearance, or perhaps an aspect of their past.  Just to name a few, there is, Miss America, Comrade Snarky, Agent Tattletale, Duke of Vandals, Chef Assassin, and a number of other randomly named characters whose identities are slowly revealed throughout the book.

As we follow the characters day by day, week by week, and month by month, we learn much more about their struggles, not just with their own lives, but with coping with and handling the madness that grows, slowly but surely, in the tight quarters around them.  The story explores the true intentions of a writer, and just how far a prospective author might go to have their voices heard, to be known, and to stand out from any competition that surrounds them.

One thing that I found particularly intriguing was the name of the book itself.  The name, “Haunted” may lead us to assume we are jumping straight into a ghost novel (were we?).  Perhaps a haunted house (was it?), or something to do with the supernatural.  This particular author seemingly does not easily give out answers to his craft, but after thinking critically about it, I wondered, is it the perfect name, after all?

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is seeking a fresh look at horror, a unique prospective into the human mind, or just wants something that is fresh and unique.  Horror comes in many different shapes and forms.  I, personally, think it is the most horrifying when we can truly put ourselves into the Antagonist’s shoes, and ask ourselves if it is a true reflection of human existence.  

“People fall so in love with their pain, they can’t leave it behind. The same as the stories they tell. We trap ourselves.”
― Chuck Palahmiuk – Haunted

Author: Nicholas Thomas

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