Singapore has a rich cultural well to draw from when it comes to horror, yet our horror writers and film-makers largely remain under the radar. Older readers may recall with some fondness the Pontianak movies by film studios Cathay-Keris and Shaw Brothers back in the day.
Younger readers may recall Incredible Tales, presented by the incredibly photogenic DJ Utt and Russell Lee’s True Singapore Ghost Stories. The latter is still going strong today, by the way.
As we all get into the mood for Spooktober this year though, why not take a look at other tales of horror whipped up by those familiar with the darker side of our sunny island?
Classic Singapore Horror Stories by Damien Sin
Russell Lee has a way of taking horror and processing them into highly digestible, uniquely Singaporean bite-size snacks. It’s like Pringles but horror stories set in Singapore. So, if you’re looking for more of that, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that one of his ghost writers has penned a series of his own. There are four books in the series. That’s the bad news. There are only four books because the writer, Damien Sin, has since passed away in 2011.
Nightmares series by Pugalenthi
Much like the never-ending Troublesome Night movie series from Hong Kong, the Nightmares series is prodigious. Some of the books are organized by themes. For example, there’s a Army Nightmares book every Singaporean male can relate to. There’s also School Nightmares, Office Nightmares and Night Shift Nightmares, just to name a few. Hey, some of these are so popular they’ve being used in Malaysia in English Language classes!
The Gatekeeper by Nuraliah Norasid
What if Medusa of Greek legend was Singaporean and what if she had a sister? And what if she had to flee, after turning people who wronged her into stone? What if she was rediscovered, after a long time, when Singapore the fishing village becomes Singapore the city? What then? These are just some of the things this award-winning book seeks to discover. Speaking of awards, The Gatekeeper was the winner of the 2016 Epigram Books Fiction Prize, as well as the winner of the 2018 Singapore Book Award For Best Fiction. It was also shortlisted for the 201 Singapore Literature Prize For Fiction. Woah.
Bitter Suites by Otto Fong
From the mind of Otto Fong comes Bitter Suites, a Singaporean tale on the intertwining of horror and social media. For something published in 2013, it’s extremely early 2000s-esque, reminding one of movies like The Ring, One Missed Call and to a lesser degree, The Signal. The premise is this: what if an aging tourist attraction (ahem, Haw Par Villa) somehow fuses with a social network site to wreck havoc on Singapore’s unsuspecting population? Or, if you’ve already seen The Ring, what if Sadako had access to Friendster? Dun dun dunnnn!
Marina Bay Sins by Neil Humphreys
Did you know that Singapore’s best-selling author, the Brit who wrote Notes From An Even Smaller Island, has written a lot of other stuff? Aside from writing children’s books with his daughter, he is also the author of the Inspector Low crime thriller series. A detective series set in modern Singapore, you say? You bet. Humphrey’s wry observations on local culture and cheeky sense of humour is widely stamped on every page. It has everything. A spate of very bad for business, no good murder-suicides at Marina Bay Sands. Glitzy self-help grifters, who may sound a little familiar. Marina Bay Sins is definitely a page-turner. What’s more, the book has a sequel, called Rich Kill Poor Kill.
That’s it for our list of 5 Singaporean horror books to read this Halloween. Are there any books on this list you’ve already read? Did we miss out on some of your favourites? Let us know by commenting on our Facebook page!