A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Zombies, vampires, and werewolves are all over popular culture these days, but they’re a trend that’s quickly becoming a bit played-out. It’s not the monsters’ fault–at one point each was a uniquely compelling product of the human imagination, and their appeal has clearly spanned generations. I just think it’s time to start reading about some less tried and true monsters. So here’s a list of five unique fiends and the novels that bring them to life:
The Slake Moths from Perdido Street Station by China Miéville: Gigantic moth-like insects that feed on dreams, leaving their victims catatonic, and then excrete a kind of powerful hallucinogen? I know, I know, it sounds more trippy than scary, but not in China Miéville’s hands. In his complex dark fantasy we get to follow a Slake Moth on it’s journey from a small catepillar to a brain-sucking monster tearing through the steam punk city of New Crobuzon.
Pennywise the Clown from It by Stephen King: The monster here is really It, a shape-shifting demon that embodies everyone’s deepest fears; but, of course, It is most frightening as a clown–a dancing, fanged, child-dismembering clown. It is definitely King at his best, featuring compelling characters and an elemental plot about the nature of fear.
The Tuunbaq from The Terror by Dan Simmons: Is it a polar bear? A sea monster? A yeti? An ancient deity unleashed? If your shipwrecked in the Arctic and being hunted by a crafty, vicious beast I suppose learning exactly what it is would be the least of your worries. But Simmons is able to weave enough suspense around the monster to make you care, and you’ll trudge through all 800 snow bound pages to find out.
The Shoggoths from At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft: From the Arctic to the Antarctic, where Lovecraft sets one of his best novel length stories. We get to meet a wide array from his pantheon of eldritch monsters, but the most memorable is the Shoggoth: “a nightmare plastic column of foetid black iridesence” with “shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light.” Another image that won’t stop oozing it’s way through my nightmares anytime soon, thanks Howard.
The Outsider from Watchers by Dean Koontz: The Outsider is a military genetic experiment gone horribly wrong, purposefully mistreated to make it supremely malevolent towards humans. It’s a bit Frankenstein and a bit Island of Dr. Moreau, but with more mauling and less pathos. Smartly, Koontz gives his monster a foil in the character of a super intelligent dog created at the same lab but raised to be gentle and caring–this helps give the novel a neatly plotted good vs. evil theme.
List by Matthew