The horror novel has many antecedents, although the most obvious well-spring is the gothic novel form of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and, less obviously, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein. Neither of the foregoing qualify in themselves as horror novels in that their ultimate intention is more one of mood than of shock (and Ms Shelley's is also fundamentally a philosophical novel), that sudden unquantifiable moment when one's flesh writhes. Very few writers are capable of bringing this off, and many modern practitioners of the genre have resorted to progressively greater extremes of violence in order to achieve some sort of effect. Early and true exponents of the horror form number such luminaries as H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, whose work, on occasions, is capable of making the blood curdle.
Nevertheless, writers such as Clive Barker in The Books of Blood and Stephen King in his more considered work such as Misery are capable of bringing this off without the unnecessary descent into grand guignol which now characterises so much of the mainstream of this genre.
- "Supernatural Horror in Literature" essay by H. P. Lovecraft on horror fiction antecendents
- Table derived from the above