Horror Literature through History

An Encyclopedia of the Stories That Speak to Our Deepest Fears

by Matt Cardin, Editor


Since ancient times, people have been mesmerized by stories that speak to their deepest fears.

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Cover image for Horror Literature through History

September 2017


Pages 967
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics Popular Culture/General
  The Arts/World Literature

This two-volume set offers comprehensive coverage of horror literature that spans its deep history, dominant themes, significant works, and major authors, such as Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Anne Rice, as well as lesser-known horror writers.

Many of today's horror story fans—who appreciate horror through movies, television, video games, graphic novels, and other forms—probably don't realize that horror literature is not only one of the most popular types of literature but one of the oldest. People have always been mesmerized by stories that speak to their deepest fears. Horror Literature through History shows 21st-century horror fans the literary sources of their favorite entertainment and the rich intrinsic value of horror literature in its own right. Through profiles of major authors, critical analyses of important works, and overview essays focused on horror during particular periods as well as on related issues such as religion, apocalypticism, social criticism, and gender, readers will discover the fascinating early roots and evolution of horror writings as well as the reciprocal influence of horror literature and horror cinema.

This unique two-volume reference set provides wide coverage that is current and compelling to modern readers—who are of course also eager consumers of entertainment. In the first section, overview essays on horror during different historical periods situate works of horror literature within the social, cultural, historical, and intellectual currents of their respective eras, creating a seamless narrative of the genre's evolution from ancient times to the present. The second section demonstrates how otherwise unrelated works of horror have influenced each other, how horror subgenres have evolved, and how a broad range of topics within horror—such as ghosts, vampires, religion, and gender roles—have been handled across time. The set also provides alphabetically arranged reference entries on authors, works, and specialized topics that enable readers to zero in on information and concepts presented in the other sections.


  • Describes horror literature during different periods, thus helping readers understand the roots of modern horror literature, how works of horror have engaged social issues, and how horror has evolved over time
  • Connects horror literature to popular culture through sidebars on film adaptations, television shows, video games, and other nonliterary, popular culture topics
  • Includes excerpts from selected literary works that exemplify topics discussed in the entries that support English language arts standards by enabling students to read these excerpts critically in light of the entries
  • Prompts students to consider the nature of horror as a genre, the relationship of horror literature and social issues, and how horror literature intersects with mainstream supernatural concerns, such as religion
Author Info

Matt Cardin is an English and philosophy/religion instructor at Ranger College in Stephenville, TX. He is the editor of ABC-CLIO's Mummies around the World: An Encyclopedia of Mummies in Religion, History, and Popular Culture and Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies as well as Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti, for which he received a World Fantasy Award nomination. Cardin is also the author of the highly regarded horror fiction collections Divinations of the Deep and Dark Awakenings.



"Ladies and gentlemen, make space on your bookshelf for Matt Cardin's super-ambitious Horror Literature through History. . . . [An] indispensable reference book. . . . The book's three-part structure makes it ideal for research and educational reading, and it's a book every horror fiction fan should cherish like a treasure."—Rue Morgue

"Matt Cardin's new, fascinating two-volume reference [is] Horror Literature Through History. As someone wanting to learn more about the horror genre, this essential and comprehensive encyclopedia is a godsend. . . . These essays are interesting in their subject matter and pleasantly informative. The book's contributors include seventy scholars and authors from around the world, giving the reader of Horror Literature Through History a new perspective on different aspects of horror that are as diverse as they are topical. Any reader would be hard-pressed not to add titles to their list of books they want to read. . . . Horror Literature Through History is an essential reference for horror fans that's both entertaining and educational."—Kirkus Reviews

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