Top 10 Urban Literature Legends | Horror books

He in the UK most of us now live in an urban world and the stories we tell often reflect the anxieties and fears of these environments. Folk-horror, a sub-genre that has enjoyed huge success in recent years, focuses on city dwellers out of their depth in rural communities or in nature.

A strange fiction that engages in urban (and suburban) environments – what are commonly referred to as “urban legends” – does something very different. Horror and strange events frequently occur in places where the characters spend their day-to-day lives, or in parts of the city that they inhabit but have not explored, where occult or disturbing events are not. not centuries-old pagan relics, but fresh ones. events formed by the man-made environment.

When I was asked to contribute to Writing the Uncanny: Essays on Crafting Strange Fiction, I wanted to explore how urban environments give birth to their own myths, legends and folklore, providing fertile ground for the fiction writer. strange. It is a notion that forms the basis of my latest book, London Incognita, where hauntings and strange happenings occur in secluded underground passages, highway flyovers, shopping malls and parking lots.

Choosing just 10 works to illustrate a point is always a difficult task, but here are some of the fictions that I think best illustrate just how powerful urban weirdness can be.

1. The interdict of Clive Barker
Barker’s Blood Books are rightly credited with reshaping and redefining horror in the 1980s. The fifth volume of the series begins with this short story, which inspired the Candyman film franchise. Barker’s original takes place on a decaying British council estate, a reckless attempt at utopian living that has quickly fallen into disuse and neglect. The Forbidden is one of the most atmospheric stories to deal with legends that arise in the ruins of our cities, and still feels relevant, almost 35 years after it was written.

2. The three impostors by Arthur Machen
This episodic novel is a notable example of Machen’s signature merging between ancient pagan horrors and the teeming London of its time. Machen’s approach is similar to what would become psychogeography, and his work influenced Iain Sinclair as well as Stephen King. In these streets we find tales of human sacrifices in the suburbs, strange disappearances and atavistic fairies from pre-human times – horrors that we thought disappeared with our rural past taking on a new urban form.

3. The Rat King by China Miéville
Miéville’s debut novel is an uneven but thrilling ‘London Strange’ novel that takes place in the drum’n’bass party scene of the late 1990s. Introduced into this recognizable town grain is a very flute player. obnoxious, a young man called Saul who discovers his royal heritage and his relationship with King Rat, Anansi, the spider god of Afro-Caribbean folklore, and a host of other strange beings. Similar to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, but with a more memorable subcultural aspect, this is a truly modern piece of urban myth creation.

4. Where the Ovens Burn by Joel Lane
Lane’s collection of crisp, interconnected stories is the perfect fusion of occult detective story and urban noir – imagine Derek Raymond gorging on Thomas Ligotti’s work. Presented as the experiences of a policeman in the West Midlands in the late 1970s, Where Furnaces Burn shows us the Black Country and urban Birmingham as a nightmarish landscape that harbors an infinity of dark myths and horrors: the post-industrial scourge presented as existential despair, and strangely beautiful in spite of it all.

Haunted… Mariana Enriquez in Buenos Aires. Photography: Leandro Teysseire / AP

5. Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez (translated by Megan McDowell)
The highlights of Enriquez’s short story collection are many, but Adela’s House, a chilling story about a girl who disappears through an impossible door into an abandoned house, stays with you, gnawing and harassing your thoughts. Elsewhere, the stories focus on horrific acts of violence against children or the specters of serial killers, while indirectly dealing with the real haunting Buenos Aires by its military junta.

6. The Creatures of the Pool by Ramsey Campbell
It’s horror legend Campbell’s attempt to write a definitive novel about his hometown of Liverpool. Filled with folklore, history, ghost stories and bizarre bits of information about the city, alongside myths invented by the author, Campbell uses a real and bewildering feature of Liverpool: the Williamson Tunnels. Built by eccentric businessman Joseph Williamson between 1810-1840, no one can agree on why they exist. They become a perfect symbol of buried history – the empty spaces that we fill with our own fears.

7. Mrs. Fox by Sarah Hall
Hall’s landmark Madame Zero collection, Mrs Fox tells the story of a married woman living a comfortable existence but yearning for her life to be transformed. Hall painstakingly sketches a perfectly pleasant and well-off bourgeois English life, immediately recognizable but hardly exciting. It is in this everyday world that an extraordinary and poignant transformation takes place. There is the feel of a medieval folk tale, but this is set squarely in the suburban belt, and is all the more powerful for its seemingly lackluster setting.

8. Cove Candle by Kris Straub
One of the oldest and most successful “creepypastas” (the Internet version of an urban myth), it first appeared in 2009, telling the story of a fictional children’s television series. Candle Cove is a shining example of how to use the structure of the bulletin board to create a disturbing work of fiction, and how myths, folklore and disturbing tales are transformed and developed in all the new contexts that they find themselves.

9. Hydra by Matt Wesolowski
The six stories of Wesolowski The series makes the most of a simple yet powerful vanity: each novel is presented as a transcript of an actual detective podcast by investigative journalist Scott King. Hydra is the second book in the series, focusing on the “Macleod Massacre,” in which a young woman clubbed her family to death. Things get more weird and unsettling as interviews reveal a world of deadly games, the shocking extent of online trolling, and mysterious black-eyed children.

10. Tell me I’m worth nothing by Alison Rumfitt
Rumfitt’s superlative new trans horror work centers on a notorious house on the outskirts of Brighton that’s said to be haunted – which it sort of is. But there is fascism in this rotten house in Albion, and things are getting worse. Consciously taking inspiration from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House but updating the haunted house trope for an ideologically divided Britain, Tell Me I’m Worthless identifies the poisoned face of modernity and attacks forehead.

About Christopher Rodgers

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