Monday, June 27, 2011

Thoughts on Christian Horror

Last week I was part of a blog tour that featured Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso, a good read that falls in the category of "supernatural suspense" in the Christian fiction (CBA) industry. I made the argument on Wednesday that it really is a horror book.

Sorry for giving that little detail away Mike. ;)


I asked why books like this are marketed with what basically amounts to a euphemism. From the comments last week, both Mike and Nicole hit it on the head.


The label of "horror" is as loaded as the label of "Christian fiction." As Nicole said, it conjures images of Stephen King and the horror movie trinity of Freddy/Michael/Jason (I take umbrage at the last one). I've only read one King novel, and didn't enjoy the things it did to my imagination. I understand he has books like The Stand that read differently from Pet Sematary. But his reputation is so strong, it is hard for him to write something else that will break through to readers other than his fan base.

Conversely, it is hard for many readers to get away from the stereotype of slasher flicks/books to open up a thoughtful book like Darkness Follows that explores the love of a father and a daughter. DF has a body count, but it is not gory or gratuitous. People die to further the plot, not to shock. Mike in his comment laments the reality of the situation, because I think (as he does) some readers who would enjoy a book like DF won't find it because it isn't labeled as horror, although he would lose more if it was marketed as horror.

It is a catch-22 inherent in the CBA industry. It is more conservative than the ABA market it parallels. For those of us who read widely or want to write for the CBA, we just have to keep this in mind. The CBA market is changing, but slowly and not without growing pains and waxing/waning.

I don't know if we'll end up with a genre of Christian horror in the CBA. Perhaps the euphemism of "supernatural suspense" is here to stay. BTW, I like a category of supernatural suspense, but I think it is too broad to do horror justice, especially since it fits books like This Present Darkness and the Left Behind series.

Thoughts? Should the CBA aspire to having a horror category someday?

1 comment:

  1. In light of the fact that Mike's novels are Supernatural Suspense, I don't know that the addition or re-classification of the horror label would serve its desired purpose of opening up sales for those who read it in the general market. Mike's books although too "blatant" for some CBA readers, are probably too tame for diehard horror fans. And you're right, Jason, they'd probably lose more CBA readers than they'd gain outside of CBA with that suggestive title.