Horror essays that read like Chuck Klosterman filtered through H. P. Lovecraft.
Slinging ectoplasm, tombstones, and chainsaws with aplomb, Be Scared of Everything is a frighteningly smart celebration of horror culture that will appeal to both horror aficionados and casual fans. Combining pop culture criticism and narrative memoir, Counter’s essays consider and deconstruct film, TV, video games and true crime to find importance in the occult, pathos in Ouija boards, poetry in madness, and beauty in annihilation.
Comprehensive in scope, these essays examine popular horror media including Silent Hill, Hannibal, Hereditary, the Alien films, Jaws, The X-Files, The Terror, The Southern Reach Trilogy, Interview with the Vampire, Misery, Gerald’s Game, The Sixth Sense, Scream, Halloween, The Blair Witch Project, The Babadook, the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Slenderman stories, alongside topics like nuclear physics, cannibalism, blood, Metallica, ritual magic, nightmares, and animatronic haunted houses.
This is a book that shows us everything is terrifying—from Pokémon to PTSD—and that horror can be just as honest, vulnerable, and funny as it is scary.
Peter Counter is a writer exploring ideas of faith, violence, horror, identity and memory though criticism, creative nonfiction, and playwriting. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his partner, their grumpy cat, an old rabbit, and his family Ouija board. Find more of his writing at EverythingIsScary.com.
“Be Scared of Everything is a collection of his writings, covering his family’s relationship with his mother’s Ouija board, the legacy of Lovecraft, essays on his personal relationship with trauma and horror, misanthropy in cosmic horror, and numerous other topics. Counter’s memoir-focused work is the clear standout here, though, his essays unflinching and accessible, his voice ringing out when he talks about his family and his personal life. The collection as a whole is an excellent way to get acquainted with an incredible voice in horror, one who manages to be keen, well-read, conscientious, and heartfelt all at once.”—Tor Nightfire
“Why are we scared? How is this thing scary? Is Hannibal Lecter actually sort of good for society?… Be Scared of Everything is almost like an open mic night on horror topics. It’s the kind of set that makes you silently nod without realizing it and laugh despite the bluntness of it. Deep down, you even know what being said makes sense.”—Fangoria
“Horror often falls prey to gruesome machismo, but Be Scared of Everything returns sensitivity and compassion to the genre. The un- or near-dead prove fine instructors on how to live.”—Canadian Notes & Queries
“Part critical media analysis, part scathing social critique, part personal exposé, Be Scared of Everything is many things at once: a dissection of popular horror conventions and genre expectations; an almost academic-like look at the genre’s social influences; and, a glimpse into the ways in which our pasts and presents, collected and personal, are reflected in the very real horrors we inflict upon ourselves and one another—and those inflicted upon us in turn. Mostly, however, it is a cutting yet surprisingly tender biography of sorts—a life lived with horrors large and small, real and imagined, and those deeply, truly personal.”—Andrew Wilmot, subTerrain
“The essays in Be Scared of Everything are the best body horror amalgam of criticism and biography.”—The Bookshelf
“Counter has an adept critical voice and a deep knowledge of horror films, TV, literature and phenomena, which are found at play in his readings of racism in the work of H.P. Lovecraft or the existential dread of a Silent Hill video game teaser. The essays in which he draws upon his own life experience — including recollections of a traumatic moment in his life, painted with terrible, visceral clarity — are affecting and rich.”—Joelle Kidd, Carousel
“Personal memoir blends seamlessly with timely musings on some of the unique cornerstones of horror culture—from H.P. Lovecraft and Alien to fun family adventures with a Ouija board and discovering the dark and arcane truths embedded within Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This one gives us all the spooky feels but with an honesty that lays bare really what is most essential both in our human nature and at the heart of good horror.”—All Lit Up
“Orwell wrote model essays: articulate without being overdone or impenetrable, and thoughtfully engaged with each subject so that the topic becomes interesting to any reader, even those who weren’t particularly invested at the start. That’s the kind of worthy writing I found here, in [Be Scared of Everything].”—Alex Boyd
“Counter’s brilliant essay collection Be Scared of Everything is a poetic and deeply thoughtful exploration of all the ways that horror permeates our everyday life, in ways both mundane and profound.”—Rue Morgue
“I must say I adored Be Scared of Everything a lot more than I expected. I was looking forward to essays about horror movies but got essays that have changed how I look at horror and have given me a language to discuss what the genre means to me. For that, I am enormously grateful. I’d recommend this to anyone who feels the pull to the dark.”—A Universe in Words
“Be Scared of Everything is a comfy little hideout for fans of horror, sci-fi, the unsettling and the supernatural from prolific pop culture, tech writer, and media critic Peter Counter. A delightful trip into a safe space of nostalgia and vulnerability, it’s like a guided tour back in time.”—Librairie Drawn & Quarterly
“Be Scared of Everything is a command directed at everyone: punks, normies, horror film fans, UFO abductees, telemarketers, pet necromancers, you, no one will leave this book in their current form who permits the devious, curious, always-illuminating Peter Counter over their mental threshold.”—Meredith Graves
“Peter Counter’s Be Scared of Everything is a heady mix of memoir and critical essays. Discerning, unafraid to examine larger questions without easy answers, the collection is also warm and entertaining. The link between the essays and personal reflections on horror is empathy, which is why so many of us continue to be drawn to the genre.”—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World
“Peter Counter’s writing on horror is thoughtful, lively, and strangely touching. From classic movie monsters, to personal demons, to a genuinely surprising (and funny) analysis of Frasier, Be Scared of Everything faces horror’s thrills, problems, and paradoxes, with shades of Noel Carroll, Eugene Thacker, and Stephen King circa Danse Macabre.”—John Semley, author of Hater: On the Virtues of Utter Disagreeability