Where Does Christian Horror Belong?


There’s been a lot said in recent months about Christian horror fiction. Can there really be such a thing? Can Christian and horror coexist? How does one define Christian horror? What are the boundaries? Should there be boundaries? The questions are and have been plentiful.

But here’s one that’s been bugging me. Where exactly does horror fit in? In What genre should it be placed?

Fiction is broken down into genres. Usually the subgenre of horror is placed either in the Thriller/Suspense/Crime genre or the Speculative genre. Here’s my problem with that. For the Christian appetite horror is commonly renamed Supernatural Suspense (less offensive, I guess). But becuase of the supernatural element it doesn’t play nice with other non-supernatural suspense titles. It’s that kid in high school with the black T-shirt, purple hair, and nose rings. Readers who flock to the suspense titles don’t necessarily want the supernatural elements. The whole horror thing gets lost by lumping it in with all the other suspense novels.

So what about the Speculative genre? Well, yes, I suppose horror is speculative to a point but not near as speculative as science fiction and fantasy, the two subgenres the Speculative genre is most known by. Again, horror gets lost in the mix as most readers gravitating toward spec-fic want the sci-fi and fantasy stories, not horror.

So what do we do? Where do horror novels belong? We must recognize that horror is a legitimate genre in the CBA. More of it is being published and it is slowly (s-l-o-w-l-y) gaining popularity. There are plenty of writers out there proving a story can be both scary and redemptive. Once we’ve acknowledged Christian horror for what it is we should give it its own home.

Here’s what I suggest: Get horror out of the Suspense genre but don’t put it in with Speculative. In fact, get rid of the Speculative genre altogether and give the big three a genre of their own. Science Fiction. Fantasy. Horror. Go to any mainstream bookstore and you’ll find aisles of horror, aisles of science fiction, and a whole section of fantasy. They deserve more than to be lumped in together under the term “speculative.”

I hear a lot of folk asking why horror isn’t as popular in the Christian market as it is in the mainstream market. I think it could be. And I think the place to start is by giving it its own genre.

Now, here’s a little survey I’m doing. If you’ve ever read and enjoyed a horror novel by a mainstream author (not Christian, i.e. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Bentley Little, Heather Graham, etc.) please leave a comment stating so. You don’t have to put what book you read or which author is your favorite though you’re certainly welcome to. A simple comment will do. And, of course, if you want to comment about anything else or share your opinion on Christian horror and where it should be place please feel free to. I love your comments no matter what they are!

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About mikedellosso

Mike Dellosso is an author of wide-eyed suspense. He writes stories that not only entertain but enlighten.

Posted on October 4, 2010, in Christian Fiction, Christian Horror and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. I have read King and Koontz in the past. Now, I prefer the likes of Ted Dekker and most recently, Mike Dellosso. What I love about Christian Horror is that I get all the suspense and murder mystery without all the sex and language. What I wish for now is a market for horror films like “House” that do the same thing. All the drama, death and suspense without the sex and swearing that so saturates the movies now. All I can say is I am greatful to writters like you Mike and of course Ted Dekker. I am starting to read “Burn” by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy today and then I will HAVE to read “Darlington Woods”. I can’t wait.
    Keep up the great writting. I am so glad I stumbled across your books at my local library.

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    • Thanks for the great comment, Tina. Darlington Woods has been optioned by a movie producer and we are currently working on the treatment and getting it in front of other producers and studio execs. If this thing happens it will be a suspenseful, freaky creepy horror flick without all the swearing and sex. Pray it happens.

      And yes, if you like horror you HAVE to read Darlington Woods 🙂

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      • I can’t wait!! It would be great to see another “good” horror flick. I will pray God clears the path for it to happen.
        Now you have my interest peaked for Darlington Woods even more than it was when I read the book jacket.
        Thanks!!!

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  2. It’s a worthy topic. Horror (as others point out) usually evokes evil images. So “Christian Horror” has a confusing feel to it. The evil supernatural elements inherent in the Horror genre rarely find a Christian counterpoint, even though the stories are often “good vs. evil” in their makeup. But “good” is usually a relativistic condition, not one centered on God or, more specifically, on Jesus.

    So “Christian Horror” should, in a way, offer just enough attraction to the consumer of the Horror/Supernatural genres to warrant a view of the films. Then, perhaps for the first time, the viewer can experience a film that glorifies God. As more Christian filmmakers enter into horror/supernatural topics, it opens an opportunity to reach an otherwise unreached audience, and offers a venue for Christian films to effectively counter the horror/supernatural worldview.

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