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Guest blog by author Bryn Colvin

We’ve just had Halloween, festival of parties, fancy dress and playing with horror. Just like the paranormal romance genre, Halloween is really an exercise in making dangerous things safe and comprehensible. We forget what the monster stories are really for, exchanging them for sparkly vampires who don’t drink blood, werewolves who just want to get laid, and only the kinds of undead who do not exhibit rotting flesh at all.

Monster stories have a purpose. They aren’t kinky romance, they are there to remind us that monsters exist. Most of us won’t have a paranormal encounter, but in our daily lives we can easily come into contact with rapists, abusers, psychopaths. They’ll all be wearing human faces, and none of them are easy to spot.

The real monsters either don’t understand, or don’t care that anyone else feels anything, or they know, and they enjoy causing pain. They are amongst us. Sometimes they sleep in our beds, not under them.

Real monster stories are cathartic. Sometimes seeing the monster taken down can be affirming, reassuring us that there is justice after all. But even if good doesn’t triumph, even if the bad guys get away with it, there’s a release in reading the story. We recognise the monster. We know what they are. One of the worst things about real monsters is not what they do to your body, but what they do to your mind. Believe me, the mind stuff is worse. Bodies heal, or they die. Minds can continue in ways that make every day a living hell. The prison inside your head is the hardest one to escape from. Monster stories help us place the monster on the outside, and help take away the bars we may have on the inside. Sometimes they help us deal with our own monstrosity too, letting us imagine the things we might have done. I don’t think encountering horror necessarily corrupts anyone. I think if you have it in you to be honourable, what horror does is help you affirm your own boundaries and beliefs.

For stories about real monsters, I’d like to direct you to Cain Berlinger’s Dark Side. These are all stories that have come out individually, but if you buy the set it works out cheaper. These are dark, dark tales that you make you shiver, and cringe, and wonder about human nature. Some of them are shocking. It is good to be shocked. It’s a way of reminding yourself that you are indeed, human.