When is it horror? Or Fantasy? Or …


Is A Christmas Carol horror?

It has ghosts, right? Actually, there have been a number of essays on whether or not Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol should be considered a horror story.

At the end it doesn’t really matter. It is a great tale. It can be spooky and redemptive. A great and classic tale we should all read (while also enjoying the many movie iterations, including my favorite Scrooged).

What is horror?

Recently, on an episode of the This is Horror podcast, co-host Bob Pastorella was making a compelling argument that horror does not have to be supernatural, or have supernatural elements.

The idea of horror transcends the supernatural. On a level, most murder mysteries, including the most cozy of cozies, are in essence horror. Aren’t there few things more horrific than taking a human life? That’s what most mystery novels are concerned with.

I know that in some ways genre classifications are nothing more than a means to help people find books they might enjoy, but there seems to be quite a bit of overlap.

Southern Reach

Some time back, I read Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. It is book one of the Southern Reach Trilogy and admittedly I’ve not read the other books yet.


It was a short book. Strange, fast-paced, and pretty tense. I enjoyed it immensely.

I checked it out on my Kindle from the local library so I wasn’t paying any attention to the genre listing, but I viewed it as horror. In fact, I’d decided to read it after perusing the Horror Lit subreddit.

Later, reading a science fiction forum, I kept seeing the book referred to as sci fi. I can definitely see that, though it was set in what I view as a modern setting.

Sci-fi/horror hybrid? I guess. But how in the wold could I have enjoyed it then, as I don’t like mixing my genres! Confusion reigns.

In the end

Frankenstein has a monster and scary elements. Why is it only found in the literature section?

A Christmas Carol has ghosts but the same question as Frankenstein applies.

Beloved, by Toni Morrison, is never found in the horror category but I consider it the greatest American ghost story – ever written. And there are scenes that are down right scary.

Does it really matter?

Probably not.


Don’t forget, my mini-short story collection, The Shack and Other Stories, is available for Kindle and in paperback on Amazon, or available from your favorite e-retailer everywhere. Hope you’ll buy about 20 copies!

About EC Morgan 37 Articles
I am a teacher, writer, publisher, and media professional. A stamp collector, judo fighter, and wish I spent more time fencing. Hopefully I'm a good father and a good friend, and I do my best to serve Christ.

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