50 Best Horror Books You Perhaps Shouldn’t Read Late At Night
Some might argue that movies are the best medium to enjoy a good horror story. However, most of the best horror movies were adapted from horror books. The Shining? A novel by Stephen King. Psycho? The entire franchise is loosely based on Robert Bloch's series of novels. Think of Dracula, The Exorcist, Pet Sematary, The Ring, you name it. All your beloved horror films are likely adaptations of some of the best horror books. Psst, an interesting fact: worldwide box office revenue for movies based on books is 53% higher than for movies with original screenplays.
Whether you prefer to indulge in a horror story through a film or a book is entirely up to you. And let's be honest, reading a horror book and watching a movie are two different experiences. While watching a movie, your brain doesn't have to do much. Everything is given and placed in front of your eyes. You don't have to imagine any of the characters or the settings. You sit and enjoy. Or pick at your nails. And creep out at any sudden unfamiliar noise. Be careful while eating that popcorn, kiddo.
However, reading horror novels has quite a few advantages that might make you pick up the book instead. First and foremost, originals are almost always better than their remakes, and there's data to back it up. Besides, movies have time constraints and budget limitations, so films often miss many significant details. Details make the difference, leading to why the best horror novels are usually better than their adaptations. Other than that, books develop imagination and leave space for interpretation, making reading a unique experience for everyone. Also, if the dread is getting a little too overwhelming, you can always close the book and pick it up from where you left off. In the cinema, however, you won't be able to press the pause button anytime you wish. You would definitely get popcorn thrown at you if you did that.
Below, we've compiled a lengthy list of the best horror books of all time. You might be surprised by some of the entries in the list and perhaps disappointed by failing to spot a book you enjoyed. However, the thing about horror is that it's a relatively personal experience. Something that might give you the willies might just be slightly uncomfortable for somebody else, and vice versa. It's all about how the movie makes you feel. And those feelings might differ from person to person. So buckle up and enjoy our selection of really good horror books that deserve to be read by every biblio-phobo-phile.
It By Stephen King
Stephen King never ceases to astound with his sharp intellect and fantastic stories, doesn't he? It seems that a bestselling novelist is always in the mood to frighten readers in the most threatening manner possible. Although It is macabre, vicious, and wrong, the way it is put together draws you into the story until you realize you must keep reading until the end. There's no way out now. You must devour the story to progress through the plot and make it to the epilogue. That said, you should definitely check It out if you liked the movie but couldn't get your hands on the book. But first, make sure your mind is set for it since it will be one heck of a journey!
House Of Leaves By Mark Z. Danielewski
A young family moves into a modest house on Ash Tree Lane, where they quickly learn that something is wrong: the house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The fascinating thing about the House of Leaves is that there are numerous ways you can go about it. You may simply enjoy it as a terrifying tale (that could potentially be true). You may enjoy it as a love story. Maybe a vast collection of riddles and codes. Or you can take pleasure in it as a remarkable reading experience that will rekindle your love of traditional paper books. And whichever path you choose, commit to it. There are moments in this book that are so unexpected and poignant that you simply have to put it down and take a moment to process what you've just read. It's an absolute must-read in our books.
The Shining By Stephen King
For Jack Torrance, a new position at The Overlook Hotel is the ideal opportunity for a new beginning. He will have plenty of time to spend getting back in touch with his family and honing his literary skills as the hotel's off-season keeper. But as the harsh winter finally sets in, the lovely setting seems progressively more remote... and frightening. Danny Torrance, a five-year-old boy with extraordinary power, is the only one to see the odd and terrifying forces assembling around The Overlook Hotel. With the hotel ultimately becoming a character in its own right, this might end up being one of the most evocative books you've ever read. The best time to read The Shining is on a chilly, windy night when you're alone at home and there's a slight chance that your electricity might go out. For this one, lit candles in the background are a must.
The Haunting Of Hill House By Shirley Jackson
The Haunting Of Hill House tells the tale of four "seekers" who arrive at Hill House, a notoriously hostile home. However, Hill House is gathering its might and will soon pick one of them to call its own. As you read the novel, you become engrossed in the mystery and increasing dread of Hill House. Thanks to its eerie, chilling setting, you become captivated by it from the very first page to the very last. After reading this, you'll be terrified of the darkness for many nights to come. The atmosphere and the characters combine to offer a horrific (in the best way possible) piece of writing.
Beloved By Toni Morrison
The tale of Beloved is set in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1873, where former slave Sethe resides with her 18-year-old daughter Denver. However, a house on 124 Bluestone Road, which once had a joyful familial atmosphere, is now grim and unnerving to reside in. It is haunted by the vengeful ghost of Sethe's baby, who perished without a name and whose tombstone only has the word "Beloved" engraved on it. However, there's more to it than meets the eyes. But don't worry, no spoilers here. Beloved is filled to the brim with tales, some tragic, some cruel, some happy, and some full of love. To make the tale appear even more spooky, let me add that it's inspired by the real-life story of Margaret Garner. And needless to say, it's horrifying.
The Little Stranger By Sarah Waters
The plot begins when Dr. Faraday is requested to visit a crumbling ancestral home named Hundreds Hall because one of the servants falls ill. As it turns out, Betty isn't actually sick - she's just frightened by something in the house, and that something is an evil supernatural presence. Set in the late 1940s, The Little Stranger is about an English doctor's relationship with a struggling aristocratic family. They believe that evil paranormal powers are to blame for the bizarre things happening in their house. Going through the pages, you are drawn in and kept captivated by the plot. It's an intense, unsettling, Gothic ghost story. Just a warning, you might not be able to put it down.
Ghost Story By Peter Straub
In the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, four men are haunted by a youthful mistake they made. Soon, they discover what happens to people who think they can cover up their crimes and get away with them. This book does not provide cheap thrills or short frights. The fear is measured in exact and precise amounts, sometimes as predicted and sometimes as not. In terms of the small-town setting, Ghost Story shares quite a lot in common with Stephen King's It, as there are numerous similarities between Derry and Milburn. The entire book has a spooky atmosphere that makes the reader constantly think about what's happening, much like in the whodunit genre (which Ghost Story isn't). However, despite the title, this novel isn't actually a ghost story (spoiler, though a few do show up). This is the novel for you if you want a nicely written, unique, and elaborate horror tale. The definition of a "classic" read in every sense.
Frankenstein By Mary Shelley
Most people have heard of the Frankenstein monster, yet few realize how humane the creature actually is. Developed as a scientific experiment by an overly ambitious man, a Swiss student of natural science, he enters a terrifying and hostile environment that rejects him immediately. Even his maker is horrified when he looks at his creation. This creature, made from various corpse parts, seeks love but discovers hatred. Eventually, he progressively swerves toward evil due to his wrath at the world's unfairness. It's one of those books that, when read again, teaches you something new. It's incredible that a tale written two centuries ago in 1818 can be so engaging and subversive.
A Head Full Of Ghosts By Paul Tremblay
When a fourteen-year-old who lives in a typical suburban New England family starts to exhibit symptoms of severe schizophrenia, it completely upends their lives. Much to the letdown of her parents, the doctors are helpless to halt the girl's slide towards turmoil. They desperately seek assistance from a local Catholic church as their family home transforms into a house of terror. The priest suggests an exorcism. Although A Head Full Of Ghosts isn't particularly gory or frightening in the usual horror sense, it is highly unsettling and unnerving with a sense of urgency that slowly builds up. The closer the ending gets, the quicker you'll turn the pages. As a bonus, true horror fanatics will appreciate finding all the hidden references to different writers and works while flipping through the pages.
Dracula By Bram Stoker
Although Dracula isn't the first novel about vampires, it's definitely the most famous one. Dracula, however, isn't your typical novel; its narrative is told through letters, diaries, and newspaper articles. Other than that, there is no main character. The story begins with solicitor Jonathan Harker traveling for work to stay at the castle of the Transylvanian nobleman Count Dracula. After learning that a client of his firm, Dracula, is a vampire, Harker escapes the castle. Then Dracula relocates to England and terrorizes the seaside town of Whitby. Professor and Dutch doctor Abraham Van Helsing is then in charge of a small gang that goes after Dracula. Over the years, many have tried to replicate this book's mood of fear and horror. However, no creation has been able to capture anything like what Stoker accomplished in Dracula. There is a good reason why this book has been a classic for more than a century.
The Terror By Dan Simmons
Let The Right One In By John Ajvide Lindqvist
Kindred By Octavia E. Butler
Geek Love By Katherine Dunn
The Fisherman By John Langan
Haunted By Chuck Palahniuk
I Am Legend By Richard Matheson
The Only Good Indians By Stephen Graham Jones
Come Closer By Sara Gran
The Complete Short Stories By Edgar Allan Poe
Carrie By Stephen King
Coraline By Neil Gaiman
The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde By Robert Louis Stevenson
Interview With The Vampire By Anne Rice
Something Wicked This Way Comes By Ray Bradbury
Rebecca By Daphne Du Maurier
The Fall Of The House Of Usher And Other Tales By Edgar Allan Poe
Pet Sematary By Stephen King
The Silence Of The Lambs By Thomas Harris
Hell House By Richard Matheson
The Turn Of The Screw By Henry James
Salem’s Lot By Stephen King
Nos4a2 By Joe Hill
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark Collection By Alvin Schwartz
Uzumaki By Junji Ito
The Road By Cormac Mccarthy
We Need To Talk About Kevin By Lionel Shriver
Blindness By José Saramago
At The Mountains Of Madness By H.p. Lovecraft
American Psycho By Bret Easton Ellis
Conjure Wife By Fritz Leiber
The Midwich Cuckoos By John Wyndham
The Amityville Horror By Jay Anson
The Outsider By Stephen King
The Call Of Cthulhu And Other Weird Stories By H. P. Lovecraft
From Hell By Alan Moore And Eddie Campbell
Heart-Shaped Box By Joe Hill
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