Friedrich Nietzsche once said: "When you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss also gazes back into you." This is exactly what happens whenever we open a book, especially if its narrative is controlled by insanity and depravity. What we find when peering into the abyss of these books is the worst fears and horrors you could ever imagine.
In life, only few things are as fascinating as they are frightful, like good transgressive stories capable of offering experiences that everyday life cannot offer. This is why a reader might have a constant thirst for stories which revolve around fear and madness. There's a tempting pleasure in seeing the walls of safety and sanity crumble with a twisted story. Books may not bite, but they surely can leave scars in the mind...
This list is only for the strong-minded, those with a spirit strong enough to delve into the darkest depths of literature and the human psyche. We invite you to take a look at the following titles that any lover of insane and outrageous stories must read:
Misery (1987) by Stephen King
A well-known novelist suffers an accident and is left stranded in the middle of nowhere. He is rescued by a mysterious woman who will turn out to be his worst nightmare. Paul Sheldon will find out little by little that there is a sinister shadow lurking behind the sweet personality of his carer, and he will have to confront horror in its purest form. Misery is one of those novels by Stephen King that break away from the supernatural, and is also one of the most chilling books among all his extensive work. The king of modern horror delivers one more time a skillful narrative with the chilling capacity of exploring the most horrifying demons in the human mind.
Helter Skelter (1974) by Vincent Bugliosi
This book is the best documented account of the case of Charles Manson and his "Family" members, who murdered filmmaker Roman Polanski 's wife and her group of friends. The Family was made up of a group of young hippie people who were under the control of Charles Manson, who was a self-proclaimed messiah, destined to change the world. Under his leadership, the twisted youngsters committed a series of murders that shook an entire nation. This story will make you experience the insanity that lies dormant in a human's mind.
The Tenant (19746) by Roland Topor
If you read this novel in the middle of the night, while everyone is sleeping you'll experience a delightful fear that will paralyze your body. Roland Topor tells the story of a relaxed young man who rents an apartment in Paris. His peaceful life is disturbed by his neighbors' strange attitudes, which will push him into a downward spiral of insanity and self-destruction.
Open Wounds (2007) by Gyllian Flynn
It's not that common to find a novel able to combine horror and crime fiction so brilliantly in the literary market. The novel follows young Camille Parker, who returns to her hometown after staying in a mental asylum to write about some uncanny murders that baffled the police. Little by little, this young woman starts to notice a series of strange behaviors not only among her neighbors, but also among her family. Gyllian Flynn is one of the darkest contemporary writers out there. Open Wounds provides a story full of deep and utter horror from beginning to end. You won't feel disappointed when you finally reach the last page.
Spider (1990) by Patrick McGrath
The story's narrator is one of the darkest and most miserable being that you can come across as a reader. Only a few books can convey insanity in such clear terms. At times, the novel acquires a pessimistic tone, but it's dark and ghastly from beginning to end. Spider is a book that you cannot miss if you are keen on subjects like insanity, surrealism, and intricate plots.
By Reason of Insanity (1982) by Shane Stevens
Stevens has achieved one of the best executed serial killer-themed novels in literature's history. The story revolves around the troubled mind of the main character (who believes he is the son of killer Caryl Chessman), a society sick with political power, and an unscrupulous gutter press. Admired by Stephen King himself, Shane Stevens gives a masterclass on how to delve into a psychopath's mind, whose brutal crimes will leave you sleeping with one eye open.
The Nameless (1989) by Ramsey Campbell
"It's me, mommy... please come get me." These are the words that a woman hears when she gets a mysterious telephone call, five years after her daughter has died. From that moment onwards, the protagonist finds herself trapped in a territory where the demonic prevails over everything. Campbell's narration will take you through haunted houses, a sect that embodies pure evil, and the agonizing search of a mother that will do whatever it takes to find her daughter. Your hands will tremble every time you turn a page.
The Black Dahlia (1987) by James Ellroy
This novel was inspired in Elizabeth Short's real case. She was a young aspiring actress whose body was found cut in half, one of her breasts mutilated, and gashes in each corner of her mouth forming an eerie smile, in a barren ground on January 25, 1947. There was evidence that the body had been tortured during several days. A reporter named the victim "the Black Dahlia," since Short used to dress in black most of the time. To date, nobody knows who's the culprit of this heinous crime. James Ellroy provides a possible solution in this formidable novel, which follows the investigation of detectives Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard in Los Angeles.
Now that we have confirmed your singular taste for literature's darkest novels, you may want to learn more about books you can feast on. Read about these 8 Stories About Cannibalism You’ll Want To Devour, and if your hunger is still not satiated enough, you can read about these 7 Books To Survive The Stranger Things Withdrawal.
Translated by Andrea Valle Gracia