Horror fiction, horror literature and also horror fantasy are genres of literature, which are intended to, or have the capacity to frighten, scare, or startle their readers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. Literary historian J. A. Cuddon has defined the horror story as "a piece of fiction in prose of variable length... which shocks or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing." It creates an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror is usually supernatural, though it can be non-supernatural. Often the central menace of a work of horror fiction can be interpreted as a metaphor for the larger fears of a society.