[Ya know, this is a day late because I failed to hit the “publish” button last night. Sorry.]
Well, for this novella, let’s discuss genre. Over on LinkedIn, where these posts are shared, we discussed whether or not this novella is truly horror. One review on Amazon stated it wasn’t. (You can see more of this over at the Book Club Start post on my LinkedIn account).
And while this LinkedIn reader agreed that it wasn’t horror, he still thought it was a good read. Especially as the story wrapped up in a novella and he doesn’t have much time to read.
I think novellas have made a comeback, not just because of ebooks, but because folx don’t have the time to read like they used to. Our lives have sped up so much and we have so much to do every day.
But, on to genre.
What makes a book horror? I’m probably not a great judge of what is horror, since I don’t usually read horror, and since I liked this novella, maybe thats a sign it isn’t?
Wikipedia defines horror as a “genre of speculative fiction which is intended to frighten, scare, or disgust”. It can invoke fear and repulsion. It further explains there are two type of horror: psychological and supernatural.
By this definition, I would consider The Wen to be horror, a mix of the two subgenres (I won’t go into detail as that would be a spoiler, and I do hope you go read it.)
Now…is it Stephen King level horror? No. But I tried reading Cujo back in high school and couldn’t. Thats probably why I don’t consider myself a reader of horror.
This one, I could read. And yes, I experienced a bit of fear and revulsion in the end. That anyone could be.. like that…(ooh…no spoilers).
Now, I also read Maverick Heart by Pamela K. Kinney, not realizing it was in the horror genre, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I should have known, since that’s what she writes.. but I digress. I’ve also been told my Dhampyr novels (as E. G. Gaddess) are horror. I never knew that when writing them.
So let’s consider intent, as that is a part of the Wikipedia definition. Did the author intend for the story to invoke fear and loathing? I think so, or it wouldn’t be labeled horror. And it did this successfully with me as I read it. With other readers, it did not as that is something they mentioned specifically.
Now I definitely think this story is solidly in the realm of speculative fiction. I think that’s where most of this author’s stories fall. (I have read others by Nyall Robert Frye.) Speculative fiction is a broad, overarching term that encompasses a wide swath of genres, so I’m not certain that helps anyone define a specific genre.
It isn’t science fiction, nor is it fantasy. It isn’t magical realism or alternate universe. It is set solidly in today’s world, with today’s science, but hints at something supernatural.
There is a solid psychological aspect to this tale. There is violent murder. One man playing with the mind of another. Someone doubting their sanity at times. This manipulative character is what caused me to feel revulsion, so yeah, psychology plays a big part in this story.
The supernatural mythology presented in the telling of the story would mean it’s not a pure psychological horror, bleeding over into the supernatural horror. Which is why I think it overlaps the two subgenres.
Maybe the big defining part of whether someone would consider this horror or not is how much other horror they read, and what other books they are comparing it to. As someone who reads only a little horror and has only done that recently, I consider this horror. Maybe it’s accessible horror? Horror light?
Is genre only in the mind of the reader? What do you think? Please share your comments.