There’s something unique about fiction inside fiction, otherwise known as ‘metafiction’. It’s a trip to read, taking a story you know isn’t real and twisting it into something resembling reality. And when you apply that to horror, the results are incredibly creepy.
Horror already stretches the bounds of reality. It twists what you know into what you think you know until, by the end, you are forced to admit that you don’t know anything at all. Now take all that and give it another angle. Make it a memoir, an oral history, a diary, or a paranormal investigation. Give it enough truth to make you forget. And then unleash the horror.
It’s a frightening experience—one that horror fans live for. If you’re looking for mind-bending stories that blur the line between fiction and reality, here are twelve horror books where the author is the character—but don't worry. They're still fiction. Or are they…?
At seventeen years old in the 1980s, Art Barbara was not a cool kid. He had scoliosis, listened to hair metal, and started a club for volunteer pallbearers at a local funeral parlor. But instead of alienating him even further, the club brought him a friend. Sure, it was strange that she brought a Polaroid camera to photograph the corpses and was obsessed with all the morbid New England folklore. Not to mention the terrifying things that happened whenever she was around. Now, Art needs to make sense of their friendship by writing a memoir. Only somehow his friend got ahold of it. And there are some cuts she insists on making.
A unique horror story written as a manuscript, complete with line edits and notes, The Pallbearers Club is a perfect blend of memoir and fiction with disturbing results.
Chasing the Boogeyman
In the summer of 1988, a small town in Maryland experienced the horror of a serial killer hunting their young girls. But maybe whatever is stalking the town isn’t entirely human. As paranoia and terror takes over the streets, a young college graduate named Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown. He’s busy preparing for his upcoming wedding, but the details of the crimes haunt him, and soon, he finds himself in the middle of a real-life horror story.
Filled with photos and other biographical details, Chasing the Boogeyman blurs the line between true crime and fiction.
The Ghost That Ate Us
Everyone knows what happened at Burger City. That one in the middle of nowhere Iowa when the Burger City Poltergeist became a national sensation. But for all that happened, the tragedy it led to was still shrouded in mystery. Until bestselling author Daniel Kraus went digging for answers. Told through a series of extensive interviews, he listens to their stories with one thing on his mind: the truth.
Another true crime investigation that reads so real, you’ll be googling details to find out if they’re true.
Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey
Buster “Rant” Casey is possibly the most effective serial killer in modern day history. A rebellious teen, he leaves his small town after high school heading for the big city. There, he becomes leader of an urban demolition derby. Their name was Party Crashing, but parties weren’t all Rant was destined to crash. He led a violent life and died a spectacular death. This is the testimony to capture his life told through the people who knew him best.
Written through the interviews and testimonies of a serial killers friends, this oral history is the recorded transcription as they remember their friend.
World War Z
The Zombie War almost ended humanity. It was a terrible time in history. And one Max Brooks is desperate to preserve. He travelled throughout the world to document the testimony of the remaining survivors. These are the people who faced the undead and lived to tell their story. It’s a testament to their ferocious will to live as they survived one of the most terrifying and gruesome wars in world history.
Presented as a living history and approved after the Zombie War by the United Nations Postwar Commission, World War Z is the chronicle of events and experiences of war as told by the survivors.
When Bret Easton Ellis was seventeen years old and a Senior at the exclusive Buckley prep school when a new student with a mysterious past arrives. Despite how close Robert Mallory gets with Bret and his friends, he refuses to reveal his secrets. Soon, Bret is as obsessed with Mallory as he is the Trawler, a serial killer prowling the streets of Los Angeles. And the killer seems to be circling Bret and his friends. The threats are grotesque. Horrific. And interpreted through the vivid imagination of a teen who will soon become one of the most explosive writers of his time. As Bret spirals deeper into his unhealthy fixations, his relationships with Mallory and the Trawler become destined for a spectacular collision.
Jonathan Harker was eager to help Count Dracula purchase a London House. It would help his career and pave the way for his marriage to the love of his life, Mina Murray. But when he makes a disturbing discovery about his new client, he finds himself trapped in a nightmare of horrors he barely escapes. Meanwhile, in London, a series of bizarre events start to occur, all centered around Mina and the estate she’s living at.
Told through dairy entries and other forms of media, Dracula tells the tale of vampires, vampire hunters, and the lengths one group went through to kill a monster.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The night his mother dies, Abraham Lincoln’s life changes forever. Not because of her loss, though at nine years old, he feels that tremendously. It’s because that’s the night he learns the truth. Vampires exist. And they stole his mother. He sets out to become a weapon, one that history recognizes as saving the Union and freeing millions of enslaved people. But Lincoln fought another war. One that remained shrouded in secret until Seth Grahame-Smith discovered his lost dairy.
The historic journal of Abraham Lincoln as he chronicles his life as a secret vampire hunter.
We Need To Talk About Kevin
There are things Eva doesn’t talk about. Like how she never wanted to be a mother. Especially not to a difficult boy who grows up to slaughter seven of his fellow schoolmates right before he turns sixteen. Two years after the tragedy, Eva is ready to face the truth. She begins a shockingly direct correspondence with her estranged husband. Because while Kevin is the one who committed the atrocity. It may have been Eva’s obvious aversion to her own son that drove him to do it.
Told through a series of letters to her husband, We Need to Talk About Kevin is one mother’s confession written to her husband.
The Moth Diaries
We begin the story with the narrator attending an elite boarding school where she records her most intimate thoughts. They largely center around her roommate Lucy. And on Lucy’s friend, Ernessa, with her pale skin and magnetic eyes. She seems to be surrounded by misfortune, leaving a trail of ominous disasters in her wake. As fear grips the school, our narrator’s imagination runs wild. What is really happening to her best friend? And is it all Ernessa’s fault?
Told through a series of diary entries by our unnamed narrator, the question that haunts the reader is did she know a vampire or is she lost in the nightmare of her own imagination.
The Red Tree
After tragedy strikes, author Sarah Crowe leaves Atlanta to find solace in an old rural house in Rhode Island. As she struggles with writer’s block and a dwindling bank account, she discovers an unfinished manuscript in the walls. The last tenant was an anthropologist obsessed with the ancient oak on the corner of the property. The more Sarah reads, the more the oak tree takes root in her imagination, prompting her to write her own thoughts of its tumultuous history. But the line between interest and obsession soon blurs when Sarah becomes determined to unearth the truth buried centuries ago.
Told from a diary along with the unfinished manuscript and an editor’s note explaining the tragic events around them both, The Red Tree is a masterful glimpse into one woman’s descent into madness.
Mister B. Gone
“Burn this book.” It’s a warning. A taunt. A command. For inside these pages is the story of Jakerbok, a minion from hell who once planned to cast the world into darkness. That was before his master’s apprentice buried the only copy of this manuscript where it was lost for 600 years. Now, he’s ready to tell you his story. One that goes back centuries but always comes back to his nefarious plot to invade the hearts and minds of humans. All you have to is burn the book to unleash hell.
The memoir of a demon trapped inside the pages of his own book is a premise that makes Mister b. Gone a wildly unique and entertaining read.