Monday, October 15, 2012

Scary Books – Fear by L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron Hubbard’s Fear is a masterpiece of suspense. Published in 1940 in Unknown Fantasy Fiction magazine, it was later reprinted in hardcover. Since then Fear has been reprinted many times. I have seen it described as a psychological thriller, which is true in a broad sense. I think of it as a character study, layered with a growing sense of dread. The plot involves Professor James Lowry who publishes an article that asserts that witchcraft and magic can’t possibly exist. Then he loses his hat and soon discovers that he can’t recall four hours of his life. His journey to discover what has happened to him leads him into one harrowing nightmare after another. The ending, albeit slightly (and intentionally) ambiguous, manages to tie it all together with a neat twist. The suspense never really lets up and I consider this book one of the all-time classics of horror. No, it doesn’t have the gruesome descriptions that modern novels flaunt, but it makes up for that with its well-crafted plot, characterization and pacing. Fear is one of three of Hubbard’s novels that found its way onto the Modern Library 100 Best Novels in the Reader’s List. I can easily understand why. Put this one on the bookshelf with Psycho by Robert Bloch and Hell House by Richard Matheson and keep the doors locked and windows shut when you read them. L. Ron Hubbard’s Fear is a suspense-filled classic.

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