“‘Well, when a Spectre catch a grown-up, that’s bad to see. They eat the life out of them there and then, all right. (…) At first they know it’s happening, and they’re afraid, they cry and cry, they try and look away and pretend it ain happening, but it is. It’s too late. And no one ain gonna go near them, they on they own. Then they get pale and they stop moving. They still alive, but it’s like they been eaten out from inside. You look in they eyes, you see the back of they heads. Ain nothing there.’” ― Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife
Please allow me to introduce you to the Specters, from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy. Those who know me will roll their eyes and sigh, for I didn’t even succeed in writing a countdown about monsters without including something by Philip Pullman in it. Those who don’t know me: I am a massive Philip Pullman fan, and you will undoubtedly read more about him on this blog.
So why should these Spectres be included in the countdown – apart from the fact that I love these books? Well, in my opinion these are some of the worst monsters ever to appear in print. They feed on people, like vampires, but instead of draining them of their blood, they suck their souls out of them. This may sound familiar, as J.K. Rowling did this too with her Dementors, but instead of leaving people with their worst memories, Pullman decided that people without their souls are much more terrifying: Spectre victims are nothing but empty shells with no thoughts at all. To me the idea of not feeling anything at all is worse than facing any type of monster.
What’s particularly scary about these Spectres, is that they only target adults. They consider children not interesting enough and wait until they’ve grown up. As a result, there are many Spectre-orphans in that particular world (for their parents have become completely indifferent to them), and growing up becomes a most horrifying prospect. Imagine living in a world where reaching adulthood is something to be feared, rather than something to look forward to. I would happily face all the other monsters included in this list (and there are still a couple of particularly frightful ones to come!), as it would mean I could still feel fear, instead of nothing at all.
Have you read Pullman’s books? Do you think Spectres are scary, too? Are there other monsters that are similar to the Spectres? Leave your opinion in the comments!