We Make Up Horrors To Help Us Cope With The Real Ones

(Stephen King)

It seems like a Stephen King blog should have a Halloween post. After all, we associate King with horror, and what day of the year do we most associate with horror? Halloween, of course. No doubt there will be a selection of King adaptions available on TV or streaming today — heck, maybe even sales on King books. When I picked out Halloween decorations this year, one of the things I got was a Pennywise welcome mat. Another was a “Welcome to Derry” sign.

This should come out on Halloween, and the post I have scheduled to publish before this is the post on It, which seemed appropriate for the last real book post of October. The next book is The Drawing of the Three, which doesn’t actually fit the Halloween mood, so I don’t feel like hurrying it up to publish that on Halloween. So I’m doing this instead.

The funny thing is, when I looked for King quotes about Halloween, I actually couldn’t find any. There must be some — it seems unlikely to me that he’s never mentioned it in a book and that no interviewer anywhere at any time got him to say some kind of soundbite about Halloween. But there don’t seem to be any prominent ones. And I can’t think of a book or story of his that’s really Halloween themed. Cycle of the Werewolf has a vignette for the month of October, of course, but that’s as close as I can come.

Maybe it’s because King doesn’t really write that kind of horror. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the human monsters are scarier than the actual monsters in the Kingverse. The actual monsters tend to be more of an illustration of the evil in the world — which is mostly human evil, when it comes right down to it.

If you’ve watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you know that the lore in that universe dictates that the vampires and demons are actually supposed to take the night off on Halloween. That… uh… doesn’t actually happen in the Halloween episodes of the series, but it’s supposed to be the rule. Maybe King is a bit like that. Halloween is for us to have our fun with pretend monsters and fake blood and some treats to go with it. King’s works focus on a lot of real horrors, like intractable viruses, dangerous politicians, child abuse, racism, homophobia, sexual abuse, and general cruelty. Maybe it’s fair for him to leave Halloween mostly alone. We can spend that day with less serious horrors.

So, no book post today. And no great Halloween-related shockers from Mr. King. Just some thoughts on the nature of the horror that we’re celebrating today compared to the horror that we read about in the Kingverse. And a wish for a happy Halloween from me to you!

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