Horror Fiction in the 20th Century

In celebration of Halloween, this week's review charts the genre of horror fiction, highlighting both well-known and overlooked authors of the 1900s

Horror Fiction in the 20th Century: Exploring Literature’s Most Chilling Genre

Nevins, Jess. Praeger, 2020
277p bibl index, 9781440862052 $50.00, 9781440862069

Nevins (librarian, Lone Star College, Tomball) has written numerous books on comics, Victoriana, and pulp literature, including The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: The 4000-Year History of the Superhero (CH, Sep’17, 55-0038). In the present book Nevins provides an overview of horror fiction across the entire 20th century. The book comprises three chronological parts (each with 5–6 chapters), framed by an introduction and an epilogue. The first part spans the years 1901–39, what the author argues is the latter half of the genre’s Golden Age; part two covers 1940–70; and part three covers 1971–2000. The chapters look at major figures and developments by geographic region, niche market, theme, and so on. A true strength of the book is its scope: in a genre stereotypically defined by white, male authors, this book takes a broad, international approach to its subject. Each part includes a chapter that examines horror fiction “outside the Anglosphere,” looking at literature produced in numerous European, African, Asian, and South American countries. Though modest in size, the book does an excellent job of discussing many notable, often-overlooked authors as well as all the major writers of the genre. Each is given only one paragraph, but the assessment is substantive and elegantly direct.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers.
Reviewer: E. Jeitner, Stockton University
Subject: Reference – Humanities
Choice Issue: Sep 2021

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