Updated: Oct 19, 2019
It's not October yet, but for lovers of horror, supernatural, and all things weird, there's no time like the present to start your fall reading. Let me start you off this season with Nyctophobia by Christopher Fowler.
When I was a kid, I used to have very strange dreams where I swear I was awake, but still in the middle of a nightmare. I’m not talking about sleep paralysis or night terrors. I’m talking about being fully mobile, getting out of my bed, calling for my Mother, all the while trying to skirt by my dresser because there was a heinous monster writhing around on top of it trying to reach out for me. I even recall the pajamas I was wearing at the time. It’s a dream (a memory?) I recall vividly to this day.
Nyctophobia had me reliving that nightmare, and many others, as I read it at night before falling asleep.
The fear of the dark is a real thing. Those of you with children probably experience multiple episodes of your children running into your room and wanting to sleep with you, or maybe you’ve burned through so many night lights you can no longer keep track. But for adults who have a fear of the dark, a fear of what is lurking in the shadows, life can be terrifying. This is what Callie, the main character, experiences throughout this novel. She had nyctophobia as a child, but never thought it would chase her into adulthood – until she moved into Hyperion House in southern Spain with her new husband.
Callie was an architect back in London, but is now expected to be a “lady of the manor”. Her profession drew her to Hyperion House because of its unusual architecture. Everything was bathed in sunlight – everything except the back of the house that she was told were used as servants quarters when it was first built. The housekeeper (who came with the purchase of the house) holds the keys to this area, insists the rooms stay locked, and will give no further information to Callie. But Callie knows there is something or someone in there. Or does she?
What follows is a study of the home in the local library, a series of unusual characters and for me, a haunting reminder of what it means to be afraid of the dark. Even the relationships among the staff, townsfolk, and Callie's family are well-written and do not seem out of place in the story. It all works together very well and in step with what Callie is experiencing.
Even though Nyctophobia was recommended as a horror novel, I’m not sure I would classify it as such. I didn’t throw it across the room, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, and it didn’t give me nightmares. What it did do was cause the hair on my arms and the back of my neck to rise. It drew me in to the story to the point I felt I was in the house at times because the writing is beautiful and descriptive, the story itself seemed beautiful yet sad, and I wanted more than anything to be able to visit this house.
My advice is to read the book, but I wouldn’t say it has to be during October (like September!) if you're looking for a real scare. You could find yourself drawn into this novel at any time of year.
Available for your Amazon Kindle for only $6.49!