The other night, I heard my neighbors talking underneath my window. They were talking, of course, about the likelihood of running into a clown while out. (I locked my windows.) At the store, I overheard a mother and son arguing over a clown costume: she was anti, he was pro. So what’s with the clown hysteria lately? Rumors of clowns beckoning to children, attempting to lure them into the woods. . . clowns standing on street corners in the middle of the night, waving and smiling at those up late. As far back as August, NPR reported that a sinister clown in Green Bay, Wis. might be a promotional gag for a new movie. Meanwhile, professional clowns report their own fears of loss of income and potential for violence from a public that has been set on edge.
So what’s a reader to do? We suggest some research material, in the form of these creepy clown novels, linked to their Booklist reviews when possible. The more you know, right? (. . . RIGHT?!?)
Bad Clowns, by Benjamin Radford
Why are clowns so creepy, anyway? Radford plumbs the depths of history to figure out how we got to a place where bad clowns have become a cultural phenomenon.
Clown, by Matt Shaw
This horror novel comes with a warning on the cover, a measure that in today’s clown climate is hardly necessary. If you think you know the typical narrative of “clown gone bad,” then you’ll be in for a disturbing surprise.
Dead Clown Barbecue, by Jeff Strand
This collection of short horror stories includes only one anecdote about a clown, but it’s a doozy that makes you realize that you are lucky NOT to live in Jeff Strand’s neighborhood.
Floppy Shoes Apocalypse, edited by John Ledger
This is another collection of short horror stories, but all of them are clown-related. One Amazon reviewer comments that “Pennywise doesn’t look so bad after you read these stories,” which really sold it for me.
It, by Stephen King
Ah, Pennywise, the apex of clown evil. Young friends battle him in Derry, Maine, then return years later to finish the job. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the book is due for a feature film adaptation to be released next year, thus traumatizing those too young to have been permanently scarred by the 1990 miniseries.
When Clowns Attack, by Chuck Sambuchino
Take down a clown before it can take YOU down! Sambuchino lays out a plan of action, including four critical steps: assess, analyze, defend, and protect against clownery and clown foolishness. When your safety is on the line, this humorously dark nonfiction book will soothe your fears and prepare you for the worst.