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Favorite Horror Tropes

Hey everyone! We hope you have been enjoying Spooky October as much as we have! 👻🎃 Today we welcome another fantastic guest poster, Tasya from The Literary Huntress! Tasya is a fan of lots of genres and mediums, so you always know you will find something interesting and unique on The Literary Huntress. So today we are thrilled to share this post!

Favorite Horror Tropes
by Tasya @ The Literary Huntress

Hi everyone, it’s Tasya here! This past year I’ve been reading a lot of books in the horror/thriller genre and loved many of them. So when Sabrina and Veronika approached me to guest for their Halloween series, I was really excited to do it! Today’s post is all about the tropes in the horror/thriller genre, where I talk about my favorite tropes as well as recommending some media that fits the trope. 

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Urban Legend

This is, hands down, my favorite horror trope. There’s just something chilling about knowing that there’s always a kernel of truth in the story and that the character’s investigation will almost certainly end in doom. This is also a trope that’s close to my heart as my country is still quite superstitious and believes in a lot of urban legends. A lot of them are about old places with bloody history, especially during the Dutch colonization and Japanese occupation, but others occurred in a more modern time (such as this one I talked about last year) 

My love for urban legends is why one of my all time favorite media is the Lore podcast- which investigates and tells the story behind the most famous urban legends and folklore- and the earlier seasons of Supernatural. Some of the creepiest and unsettling books I’ve ever read are also based on urban legends: Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall, The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco, and Light As A Feather by Zoe Aarsen.

Seems Harmless, but Actually Not

These stories always started normal enough, with normal settings or high school gossip and sleepovers. And then it did a 180 when things hit the fan. It lulls the audience into a sense of security, of “this is not scary” and “nothing bad will happen”, only to surprise the audience with the speed and intensity of the mystery. 

One of my favorite horror books, Horrorstor by Grady Handrix, used this trope to start the story. It’s set in a store similar with Ikea so you can imagine the calm and comforting start to the book, only to have me being scared of Ikea after finishing the book 😭 Another book I enjoyed was The Merciless by Daniel Vega- I remember being bored with the beginning and almost DNF it, only to found out it became quite gory and scary once the exorcism starts. 

Dwindling Parties

This is one of the most commonly used tropes in the horror/thriller genre, where a group of people started to die one by one as the story progressed. From And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie to classic movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street and Final Destination, there’s a reason why this trope is popular. As morbid as it sounds, the deaths made the story more interesting as it means that the threat is not holding back and we’re curious of who’s going to survive. 

Aside from the aforementioned media, I recently read The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji. It is a translated work from Japan and has similar elements with Agatha Christie, but it still masterfully builds the tension and creates some interesting twists at the final reveal. 

What do you think?

What are your favourite horror tropes? Do you share any with Tasya’s? Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post? Let us know!


22 thoughts on “Favorite Horror Tropes

  1. I love these tropes! That and ‘the unreliable narrator’..
    I had to bookmark this to revisit later.. I’m not familiar with quite a few of these books and I’m really excited to check them out!
    Thank you for sharing this fantastic post!


  2. I don’t watch a lot of horror movies/read horror books, but from the ones I have, I love the tropes “Urban Legend” and “Seems harmless, but actually isn’t.”
    Awesome post! Xx


    1. I never considered how interesting the dwindling parties trope could be, until you brought it up! I did really enjoy And Then There Were None, and I am looking to watch Nightmare on Elm Street for the first time this month. Great post, Tasya!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved the Girl from the Well duology! Top notch horror with a non-mainstream setting. Urban legends are awesome when they’re done well and put something new on the table (Supernatural, I’m looking at you). And I’m a huge Christie fan, so of course And Then There Were None is another favourite.


  4. Thank you so much Tasya for sharing this post with us on Wordy and Whimsical!! I had a blast reading through it! I love the urban legend + dwindling parties tropes – they are so much fun and can be explored in so many ways. The Girl From the Well is one horror book that will stick with me forever.
    I’m not as big of a fan of the “seems harmless, but actually not” trope, because it’s usually too creepy for me :’) Still, I have wanted to read both The Merciless and Horrorstor for ages! Once again, thank you and great post!


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