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The Frighteners follows the quest of Peter Laws, a Baptist minister with a penchant for the macabre, to understand why so many people love things that are spooky, morbid and downright repellent. He meets vampires, hunts werewolves in Hull, talks to a man who has slept on a mortuary slab to help him deal with a diagnosis, and is chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac through The Frighteners follows the quest of Peter Laws, a Baptist minister with a penchant for the macabre, to understand why so many people love things that are spooky, morbid and downright repellent. He meets vampires, hunts werewolves in Hull, talks to a man who has slept on a mortuary slab to help him deal with a diagnosis, and is chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac through a farmhouse full of hanging bodies. Staring into the darkness of a Transylvanian night, he asks: What is it that makes millions of people seek to be disgusted and freaked out? And, in a world that worships rationality and points an accusing finger at violent video games and gruesome films, can an interest in horror culture actually give us safe ways to confront our mortality? Might it even have power to re-enchant our jaded world? Grab your crucifixes, pack the silver bullets, and join the Sinister Minister on his romp into our morbid curiosities.


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The Frighteners follows the quest of Peter Laws, a Baptist minister with a penchant for the macabre, to understand why so many people love things that are spooky, morbid and downright repellent. He meets vampires, hunts werewolves in Hull, talks to a man who has slept on a mortuary slab to help him deal with a diagnosis, and is chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac through The Frighteners follows the quest of Peter Laws, a Baptist minister with a penchant for the macabre, to understand why so many people love things that are spooky, morbid and downright repellent. He meets vampires, hunts werewolves in Hull, talks to a man who has slept on a mortuary slab to help him deal with a diagnosis, and is chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac through a farmhouse full of hanging bodies. Staring into the darkness of a Transylvanian night, he asks: What is it that makes millions of people seek to be disgusted and freaked out? And, in a world that worships rationality and points an accusing finger at violent video games and gruesome films, can an interest in horror culture actually give us safe ways to confront our mortality? Might it even have power to re-enchant our jaded world? Grab your crucifixes, pack the silver bullets, and join the Sinister Minister on his romp into our morbid curiosities.

30 review for The Frighteners: Why We Love Monsters, Ghosts, Death & Gore

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    Fantastic. One of the best nonfiction books I have ever read. I'd love to see a second volume, Rev. Laws! Fantastic. One of the best nonfiction books I have ever read. I'd love to see a second volume, Rev. Laws!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    From the first chapter of this book, I found myself nodding and smiling in agreement with many of the author's statements regarding his love of the macabre. He mentions how he had this interest from childhood, which made me look back on my lifelong love of horror. As a child, I always wanted to watch the movies or read the books that others considered to be too "scary". As an adult, I’m still seeking the thrill of being truly frightened. Peter Laws does a great job explaining why so many of us t From the first chapter of this book, I found myself nodding and smiling in agreement with many of the author's statements regarding his love of the macabre. He mentions how he had this interest from childhood, which made me look back on my lifelong love of horror. As a child, I always wanted to watch the movies or read the books that others considered to be too "scary". As an adult, I’m still seeking the thrill of being truly frightened. Peter Laws does a great job explaining why so many of us take interest in the world of horror, covering topics such as ghosts, zombies, werewolves, vampires, and serial killers. He explains these fascinations with stories of his own personal experience, information from experts, and cited research. I felt very at-home reading this book, and it helped me feel even more comfortable with my interest in all things frightening. I especially enjoyed the section regarding demons and ghosts, and Laws' thoughts on his faith in relation to these interests. If you're a fan of horror, and have ever wondered if you're interests are "normal", give this a read. You'll find that you're one among many who love all things dark and spooky!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne Davies

    If you have followed my reviews you know that I have not reviewed any non-fiction. The reason is that I like to take myself off to a fictional world. However when I was asked to read The Frighteners written by ordained Baptist Minister Peter Law, it piqued my interest to see what he wrote. Every chapter was dedicated to a different horror topic and chapter one is a bio of the author. Whilst reading it I was so pleased that I had found someone else who had the same interests and even had the same If you have followed my reviews you know that I have not reviewed any non-fiction. The reason is that I like to take myself off to a fictional world. However when I was asked to read The Frighteners written by ordained Baptist Minister Peter Law, it piqued my interest to see what he wrote. Every chapter was dedicated to a different horror topic and chapter one is a bio of the author. Whilst reading it I was so pleased that I had found someone else who had the same interests and even had the same type of friends and colleagues. Whilst I do not have a large Hammer House of Horror poster in my office, I collect creepy dolls and have macabre pictures in my lounge and yes my work colleagues think I am weird. Other chapters are Theatre of Blood, Wired for Fright, Hiding the Bodies, Zombies Everywhere, Killer Culture, The Beast Within, Deadtime Stories, The Haunted and Sister. With each chapter you read, you get to learn more about the author as he always had a personal story to tell. Whether it was meeting George A Romano (so jealous) or touring a funeral parlour, he has done so much for his love of horror. Every chapter was packed with plenty of research, making this book an absorbing read and whilst I read it I learnt a lot about the history of the macabre. Included in the research were interviews with people who are experts in their field. Having all the research enabled him to argue both sides eloquently and he showed how his love of horror strengthen his faith. Throughout this book I was googling facts as there were so many topics that I wanted to know more about. Living not far from Hull, I was extremely interested in the goings on there and unfortunately I made the mistake of mention the werewolf sightings to my teenagers and now my son wants to go on a werewolf hunt. Whilst there was a lot of serious discussion, there was also some laugh out loud moments and I can just picture two grown men walking round Hull dragging two peppered steaks, hoping to lure a werewolf. Finishing this book is a HP Lovecraft quote That is not dead which can eternal lie and with strange aeons even death may die, which I think sums up this book This was a great read and whilst I do not read non fiction, I am glad that I have got the chance to read it. Now I’m of to read Purged, his horror novel.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Isaiah

    To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews. I got an ARC of this book. A non-fiction about all things dark and spooky? Count me in! I am not a silent fan of the dark. I watch horror movies, I read horror novels, I love horror video games (Silent Hill being my favorite because of the atmosphere and the score). There is so much to love about horror and the macabre. People are very quick to judge. My step-mom once decided I couldn't wear pants with chains on them or listen to metal because it mean To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews. I got an ARC of this book. A non-fiction about all things dark and spooky? Count me in! I am not a silent fan of the dark. I watch horror movies, I read horror novels, I love horror video games (Silent Hill being my favorite because of the atmosphere and the score). There is so much to love about horror and the macabre. People are very quick to judge. My step-mom once decided I couldn't wear pants with chains on them or listen to metal because it meant I was obsessed with death.  The book is broken down into ten chapters. The first chapter is an introduction to the idea that people have been into the spooky for hundreds and thousands of years. The last chapter was a conclusion that focused on religion and how the author came to be a christian through the movie The Exorcist. Skipping the last chapter would have made my reading of the book better, I wasn't looking for a memoir about religion or a book that focused on it. The last chapter feels out of place with the rest of the book and dragged compared to the rest.  My favorite chapter had to be the one that focused on killers and murderabilia. I had a similar experience coming across the murderabilia market as the author, though the hair was much cooler than what I found. We came to some different conclusions while staring at the items of famous killers. Mine was very clearly: "why the heck are they selling this and promoting killing?" and then "how are these people going to prove this really belonged to so-and-so?" and finally "I really want this book, but I don't want to support people who profit off of murder and/or support murders". The author had a more nuanced reaction and actually went further and tried to see it from both sides. He interviewed people that sold murderabelia and the people trying to shut down the market. It was fascinating and that chapter literally made my stomach churn.  The chapter about hunting werewolves had my laughing a bit. The section about ghosts had a lot of great bits in it. There really is a chapter for all the major spooky fandoms out there. However, the addition of furries to the section of werewolves felt really off putting. Furries aren't werewolves, nor do any of the ones I have come across equate it with anything to do with werewolves. For most of the furries I have meet or had to deal with it is generally a sexual thing and this focus on the sexual has actually created issues (super high sexual assault rates at furry conventions, the creator of shows quitting because of the furry fan base, parents literally calling for a ban on My Little Pony because of the fan art/sexualization of the characters, the furry bar in SF that has a table where sexual assault is the norm). While I can't say that every furry solely is a furry because of a sexual fetish (because that is untrue, check out a few documentaries on bronies and you will see a world of music and friendship), but that has been a large part of the community that I  have seen and is the easiest part of the community to get access to even without meaning to. So this section just felt like it was under researched and out of touch with the rest of the book. It was an unwelcome interlude in the world of horror that I was expecting.   Overall, this is a great and gentle look at horror both historically and what is currently happening. I say gentle because it doesn't require a great deal of background knowledge or an iron stomach/nerves of steel to get through. It is a book that is a fascinating and light read for a subject that can be gruesome and off putting to many. 

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stan James

    This was better than expected. Going in, I was unfamiliar with Peter Laws, apart from the blurb for the book mentioning that he is a reverend and perhaps a seemingly unlikely choice to author a book about why we are delighted by things that scare us (he devotes an entire chapter on this near the end, and also addresses it at the beginning). A writer when not conducting church services, Laws has authored novels about a professor aiding in the solving of religious crimes, and also reviews horror a This was better than expected. Going in, I was unfamiliar with Peter Laws, apart from the blurb for the book mentioning that he is a reverend and perhaps a seemingly unlikely choice to author a book about why we are delighted by things that scare us (he devotes an entire chapter on this near the end, and also addresses it at the beginning). A writer when not conducting church services, Laws has authored novels about a professor aiding in the solving of religious crimes, and also reviews horror and similarly themed movies for The Fortean Times, the delightfully wacky magazine devoted to the weird and out there. This is relevant, because Laws demonstrates wit and verve throughout The Frighteners. Laws has done his research on why we seek out to be frightened by various things, but this is not a carefully considered study and analysis, it is very much Laws providing expert testimony and studies, while adding in a lot of his own personal take on the various spooky subjects, neatly divided into their own chapters. There are fictional frights—scary movies and TV shows, but also could-be-real frights like ghosts, werewolves, cryptids and more. Then there are the sadly real, like serial killers, their “murderabilia” and crush videos (don’t look up the latter if you are at work or anywhere else on the planet. Trust me on this.) Laws doesn’t defend the more dubious aspects that some people seem to crave, but he does attempt to understand motivations. And he highlights that most of us—even people into murderabilia (mementos from famous crimes or killers) have our limits. For example, a couple that run a curio shop in York sells things like strands of Charles Manson’s hair, among other ghoulish “delights”, but the American half of the couple admits she turned down the chance to sell bricks from Sandy Hook, because she lived nearby and had no emotional distance from the killings. A lot of the fare Laws covers is lighter, and even silly. Zombie-themed escape rooms are a big thing now, and Laws partakes not as research for the book, but because he just loves them so much (he went to Transylvania for his 40th birthday), going out of his way to squeeze every last bit of drama from them, like the hero of a horror film. In the end I was carried along by Laws’ enthusiasm for the macabre and frightening, and his gleeful delight in the same. He provides enough research, expert interviews and other material to elevate the book well above “I like scary stuff, let me talk about it”, so if you find the subject matter interesting, this is an easy recommendation.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alyisha

    While I LOVE the supernatural & mildly-spooky, I’m actually not that into the horror genre (movies or literature). I don’t enjoy being scared & I wouldn’t say I have an interest in the “macabre,” just in the “otherworldly.” Regardless, so many aspects of this book SPOKE TO MY SOUL. The way that the author — an ordained Christian minister, strangely (or maybe not so strangely) enough — navigates the terrain between religion & lore totally captivated me. I’m equally interested (in a theoretical way While I LOVE the supernatural & mildly-spooky, I’m actually not that into the horror genre (movies or literature). I don’t enjoy being scared & I wouldn’t say I have an interest in the “macabre,” just in the “otherworldly.” Regardless, so many aspects of this book SPOKE TO MY SOUL. The way that the author — an ordained Christian minister, strangely (or maybe not so strangely) enough — navigates the terrain between religion & lore totally captivated me. I’m equally interested (in a theoretical way) in the idea of god & in the idea of werewolves, so, like, “Hi, perfect book!” 👋🏻 Not only does Rev. Peter Laws explore the (he says natural) interest in “monsters, ghosts, death & gore,” but he delves into controversial topics like video game violence & “morbid play” (particularly in children who are trauma-survivors) &, given his profession, he comes down on the issues in ways that may surprise you! He’s funny, & smart, & WEIRD AF, &, full disclosure: I definitely developed a teeny-tiny author crush. If I have any complaint about the book, it’s that he could’ve gone deeper into “scary” issues like race & gender. For instance, despite a chapter entitled “Sister,” there’s no discussion of society’s fascination with witches (& witchcraft’s recent resurgence & link with feminism & politics). The chapter on ghosts is a bit threadbare, too (#reallybadpunintended... y’know, ‘cause sometimes ghosts are sheets 🤷‍♀️👻). Also there are a few typos. But GODDAMMIT (heh), I loved this book & will definitely be purchasing a copy for my shelves (an honor I bestow only upon titles I truly love). The attention paid to both darkness & light - & the genuine reverence shown for both - is worth *your* attention.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Luke Phillips

    The frighteners is an exquisite and excellent exploration of why we are drawn, not to just things that go bump in the night, but things that will drag us off into it to devour our flesh or even our souls. Everything from the paranormal, to movie favourites, and beyond, comes under the microscope as Peter Laws takes a deep look into our evolution and psychology to better understand why we love a good scare. As a reverend, Peter brings an interesting and informed voice that draws on spirituality, t The frighteners is an exquisite and excellent exploration of why we are drawn, not to just things that go bump in the night, but things that will drag us off into it to devour our flesh or even our souls. Everything from the paranormal, to movie favourites, and beyond, comes under the microscope as Peter Laws takes a deep look into our evolution and psychology to better understand why we love a good scare. As a reverend, Peter brings an interesting and informed voice that draws on spirituality, theology, and the practical nature of things in good balance as he explores the role of horror and the horrific in art, literature, and everyday life. I was fascinated from beginning to end, and found the POV very balanced and well investigated. British favourites from the flixton werewolf to numerous hauntings are also visited and commented on. A must for all horror fans, and for those seeking understanding as to why we are fascinated by fear.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Laws seems like a fun and likable guy, but his book disappoints. Both the title and the publishers summary badly mislead the reader as to what this book truly is. I was expecting something more academic, but this is an indulgent memoir populated by pop-psych theories on fear and violence and way too much "me, me, me" from the author. *I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* Laws seems like a fun and likable guy, but his book disappoints. Both the title and the publishers summary badly mislead the reader as to what this book truly is. I was expecting something more academic, but this is an indulgent memoir populated by pop-psych theories on fear and violence and way too much "me, me, me" from the author. *I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lainy

    Time taken to read - in and out over 3 days Pages - 320 Publisher - Icon Books Source - Bought at horrorcon Blurb from Goodreads The Frighteners follows the quest of Peter Laws, a Baptist minister with a penchant for the macabre, to understand why so many people love things that are spooky, morbid and downright repellent. He meets vampires, hunts werewolves in Hull, talks to a man who has slept on a mortuary slab to help him deal with a diagnosis, and is chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac through Time taken to read - in and out over 3 days Pages - 320 Publisher - Icon Books Source - Bought at horrorcon Blurb from Goodreads The Frighteners follows the quest of Peter Laws, a Baptist minister with a penchant for the macabre, to understand why so many people love things that are spooky, morbid and downright repellent. He meets vampires, hunts werewolves in Hull, talks to a man who has slept on a mortuary slab to help him deal with a diagnosis, and is chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac through a farmhouse full of hanging bodies. Staring into the darkness of a Transylvanian night, he asks: What is it that makes millions of people seek to be disgusted and freaked out? And, in a world that worships rationality and points an accusing finger at violent video games and gruesome films, can an interest in horror culture actually give us safe ways to confront our mortality? Might it even have power to re-enchant our jaded world? Grab your crucifixes, pack the silver bullets, and join the Sinister Minister on his romp into our morbid curiosities. My Review Peter Laws is a minister who just happens to love horror, that in itself perks your attention, it isn't something you hear every day to be fair. Laws delves into horror, the movies, themes, actual true events, his experiences and how he came to embrace the genre he loves despite his "day job". I really want to go visit Transylvania after reading this, he went for a big birthday and describes what the place is actually like, the people and things to check out. Just from reading about it, the crosses everywhere, you could totally envision it, I really want to go and check it out, the place of so many movies/legends/stories. He takes us on a journey of some of his favourite movies, what it was that allowed his to embrace his love of horror rather than give it up as he did with so much with his faith. He also chats about how folk react to him when they realise he is a man of the cloth. From hunting down legends of a werewolf, speaking to folk who genuinely believe they transform, examining true horror acts from humans, how kids and adults process some of the most atrocious acts, it is a really interesting read. The book has a few places he has visited and at the back of the book he references things mentioned that you can check out for further reading. I think it is a book I will go back to as there are quite a few movies and things mentioned new to me that I won't remember off the top of my head. For fans of horror who want something a wee bit different I recommend picking up a copy of this, 4/5 for me this time!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Escapereality

    Zombies, Ghosts, Creatures that lurk in the night are just some of the characters we encounter in horror books. I am not a big non-fiction reader (says the person who read two non-fiction books in one month 🙈😂). This book was a total cover buy but I am so glad I bought it. The Frighteners is written by Reverend Peter Laws (yes a Reverend). This might be the coolest priest that has ever existed. A Reverend that loves horror and has struggled to find a balance between horror and his profession. He e Zombies, Ghosts, Creatures that lurk in the night are just some of the characters we encounter in horror books. I am not a big non-fiction reader (says the person who read two non-fiction books in one month 🙈😂). This book was a total cover buy but I am so glad I bought it. The Frighteners is written by Reverend Peter Laws (yes a Reverend). This might be the coolest priest that has ever existed. A Reverend that loves horror and has struggled to find a balance between horror and his profession. He explained that the only thing he loves more than horror is God. The Frighteners eloquently combined his personal experiences by visiting different spooky places and the history behind the horror tropes we love so much. My favorite chapter was the Zombie one. The author actually met George Romero. The chapter not only goes into how zombies came to be but Romero’s huge role in making these creatures mainstream. The book spews so many facts that I found myself googling facts and locations from the book. He has been to so many different places from Transylvania to Werewolf sightings. I found myself grabbing my husband’s hand saying, “did you know?” The book is both serious and extremely funny. Can you imagine two grown men wandering the streets with steaks looking to attract werewolves 👀? I definitely recommend this book to horror fans. Just a note: this book covers only major horror topics like werewolves, vampires, zombies. It does not go into detailed horror topics.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tricia

    This was a very interesting read. Peter Laws is a minister who loves horror movies and the macabre. While that seems like a contradiction, in this book he explains why it is human nature to feel fear and why that is a good thing. The book is well researched (although mostly from his viewpoint) and delves into such diverse topics as horror movies, murder-abilia, the history of paranormal investigation and furry-fandom. It was thought provoking.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    This book written by the ordained Baptist Minister Peter Laws delves into why people love the horror genre. It is informative and humorous at the same time. He talks of all things that horrify us, serial killers, zombies, werewolves, vampires, ghosts and more. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the horror genre, be it in movies, books etc.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    Book received from Edelweiss Review to Come.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I liked this book. It was fun, interesting, at times insightful, and in the end, a Christian’s defense of the value of horror.

  15. 5 out of 5

    laqueus

    I wrote the review for this before I'd finished, and of course it was a bad idea. But i can blame my faulty brain. I started off enjoying it but not loving it. I was annoyed by spelling mistakes, instead of focusing on the story. I ended up loving this book. I'm not sure about 4 or 4.5 stars i cant decide, so i guess 4 for now with the option to upsize. It gave me tonnes of stuff to look up, and reminders about things I already knew but had forgotten. And it showed different theories and ideas a I wrote the review for this before I'd finished, and of course it was a bad idea. But i can blame my faulty brain. I started off enjoying it but not loving it. I was annoyed by spelling mistakes, instead of focusing on the story. I ended up loving this book. I'm not sure about 4 or 4.5 stars i cant decide, so i guess 4 for now with the option to upsize. It gave me tonnes of stuff to look up, and reminders about things I already knew but had forgotten. And it showed different theories and ideas about things I'm interested in and have wondered about. I loved this guys way of thinking, he's how I think all christians/religious people should be: open minded and ok with everyone having different opinions. I loved the 'BookGhoul' at the end, it scared the shit out of me until I realised I didnt have an attic. Phew!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Avery (Book Deviant)

    meh? had more religion than i was hoping for, esp at the end (yea, i know the author is a pastor, that wasnt gonna stop me from reading tho) i guess i just couldnt get over the weird mesh of his friendly writing style with his presentation of facts and evidence. Check out my full review here. meh? had more religion than i was hoping for, esp at the end (yea, i know the author is a pastor, that wasnt gonna stop me from reading tho) i guess i just couldnt get over the weird mesh of his friendly writing style with his presentation of facts and evidence. Check out my full review here.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marc Hendriks

    How I wish I could hold my head high and proclaim that I’m one of those people who emerged from the womb with a taste for all things horror. Instead I was first known as the neighborhood’s Scaredy Cat par excellence, screaming hysterically when a kid from across the street shoved a magazine photo of Michael Jackson in full Thriller make-up in my face. I was a bona fide crybaby, turning on the waterworks if a stranger so much as looked in my general direction. Luckily, there was always my bestie, How I wish I could hold my head high and proclaim that I’m one of those people who emerged from the womb with a taste for all things horror. Instead I was first known as the neighborhood’s Scaredy Cat par excellence, screaming hysterically when a kid from across the street shoved a magazine photo of Michael Jackson in full Thriller make-up in my face. I was a bona fide crybaby, turning on the waterworks if a stranger so much as looked in my general direction. Luckily, there was always my bestie, Jack (a pseudonym—I don’t wish to embarrass him), whose parents allowed only Disney videos to be shown at their place. But then Jack neared the big 1-0 and demanded to be taken seriously as a Big Boy. “Come one, come all,” his 10th birthday bash invitation began, “we’re gonna watch a horror film!” I tried to stay calm by reminding myself that it was statistically quite possible to die in traffic on my way over. No dice. I arrived at his house in one piece and settled in front of the television with clenched buttocks to watch Jack’s pick: Ben, that 1972 flick about a kid’s friendship with the titular killer rat. I wasn’t spooked, I wasn’t afraid, I was … let down. This mellow movie constituted horror? For cear? Seemed an until then silent part of me craved the jolts and excitement horror promised. Soon after that fateful day began my quest for real horror, and The Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Halloween and Aliens delivered in spades. My finds: this stuff rocks! The final step in my “becoming” was chucking out my Hardy Boys books and picking up some Stephen King novels. Anyway, that’s my “origin story” in a nutshell. No-one will bat an eye if you make public your love for musicals, animation, science fiction, or comedy … but declaring your love for the macabre just might raise an eyebrows or two. In all fairness, horror isn’t the only genre with a bad rep: in 1981, Dutch-Indonesian college student Ien Ang wrote a thesis called Watching Dallas, a defense of (liking) soap operas. The thesis became a cultural studies milestone; Ang was offered tenure at the University of Western Sydney. In the same year, Stephen King published Danse Macabre, his defense of the horror genre. “Forever after, I thought, I could choke off the subject by saying: if you want to know what I think about horror, there’s this book I wrote on the subject,” he writes in the introduction. Now we have Peter Laws’ The Frighteners: Why we love monsters, blood, and gore. Its amusing hook: Laws is an ordained minister. If I didn’t know any better, I’d entertain the possibility that he became a clergyman just so he could go by “The Sinister Minister”—he sure seems to get a lot of mileage out of his moniker. In the end it doesn’t matter whether Laws is “The Devious Ditch-Digger” or “The Frightening Fry-cook,” or whatever amusing nickname comes to mind, because The Frighteners works: horror never loses it relevancy; not only is fear of the usual—illness, death—timeless, the specifics of these fears are always in motion: our current world differs from its 1981 counterpart, and Laws adroitly addresses such timely topics as the all-present internet, photo-realistic video games, sociopolitical turmoil. Every chapter basically adheres to the following pattern: Laws introduces a behavior or an act—kids playing with toy guns; moviegoers cheering in unison when screen characters literally lose their heads; people displaying affection for real-life serial killers— that, on a surface level, is (or has become) a cause for concern and argues, backed up by science, that it’s often actually the expression and/or coping mechanism of a sound mind. When Laws can’t refute prejudices (horror, after all, makes the perfect scapegoat for many of society’s ills) or theories (“Violent videogames negatively affect children”), he at least offers some nuance (e.g. at this time it’s impossible to give a definite answer on whether violent videogames have a bad influence or not). Interesting, too, is Laws’ discussion of public information films that traumatized us as kids. These nuggets of horror set out to confront rather than entertain or soothe. (Many parents, prone to knee-jerk reactions, wanted them off the air asap). Here in the Netherlands we missed out on the one where the grim reaper hangs around treacherous waters in wait of reckless kids to fall in, but we did have to cope with an equally terrifying PIF: Watching some older kids play, a little girl is knocked off her feet by a large dog. We take an immediate liking to the kindly boy who consoles her by letting her fly his kite. When it’s his turn with the toy, the young do-gooder walks backwards into the road … and a car hits him full-on. The collision occurs offscreen, but the dog howls in sorrow, the little girl looks on in stunned disbelief, and the limp kite falls into the grasses. You can bet your ass that from then on I looked both ways at least twice before crossing a street. Laws wraps things up with a chapter detailing why he became an ordained church minister. It’s so disarming and candid that it will make you smile. (As for me, I come from a family whose approach to Christianity was one of habit, not devotion. After taking several religions and “spiritual movements” for a test drive in the late 1990s, I settled on agnosticism.) Reading The Frighteners, I frequently nodded my head in recognition and agreement, whispered “Aha” a couple of times, yet never uttered a surprised “Really?” I suppose this is in part because I’ve done some research myself in the past (for college assignments and other writing projects), but mainly because horror fans know, even if only on a gut level, what makes them tick. And here’s the rub: like Watching Dallas and Danse Macabre, The Frighteners first and foremost caters to the people who love what’s on the dissecting table. Will it convert naysayers? I have my doubts. Connoisseurs of the macabre will always be viewed and dismissed as “weird” by some, and that’s fine. The Frighteners succeeds in telling us what us horror lovers need to hear every now and again: that it’s okay to be who we are.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dale Robertson

    What a blast i had reading this. Well written and funny, but also factual and creepy. I found myself nodding along to parts that struck a cord with me, whilst also wanting to explore some of the places Peter has been (trip to Transylvania anyone? Or a werewolf hunt in Hull?) It's a very interesting read, delving into the pyschological aspect of why we like the macabre. Really opened my eyes about some things, not least about parenthood believe it or not! Interested in horror and scary things? The What a blast i had reading this. Well written and funny, but also factual and creepy. I found myself nodding along to parts that struck a cord with me, whilst also wanting to explore some of the places Peter has been (trip to Transylvania anyone? Or a werewolf hunt in Hull?) It's a very interesting read, delving into the pyschological aspect of why we like the macabre. Really opened my eyes about some things, not least about parenthood believe it or not! Interested in horror and scary things? Then this is a must read for you.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Lucia

    Excellent! Review soon on Cemetery Dance Online.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I feel heard/seen. This was such a great novel that heightened my interest in the macabre, while also giving my interests meaning.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hari Raelyn

    TLDR review points: The good: Engaging, funny, well-researched exploration into our and the author’s relationship with horror. The bad: The book looks more at traditional horror (ie werewolves, vampires) than any of the more subtle, psychological horror genres. THE REVIEW: I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I know you’re not necessarily supposed to start reviews with that, but I really can’t. Laws, an ordained minister and horror novelist, takes us on a journey through different places and TLDR review points: The good: Engaging, funny, well-researched exploration into our and the author’s relationship with horror. The bad: The book looks more at traditional horror (ie werewolves, vampires) than any of the more subtle, psychological horror genres. THE REVIEW: I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I know you’re not necessarily supposed to start reviews with that, but I really can’t. Laws, an ordained minister and horror novelist, takes us on a journey through different places and times to analyse why we as human beings love horror so much. From chasing vampires in Transylvania to interviewing furries in Birmingham, it’s clear that the writer wanted to pull from as much experience as possible when writing the book. It works. The books reads like an entertaining BBC documentary. Laws’ writing style lends itself well to casual readers, as the book is peppered with fun anecdotes, and each chapter starts with an experience from his own research written in a suitably faux-gothic style. That being said, evidence is endlessly cited, and Laws often calls upon various psychologists in his pursuit of understanding. The argument that it falls down as an academic piece may be valid IF you were expecting a thesis from a professor of psychology. That is at no point what this book professes to be, and in spite of that still reads as incredibly knowledgable, Em passions and - most importantly - accessible. The book displays a great empathy for horror fans and people living with the lifestyles around horror. Laws shows great empathy and kindness in his portrayal of everyone he interacts with, and allows insights into the lives of many people the average reader wouldn’t necessarily come into contact with. We meet modern vampires, pagans, and serial killer-memorabilia collectors, and we like them all. I will say that the book lacks an exploration of the more subtle horror genres, and opts more for slashers, ghosts and ghoulies. This is where the author’s interests lay, which is perfectly valid - but as psychological horror is my favourite genre, I felt I missed it. This is however, a tiny critique and didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book at all. If you are a witch, life-styler, furry, werewolf, vampire, or general horror fan, you will enjoy this book. You’ll learn loads, and you’ll come out more understanding, and feeling a little more understood than you did before.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lynsey Walker

    The first chapter of this book maybe the most relatable thing I have ever read. Mr Laws talks about clapping his hand together like a Seal as he’s excited to tell someone about something spooky he is doing, and that is basically how I spend my Gothtobers, the reactions we both got are always the same as well. Damn you Basics. This book should be marketed as the ‘Bible for those who love the dark side, and are not afraid to show it’, as EVERY SINGLE point made in it will resonate with you if you l The first chapter of this book maybe the most relatable thing I have ever read. Mr Laws talks about clapping his hand together like a Seal as he’s excited to tell someone about something spooky he is doing, and that is basically how I spend my Gothtobers, the reactions we both got are always the same as well. Damn you Basics. This book should be marketed as the ‘Bible for those who love the dark side, and are not afraid to show it’, as EVERY SINGLE point made in it will resonate with you if you love creepy shit and are having to explain that you don’t actually want to kill people you just like watching/reading stuff about it. I, however, do want to kill people, and I only don’t as I wouldn’t be able to get my nails done in prison. First and foremost this book is a blast to read, as it is well fucking funny, I mean actual LOL moment’s (good job I was reading it inside as if people saw me laughing at a book in public they would think I was even weirder than I look). Mr Laws sounds like a fabulous, normal, interesting bloke who not only loves the darker side of life but has a wickedly dark sense of humour. As well as being all about the bants and LOL’s this book is amazingly well researched and is full of interesting macabre facts and interviews with people from all corners of the horror spectrum, all of whom come across as lovely, weird, well dressed freaks. I mean freak in the best way of course. Not only is this book a love letter to all things strange and unusual it also explains beautifully why we need these things in our life, and why we should embrace them with open arms. It expounds the point that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be Wednesday Addams as to be weird is to be human. Would have got 5 stars but there’s a whole chapter about kids and them being… blah blah…. I hate kids, so I skipped it. Apart from that wee blip, read this and you will clap like a seal in grisly delight!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heather Miller -- Quaint and Curious Volumes

    The Frighteners: A Journey Through Our Cultural Fascination with the Macabre is part memoir, part social commentary, and part weird travelogue. In this book, Laws takes readers on a journey through the land where the horror community dwells. He offers insights both deep and humorous on why a select group of people prefer the scary and dark to the sweet and wholesome, and more importantly: why these people are not really so different than everyone else, and certainly not worthy of scorn or derisio The Frighteners: A Journey Through Our Cultural Fascination with the Macabre is part memoir, part social commentary, and part weird travelogue. In this book, Laws takes readers on a journey through the land where the horror community dwells. He offers insights both deep and humorous on why a select group of people prefer the scary and dark to the sweet and wholesome, and more importantly: why these people are not really so different than everyone else, and certainly not worthy of scorn or derision. Exploring popular tropes like vampires, zombies, werewolves, and ghosts, and delving into horror movies, video games, murderabilia, Furries, Sanguinarians, morbid/violent play in children, the ghost hunting industry, the science of fear and why some people love to be scared, with a final chapter explaining his own personal path to Christianity and how he reconciles his faith in God with his love of the macabre (he is an ordained member of the clergy, after all), this book covers it all. I personally love this book because, as a fellow Christian who loves horror, it was so utterly relatable. It reminded me of that quote by CS Lewis: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” I think I could be friends with Peter Laws. I think we could sit up late into the night discussing the history of vampires and the workings of the Holy Spirit in equal measure, and come out smiling. But don’t let his ministerial position scare you, this is not a book trying to convince you to find religion. Laws is a lifelong lover of horror, and it shows in every word he writes. This book is his tribute to the creepy and the kooky, and all the people who love it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    As the horror-loving husband of a Methodist minister, I must disclose that I feel more or less on Reverend Laws’ wavelength. The book is an allowance for him to ask himself (and the reader, ultimately) what drives us toward that which is considered repugnant, gory, horrific, macabre...you get the picture. We’re given stout proof via scientific studies, articles, etc. that we’re more wired for wanting to lay eyes on nasty happenings; Laws goes toe to toe with furries, the possessed, self-professe As the horror-loving husband of a Methodist minister, I must disclose that I feel more or less on Reverend Laws’ wavelength. The book is an allowance for him to ask himself (and the reader, ultimately) what drives us toward that which is considered repugnant, gory, horrific, macabre...you get the picture. We’re given stout proof via scientific studies, articles, etc. that we’re more wired for wanting to lay eyes on nasty happenings; Laws goes toe to toe with furries, the possessed, self-professed vampires and a werewolf to showcase how some use the darker side of life to find identity, to complete themselves, or to act out. There’s much more, too (even a chapter on the advent of the market dealing in serial killer memorabilia). Presented in a welcoming writing style that’ll have you blowing through the pages in no time flat, Laws is exceptionally gifted at not diddling about regarding the subject matter; sure, most of the chapters are bookended by some trip or experience he’s endured, but it’s craftily buttoned together by the end. In the hands of a lesser author, this book would be more clinical and flavorless. Worth mentioning is a profound chapter on the effect (or lack thereof) of the macabre on children. If you read the book for no other reason, it should be this. Whether you’re searching to understand urges to justify why you feel drawn to the darker side or maybe why someone else would have the gall to, Laws lays it out plainly. Such a worthwhile read. Go for it. Many thanks to NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing for the advance read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alyisha AmesFree

    While I LOVE the supernatural & mildly-spooky, I’m actually not that into the horror genre (movies or literature). I don’t enjoy being scared & I wouldn’t say I have an interest in the “macabre,” just in the “otherworldly.” Regardless, so many aspects of this book SPOKE TO MY SOUL. The way that the author — an ordained Christian minister, strangely (or maybe not so strangely) enough — navigates the terrain between religion & lore totally captivated me. I’m equally interested (in a theoretical way While I LOVE the supernatural & mildly-spooky, I’m actually not that into the horror genre (movies or literature). I don’t enjoy being scared & I wouldn’t say I have an interest in the “macabre,” just in the “otherworldly.” Regardless, so many aspects of this book SPOKE TO MY SOUL. The way that the author — an ordained Christian minister, strangely (or maybe not so strangely) enough — navigates the terrain between religion & lore totally captivated me. I’m equally interested (in a theoretical way) in the idea of god & in the idea of werewolves, so...“Hello, perfect book!” Not only does Rev. Peter Laws explore the (he says natural) interest in “monsters, ghosts, death & gore” but he delves into controversial topics like video game violence & “morbid play” (particularly in children who are trauma-survivors) &, given his profession, he comes down on the issues in ways that may surprise you! He’s funny, smart, & WEIRD -- all narrative (& personal) traits that I admire. If I have any complaint about the book, it’s that he could’ve gone deeper into “scary” issues like race & gender. For instance, despite a chapter entitled “Sister,” there’s no discussion of society’s fascination with witches (& witchcraft’s recent resurgence & link with feminism & politics). The chapter on ghosts is a bit threadbare, too (really bad pun intended). Still, I loved this book. The attention paid to both darkness & light - & the genuine reverence shown for both - is worth *your* attention.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carlita Love

    I had never heard of Peter Laws until I was recommended this book by a friend. Being a bit on the morbid side the title, “The Frighteners: Why We Love Monsters, Ghosts, Death & Gore” immediately piqued my interest & I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. The book had me hooked from the get-go with Peter’s recounting of his trip to Transylvania. Hey, I thought, this guy is cool. The chapter’s title, ‘The Sinister Minister’, had me confused at first, until Peter revealed that the only thing he loves mor I had never heard of Peter Laws until I was recommended this book by a friend. Being a bit on the morbid side the title, “The Frighteners: Why We Love Monsters, Ghosts, Death & Gore” immediately piqued my interest & I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. The book had me hooked from the get-go with Peter’s recounting of his trip to Transylvania. Hey, I thought, this guy is cool. The chapter’s title, ‘The Sinister Minister’, had me confused at first, until Peter revealed that the only thing he loves more than horror is God: he is an ordained Baptist Minister obsessed with zombies, vampires, werewolves & serial killers. I’m fairly sure I’ve never read a book written by a man of the cloth before, but it certainly didn’t feel like I was being preached to. Rather, it felt like chatting with an old friend. The way Peter combines his personal experience with his extensive research makes for very interesting reading. Throughout the book I was grabbing my husband by the arm, desperate to impart the next tidbit of information I’d learned. Did you know, for example, that having a corpse buried in your garden reduces its value by around £50,000? Luckily, my spouse is a bit morbid himself, and is also a sucker for a fascinating fact. I adored this book & I can’t wait to read Peter’s fiction works. That is, if the BookGhoul doesn’t get me first!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jantine

    I received a free copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review. When I saw what this book is about, I instantly knew I had to read it. Since I could read I have loved scary stories, more than my mother liked. As a teen I tended towards being gothic, and I still love horror stories (mostly books btw). And I am a Christian. It often looks like I'm the only one, and now I know I am not. This book gives many wonderful insights in why people tend to like scary, grisly and gory things. Peter w I received a free copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review. When I saw what this book is about, I instantly knew I had to read it. Since I could read I have loved scary stories, more than my mother liked. As a teen I tended towards being gothic, and I still love horror stories (mostly books btw). And I am a Christian. It often looks like I'm the only one, and now I know I am not. This book gives many wonderful insights in why people tend to like scary, grisly and gory things. Peter writes about the many people he met, without judgement, and with genuine interest. His book is personal, and still seems to fit in all kinds of people and their ideas about scary stuff. One of the great parts in the end is, in my opinion, the idea that dark needs light to be scary. Otherwise it's just boring. It reminds me of C.S. Lewis' 'The Great Divorce'. In there, hell to me seemed mostly so very boring, while the people in there did not even realise how boring it all was, nor that they were in hell. It was not scary, it was merely the lack of anything interesting. Goodness and light are needed to make something truly, interestingly scary.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lorin✨

    Have you ever wondered if there’s something wrong with us? Maybe watching a horror film, or listening to a true crime podcast? Recently while putting on a true crime documentary to sleep to, I had a horrible feeling that this wasn’t *normal* - but it’s so popular and common, surely there’s a reason for us loving the violent and frightening? Evidently I’m not the only one to ponder this, as Peter Laws answered all my questions and more about why we, as humans, love all things weird, dark and scar Have you ever wondered if there’s something wrong with us? Maybe watching a horror film, or listening to a true crime podcast? Recently while putting on a true crime documentary to sleep to, I had a horrible feeling that this wasn’t *normal* - but it’s so popular and common, surely there’s a reason for us loving the violent and frightening? Evidently I’m not the only one to ponder this, as Peter Laws answered all my questions and more about why we, as humans, love all things weird, dark and scary. The author’s voice is so authentic and funny, while being informative without info-dumping. Laws is a Baptist minister, who has had to reconcile his faith with his passion for the macabre, and I loved it. Through his experiences at zombie days out, catacombs and in Transylvania of Dracula fame, Laws looks into the sociology and psychology of fear and entertainment. He speaks to experts in the field and uncovers subcultures that may surprise you (real life vampires, anyone?). Clever, passionate and well-researched, this is the perfect non-fiction to curl up with now the nights are longer, or a perfect holiday gift for a horror lover.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Valerie (Cats Luv Coffee)

    I don't read non-fiction. Going through my Goodreads list finds precious few. (Half of those were required "positive thinking" reading by my boss...Excuse me while I hurl.) If I'm going to choose a non-fiction, it has to be something that invokes my curiosity and that thing is usually something morbid, like Ebola, or death, or graveyards. 😸 When I was a child, I loved to read books about all the spooky things. One book that has stuck with me throughout the years is "Alone With the Devil: Famous C I don't read non-fiction. Going through my Goodreads list finds precious few. (Half of those were required "positive thinking" reading by my boss...Excuse me while I hurl.) If I'm going to choose a non-fiction, it has to be something that invokes my curiosity and that thing is usually something morbid, like Ebola, or death, or graveyards. 😸 When I was a child, I loved to read books about all the spooky things. One book that has stuck with me throughout the years is "Alone With the Devil: Famous Cases of a Courtroom Psychiatrist". It was published in 1989. I was 11. My mom told me much later in life that she used to be slightly worried because I had such a strong interest in all things grim and gruesome. I'm almost 40 now, but nothing's really changed. I still love all the ghastly things, but why? Read the rest of the review at Cats Luv Coffee

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jean Seby

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Peter Laws is an author I'm really following right now. I used to listen to his podcast "The Flicks that Church forgot" from time to time. Here, he showed me I didn't truely live my life of horror fan to the fullest. He went out there to meet the horror aficionados in their natural habitat. He is never judgemental while still managing to go to the roots of the different horror subcultures. BBC show, transylvania trip, werewolf hunting, serial killer collector shop...they are all there explained: w Peter Laws is an author I'm really following right now. I used to listen to his podcast "The Flicks that Church forgot" from time to time. Here, he showed me I didn't truely live my life of horror fan to the fullest. He went out there to meet the horror aficionados in their natural habitat. He is never judgemental while still managing to go to the roots of the different horror subcultures. BBC show, transylvania trip, werewolf hunting, serial killer collector shop...they are all there explained: why they can attract people and why it's not that wrong at the end of the day. There is a touching chapter about kids' trauma and the last chapter will resonate with every horror fan. Another winner for Mr Laws who is the author to follow at the moment. Now I should give him my address for the cheque. Instead, I will read his next book.

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