Everyone likes to list their favourite horror stories around Halloween; I think it might actually be the entire point of Halloween. But for the most part, these lists cater to the classics – Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker. But me? I’m a contemporary girl. I want my own list, and I want everything on it to be younger than I am. So, here we go! This is my list of the Ten Best Monster stories (published in the last 25 years).
#9 – The Cold One, by Christopher Pike
Christopher Pike was my first introduction to the world of horror writing. When I was ten years old, my grandma bought me a box of books at a yard sale; she didn’t even bother to check the covers, but inside I found the collected works of Pike, and I was instantly hooked. Pike’s work is very young, his style more than a little cliché, but with stories like Remember Me and The Hollow Skull he was the perfect stepping stone from childrens’ stories to true horror. For this list, I’ve chosen one of Pike’s few forays into adult writing, the story that left me ravenous for its unwritten sequel: The Cold One.
Christopher Pike is responsible for a wide array of unique and original monsters, but the Cold One was a creature that absolutely fascinated me. Much of the story is told from the creature’s point of view, and the calm, clinical approach it takes to the murder and torture of even the most innocent people is chilling. These are the best monsters – the ones with no feelings, no emotions, no moral compass to turn them away from their slew of destruction. The creature’s back story is shadowy, something I hoped Pike would expand upon in the sequel, but we are led to believe that the Cold One is a Hindu demon, reincarnated in human form. The demon creates followers as it terrorizes LA, soulless creatures without thought or emotion that violently carry out their master’s instructions – however brutal. I was left with a guilty twisting in my gut after each of the Cold One’s kills, feeling out of place in such a twisted point of view.
Although the meat of this novel is made up of a lot of cheap shock horror, from the graphic seduction and slaughter of a priest to the attempted incestuous rape of our main character (bonus points to Mr. Pike for allowing his decidedly masculine male lead to be victimized in this way), the visceral fear it inspires is impossible to deny. The Cold One definitely falls into the “B movie” category of horror novels, but if this isn’t the time of year for corny thrills and cheap scares, I don’t know what is. And for that reason, we open this list with #9 – the Cold One by Christopher Pike.