This site uses cookies to improve user experience. By continuing to browse, you accept the use of cookies and other technologies.

32 Horror Authors Every Scare-Chaser Needs to Know

These must-read horror authors should be on the shelf of every serious horror fan.

The book cover of horror novel Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric Larocca.

Some say we are in a golden age of horror fiction—and with so many horror books available by authors new and old we tend to agree. We asked The Lineup editors and contributors to share their lists of must-read horror authors. 

What follows is an extensive (though not exhaustive) list of 32 horror authors who either helped create, define, or further evolve the horror genre. If these incredible weavers of horror tales don't already grace your shelves, Spooky Season is the perfect time to remedy that!

John Langan

fisherman by john langan

The Fisherman

By John Langan

When asked to provide a list of authors every horror fan should be reading, I decided to go with authors who are alive and working today, rather than old classics. Few authors working today feel  as much like discovering one of those old classics for the first time as John Langan, though. His novel The Fisherman , winner of a Bram Stoker Award, is the perfect place to start with his unforgettable prose, but he’s also the author of numerous short story and novella collections, to pull you into deeper waters. 

Related: 10 Best Horror Books and Paranormal Classics

fisherman by john langan

Edgar Allan Poe

The Complete Short Stories

The Complete Short Stories

By Edgar Allan Poe

While not as explicit in violence and gore as other horror writers, Edgar Allan Poe remains one of the foremost authors to seek out if you love the gothic and the macabre. Although much of Poe's notoriety is as connected to his life—and the mysterious manner of his death—as his writing, we can't deny his legacy. Not only did he influence entire genres like detective fiction, Poe inspired other famous horror authors like H.P. Lovecraft. If you adore darkly romantic stories about lost loves, guilty murderers, madness, and being buried alive, his work will never fail you.

Related: Edgar Allan Poe’s Hair-Raising Classics Come to Life with iPoe  

Maryse Meijer 

Book cover of horror book The Seventh Mansion by Maryse Meijer

The Seventh Mansion

By Maryse Meijer

Maryse Meijer writes like nobody else, in a calm, knowing, completely controlled voice that tells you gorgeous stories of utter chaos. Try The Seventh Mansion , a love story and a death story unlike anything else you’ve ever read.

Related: 14 Psychological Horror Books That Will Mess with Your Head

Book cover of horror book The Seventh Mansion by Maryse Meijer

Searching for chills? Sign up for The Lineup 's newsletter to get terrifying recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.

Kayla Chenault 

book cover of these bones by kayla chenault

These Bones

By Kayla Chenault

I don’t know if Kayla Chenault would consider herself a horror writer but she describes herself as a practitioner of Black Girl Magic, and her debut novel  These Bones  (Lanternfish Press), which came out in September, is billed as folk horror. All I know is that it is an amazing book that combines American history—the real and the imagined—with the beautiful and the horrific in a unique and creative way. 

Related: These Bewitching Folk Horror Books Will Haunt Your Dreams

book cover of these bones by kayla chenault

Graham Masterton

The Manitou

The Manitou

By Graham Masterton

Graham Masterton broke onto the horror scene with The Manitou , a deeply disturbing body horror tale that plays on Native American mythology. Although The Manitou  instantly placed him amongst horror greats like Stephen King, it’s his haunted house story, Charnel House , that keeps me coming back for more. Masterton’s ability to weave in the real horrors of our pasts into a truly chilling narrative is evident time and time again.

Elizabeth Hand 

Wylding Hall

Wylding Hall

By Elizabeth Hand

Elizabeth Hand is an author who isn’t afraid to dip her toe into an array of genres—from science fiction to fantasy to horror, and melding them as she pleases. She has a mastery of dark and Gothic themes, spinning unsettling and heavily atmospheric tales. Her work tends to focus on protagonists involved in some way in artistry and performance, and the novel Wylding Hall , which follows a folk band in an eerie country house, is the perfect snapshot of her talents. 

Related: 6 Unsolved Rock Star and Rapper Deaths

Gwendolyn Kiste

Bram Stoker Award-winning books

The Rust Maidens

By Gwendolyn Kiste

Gwendolyn Kiste’s style is lyrical, haunting, and gripping. She effortlessly blends the grotesque with the beautiful, the fairy tale with the horrific, the mundane with the strange. Her short story collection And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe  reads like a novel, despite the stories not being connected in any way (other than theme.) Often body horror, her work explores the realm of the monstrous feminine. Or perhaps, the ways women have been silenced, contained, and restrained—and how they fight back. Her debut novel The Rust Maidens explores these themes in particularly heartbreaking fashion. 

Bram Stoker Award-winning books

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

best horror books of 2020

Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

She may not be a horror author exclusively, like some of the other names on this list, but Silvia Moreno-Garcia has more than earned a spot here. Her recent bestseller, Mexican Gothic , alone would be enough to guarantee that every horror fan worth their salt needs to know her name, and once it’s got you addicted, you should seek out some of her self-published short story collections, where she conjures up everything from Lovecraftian horrors to wax effigies of Jack the Ripper and so much more!

Related: 12 Haunting Horror Books for Fans of Mexican Gothic

best horror books of 2020

Jonathan Raab

underrated horror books

Camp Ghoul Mountain Part VI: The Official Novelization

By Jonathan Raab

I’m a big fan of what I like to call “fun horror,” and few living authors do it better than Jonathan Raab. He’s a relative newcomer to the scene, but there are big things ahead of him. For those who want an introduction to what he’s capable of, check out Camp Ghoul Mountain Part VI: The Official Novelization . It’s equal-parts Scream -esque deconstruction and paranoid cosmic horror, combining the (fictionalized) novelization of an imaginary late-era slasher sequel with liner notes and behind-the-scenes material that paint and infinitely stranger picture. 

underrated horror books

Shirley Jackson

books for fans of scary stories to tell in the dark

The Haunting of Hill House

By Shirley Jackson

Thanks to the popular The Haunting of Hill House Netflix series, Shirley Jackson's works have never been more well-known or in the spotlight. Given that The Haunting of Hill House was originally published in the late 1950s, its present-day popularity further cements the timelessness of Jackson's fiction. While casual horror readers are likely more familiar with her novels such as the aforementioned Haunting and We Have Always Live in the Castle , Jackson was a prolific short story writer. And of these, perhaps the most famous is "The Lottery," which reveals a sinister undercurrent running through a small American town. 

Related: 13 Terrifying Horror Shows to Watch After You've Finished The Haunting of Bly Manor

books for fans of scary stories to tell in the dark

Lindsay Lerman 

Book cover of I'm From Nowhere by horror author Lindsay Lerman

I'm From Nowhere

By Lindsay Lerman

Lindsay Lerman is steeped in chaos and her scope goes out, out, out to take in the terrors of climate disaster and the empty (is it?) universe beyond us, for a cosmic and deeply human thrill ride. Try I’m From Nowhere , and stay tuned for What Are You .

Book cover of I'm From Nowhere by horror author Lindsay Lerman

Robert McCammon

Boy's Life

By Robert McCammon

Rising to notoriety in the American horror literature boom of the 1970s, Robert McCammon became one of the most influential writers in the game by 1991, with three New York Times bestsellers. McCammon has a consistent mastery of world building, and his stories unfold on paper with visceral immersion. His most well-known and beloved novel, Boy’s Life , is a can’t-miss read that follows a 12-year-old boy through a twisted coming of age after a murder in the 1960s South. 

Related: 12 Creepy Robert McCammon Books That Will Keep You Awake At Night

Hailey Piper

Book cover of body horror book Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper

Queen of Teeth

By Hailey Piper

I haven’t read a Hailey Piper piece (short story, novella, or novel) I could easily put down. Piper burst onto the horror scene in 2018 with The Possession of Natalie Glasglow , which subverts several canonical possession tropes—and she’s not slowing down anytime soon. Her cosmic horror novella The Worm and His Kings topped  “best-of” lists and her gruesome debut novel Queen of Teeth is receiving rave reviews. Her work is riveting, transgressive, challenging, entertaining—and, in Piper’s own words, continues her personal mission to “make horror gay AF.”

Related: 7 LGBTQ+ Horror Authors to Read During Pride Month and Beyond

Book cover of body horror book Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper

Stephen Graham Jones


My Heart is a Chainsaw

By Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is another author who specializes in deconstructing the slasher genre that was the dominant form of American horror film for much of the 1980s. But to say that Jones specializes in anything is to sell the prolific author short – unless that “anything” is creating intensely human characters who thrum with inner life, even while the world around them closes in. His output is staggering, so there are countless places to start, but one of his latest releases is a slasher deconstruction called My Heart is a Chainsaw that is one of the most intense, heartfelt, and transportive reads of recent years.


Paul Tremblay

a head full of ghosts paul tremblay books for fans of the invisible man

A Head Full of Ghosts

By Paul Tremblay

Paul Tremblay’s greatest skill may be his ability to take a single trope or cliché and spin it out into an utterly chilling, original tale. Whether he starts with possession, disappearances, home invasion, or raging disease, each of his horror books have left me with as many questions as I have chills. Although I have yet to be able to read Survivor Song while we’re still living amidst a pandemic, I’d recommend A Head Full of Ghosts as a starting point for any reader. 

Related: Paul Tremblay: Where to Begin with the Stoker Award-Winning Horror Author of A Head Full of Ghosts

a head full of ghosts paul tremblay books for fans of the invisible man

Gemma Files

The Worm in Every Heart

The Worm in Every Heart

By Gemma Files

First making her entry into the writing scene with short stories that appeared across various freelance periodicals, the majority of Gemma Files’s work has one foot in fantasy and one foot in horror. Her novels span the subjects of witches to demons to goddesses. While every one of her works is great, I can’t recommend enough her short story collection The Worm in Every Heart —short fiction is where she shines. 

Max Booth III

Book cover of We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III now a motion picture by Josh Malerman's production company.

We Need to Do Something

By Max Booth III

Max Booth III came to my attention when I wrote the foreword for Miscreations , an anthology of short stories about literal and figurative monsters. His story, “You Are My Neighbor”, was one of the best of the bunch and I’ve been following him ever since. He wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of his novella We Need to Do Something , which was produced by bestselling author Josh Malerman’s  Spin a Black Yarn  film production company, and the resulting movie is available to stream for rent from Amazon Prime and other platforms, and has also been screened at various film festivals and theaters across the country. 

Related: 10 Disturbing Small Press Horror Books to Read this Fall and Winter

Book cover of We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III now a motion picture by Josh Malerman's production company.

Matthew M. Bartlett

weird fiction books creeping waves matthew m bartlett

Creeping Waves

By Matthew M. Bartlett

Proof positive there’s no right or wrong way to carve out a place for yourself in the world of writing, Matthew M. Bartlett got started self-publishing his bizarre, incantatory, hallucinatory pieces. Once the rest of the world caught on, though, his star rose, and Bartlett recently found himself the subject of a tribute anthology called Hymns of Abomination . While his books are chiefly short story collections, they actually read more like strange mosaic novels, made up of seemingly unrelated vignettes that somehow coalesce into something that grips you like a bad dream and won’t let go. One of my favorites from among his works is Creeping Waves , and he also has a Patreon , where subscribers can receive a steady injection (infection?) of his creepy tales. 

weird fiction books creeping waves matthew m bartlett

Carmen Maria Machado

Short story collection Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body and Other Parties

By Carmen Maria Machado

A writer whose works run across multiple genres, Carmen Maria Machado is an author to check out if you like re-examining the horrors of every day through a speculative lens. Her work thus far mostly exists in the form of short fiction—an ideal format for horror stories, to be sure—and her short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties , contains an excellent sampling of her bibliography. Standouts include "The Husband Stitch," which riffs on the classic scary story, "The Girl with the Green Ribbon," through the perspective of a coercive heterosexual relationship and "Especially Heinous," which takes a hard look at our love of a certain type of crime story through the longevity of television series like Law and Order. 

Related: Gripping Horror Books for Fans of Carmen Maria Machado

Short story collection Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Adam Nevill

summer horror novels

By Adam Nevill

Adam Nevill is the king of folk horror, in my opinion. His novel The Ritual —also adapted into a film for Netflix—is the terrifying tale of four friends who wander off the beaten path into the dark woods only to discover that chilling old rites still take place there. Nevill revisits the realm of folktale, legend, and ancient rituals in his novel The Reddening —but really, all his novels and short stories are well worth your time. 

summer horror novels

Cina Pelayo

Book cover of horror novel Children of Chicago by Cina Pelayo

Children of Chicago

By Cina Pelayo

Cina Pelayo is an author and poet of truly unique and gripping works. Nominated for a Bram Stoker award on two separate occasions, Pelayo has also been nominated for multiple International Latino Book Awards. Her works are driven by a strong sense of identity, and like her amazing collection of short stories— Loteria —centered around Latin American myth and superstition, her latest novel, Children of Chicago , taps into the folklore of the Pied Piper set in modern-day Humboldt Park. 

Related: 10 Gripping Books by Women Crime Writers

Book cover of horror novel Children of Chicago by Cina Pelayo

The Collected Ghost Stories of M.R. James

By M.R. James

And for classic and dire disturbance, get to know the short stories of M.R. James. There’s a reason his work is still being read after all these years, and it’s waiting, quiet, patient, remorseless, just for you. 

The Collected Ghost Stories of MR James, classic horror stories

Tananarive Due

My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

My Soul to Keep

By Tananarive Due

Many people may be more familiar with Tananarive Due because of her educational work regarding Black horror and afrofuturism, but she has penned many novels and short stories. The horror genre has a reputation for being very white, and Due's work has been pushing back against that for decades. Black culture and history pervade her fiction, reminding us that horror is both universal and unique to the backgrounds that inform it. 

Related: 25 Female Horror Writers That Will Haunt Your Bookshelves Forevermore

My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

Victor LaValle

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, cosmic horror

The Ballad of Black Tom

By Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle seamlessly blends lyrical prose with compelling plots and philosophical ponderings with heart-pounding horror. His powerful novella The Ballad of Black Tom tackles the complicated work of paying homage to the grandfather of cosmic horror (H.P. Lovecraft) while simultaneously confronting Lovecraft’s racist ideologies. LaValle’s novel The Changeling blurs the lines between fairy tale and horror, revealing the inseparable link between the two. LaValle is an author to read when you want to be both challenged and awestruck. 

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, cosmic horror

Ronald Malfi

Floating Staircase

Floating Staircase

By Ronald Malfi

Ronald Malfi is perhaps the current king of literary horror—if you’re into A24 films, you may find your way into horror fiction through his work. His work is the type that settles into your bones and chills you long after you finish a tale, whether it features a seemingly-magical lake, a hallucination-causing disease, or a Floating Staircase . 

Related: Ronald Malfi: Where to Begin with the Bestselling Horror Author

the cipher by kathe koja

By Kathe Koja

Kathe Koja is in a league all her own. I recently read The Cipher for the first time and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. With its stream-of-consciousness style, it’s dark, it’s nasty, it’s bizarre, it’s unsettling—once you’ve taken a trip down the funhole, you won’t forget it anytime soon. And that’s just the starting point. Koja’s work is strange, eerie, and philosophical. You’ll be entertained while also invited to go a little bit farther—a little deeper down the funhole, let’s say—than what you think is possible, every time. 

the cipher by kathe koja

By Junji Ito

Horror is one of the most popular manga genres and when it comes to horror manga, no one is more famous than Junji Ito. The creator of countless horror series, his manga spans the gamut from the otherworldly terror of Uzumaki to the devastation wrought by relentless feminine rage in Tomie . And many an internet denizen has probably seen panels taken from the now-infamous "The Enigma of Amigara Fault" in which people are drawn to mysterious people-shaped holes carved into a mountainside. There's no better time to check out Junji Ito's work because thanks to the current manga boom in North America, so much of his catalog is now available in English. 

Uzumaki by Junji Ito

Josh Malerman

A House at the Bottom of a Lake Josh Malerman

The House at the Bottom of a Lake

By Josh Malerman

Like many readers, my first encounter with Josh Malerman’s work was with Bird Box . I read it in the middle of a snowstorm, but as the snow piled up outside I was inhaling pages beneath my blankets. My relationship with Malerman’s work has been like that ever since—just a constant, incessant devouring of anything and everything he puts out. As a writer he’s hard to classify, because all his books tackle varying subjects and forms. One thing is for sure—his writing can turn your blood cold, and his imagination is unparalleled (the underwater haunted house in A House at the Bottom of a Lake ? I mean?)

Related: Josh Malerman: Must-Read Horror Books by the Stoker Award-Nominated Author, Including the Blinding Terror of Bird Box

A House at the Bottom of a Lake Josh Malerman

Rachel Harrison

The Return by Rachel Harrison

By Rachel Harrison

Rachel Harrison written two wildly different novels: The Return , which is a New Adult horror-thriller, and most recently, Cackle , a charmingly sweet tale of female empowerment through magic. What both novels have in common is an uncanny understanding of Gen Y, what the current crop of 20- to 30-year olds lust and long for. Having her finger on the public’s pulse is Rachel’s superpower. 

The Return by Rachel Harrison

Eric LaRocca

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, body horror by Eric Larocca

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke

By Eric LaRocca

Eric LaRocca is a prime example of modern horror. With the way that his work is creating buzz all across TikTok, readers at large certainly seem to think so, too. While LaRocca’s work is extremely dark, as a queer writer he uses writing as a safe place to explore the ins and outs of identity. Be it poetry, short stories, or full-length novels, LaRocca gets to the heart of human fear. His latest novel, Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke , is a deeply psychological terror centered on two young women filled with horrific desires. 

Related: 10 Disturbing and Controversial Horror Books

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, body horror by Eric Larocca

By Alma Katsu

2018’s The Hunger may have been the first you heard of Katsu, but the author had long been honing her craft through a variety of short stories and a trilogy of supernatural thrillers. The Hunger , her first true horror novel, explores the idea that something beyond bad luck may have been dogging the Donner Party. Equal parts historically enthralling and chillingly spooky, Katsu’s horror tales are the perfect treat for those of us who grew up with the strange combination of Dear America books and classic horror movies. 

authors to check out after stephen king

Brian Evenson

Father of Lies

Father of Lies

By Brian Evenson

Brian Evenson’s minimalist style makes his stories a pleasure to read, despite the challenging topics he tackles. Known for stepping outside the box, his work is difficult to categorize because it often blends, mashes, and transcends genre. That said, he makes frequent appearances in the anthologies curated by Ellen Datlow. His first book Altmann’s Tongue was considered so gruesome, he was asked to step down from his teaching position at BYU. His 2016 psychological thriller Father of Lies  explores power, madness, and the hypocrisy of religious leaders—a morally unsettling tale that illustrates Evenson’s depth and range. 

Related: Brian Evenson: 8 Tales of Psychological Terror by the Modern Horror Author

Get our eeriest tales and best book deals delivered straight to your inbox.



  • We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Become a Writer Today

15 Best Horror Authors You Must Read

Here are 15 of the best horror authors and their most well-known works. 

The best-selling horror novels will send a shiver up your spine and leave you reeling for days, if not weeks, on end. Whether you’re looking for a classic ghost story or real-life serial killer scares, these 15 horror story authors are a great option to keep you up at night and leave you rattled during the day. Browse our list of the best books in the horror fiction niche and find where to get them on Amazon. And if horror is your thing, check out our spooky adjectives for your next story.

1. Stephen King

2. bram stoker, 3. shirley jackson, 4. clive barker, 5. dean koontz, 6. anne rice, 7. edgar allan poe, 8. h.p. lovecraft, 9. ramsey campbell, 10. richard matheson , 11. peter straub  , 12. ray bradbury  , 13. dan simmons , 14. daphne du maurier, 15. jack ketchum, final word on the best horror authors and their books , faq on the best horror authors, best authors reading list.

YouTube video

Best horror authors

Stephen King is arguably one of the best horror writers on this list and one of the most popular among horror fans. His first professional sale was in 1967 for a short story published in Startling Mystery Stories . His debut novel Carrie was published in 1971, and King continues to publish short stories and horror books to this day over six decades later. King is a New York Times bestselling author and lives with his wife, sharing their time between Maine and Florida depending on the season.

Best Works 

  • Pet Semetary ,  $13.99
  • The Shining , $8.99
  • The Stand , $9.99
  • Carrie , $8.99
  • ‘Salem’s Lot , $8.99

Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker is synonymous with vampires, having written the original  Dracula.  Originally named Abraham Stoker, this Irish gothic author lived between 1847 and 1912, when he died after suffering several strokes. In 1987, the  Bram Stoker Award  was established and has been awarded every year since 1988. Popular Bram Stoker Award winners include other horror authors on this list, like Dean Koontz, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and more. 

  • Dracula ,  $3.99
  • Dracula’s Guest , $0.00
  • The Jewel of Seven Stars , $0.99

Shirley Jackson

Born in 1916, American author Shirley Jackson wrote horror books like  The Haunting of Hill House,  published in 1959, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle . The latter is regarded as one of the best ghost stories of all time. Sadly, Jackson passed away in 1965 before her work found mainstream success. Looking for more sci-fi novels to add to your reading list? Check out our round-up of the best authors, like Stephen King .

  • The Haunting of Hill House ,  $11.99
  • The Letters of Shirley Jackson , $14.99
  • We Have Always Lived In the Castle , $12.99
  • Dark Tales , $5.99

Clive Barker

English man Clive Barker  is a well-known playwright, film director, and horror author. Clive Barker merges horror and high fantasy, refusing to abide by the traditional rules. His debut set of short stories, The Books of Blood , received high praise from Stephen King.

Several of his stories have been made into movies, including Hellraiser and Candyman . In addition, Barker received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Gods and Monsters , a period drama published in 1998 about the last days in the life of another esteemed film director, James Whale.

  • Books of Blood, Volume 1 ,  $3.99
  • The Hellbound Heart , $11.99
  • Weaveworld , $3.99

Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz is another popular New York Times bestselling author with some of the best horror novels and novellas under his belt. It’s hard to decide which book of his is the scariest; there are so many to choose from.

Whether you’re looking for a horror story about phantoms, ghosts, serial killers, or even horror novels with a bit of science fiction thrown in, Koontz is an ideal choice. Koontz’s horror books read quickly despite their intimidating volume, keeping readers on their toes and guessing about what may be coming next. You might be interested in exploring horror books, such as the best Michael Crichton books .

  • The Other Emily ,  $2.49
  • 77 Shadow Street , $9.99
  • The Lost Soul of the City , $1.99
  • The Servants of Twilight , $7.99
  • The Night Window: A Jane Hawk Novel , $9.99

Anne Rice

Anne Rice is best known for her series The Vampire Chronicles , including the novel Interview With a Vampire . The first book in the series introduced us to Lestat and Louis, later played by Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in the movie of the same name. Since 2008, Rice has sold more than 80 million copies of her debut novel, which remains one of the best books about vampires in the entire horror genre. Sadly, she passed away in 2021.

  • The Vampire Chronicles,  $8.99
  • Blackwood Farm,  $8.99

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allen Poe is perhaps one of America’s most beloved poets and short story authors, having written classic works like The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart . Poe lived between 1809 and 1849, with his death being just as mysterious as his life. A great deal of speculation surrounds his manner and cause of death, which is technically marked as “phrenitis,” a condition that caused brain inflammation and was often used in cases where the actual cause was unknown.

  • The Raven ,  $0.00
  • The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories , $2.99
  • The Fall of the House of Usher , $0.99

H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft  is an acclaimed short story author from Rhode Island, born in August of 1890 to parents Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft and Winfield Scott Lovecraft. H.P. showed an early interest in the English language, reciting poetry at just two years of age.

He began reading a year later at the age of three and writing his own work at around six. Lovecraft suffered from severe mental illness throughout his life and later supported himself through ghostwriting and revising work for other authors. He died in March of 1937 of intestinal cancer. 

  • The Call of Cthulhu ,  $3.99
  • At the Mountains of Madness ,  $7.89
  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward , $3.99
  • H.P. Lovecraft Tales of Horror , $7.99

Ramsey Campbell

Ramsey Campbell is one of the most awarded authors in the horror book genre. He has been awarded the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association, and the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention. Campbell is described by The Oxford Companion to English Literature as “the most respected horror writer” in all of Britain. He currently resides in Merseyside.

  • The Darkest Part of the Woods
  • Born to Dark
  • The Searching Dead
  • Alone With The Horrors

Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson is a popular science fiction, horror, and fantasy author and screenwriter. Many of his books have been adapted for the big screen, some more than once, such as  I Am Legend,  most recently starring well-known actor Will Smith.

Matheson published his first short story at just eight years old, inspired by the 1939 movie  Dracula . After serving during World War II, he attended the University of Missouri, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. Matheson died at age 87 in his Los Angeles home in 2013. 

  • Hell House ,  $11.99
  • I Am Legend , $0.99
  • What Dreams May Come , $11.99
  • A Stir of Echoes , $11.99
  • Somewhere In Time , $8.99

Peter Straub

Peter Straub  is a famous American poet and novelist with dozens of horror fiction books under his belt. Having co-written  The Talisman  with fellow horror author and close friend Stephen King, Straub has left a significant mark on the genre.

His unique works have enjoyed literary success, winning the Bram Stoker Award, the International Horror Guild Award, and the World Fantasy Award. Straub enjoys spending time with his family in his Milwaukee brownstone in his spare time. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and Straub’s adult children also found careers in writing and film. 

  • Koko (Blue Rose Trilogy Book 1) ,  $8.99
  • Mystery (Blue Rose Trilogy Book 2) , $2.99
  • The Throat (Blue Rose Trilogy Book 3) , $8.99 
  • Ghost Story , $9.99
  • Floating Dragon: A Thriller , $7.99

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury  is a cherished American author of short stories and poetry. Born in Illinois in 1920, Bradbury spent his childhood in small towns, an aspect of his life that he would use to flavor his work throughout his lifetime.

He died in Los Angeles, California, in 2012 after a long career of successfully publishing more than 50 novels and over 400 short stories. Bradbury is best known for  Fahrenheit 451 , a dystopian novel named after the temperature at which books burn, depicting a future society where literature is illegal.  

  • Fahrenheit 451: A Novel ,  $12.99
  • The Martian Chronicles , $9.49
  • The Illustrated Man , $10.99 
  • Dandelion Wine (Greentown Book 1) , $15.99
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes (Greentown Book 2) , $3.99

Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons is an American writer of horror books and science fiction literature. He began his career by publishing his work in the  Twilight Zone Magazine,  winning first place. Simmons has since won the World Fantasy Award for his work on  Song of Kali,  the Locus Award for his  Seasons of Horror  series,   the Bram Stoker Award, and has been nominated for the British Fantasy Award. One facet that separates Simmons’ work from other horror authors is that he often blends genres to create wholly unique worlds that transport readers somewhere else entirely. 

  • Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, Book 1) ,  $3.99
  • The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, Book 2) , $5.99
  • Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, Book 3) , $7.99
  • Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, Book 4) , $8.99
  • Children of the Night: A Vampire Novel , $11.99

Daphne Du Maurier

Born in 1907, Daphne Du Maurier  is the author of the esteemed horror novel  Jamaica Inn , a thrilling mystery about a woman who moves in with her Aunt and Uncle to a home located in a dangerous part of town. Although Du Maurier is most well known for her romance novels, most of her writing has elements of horror and the paranormal woven in to create a multilayered work of fiction. Du Maurier, aka Lady Browning, passed away in 1989.

Looking for more? Check out these essays about Frankenstein .

  • Jamaica Inn , $14.40
  • Rebecca , $14.86
  • Frenchman’s Creek , $12.66
  • The House on the Strand , $7.99
  • The King’s General , $2.99

Jack Ketchum

Jack Ketchum  (real name Dallas Meyr) is a popular American novelist with a penchant for writing best-selling horror. Stephen King has called Ketchum “the scariest guy in America.” Ketchum spent time as a lumber salesman, teacher, performer, and literary agent to make ends meet between publishing novels.

Five of Ketchum’s books have been adapted to the big screen, and his work  The Crossings  was mentioned in a speech at the National Book Awards in 2003 by Stephen King. Sadly, he died in 2018 after a long battle with cancer at the age of 71. You might also be interested in these articles about Frankenstein .

  • The Girl Next Door ,  $1.99
  • Off Season ,  $3.99
  • Offspring , $3.99
  • The Woman , $4.99
  • Red , $3.99

If you fancy trying your hand at writing fiction, check out our list of the best books to help you along the way.

Read one of these great horror books by some of the genre’s most well-known and beloved writers if you’re looking for a great scare. Good horror authors will be able to draw you into their original storylines and thrilling plots, regardless of which book or short story you select. Social Media is a great place to connect with your favorite horror authors. Check out our post on the best authors to follow on Twitter .

What do I need to look for in a great horror writer?

The greatest horror writers aren’t always the ones with the most published novels. Instead, seek authors that employ topics you enjoy, like romance or science fiction components. Book reviews are a great way to find out what other people have to say about the work but beware of potential spoilers.

How do I choose a horror novel to read?

To begin with, you shouldn’t judge a book by what’s on the cover. So ignore recommendations, imagery, and even the title. Instead, skim through the first few chapters to see whether you enjoy the horror writer’s style and if you can immediately envision the characters, setting, and other key horror story elements.

How scary is too scary? 

There’s no limit on the scariest of scares. Horror authors are constantly pushing the boundaries of thought-provoking literature, delivering chills and thrills with every novel. Reading reviews can help you identify any potential triggers to avoid books with particular themes that may be especially upsetting. 

What authors from the 1800s inspired horror films?

Horror isn’t a new phenomenon, with some of the classic books within the genre even going on to inspire some contemporary horror films. For instance, Frankenstein was first published in 1818 and there have been at least 20 movies made that were inspired by the story. Dracula (1897) is another iconic 1800s horror novel that has inspired its fair share of film adaptations .

Who are the most famous Gothic horror authors?

Bram Stoker is probably the most famous classic horror author. His masterpiece, Dracula, continues to inspire writers within this genre. There is even an annual festival dedicated to his work in Dublin each year.

Who is the best-selling horror author?

When discussing best-selling authors, it is difficult to look past Stephen King. It has been estimated that King has now sold over 350 million books. His work has also had countless television and film adaptations.

Best Historical Fiction Authors

Best Science Fiction Authors

Best American Authors

Best Self-Help Authors

Best Crime Thriller Authors

Best English Authors

Best Fantasy Authors

Best Children’s Books Authors

Best Romance Authors

books horror authors

Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.

View all posts

100 Best (and Scariest) Horror Books of All Time

Join Discovery, the new community for book lovers

Trust book recommendations from real people, not robots 🤓

Blog – Posted on Monday, Feb 04

100 best (and scariest) horror books of all time.

100 Best (and Scariest) Horror Books of All Time

The definition of scary changes from person to person. For some, it might be ghosts and haunted houses. For others, serial killers. For still others, the most frightening things are the ones that go bump in the night, unseen.

Despite the width of this spectrum, what unites all lovers of horror is the thrill that horror novels inspire within us: that universal sensation of your heart thumping out of your chest, as cold sweat breaks on your forehead when you turn the page.

To create this list, we went to the darkest, most ghostly corners of the literary world. Without further ado, here are the 100 best horror novels of all time — it's safe to say that we hope they'll keep you up at night. Happy reading!

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of great horror books out there, you can also take our 30-second quiz below to narrow it down quickly and get a personalized horror book recommendation  😉

Which horror book should you read next?

Discover the perfect horror book for you. Takes 30 seconds!

1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

Is there a name more synonymous with horror? The story of Dr. Frankenstein and the anguished, tragic monster he unwittingly creates has become a cultural icon, both macabre and quintessential. When Mary Shelley set out to write Frankenstein over two centuries ago, she said that she wanted to create a book that would “speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.” We can safely say that she succeeded.

2. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym is a mixture of Moby Dick-esque maritime detail (it later inspired Herman Melville) and H.P. Lovecraft-style cosmic horror . The titular Pym stows away on the Grampus, a whaling ship headed for southern waters. But after mutiny breaks out on the upper deck, Pym is left stranded by one of his friends, only to face a series of gruesome situations once he’s retrieved.

3. The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales by Edgar Allan Poe (1839)

Could you really call a list of the best horror books complete without a nod (or two) to the genius of Edgar Allan Poe? Sibling dynamics are given new meaning in The Fall of the House of Usher , a work of gothic fiction that centers on a spooky household. Roderick is a sick man with acute sensitivity to everything, who lives in constant fear he is about to die. His sister, Madeline, suffers from catalepsy (a sickness involving seizures). An unnamed narrator visits them both and gets more than he bargained for.

4. Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell (1851-1861)

Just as the tin says! Gothic Tales is a collection of (surprise!) gothic tales — more specifically, fairy tales intertwined with short stories. Written by 19th-century author Elizabeth Gaskell, these stories deliver everything: disappearances, Salem witch hunts, mysterious children wandering lost in the moors, and local legends that may or may not return to haunt the townspeople. And with every story, Gaskell shows her uncanny talent of blending reality and the supernatural with spine-tingling dexterity.

Looking for something new to read?

Trust real people, not robots, to give you book recommendations.

Or sign up with an email address

5. Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1872)

Before Dracula , there was Carmilla . This tale of a female vampire who attracts a lonely young girl served as the foundation for the “lesbian vampirism” trope (and, no doubt, inspired Bram Stoker to some extent as well). So fans of the emerging cult classic Jennifer’s Body , you’ve found your literary horror match.

6. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

Meet the most famous vampire of all time. Dracula was born out of Bram Stoker’s imagination over a century ago — yet he still lives on today in our collective consciousness. Dracula is his story, one in which he roams from Transylvania to England to spread the curse of the undead amongst innocents. More than a simple tale about vampirism, Dracula is an era-defining masterwork about sexuality, technology, superstition, and an ancient horror that’s too terrible for words.

7. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

The Turn of the Screw is the original children of the damned! When a governess is hired to take care of Miles and Flora, the niece and nephew of a wealthy Englishman, she has no idea what she’s in for. As she discovers the tragic fate of her predecessor, she starts seeing things that can only be explained in one of two ways: either she’s mad… or the specter of the late governess wants her job back!

8. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft (1928)

Perhaps the most influential of American horror writers, H.P. Lovecraft was responsible for creating an entire mythology of elder gods, sinister sea-dwellers , mysterious cults, and men of science who are driven to the edge of their sanity. The Call of Cthulhu remains one of the most accessible entry points into Lovecraft’s works — some of which, if we’re being honest, are a bit hard for the uninitiated to follow.

9. Collected Ghost Stories by M. R. James (1931)

M.R. James essentially originated the “antiquarian ghost story.” Indeed, his writing was revolutionary for its time, discarding old Gothic clichés and using more realistic settings — which as we know by now, only makes a scary story scarier. His Collected Ghost Stories includes a whopping 30 tales, most of which involve a mild-mannered academic stumbling upon an artifact that calls forth some malevolent, otherworldly presence. Yes, the ghosts are fascinating; but what’s really admirable here is James’ signature subtlety of style.

10. At the Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft (1936)

This post-Cthulhu novella by Lovecraft is so long and twisty that even Lovecraft himself couldn’t get it published at first. At the Mountains of Madness relates the horrifying details of an Antarctic expedition gone wrong, in which the remains of a prehistoric species seemingly came to life and slayed humans. As the narrative spirals further, both the characters and the reader come to realize that instead of a life-changing discovery, the explorers may have brought about a death-wracking monster.

11. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

“Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Perhaps the most famous first line of any novel in the 20th century, this intoxicating blend of romance and suspense was seemingly made for Alfred Hitchcock, who went on to direct Rebecca 's silver screen adaptation. After a whirlwind romance, a shy American marries a wealthy Englishman and returns to his estate in Cornwall. She soon realizes that she’s now living under the (literal or figurative) shadow of her husband’s first wife: the seemingly perfect and recently deceased Rebecca de Winter.

12. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

One man’s hero is another man’s villain. If there’s only one lesson we learn from Matheson’s survival classic, let it be that. Doctor Robert Neville is the last man left alive. In the daylight, he hits the streets, stocking up on supplies and vanquishing the vampiric creature that lurk in the shadows. But when night falls, he squirrels himself away in his fortress of a home and works desperately on a cure for an epidemic that has ended the human race.

13. The Bad Seed by William March (1954)

Now synonymous with any misbehaving child, the original “bad seed” was Rhoda Penmark, the sociopathic eight-year-old. Her mother Christine suspects her of hurting and possibly killing a classmate, an elderly neighbor, and even her own dog — and as Christine discovers the truth about her own mother’s dark past, she realizes that Rhoda has to be stopped at all costs, before The Bad Seed sprouts any further.

14. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

You know how some people say that the setting is almost like another character in the story? Well, in the case of this spooky classic, that’s the literal truth. When a parapsychologist invites a group of volunteers to stay at an old mansion with a bloody mystery, he hopes to uncover evidence of the supernatural. As the tension ratchets up, each of the guests is confronted by inexplicable phenomena. Listed by Stephen King as one of the best horror books of the 20th century, The Haunting of Hill House is a must-read for any fan of the genre.

15. Psycho by Robert Bloch (1959)

If you’re into horror, you’re no stranger to Psycho . But let’s recap one of the best horror plots of all time anyway: inspired by the real-life story of psychotic murderer Ed Gein, Norman Bates and his Mother own the Bates motel, with the unlit neon sign out front. When a woman checks into the motel one night, Norman can’t help but spy on her. Displeased, Mother plans to rectify her son’s behaviour by eliminating the woman, and anything that might purge Norman of his dark thoughts.

16. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962)

We learn three things in the first paragraph of Jackson’s final novel: Mary Katherine Blackwood lives with her sister Constance; she loves the death-cap mushroom; and everyone else in her family is dead. From the supreme master of shivers-down-your-spine horror comes a tale of Gothic surroundings and even more sinister, yet inscrutable, inner lives. You’ll be guessing the wicked truth about Mary and Constance right up to the very end.

17. The Case Against Satan by Ray Russell (1962)

Bearing strong superficial resemblance to a certain classic, Russell’s novel also features a pair of priests tasked with examining a young girl who may be possessed by the devil. Between The Case Against Satan , The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, contemporary readers can sense a Catholic-tinged fear of the devil pervading through American horror of the 60s. If you like the other two, why not give this one a chance?

18. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (1962)

At the beginning of Something Wicked This Way Comes , twelve-year-olds Will and Jim can’t wait to visit “Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show.” But during their visit, they witness something odd: ol’ Cooger riding backwards on the carousel, which turns him into a boy of their own age. As Will and Jim tail the Benjamin Button-ized Cooger, searching for answers, they find that the mysteries of the carnival are even darker than they anticipated — and that that darkness may not be limited to the carnival alone.

19. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin (1967)

If, for some reason, you’re doubting whether Rosemary’s Baby is one of the best horror books of all time, let us remind that it was the bestselling horror novel of the 1960s, launching a boom in the commercial success of horror fiction in general. As with many stories in the genre, Rosemary’s Baby starts out pretty innocently, and then things take a turn for the worst: Rosemary and Guy have just moved into a beautiful Manhattan apartment, and life is good. That is, until their dream home starts to turn into a living nightmare, and they begin to feel that the devil lives only a few doors down.

20. Hell House by Richard Matheson (1971)

In Hell House , the I am Legend scribe reaches terrifying new heights by expertly combining his flair for suspense with an intuitive eye for horror. The story opens on a dying millionaire who pays $100,000 each to a physicist and two mediums for them to retrieve “proof” of life after death. The group’s plan: travel to Maine and spend the week in the Belasco House, the most haunted house in the world. Whether any of them make it out alive — without going mad — is another question altogether.

If you don’t trust us, believe Stephen King, who once said: “ Hell House is the scariest haunted house novel ever written. It looms over the rest the way the mountains loom over the foothills.”

21. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (1971)

No author creates sensation quite like William Peter Blatty and no story has satisfied a nation’s capacity for horror quite like The Exorcist . A literary landmark of the 21st-century , The Exorcist is the deeply troubling tale of one child’s demonic possession and two priests’ attempts to save her from a fate worse than death. Part family drama and all horror, it delivers on all fronts.

22. Carrie by Stephen King (1974)

Allegedly fished out of the trash by his wife, it’s hard to believe that this classic was only the first novel published by Stephen King. As one of the most put-upon teenage girls in literature, the title character struggles with school bullies, a puritanical mother, and unusual (to say the least) physical changes. Even before it went on to become a famous film, Carrie gave early fans a glimpse of King’s greatest gifts: his ability to write sympathetic, fully fleshed characters while also delivering on the big shocks. (Want more King? Check out this list of every Stephen King novel , ranked from most popular to least popular.)

23. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice (1976)

Speaking of debuts that made a splash: with her first published novel, Anne Rice redefined Southern Gothic for a new generation. The titular interview takes place in modern day, as the vampire Louis recounts his story to a cub reporter. Once a plantation owner in pre-Civil War Louisiana, his life as a creature of the night is marked by his various encounters with Lestat, the vampire responsible for his undeath. Interview with the Vampire went on to be an incredible success, spawning a series of popular novels and a film adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

24. The Shining by Stephen King (1977)

What do you get when you take a frustrated writer, a creepy old hotel, and a blizzard that locks everyone inside? An absolute cornerstone of horror, that’s what! If you’ve never read The Shining , brace yourself for a marathon of mounting tension and terrifying twists, with a family fighting for their lives, even as they’re not exactly sure who or what they’re fighting.

25. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (1979)

Angela Carter is one of the preeminent magical realist writers of the twentieth century, female or male. The Bloody Chamber , a collection of darkly reimagined fairy tales and folktales, takes a distinctly feminist slant with its portrayal of female characters: many of the heroines in these stories save themselves, rather than waiting for a hero on a white horse. Of course, they have to go through some pretty scary stuff first. Horror lovers who also enjoy a bit of Holly Black or Marissa Meyer, this is unquestionably the collection for you.

26. Ghost Story by Peter Straub (1979)

A group of old men in a quiet town call themselves The Chowder Society. Every so often, they gather to share ghost stories with each other. It’s all just fun and game… until it isn’t. In the wake of a horrific accident, the men are forced to confront one of their stories — and the consequences of the worst thing that they’ve ever done in this brilliant homage to “Night of the Living Dead.”

27. Whispers by Dean Koontz (1980)

Whispers stars Thomas, a screenwriter living in Los Angeles. One day, she is attacked by Bruno Frye, the proprietor of a vineyard she recently visited. She forces him to leave at gunpoint and immediately calls the police — who then call Bruno’s home, where he answers, not more than seconds after the attack. Later on, she is once again attacked by Bruno but manages to get injure him as he escapes. When she called the cops again, she learns that her assailant was found dead hundreds of miles away. But if you think that will put an end to her assaults, then you’re in for a big surprise.

28. The Mask by Dean Koontz (1981)

Not to be confused with the Jim Carrey comedy, The Mask is a shudder-inducing novel from Koontz follows Carol and Paul, a hopeful couple who welcomes a young, amnesiac foster girl into their home. But though “Jane” (who can’t remember her real name) seems angelic at first, her increasingly strange behavior and the mystery of her true identity begins to worry her potential adoptive parents… who may have a closer connection to her than they realize.

29. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (1983)

Now a major motion picture starring Daniel Radcliffe ( as well as a long-running stage play in London), The Woman in Black is often described as “if Jane Austen wrote horror.” This take on a classic ghost story follows solicitor Arthur Kipps as he travels to the English moors to settle the affairs of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. What he finds really finds is a mansion haunted by the elusive “Woman in Black”. Readers who love a slow build-up and the sensation of being watching will be thrilled.

30. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks (1984)

Frank Cauldhame is sick in the head, even by the standards of the horror genre. Though only sixteen, he lives in isolation and has developed a number of sociopathic tendencies, including torturing wasps in a machine he calls “the wasp factory.” As the reader gets to know more about Frank’s twisted past, they begin to understand why he’s like this — and another twist toward the end of The Wasp Factory makes Frank’s everyday activities seem practically banal.

I look at these pieces and I don't think the man who wrote them is alive in me anymore.... We are all our own graveyards I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we're healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived; and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present. Reading these stories over, I feel a little of both. Some of the simple energies that made these words flow through my pen--that made the phrases felicitous and the ideas sing--have gone. I lost their maker a long time ago.

These enthusiastic tales are not ashamed of visceral horror, of blood splashing freely across the page: \'The Midnight Meat Train,\' a grisly subway tale that surprises you with one twist after another; \'The Yattering and Jack,\' about a hilarious demon who possesses a Christmas turkey; \'In the Hills, the Cities,\' an unusual example of an original horror premise; \'Dread,\' a harrowing non-supernatural tale about being forced to realize your worst nightmare; \'Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament,\' about a woman who kills men with her mind. Some of the tales are more successful than others, but all are distinguished by strikingly beautiful images of evil and destruction. No horror library is complete without them. --Fiona Webster

31. Books of Blood by Clive Barker (1984)

As Britain’s leading purveyor of shocking horror, Clive Barker has made a bit splash as both an author and a film director. While cinephiles may recognise his works Candyman and Hellraiser , he first appeared on the horror radar with his short story collection, Books of Blood . Compulsively blood-curdling, these contemporary stories see regular people sucked into grotesque, disturbing, and often comic scenarios. A brilliant gateway for Barker newbs.

Ghosts and The Locked Room are the next two brilliant installments in Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy .

32. City of Glass by Paul Auster (1985)

City of Glass is the first installment in Auster’s landmark New York Trilogy , and a genuinely psychedelic work of intertwining narratives. It begins with a private investigator and former fiction writer who’s driving himself crazy trying to solve a case, then unspools into countless more intertextual threads and questions — the possible answers to which will have readers questioning their own sanity and stability by the end of this book.

33. It by Stephen King (1986)

In the story that injected clowns straight into the nightmares of an entire generation, the title character is a demonic entity that disguises itself while pursuing its prey. And for the children of Derry, that mostly involves taking the form of Pennywise the Clown. Alternating between two time periods (childhood and adulthood), It is packed with fascinating tangents that expertly flesh out the sad, traumatized, and occasionally nostalgic natives of this quiet Maine town.

34. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

The horrors of Beloved , considered by many to be Morrison’s seminal work, are thoroughly intertwined with the ghastly history of America. Sethe is a former slave who had to slit her infant daughter’s throat to prevent her from enduring the same profound injustices and trauma as her. Eighteen years later, the child still haunts her — in some ways more than others. Between the intensely surreal atmosphere that pervades the entire book and Morrison’s deep-cutting prose, Beloved is a masterpiece beyond that of most contemporary horror novels.

35. The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing (1988)

In the 1960s, Harriet and David Lovatt are normal parents with four normal children in England — until Harriet gives birth to their fifth child. Ben is the devil incarnate: he is too strong for his own good, insatiable when it comes to sustenance, and abnormally violent. As he grows up, the family becomes increasingly paralyzed by fear and indecision. Underneath the thrills and agony of The Fifth Child lies a dangerous question about parenthood and the obligations of family.

36. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988)

The basis for the Oscar-winning film, The Silence of the Lambs is the follow-up to Red Dragon , which was the first novel to feature cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In this sequel, FBI trainee Clarice Starling enlists the help of Dr. Lecter to find “Buffalo Bill” — another killer on the loose. In order to do so, the inner workings of a very dark mind are probed, and spine-chilling suspense ensues.

37. Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons (1989)

Carrion Comfort is based on a brilliantly unique premise: that throughout history, a select group of individuals with psychic powers (known as “The Ability”) have compelled humans to commit horrific violence. Acts such as the cruelty of Nazi guards, John Lennon’s assassination, and the Iranian Hostage Crisis can all be attributed to people with The Ability — and they may be planning something even worse. It’s up to one man, a Holocaust survivor, to extinguish this ancient evil before they do any more harm.

38. Ring by Kōji Suzuki (1991)

The premise is a modern-twist on a classic trope: there is a videotape that warns viewers they will die in one week unless they perform an unspecified act. And, yes, the videotape does keep its promises. This Japanese mystery horror novel was the basis for the 2002 film, The Ring , a film which kickstarted the trend of adapting Asian horror for English-speaking markets. Indeed, the nineties was when international readers really started to pay attention to the chilling work being produced by Japanese genre writers like Suzuki.

39. Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite (1993)

In Drawing Blood , Trevor McGee avoids his childhood home in North Carolina for a reason. Years ago, when he was only five years old, his father murdered his mother and his younger brother before hanging himself. Now he’s determined to return and confront his past, but there’s a small problem: the demons that drove his father to insanity might never have left the house.

40. Parasite Eve by Hideaki Sena (1995)

Described as a “medical fantasmagoria,” comparable to Frankenstein in its scientific acuity, this Japanese sci-fi horror follows Dr. Nagashima, who is overwhelmed with grief at the loss of his wife. To cope, he begins the process of reincarnating his wife using a small sample of her liver. What he isn’t prepared for is when her cells begin to mutate, and an ancient, unseen consciousness starts rising from its long sleep.

41. Uzumaki by Junji Ito (1998)

Uzumaki is a seinen horror manga series. Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is plagued by a supernatural curse in the form of uzumaki — spiral, otherwise known as the hypnotic secret shape of the world. As the hold of the curse over the town strengthens, its inhabitants begin to fall deeper and deeper into a whirlpool of madness.

42. From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (1999)

The peerless Alan Moore put aside V for Vendetta and Watchmen to write this graphic novel, bringing to life the world of Jack the Ripper and his reign of terror in the 1880s. From the grisly theories surrounding the Ripper to the personalities that stood tall during the desperate investigation, Moore spares no gruesome detail as he examines the motivations and identity of the most famous serial killer of all times. With Eddie Campbell’s stark illustrations, this extraordinary graphic novel is a reminder that the most horrifying truths lurk inside the depths of the human soul — and that not all monsters live in Hell.

43. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)

Though Danielewski’s experimental debut remains largely uncategorizable, it definitely contains strands of horror DNA. This mammoth 700-page novel follows "The Navidson Record" — a documentary about an apparently haunted house (if by "haunted" one actually means "alive"). The Navidson house seems to mutate, changing size and sprouting corridors in a dizzying labyrinths, all while emitting an ominous growl. But what makes House of Leaves truly frightening is Danielewski’s intertwining of plot and structure, the latter’s chaotic layout mirroring the former.

44. Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson (2001)

Skin Folk is a short story collection that includes science fiction, Caribbean folklore, passionate love stories, and downright chilling horror. While not all the stories would be described as horror, the darkest of the collection is “Greedy Choke Puppy,” which features a bitter woman who discards her skin at night, and replenishes herself by killing children for their life force.

45. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2002)

There’s a mysterious door in Coraline’s new house. The neighbors all warn her that she shouldn’t open it under any circumstances… but Coraline never was a girl who listened to other people’s advice. From the mind of the bestselling author who brought you American Gods and Neverwhere comes a novel of wondrous and chilling imagination. Coraline is one of the staples in Gaiman’s remarkable oeuvre for a reason.

46. 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (2002)

This dramatic comic book miniseries brings supernatural terror to life: for a town in Alaska, prolonged periods of darkness means that vampires can openly kill and feed upon humans at almost any time. Their victims are rendered helpless by both the incapacitating darkness and the vampires’ vicious attacks — attacks that Ben Templesmith depicts with such gory immediacy that his illustrations could almost be crime scene photographs.

47. Come Closer by Sara Gran (2003)

Come closer, indeed. This 2003 novel by Sara Gran revolves around a woman named Amanda, who has an ostensibly perfect life. But one day she realizes that some things are a little off. Like the quiet but recurrent tapping in her apartment. And the memo that she sent earlier to her boss that was somehow replaced by a series of insults. Then there are the dreams: those of a beautiful woman with pointed teeth, and a seashore the color of blood. As this mystery escalates in size and terror, Amanda is forced to confront nothing less than her own self.

48. The Good House by Tananarive Due (2003)

The Good House is named after a Sacajawea, Washington home that was much-beloved… until a young boy died behind its doors. Two year later, Angela hadn’t planned on returning to the house that bore silent witness to her son’s death, but then terrible things start happening to the community. Now Angela has the chance to lay to rest once and for all what exactly happened to Corey — and what it has to do with a curse that Angela’s grandmother may or may not have placed on the community decades ago.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door---a girl who has never seen a Rubik's Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night.

49. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (2004)

Oskar is a young boy living with his divorced mother in a suburb of Stockholm. Mercilessly bullied by kids at school and increasingly insular, he makes a much-needed connection when Eli, a child of a similar age, moves in next door. Little does he know that his new bestie isn’t as young as he thinks… and that he has a peculiar set of appetites. Titled after the lyrics of a Morrissey song, this sweet but frightening novel has been adapted twice into film and once as a stage show.

50. Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler (2005)

To read one of Octavia E. Butler’s book is to become a fan for life. In Fledgling , Butler demonstrates her mastery of horror once again. On the surface, Shori seems to be a young girl who suffers from severe amnesia. Yet a discovery leads her to the horrifying revelation that she is in fact a 53-year old vampire who has been genetically modified by someone who wants her dead. Now she must decide whether to pursue more answers, even though it might lead her to her own doom.

51. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (2005)

Kostova’s debut novel is a complex interlacing of spooky fiction and chilling historical fact. It follows a professor and his daughter who become entrenched in the folklore of Vlad the Impaler, a major inspiration for Dracula. They soon realize that their connection to Vlad goes far beyond the scholarly. This connection becomes especially critical when their father disappears, and his daughter (our narrator) must use her knowledge to track him down.

52. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)

Cormac McCarthy is no slouch when it comes to publishing gripping tales, and The Road is one of his most haunting books. Spurning an equally well-received film adaptation, the story follows a father and son as they make their way through barren, post-apocalyptic America. They’re headed for the coast, not sure of what they will find there, but in the hope that they will find, well, something . All they know is that the road is dangerous, and all they’ve got to protect themselves is a single pistol and each other.

53. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

This tantalizing thriller from Norwegian crime writer Nesbø is about a series of brutal murders all connected by snowmen, and the jaded former FBI agent who tries to understand why. As Detective Harry Hole delves further and further into the investigation, he starts to believe that the murderer may be someone he knows… but who can say for certain when so much of the evidence has melted away?

54. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (2007)

Heart-Shaped Box centers on Judas Coyne, a retired rockstar who now spends his days collecting “items of the macabre” — snuff films, confessions, anything deathly and disturbing. Naturally he jumps at the chance to acquire the suit of a dead man (with his ghost still allegedly attached). But when it arrives in a heart-shaped box, Coyne realizes that this addition to his collection is less of a novelty than liability. If he can’t control it, he’ll suffer the dire consequences of its wrath.

55. Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory (2008)

Del Pierce has been possessed by a demon with a penchant for deadly mischief. Desperate to rid himself of the demon, Del turns to three sources: a likewise possessed former sci-fi writer, a nun who tends to inspire unchaste feelings rather than an inclination to pray, and a secret society devoted to the art of exorcism. Can he find the cure to the plague of demonic possessions hitting society? And if so — at what cost? Pandemonium gives us the spine-chilling answer.

56. Last Days by Brian Evenson (2008)

Meet Kline, a former detective with an amputated hand. However rather than giving him a handicap in the gumshoe business, it makes him the perfect candidate to investigate a dismemberment-based cult — the ghastly nature of which even Kline can’t foresee. Evenson’s brilliantly economic writing depicts this story in such a way that each sharp, shocking revelation of Last Days does indeed feel like a knife to one of your extremities.

57. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (2009)

You might not expect the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife to deliver on the creepiness front, but Audrey Niffenegger will outdo your wildest expectations in Her Fearful Symmetry . Julia and Valentina Poole are 20 year-old twins and best friends when they’re told that their aunt has died of cancer. She bequeaths her London apartment to them, on one condition: that Julia and Valentina live in the flat for a year — alone — before selling it. Easy, right? And yet Julia and Valentina are visited by a host of unnerving characters while there… including their aunt, who may not be entirely gone after all.

58. White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (2009)

There’s just something about a seemingly sentient house. If you agree, you’ll surely enjoy White Is for Witching . Four generations of Silver women have lived in the big house in isolated Dover, England. The house has witnessed a lot of history — much of which has been tragic or outright horrific — and seems to cope by working mischief. Check it out for a modern take on Gothic horror.

59. Mr Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett (2010)

The widespread and severe poverty created by the Great Depression has carried thousands of people to the American railroad system, desperately looking for work. But one more has been driven by more than just poverty — he’s on revenge-fueled journey, and will not rest until he makes one Mr. Shivers pay for the brutal murder of his daughter. Mr. Shivers tells his horrifying tale of vengeance.

60. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (2010)

One of the eeriest ghost stories in recent memory, Dark Matter tracks a five-man expedition to a remote part of the Arctic, where there is no sunlight whatsoever for months during the “polar winter.” All the men are optimistic going into the expedition; it’s only when they get there that they realize something is terribly, terribly wrong. And not only will they have to get to the bottom of it if they want to survive, they also have to do it in complete and utter darkness.

61. Feed by Mira Grant (2010)

The Rising: the moment when the world froze in horror and watched as the dead came back to life, driven by genetically engineered viruses. The infected move with only one motivation in mind: to feed. Now it’s twenty years later and two journalists are determined to uncover the truth behind the origins of the catastrophe. More than a zombie horror novel, this blockbuster work transcends the form to ask serious questions of politics, power, and the right to information.

62. The Passage by Justin Cronin (2010)

In The Passage , a governmental experiment to develop an immunity-boosting drug based on a South American bat goes horribly wrong. Suddenly the world is dealing with a highly contagious virus that turns people into vampire-like beings — beings that are always on the hunt for fresh blood. At the center of it all is Amy, a young girl abandoned in a terrifying world, and the key to saving humanity.

63. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (2011)

One of National Public Radio’s Top 5 YA Novels of 2011, this highly unusual and vividly imagined horror story centers around Cas Lowood, an exorcist’s son who carries on his father’s legacy by expertly killing ghosts. But when Cas sets off to vanquish a violent spirit known by the locals as “Anna Dressed in Blood,” he has no idea what he’s getting himself into — especially when Anna starts communicating with him, spilling the secrets of her past.

64. Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman (2011)

In Those Across the River , failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife move to the sleepy Georgian town of Whitbrow. There, Frank intends to write about the history of his family’s old estate and the horrors that took place there. But as Frank knows, history is not easily forgotten — and under the small-town charm and southern hospitality lurks an unspoken presence that has been waiting for a debt of blood to be paid.

65. The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan (2011)

This sexy thriller centers on Jacob Marlowe, a werewolf with class: he reads Kant, drinks Scotch, and enjoys all means of modern sophistication. However (like so many intellectuals), he’s also undergoing an existential crisis: Jacob has to kill and eat a person every time there’s a full moon, and he doesn’t want to do it anymore. Fully prepared to commit suicide, he’s stopped in his tracks when he learns one of his friends has been murdered, and embarks on a path of fatal vengeance — which, ironically, just might give him a reason to live again.

66. Zone One by Colson Whitehead (2011)

The pandemic that wreaked havoc on Earth is finally starting to subside, and the first goal for civilization is to start rebuilding Manhattan, aka Zone One . In order to do so, they need to start by getting rid of those who have been infected but not yet died, aka zombies. But what seems like a fairly straightforward first step in reclaiming the Big Apple is about to take an (even more) chilling turn.

67. The Croning by Laird Barron (2012)

Fans of H.P Lovecraft and Richard Matheson, this one’s for you. In The Croning , Laird Barron has crafted a weird horror story for the ages: one in which affable geologist Donald Miller discovers dark things existing in the shadows of our vision… and savage secrets about his family that will make him re-examine everything that he thought he knew. Creepy and atmospheric, this novel from the rising star of cosmic horror will make you understand that we are all Children of the Old Leech.

68. The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle (2012)

New Hyde Hospital has a psychiatric ward that keeps its patients up in the evenings: they claim that a hungry monster prowls the hallways at night. According to them, it has the body of an old man and the head of a bison. And Pepper, the newest resident who was falsely accused of mental illness, is about to meet it for himself. Victor Lavalle knocks it out of the park again in this riveting read in which the most horrifying thing might not even be the horrifying Devil in Silver — but your own mind.

69. The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan (2012)

Caitlin R. Kiernan is one of the finest horror writers out there when it comes to blending the gothic and the fantastic. She elevates her game even more with this ghost story about India Morgan Phelps, a schizophrenic girl who one day picks up Eve Canning on the street — and who, in turn, might be a werewolf, mermaid, or siren. Kiernan is one of the rare authors who can up the suspense quotient to insane levels while writing about mental illness with the sensitivity that it deserves.

70. Fiend by Peter Stenson (2013)

A zombie apocalypse novel with a twist, Fiend presents a universe where the people turned into zombies are the ones who aren’t crystal meth junkies. For some reason, meth has granted Chase and his friends against the plague. More than anything else, it almost seems like a second chance… but as the excuse to continue using meth presents itself, Chase starts to question what separates him from the zombies.

71. Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (2013)

Countless monsters inspired by Frankenstein have cropped up in the 200 years since Mary Shelley first published her seminal novel, but none have come closer to recreating the surrealist terror than Frankenstein in Baghdad . Black humor and true fright clash in Ahmen Saadaw’s chilling retelling about a man named Hadi who aimlessly stitches together the body parts that he finds on the streets of Baghdad. It’s then that a wave of brutal murders begins to overwhelm the city… and Hadi realizes at the same time that his corpse has gone missing.

72. Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (2013)

The town of Black Spring, New York is haunted — not just by any old ghost, but by a centuries-old entity called the Black Rock Witch. She roams Black Spring with her eyes and mouth sewn shut, vestiges of when she was first put to death for her crimes. And even as the townspeople (who are cursed to remain in Black Spring forever) put practical measures in place to avoid her — such as a mobile app to keep track of her movements — her wrath cannot be quashed. This supremely scary mashup of both old-school witch hunting and the consequences of new-age technology is perfect for fans of Black Mirror and Robert Eggers’ The Witch alike.

73. Night Film by Marisha Pessl (2013)

Night Film stars Stanislaus Cordova, a reclusive cult-horror film director who hasn’t been seen in public for over thirty years. His daughter, 24-year old Ashley Cordova, has just been found dead in an abandoned warehouse — and while her death has been ruled a suicide, investigative journalist Scott McGrath isn’t buying it. Especially when another strange death connected to the Cordovas occurs shortly after. Scott is now on a mission to uncover and expose the family’s deadly secrets.

74. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (2013)

The Kings of Maine are thoroughly represented on this list — and with good reason. Having established his own reputation with Heart-Shaped Box and Horns , Joe Hill’s third novel contains countless nods to his father’s works while also leaning on his own brand of chilling prose. The book opens with Vic McQueen, a girl with an ability to magically create bridges to things she’s looking for — a talent that brings her into contact with a serial killer with a penchant for abducting children.

75. The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher (2013)

A paranormal take on western fiction, The Six-Gun Tarot takes place in 1869 Nevada, in a tiny desert cattle town called Golgotha. The residents of Golgotha are no stranger to the supernatural — the mayor is guarding a hoard of mythical creatures, a banker’s wife is part of a secret order of assassins, and the town deputy is half human, half coyote. But what’s really strange about this town is the abandoned silver mine, out of which an ancient evil seems to be spilling. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Deadwood , the Golgotha series is for you.

76. Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (2014)

Described as a “nightmare come to life,” Fever Dream will grip you in the throes of a dread that lasts for days. A young mother lays dying in the hospital and a boy sits next to her bedside — only he isn’t her son. Indeed, this story about broken souls and family unraveling might just shake you to the core. Note that Fever Dream was originally written in Spanish by Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin, but this English translation is no less unsettling, disturbing, and electric.

77. The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith (2014)

Based on traditional Vietnamese ghost stories, The Frangipani Hotel is a fantastical collection of short stories that functions on another level as a meditation on the lasting legacy of the Vietnam War. From beautiful women who’re oddly attached to bathtubs to truck drivers who pick up mysterious hitchhikers, the short stories never stray far away from the supernatural that lurks in the shadows nearby.

78. Bird Box by Josh Malerman (2014)

Recent memes notwithstanding , the original source of the Netflix film Bird Box was none other than this innovative work by Josh Malerman. In the book version, something has arrived on the scene, and no one knows what it is, how it got there, or why it’s targeting civilians: all they know is that its appearance drives people mad with violence, leading them to attack others and commit suicide. Mother of two, Malorie must decide whether to keep her young children enshrouded in darkness for all their days, or risk all of them dying at the hands of “The Problem” in order to find a better shelter.

79. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (2014)

No matter how many Greek myths you’ve read, there’s no way to prepare for the broken monsters that Beukes puts on display in this book. The creature that catalyzes the action of this book is a malformed half-deer, half-human hybrid that Detective Gabriella Versado finds dead in an abandoned warehouse — and if you can believe it, things only get more upsetting from there. Versado is set on tracking down the perpetrator of this grotesque science experiment, but that doesn’t mean she’s happy with what she finds.

80. Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest (2014)

Few American figures have taken on such mythical status as Lizzie Borden, the woman tried and acquitted for murdering her parents with an ax. This fantastical, Lovecraftian take on the urban legend sees Borden (post-acquittal) and her sister take up residence in a seaside manor, only to find an evil spirit bubbling up from the ocean deep.

81. The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley (2014)

Nate is a “storyteller” in a society wherein women have become extinct. As his clan craves more and more details about these women of yore — all of whom died of a mysterious fungal disease — Nate realizes that stories will never be enough. But the men’s wishes for physical manifestations of women turn into a horrific reality when curvaceous mushroom-like creatures, known as The Beauty , join the tribe and quickly upend the fragile life they’ve built.

82. Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix (2014)

Ever wondered what it’d be like to get trapped in a haunted IKEA? The characters of Horrorstör know. When furniture store “ORSK” starts experiencing strange acts of vandalism, its employees decide to stay overnight to investigate. Little do they know that, rather than getting to the bottom of the mystery, they’ll be unleashing a reign of terror upon both themselves and their beloved customers…

83. The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman (2014)

In this twisting tale told by self-described unreliable narrator Joey Peacock, the vampires of 1970s NYC have a perfectly organized (if violent) system of getting the sustenance they need. That is, until a group of vampire children appear on the scene — kids who require way more blood than the other vampires to survive, and whose presence will threaten not only the vampiric hierarchy, but also the lives of Joey and his companions. If you thought vampires weren’t afraid of anything, think again…

84. Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville (2015)

The world is a strange place, and humans, perhaps, are strangest of all; this strangeness is the very core of Miéville’s collection. One story begins with the city of London waking up to find icebergs floating in the sky. In another, an anatomy student find intricate designs carved into the bones of a cadaver he is examining. Stranger things follow.

85. Shutter by Courtney Alameda (2015)

In Shutter , Micheline Helsing is one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing family, and is an expert at destroying monsters. One day, a routine ghost hunt goes awry and Michelina finds herself plagued by a curse that spreads “ghost chains” through her body — turning her into one of the very monsters she’s spent her life hunting. Deemed a renegade agent by her own monster-hunting father, she must now find a way to rid herself of the curse before it’s too late.

86. Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (2015)

Violet is a ballet dancer on the cusp of stardom; Oriana was Violet’s friend and once stepped in between Violet and her tormentors in a self-sacrificing act; and Amber has been living in the Aurora Hills juvenile center for so long that she scarcely remembers what it’s like to be free. This suspenseful story is told from two of these perspectives — one living and one dead. But all three women are tied together together through a dark and terrible secret.

87. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (2015)

Is 14 year-old Marjorie Barrett schizophrenic or is she possessed by a demon? This is the question at the heart of the Barretts, an otherwise normal suburban family. When a reality television production company catches wind of Marjorie’s strange condition, they sense a business opportunity — one that Marjorie’s cash-strapped father cannot easily turn down. With each page evoking blood-curling dread, the unraveling of this book’s events become a gripping tale of psychological horror. Winner of the 2015 Bram Stoker Award, A Head Full of Ghosts might just leave you with a head full of fear.

88. Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw (2016)

Cassandra Khaw’s “banging” debut novel takes the traditional detective P.I. story and gives it an appealing Lovecraftian makeover. In this fascinating blend of noir and cosmic horror, private investigator John Persons gets an unexpected client one day — a ten year-old boy who asks Persons to murder his stepfather. As Persons delves deeper into the case, he realizes that his subject might not actually be human. But that’s fine, because Persons isn’t all that he appears to be, either. As the saying goes, it sometimes takes a monster to kill a monster.

89. Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff (2016)

Lovecraft Country breaks down the complexities of American racism in the mid-twentieth century, and how Lovecraft himself was complicit in that racism. Our hero, Atticus Turner, is a young black man who must seek out his missing father, facing countless horrors along the way — both to do with the color of his skin and mysterious, mythological threats that seem to have escaped the pulp fiction he reads. The closely related nature of these two elements becomes more and more clear over the course of Ruff’s book, and the shocking twist at the end will ensure that you never see Lovecraft (or America) in the same way again.

90. Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones (2016)

The unnamed young narrator of Mongrels faces an unusual quandary: while he’s aware that he carries the werewolf gene, he has no idea whether or not it will come to fruition. As a mongrel, he lives life in limbo, uncertain of his destiny, constantly being shuttled around. This werewolf bildungsroman of sorts is pretty much the only one of its kind, and Jones' sharp, moving prose will have you sympathizing with monsters (or almost-monsters) in a way you never thought you could.

91. Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enríquez (2016)

Fans of the macabre should be sure to add this collection to their list of best horror books of all time. In Argentina, violence and corruption are the laws of the land for people who vividly remember recent military dictatorships and masses of disappeared citizens. Within these fiercely disturbing stories, three young friends distract themselves with drugs in the middle of a government-enforced blackout, and encounter dark supernatural forces themselves.

92. The Changeling by Victor LaValle (2017)

Fairy tale meets horror in Victor Lavalle’s critically acclaimed The Changeling . Apollo Kagwa’s life is full of disappearances — first, his father goes missing when he is four. Then his wife vanishes, right after she commits a terrible act of violence. Now Apollo must journey through a dark underworld to bring back a family that he might not have really known in the first place. Be warned: this is a novel where nightmares lurk in every nook and eeriness is perpetual, right up until the terrifying crescendo of a climax.

93. Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (2017)

Named after the recurring catchphrase of all Scooby-Doo villains, this comic horror novel finds the members of a worryingly young detective team reunited in their twenties to reinvestigate an unsolved mystery. Pitched by the author as “Enid Blyton meets H.P. Lovecraft”, Cantero’s novel has also been compared to Stranger Things and Stephen King’s It , as his young protagonists face off against a danger that’s somewhat more menacing than an old prospector in a rubber mask.

94. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (2017)

Called a “love letter to an obstinate genre that won’t be gentrified,” Carmen Maria Machado’s debut short story collection was heralded when it was published. And it’s easy to see why: Machado deftly stretches the borders of horror, as evidenced in “The Husband Stitch” (a retelling of “The Green Ribbon” in which the wife refuses her husband’s pleas to remove a green ribbon around her neck) and “The Resident” (in which a writer’s time in the mountains goes horribly wrong). It’s a book that seriously examines the pre-set narratives that women are forced to live and breathe in society. And it’s a must-read for anyone who’s tired of heteronormativity in horror.

95. Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys (2017)

In this homage to his cosmic horror, Lovecraft’s Deep Ones are brought to life, and the government isn’t a fan. In 1928, Deep One Aphra and her family are captured and banished to the desert… until the government becomes certain that Russians is attempting to win the Cold War with dark magic. With the promise she will help the people that stole her community’s way of life, Aphra returns home to contend with her lost past, and a potentially dark looming future.

96. The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell (2017)

The Silent Companions combines spine-chilling thrills with compelling characterization. When her husband dies just weeks after their wedding, Elsie feels more alone than ever. This is made worse by the fact that her new servants are resentful and the local villagers are openly hostile towards Elsie; she starts to believe her only companionship will come from her husband’s awkward cousin. Until she opens a locked door and finds a painted wooden figure that not only bears uncanny resemblance to Elsie, but also seems to be watching her...

97. The Grip of It by Jac Jemc (2017)

You probably know of couples like James and Julie: young and optimistic, they’re looking to leave behind their home in the city to get a fresh start in the country. But something is amiss with their new house. The air becomes suffocating. Children’s voices are heard, but the children themselves are never seen. The forest seems closer than it was before. And the stains on the walls are somehow appearing mapped as bruises on Julie’s body… to say too much is to ruin the impact of this novel, but rest assured that you will get a full night’s worth of terror when you pick it up.

98. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (2018)

When the dead start walking on the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville, the fate of the nation suddenly doesn’t seem quite so important anymore. As the country is thrown into disarray and scrambles to erect combat schools to learn how to put down the dead, Jane McKeene studies to become an Attendant to protect rich white people… but her true motives are much more revolutionary. Jane is indeed the star of this stunning alternate history novel: a black zombie hunter who defies society’s expectations, fighting against a conspiracy that threatens to overwhelm all of America.

99. The Hunger by Alma Katsu (2018)

The Hunger will have you on the very edge of your seat with its story of a group of travelers who are slowly unraveling. Not only do they face obstacle after obstacle of basic bad luck — low food rations, freezing weather, and a general predilection to take every wrong turn — but there also seems to be something darker, even more menacing, lurking in the mountains. And is it their imaginations, or does it all seem to be linked to beautiful, mysterious Tamsen Donner? You may have heard of the Donner Party before, but not like this: Katsu’s historical horror novel will cast both the people and the situation in a whole new, terrifying light.

100. Obscura by Joe Hart (2018)

This incisive work from Joe Hart demonstrates that new horror can be just as thrilling as classic. Obscura speculates about a near-future in which dementia afflicts people of all ages, rendering scientists and doctors powerless to even try and stop it. Dr. Gillian Ryan, who’s still of sound mind, determines that she will travel to a space station to gather unique data points that could help her cure the disease… not knowing that in embarking on this mission, she’s only putting herself in more danger, and not necessarily from the ravages of the disease.

Continue reading

More posts from across the blog.

The 25 Best Romance Authors (And Their Most Swoonworthy Reads)

Romance is one of the most popular genres in literature today, both for readers and writers of romance novels. And it’s no wonder why: romance is exciting, sexy, ...

100 Best Adventure Books of All Time

The first adventure novel that you ever read is hard to forget: after all, we all remember the first time our imaginations were lit by whispers of buried treasure, lost worlds, and faraway jungles. As Jane Eyre says: “It is in vain to say human beings ought to be...

Launching Your Book on Reedsy Discovery

Whether you’re self-publishing a book for the first time or you’re a veteran indie author, the idea of launching a book is always going to be a little daunting. After all, there are a lot of moving pieces and you only ...

Heard about Reedsy Discovery?

Or sign up with an

Or sign up with your social account

  • Submit your book
  • Reviewer directory
  • Main content

The 29 best horror books to stock up on for a spooky, creepy fall

  • Great horror novels can be scary, thrilling, or grotesque. 
  • These books include Stephen King classics and new releases. 
  • These horror picks make great gifts and late-night reads.

Insider Today

If you crave the skin-crawling, adrenaline-spiking, can't-look-away feeling of scary movies and haunted houses, then horror books might be the perfect fit for you. 

From paranormal short stories to horror classics like Stephen King's "It," horror novels give us the creepy-crawling feeling that stays long after we've closed the book and turned off the light. Whether you're searching for your first gory horror read or a new page-turning thriller, here are the best horror books to read in 2022.

The 29 best horror books to read in 2022:

"mexican gothic" by silvia moreno-garcia.

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.58

This Goodreads Choice Awards-winner is a gothic, historical horror about Noemí Taboada, who heads to the Mexican countryside after receiving a strange and alarming letter from her newly wed cousin. When she arrives at her new home, High Place, she faces a dark family past, buried secrets, and a house that may try to trap her, just as it seems to have done to others.

"It" by Stephen King

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.97

This well-known horror book is about seven adults returning to their hometown to face an evil they first discovered as teenagers: An unnamed, shape-shifting terror they call "It." If you read other Stephen King novels, the town of Derry, Maine appears again and again but it all began with "It." "It" is also a monster of a book — its many, many pages build to a must-read, terrifying masterpiece.

"When the Reckoning Comes" by LaTanya McQueen

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.81

When Mira fled her segregated southern hometown more than a decade ago, she left behind her best friend, a plantation rumored to be haunted, and the horrible memories from her youth. Returning only for her best friend's wedding on the eerie plantation, dark elements from the town's past and Mira's own history begin to unravel as the weekend begins.   

"Daisy Darker" by Alice Feeney

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $23.99

For those who loved Agatha Christie's " And Then There Were None ," "Daisy Darker" is a horror story about Daisy Darker's estranged family, who have gathered on a remote island for Nana's 80th birthday. When the tide traps them in and Nana is found dead, followed by another family member an hour later, they must untangle their secrets and find the killer if they want any chance to survive.

"A Dowry of Blood" by S.T. Gibson

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $24.30

"A Dowry of Blood" is a new, fantastical horror novel that reimagine's the story of Dracula's bride, Constanta, who was turned from a mortal peasant to the wife of an undying king. As Constanta begins to understand the true evil power of her husband, she unravels his dark secrets and must choose between love and her freedom in this queer, dramatic paranormal horror story. 

"White Smoke" by Tiffany D. Jackson

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.51

Mari thinks she's out-running the ghosts of her old life when her newly blended family relocates to a picture-perfect home in the Midwest, even if it's situated amongst far more dilapidated and secret-holding neighbors. In this haunted house horror story, strange things begin to happen in Mari's new home, but when her younger stepsister warns her of a friend who wants Mari gone, the danger becomes too real. 

"Night of the Living Rez" by Morgan Talty

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.26

This collection of 12 short horror stories is set in a Native community in Maine as individuals, families, and the community grapple with traumatic pasts and an uncertain future. Believable, unique, and achingly raw, these interconnected stories have moments of humor and emotion throughout those of horror and thrills.

"Hell House" by Richard Matheson

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.73

Stephen King called this book "the scariest haunted house novel ever written," so you know it's terrifying. Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is about to die, so he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums $100,000 each to find out what happens after death. The three of them travel to the Belasco house — more commonly referred to as the "Hell House" — for one night to learn how it earned its nickname. 

"Stillhouse Lake" by Rachel Caine

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.99

Gina was completely normal — an average housewife with a husband and two kids. When a car accident revealed her husband's secret life as a serial killer, she moved with her children to a home on a lake, far away from her husband's secrets and the stalkers who think she was part of it all. But when a body appears in the lake and threatening letters start to arrive, Gina — now a prime suspect — must protect herself and her kids from a killer who's tormenting her family. 

"What Moves the Dead" by T. Kingfisher

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $17.99

" What Moves the Dead " is a jaw-dropping horror retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." Alex Easton has rushed to the remote countryside after receiving word that their childhood friend, Madeline, is dying. Ill prepared for the nightmare that awaited them, Alex finds Madeline and her brother in an affected state and must unravel the secrets of the old home to save them all.

"Tender Is the Flesh" by Agustina Bazterrica

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.79

Most accurately described as "skin-crawling," this book centers on Marcos, who keeps his eyes on his work and away from the pain in his life. He works at the local processing plant, slaughtering humans — though, no one calls them that anymore. Since the government initiated "the Transition" after a sweeping virus made animal meat poisonous to humans, eating human meat — "special meat" — is legal, and having personal contact with the specimens is punishable by death. 

"The Sun Down Motel" by Simone St. James

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.79

If you want to feel the rush of knowing something terrible is coming, this paranormal horror story is for you. In 1982, Carly's Aunt Viv took a job at the Sun Down Motel, trying to save enough money to move to New York City. Now, Carly's working the front desk to discover what mysteries could have led to her aunt's disappearance. The entire book is suspenseful and mysterious but the horror scenes are next-level. I had to rush to finish this one before it got dark. 

"Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology" by Vince A. Liaguno & Rena Mason

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.80

" Other Terrors " is a horror anthology written by underrepresented horror writers on what it means to be viewed as the scary "other" in society. Whether it's people from "other" ethnicities or of "other" sexualities, these horror short stories monopolize the primal fear of the unknown.

"The Chestnut Man" by Soren Sveistrup

books horror authors

The Chestnut Man is a serial killer who leaves a handmade doll made of matchsticks and chestnuts at every crime scene. When a forensic team discovers a bloody fingerprint belonging to a government official's daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago, the detectives must follow the murderer's twisted clues before someone else ends up dead. This book is dark and unnerving, and you will likely find yourself unwilling to turn the next page, fearing what lies ahead. 

"NOS4A2" by Joe Hill

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.71

Victoria, a young girl with a talent for finding things, stumbles upon a bridge that can take her anywhere. She runs into Charlie Manx, who lures kids into a car that transports them to a horrifying playground called Christmasland. Victoria is the only child to ever escape Christmasland. Years later, Charlie hasn't forgotten about her — and is ready to take his revenge.

"Bird Box" by Josh Malerman

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.46

In a world created by Josh Malerman, there's something out there that, once seen, drives a person to deadly violence. Malorie is one of only a handful of survivors left after the mysterious thing took over the world. She needs to flee with her children, relying on their wit and hearing to stay alive. This is a horror story that will have you closing your curtains and hiding in your house until you get to the end. 

"Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.99

You may be more familiar with the second book in the Hannibal Lecter series "The Silence of the Lambs," but if you're looking to read the whole story, you should start here. When a serial killer attacks families, the FBI turns to William Graham, one of the greatest profilers, who retired after the horrors he witnessed in capturing Hannibal Lecter. To solve this case, William finds he must turn to Lector for help. The violent point of view of the antagonist brings on the horror in full force — while demonstrating that the "good guy" isn't always the hero. 

"Lock Every Door" by Riley Sager

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.22

Riley Sager has written four suspenseful novels, each one balanced between thriller, mystery, and horror, but this one leans the most towards "horror" of the bunch. Jules' new job as an apartment sitter in one of Manhattan's most private and mysterious buildings comes with three rules: No visitors, no nights away from the apartment, and no disturbing the other residents. But the building is not what it seems to be — a dark history is rising within, summoning a race to find the truth before someone else goes missing. 

"Devolution" by Max Brooks

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.69

As the dust from Mount Rainier's eruption settles, Kate Holland's harrowing journals are found, revealing an account of the unnoticed Greenloop massacre and the legendary beasts behind it. From the author of "World War Z," this ominous horror story is action-packed, mind-bending, and utterly chaotic.

"The Exorcist" by William Peter Blatty

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.29

Adapted into one of the scariest films of all time, "The Exorcist" is about a mother and two priests who fight to free the soul of a young girl controlled by an evil and violent spirit. The deeper details of this novel are what make already scary scenes even scarier. Even if you've already seen the movie, the story has even more frightening information that heightens the fear.

"The Shining" by Stephen King

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.29

Jack Torrance is looking for a fresh start with his new job at the Overlook Hotel, where he can reconnect with his family and work on his writing in his free time. As winter sets in, Jack's days at the hotel get stranger and stranger, and the only one who notices is Danny, Jack's unique five-year-old son. Full of fleshed-out characters, this slower-paced book doesn't drag — it only builds up the fear to an unforgettable conclusion.

"Dracula" by Bram Stoker

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $3.71

We all know the famous "Dracula" persona — the one we mimic every Halloween with plastic fangs and upturned coat collars. But it doesn't really capture the 1897 classic gothic horror story, which depicts Dracula's move to England as he attempts to find new blood, spreading his undead curse along the way. The story is far more horrifying and twisted than you might anticipate, and will definitely change how you view the more heroic portrayals of modern-day vampires. 

"The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires" by Grady Hendrix

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.73

Set in 1990s Charleston, this novel is centered around a book club and the strange happenings around a newcomer who was brought into the club after one of the members was horribly attacked on her way home. This book has all of the southern charm, '90s nostalgia, and savagery that you might expect from the title alone. 

"The Other" by Thomas Tryon

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.95

Holland and Niles are twins, close enough to nearly read each other's thoughts but entirely different in personality. Their family is gathered for the summer to mourn their father's passing. With the boys' mother still locked in her room, Holland's pranks are growing more and more sinister and Niles isn't sure how much longer he can make excuses for his brother. 

"Imaginary Friend" by Stephen Chbosky

books horror authors

Best read with the lights on, "Imaginary Friend" is a haunting story where a young boy named Christopher goes missing in the town to which he and his mother just fled. Six days later, Christopher emerges from the woods with a voice in his head telling him to do one thing: Build a treehouse in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same. 

"The Hollow Places" by T. Kingfisher

books horror authors

"The Hollow Places" is initially misleading. It starts off cute and funny, but quickly devolves into a terrifying novel with scenes so vibrantly written, they'll be sure to haunt readers long after they close the book. Kara finds a hole in the wall of her uncle's house that leads to a series of alternate realities, riddled with unsettling creatures that feed on fear. The world-building in this book is remarkable — Kingfisher creates something we couldn't previously fathom and yet something we so easily fear.

"The Only Good Indians" by Stephen Graham Jones

books horror authors

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.49

This follows four Indigenous men who are being tracked and haunted by an entity that lingers from a crime committed a decade prior. It's a horror story of revenge and identity as the men find they can't outrun the culture they left behind. This eerie story will continually shock you, yet ends so perfectly, you'll almost forgive the brutal scenes you endured to reach the end. 

"Rosemary's Baby" by Ira Levin

books horror authors

Available at Amazon, $24.37

In this classic horror story, Rosemary and Guy are a young couple settling into their New York apartment where it seems the neighbors are taking too keen of an interest in them, especially once Rosemary gets pregnant. The suspense in this novel is palpable, a waking nightmare that walks a thin line between unbelievable and yet completely real. This book is unnerving and sinister, one of the original horror novels that helped popularize the genre. 

"The Burning Girls" by C. J. Tudor

books horror authors

Reverend Jack Brooks arrives at Chapel Croft looking for a fresh start, yet is welcomed with an exorcism kit and a warning. Horrible things have happened at the church — protestant martyrs were burned centuries back, two teenage girls disappeared 30 years ago, and just a week prior, the vicar hung himself. This is a deeply woven and haunting ghost story, with strange and deadly mysteries throughout. 

Sign up for Insider Reviews' weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals. You can purchase logo and accolade licensing to this story here . Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected] .

books horror authors

books horror authors

  • Weekly Drop

Audible Logo

Looking for a Fright? Here Are the 15 Best Contemporary Horror Authors to Listen to Right Now

October 25, 2022

When it comes to horror, there’s no shortage of unique, terrifying tales. Horror authors have a talent for mining our deepest fears and insecurities, then using them to tell fascinating, engaging, and horrifying stories. While there are so many classic horror authors—such as Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Shirley Jackson—you ought to explore, this list focuses on a selection of current, contemporary horror authors whose works are as enthralling as they are terrifying. From serial killers to ghosts to the eerie and unexplainable, these authors offer some of the best that the horror genre has to give.

Stephen King

We couldn't write about the best horror authors and not include the King of Horror! Stephen King is the prolific writer of dozens of horror novels, with a dash of mystery, paranormal, and a little sci-fi thrown in for good measure. He got his start writing short stories (and continues to publish short fiction to this day) before the publication of his debut novel, Carrie , which is narrated in audio by the acclaimed film adaptation’s star, Sissy Spacek. He’s best known for titles such as The Shining , The Stand , It , and so other many unforgettable stories that have inspired countless film and TV adaptations. If for some reason you haven't yet listened to anything by Stephen King, we can't recommend his chilling work enough.

By Stephen King

Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is a Blackfeet Native American author best known for his horror audiobooks, but his works are often experimental in nature, ranging from literary to pulp horror. His stories often reflect his background as a Native writer— Mapping the Interior , for instance, is a novella about a 15-year-old boy who sees the figure of his father, who died before he and his family left the reservation. A parody of horror conventions, The Last Final Girl follows the last girl who survived one bloodbath and is determined to survive more horrors to come. Both are narrated by Eric G. Dove. Jones's latest release, The Only Good Indians is a revenge story focused on four Native American men who find themselves facing the repercussions of a youthful elk hunting incident where they made a life-changing choice.

Mapping the Interior

By Stephen Graham Jones

Jonathan Maberry

Beware! Once you step into Jonathan Maberry's postapocalyptic world, there’s no going back. Horror fans know nothing beats a classic, and Maberry's action-packed spins on those classic baddies—zombies—are among the greatest of all time. Take your pick of zombie hunters to follow in his bestselling Joe Ledger , Dead of Night , and Rot & Ruin series, or explore something on the short (but definitely not sweet) side with a chilling ghost story or a twisty werewolf tale . Maberry's knack for thrills and chills keeps fans thoroughly entertained from start to finish. What else can you expect from a multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning horror genius?

Patient Zero

By Jonathan Maberry

Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King, and while he may not be quite as prolific as his father (yet!), he's written an impressive array of comic books and horror novels. Early in his career, he decided to use the pseudonym Joe Hill in an attempt to distinguish himself from his famous dad. With the publication of his debut novel 20th Century Ghosts , however, speculation about his family history (and his resemblance to his father) abounded, so he became open about the connection in 2007. Hill is also the author of Horns and Locke & Key , an Audible Original narrated by a star-studded cast that includes Haley Joel Osment, Tatiana Maslany, and Kate Mulgrew. If you're looking for excellent horror narrated by a talented actress, look no further—Mulgrew narrates many of Joe Hill's books, including the widely acclaimed NOS4A2 .

20th Century Ghosts

By Joe Hill

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia was born in Mexico and now lives in Canada, and although she's a prolific writer across all genres, it's only recently that she's become well-known for her horror. Her first horror release, Mexican Gothic is set in a moldering estate in the Mexican countryside and dwells on the horrors of colonialism and eugenics. She's also published numerous horror short stories and has edited anthologies inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft. (Her master's thesis was entitled, "Magna Mater: Women and Eugenic Thought in the Work of H.P. Lovecraft," so trust us when we say she really knows horror!) If you'd like to wade into her body of work, pick up Mexican Gothic , narrated by Frankie Corzo, or her most recent horror release, Certain Dark Things .

Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz is the author of numerous thriller, paranormal, mystery, and horror novels. He got his start writing science fiction before trying his hand at horror and suspense, and throughout the 60s and 70s, he wrote many novels under a wide array of pseudonyms. Whispers , a chilling story of a man driven to kill, became his breakout hit, and Strangers was his first novel published in hardcover. Koontz continues to write in a range of genres, but his notable horror titles include Phantoms , the Odd Thomas series narrated by David Aaron Baker, and Intensity .

By Dean Koontz

Grady Hendrix

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, and now residing in New York City, Grady Hendrix writes horror that will particularly appeal to pop culture fans. His first novel was Horrorstör , a horror satire about a popular Nordic home goods store in the Midwest that opens each morning to find strange destruction and mayhem, and the employees who volunteer to stay overnight in the store to get to the bottom of it. He's also written My Best Friend's Exorcism , narrated by Emily Woo Zeller, and The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires , narrated by Bahni Turpin, which both take place in his hometown of Charleston in the 80s and 90s. So far, each of his books have been published to wide acclaim and optioned for either TV or film.

By Grady Hendrix

Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle is a writer of essays and novels, and although not all of his works are in the horror genre, it's perhaps what he's best known for. His novel Big Machine won the Shirley Jackson Award, and he followed it up with The Devil in Silver , a story about a man living in a mental institution where a monster lurks. The Ballad of Black Tom is a retelling of the H.P. Lovecraft short story "The Horror at Red Hook," with an African American protagonist. Explores the fears surrounding being a new parent, his dark horror fantasy The Changeling won the World Fantasy Award and is currently being adapted for the screen.

The Ballad of Black Tom

By Victor LaValle

Alma Katsu was born in Alaska and worked as an analyst for the federal government before turning to fiction. Her novels tend to combine historical events, supernatural occurrences, and horror elements. Katsu's debut novel was The Taker , about a woman who walks into a small-town ER as a murder suspect and tells a fantastical tale about immorality and darkness. She followed up the Taker trilogy with The Hunger , a dark supernatural take on the tragic course of events that befell the infamous Donner Party. Her latest listen, The Deep is about the evil that lurked on the Titanic—and two survivors of the sinking who meet years later on a WWI hospital ship.

By Alma Katsu

Yoko Ogawa is a Japanese writer who widely publishes fiction and nonfiction alike. Although her first book to be translated into English and published in the US isn't horror, her other releases include Revenge , a collection of 11 dark and disturbing tales, and The Memory Police , which was a National Book Award finalist. Narrated by Traci Kato-Kiriyama, The Memory Police is an Orwellian nightmare about an island where objects disappear—and those who dare to remember them are targeted by the titular Memory Police.

The Memory Police

By Yoko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder - translator

Tananarive Due

Tananarive Due has written numerous books in the speculative and supernatural genres and is a Bram Stoker Award finalist. In addition to writing, she's also a film historian with a focus on Black horror and an educator who has taught at an MFA program. (She even teaches a course on Jordan Peele's groundbreaking film Get Out at UCLA!) Her novels include The Good House , narrated by Robin Miles, about a young woman who returns home to her grandmother's mansion only to face demonic forces, and Joplin's Ghost , the story of a young singer haunted by the past. And don't miss her debut short story collection Ghost Summer , released in 2020.

The Good House

By Tananarive Due

Tananarive Due, author of The Living Blood won the American Book Award and is praised as Stephen King's equal by Publishers Weekly ....

Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon writes suspenseful, eerie ghost stories. She grew up in Connecticut and now lives in Vermont; her New England background certainly inspires her work, which often incorporates elements of history and local lore. Her debut novel, Promise Not to Tell is about a woman who has returned home to care for her ailing mother only to be alarmed when certain events mirror her disturbing childhood. She followed it up with Don't Breathe a Word , the story of a man forced to face the truth about what really happened when his sister disappeared when they were children. 

Promise Not to Tell

By Jennifer McMahon

Christopher Buehlman

Christopher Buehlman might be one of the most interesting multi-hyphenates in contemporary horror. A novelist, poet, performer, and, in his spare time, a Ren Faire icon known as “Christopher the Insulter,” he also turns out acclaimed horror and fantasy bursting with literary prose and wild imagination. In Between Two Fires , Buehlman’s medieval expertise informs an epic 14th-century saga framed by religion and the Black Death, while his self-narrated novels, like the sinister vampire tales The Lesser Dead and The Suicide Motor Club , are among the best author performances of all time.

Between Two Fires

By Christopher Buehlman

Catriona Ward

Few horror writers have made a splash over the past few years quite like the DC-born, Oxford-educated Catriona Ward. Arguably her breakout novel was 2021’s riveting The Last House on Needless Street , a dark and creepy psychological horror told from the POV of three compelling characters—one of whom is a cat. Little Eve , her Shirley Jackson Award-winning novel about a Scottish clan anticipating the apocalypse, was released in audio in 2022. Fans are eagerly awaiting the release of her next novel, Looking Glass Sound , in 2023.

The Last House on Needless Street

By Catriona Ward

Rachel Harrison

Wickedly funny and super prolific, Bram Stoker Award nominee Rachel Harrison has become a major author to watch since her 2020 debut, The Return . Since then, she’s published four more books, each one a delightfully original take on classic horror tropes. Cackle is a witty addition to witch lit, Such Sharp Teeth gives the werewolf novel fresh fangs, and Bad Dolls is a collection of four funny and frightening short stories. At under an hour and included in Audible Plus, her 2021 ghost story The Veil is one you absolutely have to hear.

By Rachel Harrison

  • Best Authors
  • Spooky Season

The Best Horror Podcasts to Binge Listen for a Scare

The best sci-fi horror audiobooks of all time, thrills and chills: these are the best horror book series in audio, from page to screen—35 spine-chilling listens that inspired horror movies.

books horror authors

Read It and Scream

Here are eight knuckle-biting, nerve-ripping new tales, just in time for Halloween.

Credit... Deena So Oteh

Supported by

  • Share full article

By Danielle Trussoni

  • Oct. 25, 2021

Overcoming dark times is the point of every scary story ever told. Whether it be pestilence or zombies, ravenous phantoms or vengeful witches, killers or psychos or ghouls from the beyond — the dramatic experience of being afraid, and the exhilaration of living through what we fear, bolster our will to survive. It may be as ancient as our ancestors telling stories around a fire, or as modern as a night alone with a horror novel, but the experience of imagining that which frightens us is a deeply human defense for life’s pageant of horrors.

Horrors of the mind are at play in Catriona Ward’s brilliant new novel, THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET (Tor Nightfire, 319 pp., $27.99), a terrifying exploration of human consciousness that excavates character like an ice pick chipping through an ancient glacier: The deeper one goes, the chillier it gets.

On the surface, the novel has a rather typical horror premise — a child, Lulu, goes missing at a lake, leaving an older sister desperate to find her. But as the story progresses, a far more startling and complicated plot emerges, one that has less to do with Lulu or the kidnapping, and more to do with how the human consciousness copes with the threat of violence.

The novel is told by a chorus of characters who unspool their experiences in first person. These perspectives are then buttressed by a third-person narrative that follows Lulu’s sister as she attempts to hunt down the kidnapper. At first, this shifting among characters feels disorienting, and the choice to include a cat’s point of view verges on silly, but as the novel builds momentum, the structure makes sense. These multiple narrators are like pieces of a cracked mirror, each shard reflecting a central fracture.

Indeed, fragmentation is the point. When a crank psychiatrist known as “the bug man” theorizes that our idea of the “self” doesn’t exist, and that “each living thing and object, each stone and blade of grass, has a soul, and all these souls together form a single consciousness,” Ward’s ambitions become clear: This isn’t a novel about a kidnapping, but a deeply frightening deconstruction of the illusion of the self. In an afterword, Ward writes that she “wrote a book about survival disguised as a book about horror.” In fact, she’s written a novel of existential dread that explores the nature of humanity, our connection to God and the universe, and the monstrosity of that connection.

books horror authors

Tananarive Due’s spellbinding THE BETWEEN (Harper Perennial, 287 pp., paper, $16.99) opens with 7-year-old Hilton James finding his beloved grandmother dead on the floor, “cold as just-drawn well water.” Hilton runs for help but when he returns, Nana is alive, sort of — she has slipped into a strange state of in-betweenness, a place between life and death where the laws of reality no longer apply.

Decades later, married and the head of a rehab center, Hilton is triggered into this state himself when a white supremacist threatens his wife, Dede, a newly elected judge, and their children. As Hilton tries to stop the man, his reality began to distort and twist, leaving him in a sunken place between terror and doubt.

“The Between,” Due’s debut novel, was originally published in 1995, but it feels as relevant as anything written in 2021, a sad testament to the fact that white supremacy hasn’t diminished in the past decades. There is a pointed political and social layer to this novel that, when juxtaposed with the internal terrors of Hilton’s life, creates a complex portrait of the Black experience in America, one in which aggression, gaslighting and the need to assess and reassess threats, real and imagined, are the stuff of daily life. “While Black horror is a much more recognized and appreciated subgenre than it was when I wrote this novel, the social fears that helped create it are still alive and well,” Due writes in the preface of this new edition. “Some monsters never die.”

Due brings readers into this experience with eerie, beautiful prose that gives the novel a shimmer of the otherworldly. There is a moment when Hilton sees a woman hovering in the “murky phosphorescent gray-green mist” coming off a swimming pool only to discover, when he looks closer, that it is Nana. Is it a ghost? A memory? Or simply refracted light in fog? Thanks to the constant blurring of reality and hallucination, nightmare and memory, the reader becomes as unsettled as Hilton.

Daryl Gregory’s startling literary horror novel, REVELATOR (Knopf, 333 pp., $27), begins as Stella Wallace returns to the backwoods of Tennessee to live with her grandmother Motty. Stella and Motty’s kinship is instantly recognizable: They have an inherited condition that colors their white skin with splotches of red. But the women are special in other ways. They were born part of a line of Revelators, women who communicate with the God in the Mountain, a monstrous being who lives in a cave near the family’s cabin.

Stella communes with the God, taking on his thoughts and relating his messages to a growing group of followers. But such divine communion demands a steep price. The messages live inside her long after she’s left the cave, inhabiting her mind and body, even creating stigmata. In one scene Stella, laid out on a slab of rock, is offered up to a monster: The God “slipped down toward her through the dark — a limb, flat as the foreleg of a praying mantis. Its torso became visible, a pale mass gleaming like mother-of-pearl. Half a dozen limbs fanned out behind it, gripping the rock.” Stella’s reaction isn’t terror, but closer to falling in love: “She’d never seen anything so beautiful.” And indeed, “Revelator” is a thing of beauty, brutal in the vein of Cormac McCarthy, a novel in the Southern Gothic tradition that is fresh and deeply disturbing.

In Stephen Graham Jones’s MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW (Saga/Simon & Schuster, 398 pp., $26.99), Jennifer “Jade” Daniels is the ultimate “horror chick,” a 17-year-old slasher film obsessive who dyes her hair blue, works as a summer janitor at her high school and struggles to break free from her abusive father. Jade sees the world as a horror film, wearing “slasher goggles” that color and distort her vision. When Jade meets Letha Mondragon, a rich girl from a gated community across the lake, it’s only natural that she casts her as the Final Girl in the slasher film of her life.

Jade, “the death metal girl, the D&D girl, the devilchild, practically was the walking, talking cover for ‘Sleepaway Camp II.’” She’s pure candy for fans of the genre. But Jade is also a deeply damaged young woman. She struggles to communicate and lies to herself and others, all while trying to come to terms with a traumatic past. Though she does ultimately find a way to the truth, for much of the novel she is a distant, perplexing character, one whose contradictions put her at a remove from everyone, including the reader. While this may be the point — someone like Jade isn’t ever going to be relatable — it makes for a frustrating protagonist.

Jones is a heady writer; gentrification, class and race all come into play here. But while the ideas are sound, the execution is not. The writing can feel rushed and the plot is unfocused, spinning around Jade as she tries to find her way.

Horror films scare us through exteriority: Image and sound come together to create the illusion of danger. Horror novels frighten through interiority: We experience fear through the inner life of a character, their thoughts, their consciousness. Jones has written a novel about a girl whose identity is defined by horror films — a girl who sees her inner world through an exterior lens. Bringing these modes of storytelling together is an ambitious project, but the result feels flat. Jade sees her most intimate experiences as something outside of herself, and yet one wants to see the world through her eyes, to understand her story. At one point she addresses her use of horror as an emotional crutch, saying, “Horror’s not a symptom, it’s a love affair.” Like all great love affairs, Jade’s relationship with horror is a private, unknowable thing, one that doesn’t allow anyone — not even the reader — inside.

Nothing is scarier than a Brian Evenson short story, as his new collection, THE GLASSY, BURNING FLOOR OF HELL (Coffee House Press, 238 pp., paper, $16.95), shows. Evenson is the Svengali of horror fiction, a hypnotic artist whose work lures one in sentence by sentence, only to shock with insight. Transformative, twisted and utterly surreal, Evenson’s stories are written with the eye of a miniaturist, every detail adding shadow and gloss.

In “The Shimmering Wall,” the narrator lives in a city contained by “semitransparent and flickering walls,” a “firm, jelly-like membrane” that acts as a permeable barrier between one world and another. The narrator’s parents died crossing this barrier and, despite the danger, he tries to break through, too. The result is terrifying: “With a sucking sound, it drew my fingers in, and then my hand … the sensation was odd and disorienting, as if my hand were being taken apart and put together in a way that made it something else.”

Evenson’s stories enact this process on the reader, taking the known world apart and replacing it with something new and strange. Take “The Extrication,” a four-page story about two survivors of a ruined world. One restrains the other and puts him through a terrible procedure that results in biological transformation. Why?

In order to adapt. “As the world sickens further, as the air grows poisonous, as the oceans die, so too must we shift and change if we care to survive. We must extricate ourselves from humanity and become something other than ourselves.” That this extrication is unthinkably terrible, and involves great pain, is only to be expected.

In Zoje Stage’s GETAWAY (Mulholland, 352 pp., $28), Imogen, a writer who has lived through a massacre at a synagogue, is “lured out of her hermit’s cave” and to the Grand Canyon by her sister Beck in an effort to find some peace in nature.

When Beck invites Tilda, an old friend with whom Imogen has fallen out, the stage is set. Tilda is not made for the Grand Canyon. She’s an “American Idol” finalist turned Instagram influencer who was recently given a book advance “five times what Imogen had been paid for her first finally-got-the-damn-thing-published novel.” But Beck believes a seven-day hike will help heal old wounds, and so they head out over Tonto Platform to Boucher Trail. A premise full of dramatic possibilities becomes even more intense when the women are ambushed by “Red Fred,” a scraggly ex-con. What began as a respite from reality spirals into a struggle for survival.

Stage is a writer with a gift for the lyrical and the frightening. She creates gorgeous descriptions of nature, with its “colors so rich she could smell them: flamingo rock, terra-cotta dirt, cornflower sky” in one paragraph, and heart-stopping scenes of violence in the next. And while the story itself isn’t surprising — anyone familiar with James Dickey’s “Deliverance” can guess what will happen — Stage’s characters are so engrossing, her ability to create tension so deft, that “Getaway” feels original, and very scary.

Mindfulness apps are frightening beasts, but a mindfulness app that delves deep inside the psyche to control dreams? Pure horror. The premise of WHERE THEY WAIT (Emily Bestler/Atria, 387 pp., $27), Scott Carson’s compulsively readable psychological horror novel, rests upon anxiety and a need to soothe it. Nick Bishop, an unemployed journalist, is hired to write a profile of Bryce Lermond, a wealthy tech entrepreneur whose mindfulness app, Clarity, is about to hit the market. Nick is skeptical, but when he tries it, he discovers that it is the “Inception” of mindfulness apps. In a series of chilling sessions, we experience the mind-warping power of Clarity’s incantations called “sleep songs,” meditations taken from an ancient source and sung by a ghostly voice, “an eerie, whispering wail, a sound caught between a warning and an invitation, a sound that could conjure thoughts of a night hunt with hounds and now one of a tall, ancient church with stained-glass windows and high ceilings and flickering candles” that inspires all who hear it to commit suicide. Think Enya with a razor blade.

Carson’s storytelling is like the Clarity app: It’s easy to get hooked and hard to forget. After reading “Where They Wait,” you may find that earbuds take on a sinister quality, and downloading an app — especially one that is supposed to promote mindfulness — calls up a strange, haunting voice in your head.

Caitlin Starling’s THE DEATH OF JANE LAWRENCE (St. Martin’s, 362 pp., $27.99) is a jewel box of a Gothic novel, one filled with ghosts and sorcery, great stores of romance, medical curiosities and so much galloping about in carriages that there is hardly a moment to catch your breath.

Jane Shoringfield needs a husband, and Dr. Augustine Lawrence fits her purposes to a T. But what begins as a marriage of convenience transforms into a love affair that pulls her into Augustine’s past. The problems begin on their wedding night. Although they had decided that Jane would never sleep at Augustine’s crumbling manor, Lindridge Hall, that agreement is broken when a storm hits, stranding Jane, and revealing Augustine to be a very different man than she had believed.

Half of the pleasure of Starling’s novel is the world she’s constructed. Set in an alternate postwar England of crumbling manors, bloody surgical theaters and hidden crypts, it would be easy to sink into the delicious gloom. But there is too much happening to get comfortable: Jane proves herself as persistent as Jane Eyre in overcoming an ill-fated marriage. And while Augustine’s past is more than she bargained for, she shows she is his equal in love and magic.

Explore More in Books

Want to know about the best books to read and the latest news start here..

Walter Isaacson’s biography of the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk  depicts a mercurial “man-child” with grandiose ambitions and an ego to match.

Lauren Groff is unusually productive for a literary writer . She works on several novels at once, composes in longhand, and wrote a draft of her new book, “The Vaster Wilds,” in iambic pentameter “just for fun.”

What do you do when your doppelgänger becomes a conspiracy theorist  on the internet? If you’re Naomi Klein, you write a book about it .

Do you want to be a better reader?   Here’s some helpful advice to show you how to get the most out of your literary endeavor .

Each week, top authors and critics join the Book Review’s podcast to talk about the latest news in the literary world. Listen here .


The 50 Best Horror Novels of All Time

The 50 Best Horror Novels of All Time

Horror is a peculiar genre. If it’s meant purely to scare, then some of the heftier books on this list would have wracked up a body count, terrifying readers to death over 700 pages or more. And what is scary? What might shock one reader is laughable to another. Ghosts, serial killers, great heaving monsters, the loss of self-control, plagues, impossible physics and a creepy clown all figure into our countdown, with entries spanning from the 1800s to the last few years. One (obvious) author makes five(!) appearances, and easily could have qualified for a few more; another has written just one novel during his decades-long career. We narrowed our focus to prose novels, so please don’t ask after The Books of Blood or Uzumaki . And while we kept an eye on the diversity of our featured authors, the inclusion of women, authors of color and queer creators came naturally as we gathered the best of the best. We’re prepared for you to question our choices, we ask only that you leave the chainsaw at home before doing so. Without further ado, we present our choices for the best horror novels of all time.

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 4.07.05 PM.png

Joey Comeau’s first horror outing, One Bloody Thing After Another , is perhaps creepier and more unsettling than this summer-camp slasher. But The Summer Is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved gets the nod for importing the genre from film into prose while layering in subtle, smart commentary on our thirst for teen blood. Eleven-year-old Martin is used to entrails—his mother does special-effect makeup for horror movies—but would like to keep his inside of his body. A maniac employed at his bible camp has other intentions. The title of Comeau’s previous novel would have worked here just as well: the gory killings are one bloody thing after the other, stacking up as a reminder that we’ve created a prolific genre around watching kids get murdered in inventive ways. — Steve Foxe


One of the biggest tonal outliers on this list, Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black is crafted like a traditional gothic novel, and could likely fool readers into thinking that Hill is a few hundred years older than she truly is. Published in 1983, The Woman in Black is best known today for inspiring one of the longest-running plays in London’s West End (and a Daniel Radcliffe movie). Structured in the classic British form of a story told around a fireplace, Hill’s short ‘80s anachronism chills thanks to its ominous titular figure, who stalks a house on the foggy moors and foretells the death of children. The Woman in Black may not feel like a quintessentially ‘80s horror novel, but it’s an excellent reminder that, even at the peak of its copycat boom period, the genre refused to be pigeonholed. — Steve Foxe


Like Michael McDowell, who can be found higher up this list, Michael Talbot was an openly gay horror author who passed away at an early age and whose most popular works fell out of print during the ‘90s. Talbot’s publishing legacy shifted in the last decade of his life to metaphysical nonfiction, but his early horror efforts, including vampire touchstone A Delicate Dependency and haunted-house chiller Night Things , have thankfully come back into accessibility in recent years. Night Things isn’t merely about a ghost haunting the halls of an old mansion, though—the lake house at the center of the novel is a labyrinthine creation taunting protagonist Lauren Montgomery’s family with hidden rooms, doors that open to nowhere and a macabre secret hidden at its center. Fans of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves and fellow ‘80s scribe Jack Cady’s The Well should appreciate navigating this maze. — Steve Foxe


Grady Hendrix is building a brand: gimmicky on the outside, surprisingly scary on the inside. Horrorstör , his 2014 horror breakthrough, plopped readers into a haunted faux-IKEA full of torture instruments—beyond what the real-life stores already stock. His follow-up, My Best Friend’s Exorcism , dials back the meta-factor; aside from the yearbook-style packaging, this tale of ’80s gal pals dealing with a demonic intrusion could easily a have been a paperback original during horror’s boom period—and that’s a compliment. Abby and Gretchen are best friends for life on the eve of the first Bush presidency…until Gretchen gets lost in the woods and comes back different. Abby, already an outcast in her swank private school, faces as much peer pressure as she does pea soup in her quest to cleanse her best friend’s soul. — Steve Foxe


Gore Verbinki’s 2002 American adaptation of Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel Ring utterly reshaped American horror cinema, ushering in a wave of J-horror imports, remakes and knockoffs and helping make the image of a ghostly Japanese woman with slick black hair ubiquitous the world over. While the broad strokes are the same, Verbinksi’s take (and director Hiroshi Takahashi’s Japanese adaptation before it) leans more supernatural than Suzuki’s. In the original novel and its sequels, the cursed videotape and Sadako’s well evolve into something of a medical thriller, as psychic powers and the smallpox virus intertwine. Readers expecting the nonstop scares of creepy abstract video imagery may feel let down, but Suzuki’s novel is a fascinating milestone in Japanese horror fiction. — Steve Foxe


In this Bram Stoker Award-winning tale, author Paul Tremblay (whose follow-up, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock , is absolutely chilling if a bit baffling at the very end) manages to both examine the possession subgenre and break new ground with its tired tropes. Fourteen-year-old Marjorie Barrett starts displaying signs of schizophrenia, or maybe it’s just teenage rebellion…or maybe it’s something more. Before long, Marjorie’s out-of-work father agrees to let a reality-TV crew film an attempt to exorcise his daughter’s demons. Cutting between the events of the show and an interview with Marjorie’s younger sister, filmed 15 years after the show’s conclusion, Tremblay walks a razor-thin edge between confirming and denying which forces are actually at play within Marjorie’s head, keeping readers guessing well after the final page is turned. — Steve Foxe


The Damnation Game proved that Books of Blood wunderkind Clive Barker could sustain his brand of fear beyond the duration of a short story. Barker’s most compelling skill—the ability to blend lust and revulsion, desire and disgust—is on full display. In this depraved galleria of a novel, with graphic depictions of incest and cannibalism, an in-over-his-head bodyguard attempts to interfere a Faustian pact to save the relatively innocent daughter of a wealthy degenerate. After the first few years of his career, Barker more often delved into dark fantasy than straight-up horror. The Damnation Game , published between Barker’s debut short story collection and the fatefully successful novella The Hellbound Heart (which you may know by its film adaptation, Hellraiser ), is still the purest long-form expression of the man’s penchant for plunging the darkest corners of the human imagination. — Steve Foxe


Ryu Murakami’s Audition is outshined in popularity by Takeshi Miike’s film adaptation of the same name, and a case could be made that Miike’s version is the superior telling of the story. There’s something unforgettable about Murakami’s original prose though; blunt to the point of over-explanation, Murakami lays bare the psychology behind the plot, and forces the reader to confront his or her own role in the voyeurism of violence and manipulation. There’s also an intimacy present in the novel that the movie keeps at arm’s length, to the point that you genuinely worry for widower Aoyama during the infamously shocking climax. Piercing and In the Miso Soup are similarly disturbing tales from this master of Japanese thrillers. — Steve Foxe


Victor LaValle cites Shirley Jackson as an influence, and that lineage is easy to identify in this literary piece that’s as much about institutional failings as it is about the bison-headed devil wandering the halls of a mental institution. Pepper, the novel’s protagonist, can’t quite recall the crime he (supposedly) committed, but he knows he was only supposed to be held in New Hyde Hospital for a few days at most. LaValle wrings dread out of Pepper and his fellow inmates’ helplessness, sticking to Jackson’s level of unease instead of attempting all-out terror. By the end, the reality of the titular devil is almost ancillary to the horror that’s been revealed. — Steve Foxe


With your eyes closed and your imagination unfettered, you can envision creatures whose monstrosity knows no bounds. Detroit-based author Josh Malerman manifests an apocalypse of the obscured in Bird Box , in which undiscovered entities start appearing around the world and just one glance of their grotesquery drives people to suicide. In the book’s unforgettable introduction, our protagonist travels down a river with black fabric knotted around her eyes, shepherding two similarly blinded four-year-olds, rowing their way to an uncertain sanctuary while any sound they hear could very well be one of these monsters sloshing ever closer to the bow of the boat. — Jeff Milo


Stephen King’s ‘70s and ‘80s classics are still so widely celebrated today that it’s easy to forget just how many genre standouts disappeared when the horror shelves waned in popularity in the early ‘90s. Robert Marasco’s Burnt Offerings is one such casualty of our short-term memory, and even its 1976 film version (starring Karen Black and Bette Davis!) is largely unknown to modern fans. The Rolfe family rent a vacation home at the far end of Long Island to get away from their Queens apartment for the summer months. The only unusual stipulation about the home is that the property owners’ elderly mother is to stay in the house’s top floor, confined to her apartment, and fed three times daily. If that’s setting off any warning bells for you, congratulations: you’re smarter than the Rolfe family. As with King’s The Shining , which followed in 1977, Burnt Offerings turns a sprawling home into an oppressive, malevolent force to be reckoned with. — Steve Foxe


A rollercoaster of weird, sprung from a hallucinogenic (and possibly demonic) drug known as soy sauce and written in bracing, punchy style shooting swift sentences, often sliced to seven words or less, and stung with spicy diction detailing psychedelic imagery and delivered with sustained breathlessness. Something of a punk-rock-ified, video-game-esque tear and tumble into the Weird Tales tradition, Wong (a.k.a. humorist Jason Pargin, of, charismatically clusters together a hip and highly evocative narrative of monstrosities, with plenty of barbs any 17-year-old could snigger at… Think of it as the horror-heavier cousin to Ready Player One . — Jeff Milo


Christopher Conlon’s all-too-possible Savaging the Dark shares a premise with Alissa Nutting’s controversial Tampa , but the differences in execution are what makes this novel truly horrific and Nutting’s more of a pitch-black comedy. Conlon’s narrator, Mona Straw, slowly unravels while carrying out an affair…with her 11-year-old student. Whereas Tampa introduced an admitted predator from the first page, Conlon takes care to build a believable case for how Mona justifies her taboo actions, even as her control of the situation—and her sanity—slip out of her grasp. Of all the novels on this list, Savaging the Dark may be one of the scariest if only because of its plausibility. — Steve Foxe


Rebecca didn’t coin the term “gaslighting,” but it’s one of literature’s most chilling examples of psychological harassment. A naïve young woman falls for a handsome, older widower, and agrees to become his bride after only a brief courtship. When she arrives at his impressive estate, she finds herself at the mercy of a housekeeper who remains fiercely loyal to the widower’s late wife, and has no hesitance in making that clear to the protagonist—or in undermining the protagonist’s confidence and sense of security however possible. Rebecca has sold somewhere around 3,000,000 copies in its lifetime, and its whiplash third-act twists make it easy to see what attracted Alfred Hitchcock to adapt it into an Academy Award-winning film in 1940. — Steve Foxe


It’s a curious thing to take on the concept of a “freak show” without slipping into ableism and other offensive tropes. Tod Browning’s seminal 1932 film Freaks revealed the ugliness in the traditionally attractive members of its cast, and Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love populates its 360-odd pages with such a wide and eclectic set of characters that of course some are bound to be reprehensible, regardless of stunted limbs or psychic predilections. Told in two time periods, Geek Love follows a family of intentionally bred “freaks”—the family’s progenitors consume various drugs and chemicals to produce different birth defects—as they grapple with telekinetic incest, burgeoning cults and consensual amputation. It sounds like a splatterpunk nightmare, but Dunn’s novel earned its National Book Award finalist nod because of the heart that beats under its freakish exterior. — Steve Foxe


An over-the-hill rock star buys a haunted suit on the Internet. It sounds like the setup to a bad joke, not the plot of one of horror fiction’s most important debut novels of the century, but Joe Hill throttles into his premise and never lets up. While Horns is fast and punchy and NOS4A2 is sprawling and darkly fantastical, Heart-Shaped Box is like a long motorcycle ride straight into despair. Judas Coyne, Hill’s Rob-Halford-meets-Glenn-Danzig protagonist, confronts both a sinister spirit and the intersection of his own myth and humanity, joined by his two loyal hounds and the latest in a string of female groupies named after their states of origin. Eleven years and several major works from Hill later, it’s clear that this chilling debut wasn’t a fluke. — Steve Foxe


Zombie fiction has never come close to the cultural impact and artistic importance of zombie cinema, until World War Z came along. Nobody had thought to take the idea of a zombie apocalypse and truly dive into the guts of everything else besides the violence, and that’s what makes Max Brooks’ book so incredible. If you’re not aware, it isn’t a true “novel”—rather, it’s presented like a journalistic report in a series of dozens of interviews with people from all over the globe on how they survived the zombie crisis. The audience gets to see exactly how it all went down, and Brooks’ gift is in making it all seem so reasonable, because he considers every possible eventuality. He shows us how the infection could realistically spread around the globe thanks to human trafficking. He shows us how modern militaries could possibly be defeated via poor planning and mass defections. He shows us how society might be after 90 percent of humanity has been killed and an uneasy rebuilding period has begun. Ignore the existence of the horrendous, slap-in-the-face film adaptation with Brad Pitt and simply read the book, because World War Z is easily the best piece of zombie fiction ever written. — Jim Vorel


In his excellent genre-history-slash-oddity-collection Paperbacks From Hell , novelist Grady Hendrix makes clear that Thomas Tyron’s The Other was a sensation , becoming a near-instant bestseller and helping, alongside The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby , to kick off the paperback horror boom period of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The tale of twin 13-year-old boys, one kind and unassuming, one growing increasingly sinister, hit the perfect sweet spot of can’t-look-away homegrown horror to attract mass audiences, just as film The Bad Seed did decades earlier. The Other hasn’t maintained the pop-culture staying power of its most famous contemporaries, but remains a must-read for fans of the genre. — Steve Foxe


It’s hard not to feel a bit bad for Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist. Despite two stellar film adaptations of his vampire novel Let the Right One In , Stephen King comparisons take up more real estate on his American book covers than does his own name. With shades of Carrie , Little Star does little to dissuade that similarity. Two young girls, one extraordinary and one suffocating under her own feelings of mediocrity, connect online and form a friendship that will have terrible consequences. Lindqvist taps into the modern-day fears that drive adolescent anxiety—less locker room, more Internet comment section—and stretches them out to their most disturbing logical conclusion. Despite a suggestion of the supernatural, it is the violence committed by very ordinary young people that will stick with you long after you’ve finished Little Star . — Steve Foxe


While horror has always flourished on the small-press scene, Lauren Beaukes is helping to forge a continued legacy for the genre at major publishers as well. The Shining Girls is a serial killer novel unlike any other, as Harper Curtis discovers a house in Depression-era Chicago that opens its doors to other times—and comes with a kill list of “shining girls” destined to die at his hand. Kirby is the last name on the list, and the only one who survived Harper’s first murder attempt. As in her exceptional follow-up, Broken Monsters , South African novelist Beukes weaves together a diverse cast of characters and just enough science fiction to complicate her premise without distracting from the horror at hand. — Steve Foxe


Ketchum’s twisted tale of under-your-nose terror got some extra attention in 2007, when a limited-run feature film brought the story back into the horror conversation. The novel, which is based on the Indiana murder case of Sylvia Likens, follows single mother, alcoholic and next-door neighbor Ruth, who takes in two nieces after their parents die in a car accident. Ruth’s rapidly deteriorating state creates a hellish environment for the nieces and her own kids alike, and The Girl Next Door will make you think twice, thrice—Hell, probably forever—about handing your kids off to anyone. — Tyler Kane


H.P. Lovecraft really wasn’t a “novelist,” per se, in the sense that he never wrote a single piece of fiction long enough to be unmistakably “a novel,” but certain stories such as “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” “The Shadow Out of Time” and especially novella At the Mountains of Madness are tough to categorize as anything else. Madness in particular has captivated the imaginations of audiences consistently since it was first published in 1936, and its bitterly cold, ice-caked horrors can be felt reverberating through the ages and all the way into modern AMC TV series such as the first season of The Terror . Like all of Lovecraft’s best work, it delivers its eeriness from a slowly revealed reality that our feeble human society is utterly insignificant, only existing by the whim of unimaginable forces that perhaps simply haven’t bothered to notice us just yet. And when those forces wake up to the annoyance of human incursion? Well, when that happens, “madness” might be our species only respite. — Jim Vorel


At the beginning of the year, Paste published a list of overlooked ‘80s horror novels. Stephen King sought out the author on Twitter to recommend one more: T.E.D. Klein’s The Ceremonies , which King described as, “the Moby-Dick of ‘80s horror.” Reader: he was not wrong. Klein has published just one novel in his career, but it’s a hefty one, sitting at the intersection of the Arthur Machen and Clarke Ashton Smith’s Weird Fiction tradition and the ‘80s zeitgeist of psychics and impending global annihilation. If you think you’ve read the best the genre has to offer, take King’s advice and track down this criminally forgotten tome. — Steve Foxe


Amazingly, embarrassingly, we debated whether or not to include Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire on this list. Is the novel truly horror, or is it gothic romance? What an absurd delineation! Written in the wake of her young daughter’s death, Rice’s first installment in The Vampire Chronicles is a psychosexual marvel, and a turning point in vampire fiction. Rice’s vampires are tortured souls who’ve lived too long, trapped in bodies that refuse to age. It’s not simply the requirement of blood or the avoidance of sunlight that pains Rice’s immortals, but the accumulated weight of existence, and the limbo of a “life” without change. A direct line can be traced from Interview and its famous film adaptation to the surge in ‘90s goth culture and the romanticizing of vampires up through Twilight —but don’t hold that against Rice. While there’s one more vampire novel higher up our list, Interview is potentially the most important work in the subgenre since Stoker. — Steve Foxe


The titular phrase “a choir of ill children” is used four or five times throughout the late Tom Piccirilli’s haunting Southern Gothic, first in reference to the off-kilter musicality of protagonist Thomas’ three brothers (conjoined at the head) speaking in unison. Thomas, the heir of Kingdom Come’s most prosperous family line, enjoys an equal mix of fear and respect in town, from the granny witches in the swamps to the compulsively nude preacher’s son to the sheriff nursing a mighty Napoleon complex. If that sounds comedic, that’s because there is a perverted sense of dark humor punctuating the novel’s scenes of shocking violence and grotesquery. Like the great Michael McDowell and Karen Russell, Piccirilli mines his southern setting for the full range of the region’s complicated, messy magic. — Steve Foxe


Were this list inclusive of short story collections, Ray Bradbury’s The October Country would be a serious contender for the top spot. Something Wicked This Way Comes doesn’t rank quite as high, but still embodies what makes Bradbury so influential in the world of the dark fantastic. It’s hard to imagine Neil Gaiman or Stephen King having their current careers had Bradbury not paved the way with his deeply human, quietly terrifying brand of horror, and Something Wicked , like so many of King and Gaiman’s best-loved works, also deals in that particular childhood fear of growing older and away from youthful innocence. A traveling carnival brings tempting delights and sinister frights, and readers young and old should find this one to be a timeless autumnal classic. — Steve Foxe


From Song of Kali and Carrion Comfort to a host of sci-fi classics, Dan Simmons is no stranger to lengthy literary outings. The last decade or so found the author hitting his stride with immersive historical horror fiction, the best of which is the story of the HMS Terror’s failed search for the Northwest Passage. While most of the horrors awaiting the ship’s crew are all-too-real—shrinking rations, scurvy, bitter cold—there’s a looming supernatural presence driving the survivors farther from civilization and any hope of rescue. Don’t wimp out of reading this in favor of the AMC television series—Simmons is a long-time genre master finding new ways to reinvent himself each decade. — Steve Foxe


It’s hard to downplay the horrors that hide inside Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho . Ellis received hate mail, death threats and became the subject of immense criticism after serial killer Paul Bernardo was found with a copy of the book. And it’s understandable why the book was a bit, uh, shocking in the ‘90s. Ellis’ twisted satire of upper-class living played out much like Less Than Zero , another tale of hyper-wealthy individuals searching aimlessly for something in a world where everything was handed to them. In Patrick Bateman’s case, a Wall Street yuppie finds murder as his escape. He tortures a homeless man. Breaks a dog’s legs. At one point, he gets his hands on a chainsaw. For some, it may seem like senseless violence for nothing—but the whole tale is a deep delve into Ellis’ own alienation and madness in the late ‘80s. And years later, it’s also a pretty good satire that looks toward the one percent. — Tyler Kane


It’s a little odd getting around The Silence of the Lambs ’ third-person present tense: “Starling looks down the corridor,” etc., but once you get used to it, it’s a device that ends up perfectly suiting the novel. The narrator’s impartial voice floats above the proceedings, never siding with one character or settling exclusively onto their perspective—at times, the third-person narration gives us glimpses into the minds of Clarice Starling, Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill. What the novel also does particularly well is make us probe into the motivations and ambition of Starling, going beyond her desire to simply help people and catch a killer. Opposed at nearly every turn by the institutional roadblocks erected in the path of female FBI trainees, the reader can sense the desperation of Starling and her borderline selfish desire to stand out and prove herself to her entirely male superiors. You can also sense this is part of the reason that Lecter takes an interest in her, finding her ambitions an interesting character trait that he can use to wrap Starling around his finger. This is actually one of the cases where it’s helpful to have seen the film in advance, because you can read Lecter’s dialogue and imagine it being delivered by Sir Anthony Hopkins. That’s a damn good combination to make for a compelling reading experience. — Jim Vorel


By the time Pet Sematary was published in 1983, a mythology had grown around it. Rumors among King’s fans suggested that the book was too frightening to publish, the sort of death-saturated manuscript you had to read wearing rubber gloves. There was some truth to this. When a cat belonging to his daughter was killed on the busy truck route in front of his house, King wondered: what would happen if he buried the cat, and three days later it came back, somewhat altered ? And what if a child were killed, too, then came back changed (and not for the better)? In the novel, doctor Louis Creed takes a job at the University of Maine Infirmary and moves his wife, daughter and two-year-old son Gage into a house by a busy interstate. The highway soon consumes his daughter’s cat and later his son. But the permanency of death is a hard lesson for a parent to learn, and when Creed interferes with the natural order, fate slams him tenfold with retribution. King once wrote that horror writers are afraid to open the door all the way and show the monster’s face. In Pet Sematary King swings it wide. Beyond? The darkness and the dim shape of Oz, the great and terrible, awaits. — William Gay


Richard Matheson is perhaps better known for an earlier work, the sci-fi/horror I Am Legend , which has been repeatedly butchered on film under various names. Hell House gets the nod on this list because it is a purer distillation of Matheson’s horror approach, and an exemplary use of the haunted house—a theme that occupies at least 10% of this list. The researchers who enter Matheson’s “most haunted house in the world” find themselves subjected not only to supernatural perversions, but to attacks on their own sanity. By the final page, no title short of Hell House will feel appropriate. — Steve Foxe


Stephen King’s magnum opus nearly didn’t make this countdown, fitting, as it does, more neatly into post-apocalyptic fiction or fantasy. At over 800 pages (more, if you’re reading the uncut edition), The Stand includes as much horror as any of King’s other novels, spurred by a viral outbreak that kills off 99.4% of the population. World-ending scenarios were on everyone’s minds in the ‘70s and ‘80s, as global tensions escalated and means of mass destruction proliferated. King isn’t content to simply explore a post-pandemic wasteland, though; The Stand is his most epic standoff between good and evil, the latter concept embodied by Randall Flagg, a recurring antagonist of King’s who becomes essential to the sprawling Dark Tower saga. Knowledge of that series isn’t necessary to undertake The Stand —just a month or so of dedicated reading time, and a hearty resistance to nightmares. — Steve Foxe


Robert R. McCammon was one of the most successful and prolific horror authors of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, before an editorial dispute prompted him to take a decade-long hiatus from writing. Swan Song , which tied with Stephen King’s Misery for a Bram Stoker Award for best novel, is a 960-page magnum opus of apocalyptic fiction that feels a bit too familiar in 2018. As the novel opens, various countries have already obliterated themselves in nuclear fire, and the United States and Russia are locked in a tensely escalating standoff. Once the bombs begin to fall, McCammon follows several motley bands of survivors, including “Swan,” a young girl who may have restorative powers necessary for mankind to emerge from the nuclear winter. Although not as widely read as King’s The Stand , Swan Song is one of the finest examples of apocalyptic fiction (even if it hits too close to home today). — Steve Foxe


Stephen King declared Ghost Story the finest in its genre in 1981 with the non-fiction horror critique, Danse Macabre , which, as we’ve established, is high praise indeed. Peter Straub’s best-known piece isn’t as simple as its title lets on. Sure, we’ve all heard ghost stories, but this multi-layered story of paranormal revenge, told from the point of view of four aging men who kill time by trading ghost tales, under-promises and over-delivers. Though it took years for Straub to arrive at supernatural tales, Ghost Story will be remembered as his first critical success—not to mention his most beloved work. — Tyler Kane


In an episode of Louie , the now-disgraced comedian declines carrying his daughter’s heavy backpack, explaining, “I would never take your burden. Struggling is how you get stronger.” Neil Gaiman was probably thinking similar things when he wrote Coraline , an insidious middle-grade masterpiece with the power to unsettle any generation. The titular Coraline, a plucky youth bored of her hyper-domestic parents, assumes the modern incarnation of Alice, crossing the looking glass into a far less hospitable wonderland. This surreal reflection houses a terrible queen, the Other Mother, who concocts a superficial world where young Coraline’s every wish is indulged. The downside? She may have to sew buttons over her eyes before sacrificing her soul. This novel dives into far darker, less whimsical depths than Henry Selick’s wonderful stop-motion film adaptation. Gaiman seamlessly crafts a reality that’s the antithesis of maternal love: cold, isolating, parasitic and directionless. It’s a grand, ornate adventure that wears its horror on its sleeve. Even better? Coraline arms parents with a anecdotal warhead for when their kids take them for granted. — Sean Edgar


Possession tales are terrifying for a specific reason. With some of our most famous horror stories—ones that follow knife-wielding masked madmen, houses that consume humans, scorned telekinetic teens—the victim, even in death, retains control of his or her own mind. The same can’t be said for the dead in Dan Simmons’ 1989 classic, Carrion Comfort , a super-thick read that begins in ’40s concentration camps and travels through the decades with three old-age “mind vampires.” No, Carrion Comfort is a different kind of mindfuck—its antagonists don’t simply possess. They use the human mind to feed, prolonging their own lives at the expense of others. The 700-plus page epic is a beast to power through, but it’s a fresh take on two different tried-and-true horror tales. — Tyler Kane


With 2011’s The Shining Girls and 2014’s Broken Monsters , South African novelist Lauren Beukes has established herself as a master of the horror/thriller. It’s tough to pick between the two novels, but Broken Monsters’ Detroit setting, outsider artist serial killer ( Hannibal and True Detective fans will feel right at home), and unexplained otherworldly threat just barely edges out The Shining Girls ’ impressive time-travel continuity. In both outings, Beukes masterfully rotates perspectives, slowly filling in a complete picture of the atrocities men will commit when given a push by a malevolent force. Where The Shining Girls focused more on one resilient survivor, Broken Monsters spreads its narrative love a little more evenly, finding a handful of struggling heroes eking out a living in America’s most emblematic capitalist failure. Beukes rejects easy “ruin porn,” though, refusing to reduce Detroit to a grimy background for elaborate murders. With its impeccably researched setting and its unflinching look at evils both known and unknown, Broken Monsters is the best work yet from a young horror writer to watch. — Steve Foxe


Michael McDowell’s recently recovered horror classic doesn’t feature explicitly queer characters, but his saga of the McCray and Savage families—and the sandy spirit that haunts their Victorian beach houses—is pure self-aware Southern Gothic through his singular gay voice. It possesses enough camp to nod at fellow friends of Dorothy and enough chills to titillate any scare-junkie. McDowell is best remembered as the screenwriter behind Beetlejuice , and he was celebrated by the likes of Stephen King before his early death from AIDS-related illness in 1999. With its sun-bleached setting, The Elementals is a sweltering read for horror fans and a potent reminder of the generation of talent lost to the AIDS epidemic. — Steve Foxe


The Dracula tale is possibly the most-embedded horror story in American culture, and if Let the Right One In , True Blood and the Twilight series are any indication, the classic vampire tale is still alive and well in the pop culture realm. Stoker didn’t invent the vampire in fiction—that was John Polidori in 1819, with The Vampyre . But Stoker’s Dracula molded the vampire story into the tales we know today, which blend gore, horror and romance in a neat, red velvet-covered package. Stoker’s Dracula was a critical success, but it’d be decades—and Stoker’s own death—before it’d prowl its way into culture as we recognize it today. — Tyler Kane


We owe Ira Levin and Rosemary’s Baby a great debt. Arriving in 1967, Rosemary’s Baby is often cited as the first major spark that ignited the horror boom, giving rise to most of the other titles on this list. If you’ve seen Roman Polanski’s film, then you know the story well: a young couple moves into a new apartment building, and there’s more to the kindly old neighbors than one might assume. Rosemary’s going to have a baby, you see, and everyone is very excited for the new arrival. Polanski’s adaptation doesn’t stray far from Levin’s source material, but it’s worth doubling back to the novel that quite possibly started it all. — Steve Foxe


Are two immaculate little children possessed by their former caretakers? Or is the kids’ current ward simply going batshit bonkers? Henry James posed this question in his 1898 novella, The Turn of the Screw , and like some literary Mona Lisa smile, any attempts to excavate its truth have just sprung more debate. This story within a story within a story relays a nameless host’s discovery of a manuscript about a poor woman hired to watch two bizarre adolescents. One of the kids, the young Miles, has been expelled from his school for unexplained reasons, save that he’s “an injury to the others.” And then the governess learns that the woman she’s replaced, Miss Jessel, got freaky with a farmhand, Peter Quint, before the pair shuffled off their respective mortal coils. What’s scarier than ghouls that prey on the innocent? Inter-class sexual shenanigans. Produced at the tail end of the Victorian era, a few of these themes are far more transparent then the alleged ghosts that embody them: passionate sex is bad news, especially if a lower-rung manual worker seduces you into his literal and metaphorical barnyard. Indeed, The Turn of the Screw unintentionally advertises its most sensual points of conflict. Everything else here suffocates the reader in creeping, ambiguous tension. Whether rural ghosts corrupted the innocent or not, we’re ultimately left with (117-year-old spoiler alert) a confused woman holding a small child’s lifeless body. — Sean Edgar


Carrie was an explosive start, but Stephen King’s second published novel best forecasted what to expect from the horror genre’s most outstanding author. Praised upon release as “ Peyton Place meets Dracula ,” a reference that only half-makes sense to most modern readers, ‘Salem’s Lot brought the vampire myth into the backyards of semi-rural Americans, and found King at his most ruthless; characters you come to love will meet grisly ends. Amusingly, the novel also features the first of King’s many writer protagonists. King sold ‘Salem’s Lot for an outstanding sum by today’s standards, let alone 1975’s, and never let up from there. This year’s The Outsider even touches upon some of the same themes, to chilling effect. — Steve Foxe


For most modern readers, legendary director Stanley Kubrick’s stay at the Overlook Hotel looms large over Stephen King’s original novel. Nearly all of the moments lodged in the public consciousness—everything you’ve seen parodied on The Simpsons —are only in the film: the elevator of blood, the ghoulish twin girls, the typewriter, “Here’s Johnny!” Pushing past these iconic bits of pop culture reveals one of King’s greatest accomplishments, a hauntingly compelling look at a troubled man’s descent into madness. King’s novel is more sympathetic toward Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic writer (sound familiar?) trying to improve his family’s life by taking a job as caretaker of a remote off-season resort with a barely concealed violent history. The house wants Danny, Jack’s gifted young son, and puts the Torrance family through hell to get to him. King infamously hates Kubrick’s adaptation, and while it’s hard to debate the film’s quality or place in the horror movie pantheon, the novel is the more nuanced and, arguably, scarier version of the story, topiary monsters and all. — Steve Foxe


Not one to be outdone by his dear old dad, Heart-Shaped Box and Horns author Joe Hill unleashed full holiday terror for his third novel, along with a warm embrace of the nostalgia-tinged magic so frequently employed by Stephen King. In NOS4A2 , both Victoria McQueen and Charlie Manx can slip out of time and space when they ride the right vehicle: Vic can find lost things on her rickety bike, and Manx can journey to “Christmasland” in his vintage Rolls-Royce Wraith. Beyond the cheery name and amusement-park shine, Manx’ Christmasland is the last place good little boys and girls want to end up, and Vic is the only child who escapes a ride on the Wraith. Much like Santa himself, Manx never forgets a child, and when Vic is too old for his tastes, Vic’s son will do. NOS4A2 represented a turning point for Hill, as his own career was established enough that he loosened up about his parentage, resulting in a novel that blends the best of Hill’s distinct style with his father’s influence—and the most quintessentially frightening take on Christmas in modern memory. — Steve Foxe


The story within a story in House of Leaves would have been unsettling enough: a family moves into a house and slowly discovers that the inside is somehow larger than the outside. But Mark Z. Danielewski’s ambitions are much, much higher. House of Leaves is told in myriad ways, including layers of footnotes, sections with color-blocked words, fake interviews with real celebrities and passages that require you to transcribe the first letter of each sentence to reveal another chapter hidden within. The mounting terror of the Navidson family is all embedded within the story of a young tattoo artist losing his grip on reality. “Lovecraftian” has become shorthand for tentacles and elder gods, but Danielewski’s debut novel nails a different component of the genre grandfather’s legacy: true madness. The labyrinthine structure of this tome (over 700 pages) constantly calls into question the sanity of not just the protagonists, but of the person flipping the pages, too. House of Leaves isn’t a David Foster Wallace-level challenge for readers, but it does require an investment—and entanglement—that some may be too scared to allow, for fear that they might start hearing a growling in the walls, too. — Steve Foxe


Frankenstein isn’t just an iconic horror novel; it’s a complete shift in perspective of what horror is and can be. Hanging with her pals in Switzerland’s Villa Diodati, a teenaged Mary Shelley conceived a fatally ambitious scientist committed to creating new life. Victor Frankenstein accomplishes his goal, synthesizing a lumbering, grotesque humanoid. This book brings the word monster under the strictest of scrutinies: the protagonist abandons his unconventional child, leaving it to stumble blindly through the world searching for its surrogate “father.” Who’s the real villain? The walking, talking science miracle feels, loves and suffers the abhorrent reactions of an uncaring humanity. We the reader have a new thing to fear: ourselves. We are the horror. We create our own monsters. And, like the Prometheus referenced in the secondary title, we burn in the flames we ignite. Frankenstein ’s legacy can be felt centuries later. Just watch a neglected, misshapen child pushed to the bottom of a lake evolve into a vengeful teenager dismemberment machine, and Friday the 13th takes on a whole new flavor after reading this terrifying trailblazer. — Sean Edgar


William Peter Blatty is better known today for the Academy Award-winning screenplay he adapted from his own novel than for the original text itself. Unlike The Shining , the film never diverges too widely from the source material, but that shouldn’t keep horror fans from picking up the novel. Blatty’s text has the time and space to better establish all of its key players, specifically Father Damien Karras, layering on the dread long before the pea soup starts flying. In a film full of movie magic, it’s still possible to close your eyes or look away. In the novel, Blatty asks the reader to imagine truly horrific things, and the depths of human imagination will always be a scarier place than a film editing room. — Steve Foxe


If fiction’s taught us anything in recent years, it’s that the vampire genre can be a tired—and ironically toothless—one. But Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist breathed new life into the eternally overdone tale with his debut novel, Let the Right One In , which tells the story of a bullied grade-school student named Oskar and his new friend and neighbor, Eli. Eli is brilliant, deathly pale—not to mention dirty and smelly. She only comes out at night, but more than anything, she’s a pillar of support to lonely Oskar. Maybe there’s blood, gore, KISS songs and acidic solutions that give this story its horrific edge, but at its, core Lindqvist penned a stirring tale of love and acceptance at the confusing phase that is (sometimes eternal) puberty. — Tyler Kane


Of all the King books revolving around plucky kids, these might be the pluckiest, most iconic and possibly the most annoying. The protagonists are a collection of fairly broad stereotypes (geek, fat kid, sickly kid, “the girl,” etc.), painted in an all-encompassing pastiche of ‘50s American life, but in the end that’s really the point. King remains and has always been obsessed with the turbulent years of early adolescence. The titular “IT,” on the other hand, is probably King’s most enduring and iconic monster, an interdimensional being of pure malevolence and alien mindset that seems so much simpler on the surface. An evil clown that kills kids? That could at least be dealt with in ways accessible to adults. Fighting the actual evil of It is a much trickier proposition, one that depends upon a perfect blend of mysticism and childhood faith necessary to overcome It’s greatest weapons: fear and entropy, and the ability to make an entire town forget about the atrocities it commits and allows. The ending of It is occasionally cited as its weak point, but it’s a big, fat novel that is far more about a journey, both in the ‘50s and ‘80s, and the horrifying visions suffered along the way. — Jim Vorel


“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against the hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.” These are the legendary opening words of The Haunting of Hill House , our pick for the best—and best-written—horror novel of all time. Shirley Jackson’s chilling, lean haunted house tale follows Eleanor Vance, a young woman with a bit of a sensitivity for the paranormal. Along with Dr. John Montague, a paranormal investigator, a young artist named Theodora and Hill House heir Luke Sanderson, Eleanor examines the cold, labyrinthine old mansion. The rooms seem to shift, the architecture makes no sense, and even without the ghosts—and oh, there are quite likely ghosts—it’s an unsettling visit. But the heart of the mansion isn’t necessarily the terror drummed up within its walls. What’s most troubling is its ultimate effect on the young Eleanor, whose steadily declining mental state hits a dead end behind the gates of Hill House in one of the most perfect conclusions in all of horror fiction. — Tyler Kane & Steve Foxe

bret easton ellis

John ajvide lindqvist, lauren beukes, shirley jackson, stephen king.


The best music, movies, TV, books, comedy and more.

Mobile Nav

12 Best Horror Authors You May Or May Not Know

Find your new fave.

books horror authors

Narrowing down the plethora of writers in this genre for a best horror authors list is nearly impossible. The horror genre comes in so many flavours, from so many talented individuals. If you’ve never read horror and want to check out some of the more popular authors, we’ve got your covered. But if horror is already your thing, there will be an author or two here new to you as well. No list of the best horror authors will ever be comprehensive, but this wide variety should get you started, or give you some new ideas for fresh voices.

The Best Horror Authors

1. clive barker.

Books Of Blood

Clive Barker is an absolute stalwart of the genre and definitely one of our best horror authors here in the UK. He’s been writing since the 1980s, and as well as being a novelist he also is a film director and visual artist. There is a very real visceral feeling to his written work, perhaps because of his artistic talents.

You could pick up any Clive Barker book and be sure of a good time, but many fans say that The Books Of Blood, the short story collection that launched his career, is still one of his very best. Get a taste of the 80s, and experience how he helped shake up the genre, by checking it out.

2. Lauren Beukes

Survivors Club

Lauren Beukes is a South African author who, like Clive Barker, has a multi-faceted career. As well as writing novels, she also is a successful comic book author, working on her own original projects for Vertigo as well as for DC Comics.

Survivors’ Club is a great place to start for checking out her work. This comic book imagines that all of the 80s horror movies were real, and thirty years later checks in on the kids who were forced to live through them. The kids, now adults, are about to have to face their demons – and those of the others – once and for all.

3. Ramsey Campbell

Dark Feasts

Campbell is one of those authors who will always make an appearance on a best horror authors list. Like Barker, he’s been around forever, publishing more than 30 novels and hundreds of short stories in his role as one of the cornerstones of British horror.

While he is a novelist, Campbell’s strongest work often comes in his short stories, a format he has undoubtedly mastered. With that in mind, start with Dark Feasts, a sort of anthology of his best work from the 60s through to the 80s.

Prepare to be deeply, deliciously disturbed by the content of some of his work.

4. Daphne Du Maurier


There is always room for a classic writer on a best horror authors list, and Daphne Du Maurier is always a safe pair of hands. Her horror is much more of a slow burn, unsettling and psychological, rather than blood and guts and spooks, but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing or likely to leave you wanting your bedroom light on once you’ve finished reading.

Jamaica Inn is a creepy read, but few fans of her work will ever deny that Rebecca, her most popular novel, is the most popular for a reason. A young woman marries a rich widower, only to find that the presence of his first wife has never really gone away from their sprawling, Gothic home.

5. Nalo Hopkinson

Skin Folk

Nalo Hopkinson is a speculative fiction author, but a lot of her work has a horror flavour to it. If you’re looking for an author with a lot to say about gender, as well as having a far less Western-centric vibe to their work, then Hopkinson might be for you.

Skin Folk, her collection of short stories from the early 2000s, covers horror, science fiction and fantasy, showing Hopkinson’s ability to move seamlessly between the genres. Some of the stories, steeped in eroticism and sexuality, may be a little bit unsettling. But that is exactly what Hopkinson wants you to feel.

6. Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived In The Castle

There is room for more one classic writer on this best horror authors list, and that classic is Shirley Jackson. She needs no introduction for many people; The Haunting of Hill House was a runaway success on Netflix and it is hard to imagine any discerning horror fan having missed out on her work.

If you read The Haunting of Hill House already at the height of the Netflix furore, check out We Have Always Lived In The Castle, Jackson’s final published novel. Main character Merricat is one of Jackson’s most vivid and real creations.

7. Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians

Jones is a prolific and unstoppable force in modern horror writing. He is not yet 50 and has published 22 books already, and has won the Bram Stoker and Ray Bradbury prizes, as well as being nominated further times for the Stoker prize.

As a member of the Blackfeet Native American tribe, Jones brings a vital new voice to the forefront of horror writing in some of his work. The Only Good Indians, one of his most recent novels, follows four men hunted by an unknown entity hellbent on revenge, and demonstrates how the culture and traditions that they had tried to leave behind finds a way to catch up with them.

8. Dean Koontz

Demon Seed

Koontz, that ultra-prolific writer of thrillers with frequent horror vibes, might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But he is incredibly popular with readers and regardless of what you may thing of his style, that makes him one of the best horror authors. People love him for a reason, after all.

If you’re completely lost as to where to begin with Koontz’s over one hundred novels then start with Demon Seed, the book that was his first bestseller. A reclusive woman named Susan is trapped in her house by an AI with one wish – to experience life as humans do. And he will stop at nothing to make his wish come true – including impregnating his prisoner in order to live through his progeny.

9. Victor LaValle

The Changeling

Victor LaValle may not be as prolific as Jones or Koontz, but his work is becoming more and more popular with every novel that he publishes, and his most recent, The Changeling, won a bunch of fantasy and horror awards.

The Changeling is also a good place to start with his work. It is a story about family and the secrets that people keep from one another, two themes that LaValle covers beautifully. There are a lot of layers to this story which need to be unpicked. Apollo Kagwa is a book dealer haunted by strange nightmares. When his wife begins to act strangely, Apollo thinks she has post-partum depression, until he loses both Emma and their son and begins to understand that the world he thought he knew is not as it seems.

10. Sarah Lotz

The Three

Sarah Lotz is another productive author who publishes under many different names; urban horror as S.L Grey, zombie YA pulp as Lily Herne and erotica as Helena S. Paige. Lotz is a busy person, and bound to have written something for every horror fan along the way.

Under her own name. check out The Three, a terrifying novel about three children who survive separately when four commuter planes crash within hours of one another. With terror and other factors ruled out, there isn’t a link between the crashes except for the fact that the three children survive them. As the children begin to behave erratically, a rapture cult leader insists that the kids are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse.

11. Helen Oyeyemi

White Is For Witching

Helen Oyeyemi writes horror with a literary flavour, novels that are deeply unsettling and ever shifting, like a kaleidoscope of genre. A young talent, Oyeyemi wrote her first novel The Icarus Girl at just 18 years old, and received generally very good reviews for it. This is a writer who seemingly was born to her craft.

In reworking fairy tales, Oyeyemi presents readers with stories they think they know, then pulls the rug from underneath them. But her novel White Is For Witching, easily her creepiest, a young woman with unsatiable hunger lives in a house that won’t tolerate strangers and can’t shake the memory of the mother she lost at just sixteen years old. At least, she thinks it is only the memory.

12. Suzuki Kōji


Any list of the best horror authors must include at least one Japanese writer; the horror that comes from Japan is so rich and varied, and so unlike the horror produced by Western novelists. There is a quality to the work in translation almost dreamlike. Suzuki’s work in translation is no different.

He is best known as the author of the Ring novels, which have become such a staple of the horror genre with films, manga and TV series based on his work. The Ring novels focus on a curse embodied within a video tape. Psychic Sadako Yamamura was sexually assaulted and murdered before being thrown down a well. And when anyone watches the video tape, they are cursed to die seven days later.

READ NEXT : 10 Underrated Horror Authors To Check Out 

Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news , movie reviews , wrestling and much more.

Cultured Vultures

Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.

Latest Reviews

How to train your dragon: the hidden world review – an emotional conclusion, the red strings club (switch) review – quenches the thirst, fleabag season 2 review – catholic hot mess, fade to silence (pc) review – over my dead body.

  • Announcements
  • Blu-Ray Reviews
  • Book Reviews
  • Cheats & Codes
  • Crunchyroll
  • Discworld Discussions
  • Disney Plus
  • Game Previews
  • Game Reviews
  • Games To Play Before You Die
  • Gaming Tips & Guides
  • Indie Gaming
  • Make the Case
  • Memorable Moments
  • Movie Reviews
  • Movies To See Before You Die
  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 5
  • PlayStation Plus
  • Prime Video
  • Q&A Interviews
  • Short Stories
  • Video Game Release Dates
  • Where To Watch
  • Writing Tips
  • Xbox Game Pass
  • Xbox Series X | S

Subscribe Today

Every product was carefully curated by an Esquire editor. We may earn a commission from these links.

The 50 Best Horror Books of All Time Will Scare You Sh*tless

Our number one pick has inspired generations of nightmares.

Headshot of Neil McRobert

Horror is a broad church. Definitions abound.

For some, horror is a genre founded on trope and convention: a checklist of blighted houses and monstrous secrets, men in masks and women in white nightgowns. For others it hinges on atmosphere and tone.

This is before we even attempt a historical context. Scholars trace the legacy of literary horror back to the British Gothic fictions of the eighteenth century, when castles were haunted, monks were evil, and anywhere beyond the edges of Protestant England was tinged sinister. Others locate the genre’s origins in a slate of late-Victorian novels and their roster of horror icons. Dracula, Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll–these figures emerged from a culture in crisis, when twin anxieties about masculinity and modernity birthed urban nightmares. Contemporary readers may look no further than the horror ‘boom’ of the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. It was an era dominated by brand-name authors, with epic sales and matching page-lengths.

With such a weight of contention, any attempt at a list of ‘best’ horror novels is doomed to disagreement. That’s fine. All lists are subjective. We have, however, tried to celebrate the breadth of horror—to highlight those books that establish something about the genre or push it forward into new realms. It’s worth noting that we have confined our choices to novels. Short horror fiction has a parallel ­­but distinct history that would require a survey all of its own.

You will see some unexpected inclusions in this list, and some surprising absences. Certain big names are missing because their greatest contributions are in short form, or because their books tread ground better travelled by others. Equally, some of these choices may cause horror fans’ eyes to wrinkle in confusion. But perhaps, in the end, that’s the secret of horror: it’s personal. It’s about how it makes you feel.

Here, then, is our ranking of the best horror novels of all time.

Gallery / Saga Press The Loop

The Loop

You could argue that body horror is the purest horror. It taps into our basest fears: the vulnerability of our own bodies to infection, mutation, and destruction. In The Loop, a Pacific Northwest town falls prey to a parasite that transforms its youth into ravening fiends. After a short build-up, young adult sensibility blossoms darkly into scenes of extreme violence and bodily damage. The Loop is fiction’s closest equivalent to the films of David Cronenberg, with a jaw-dropping central set-piece that rivals the most fevered excesses of horror cinema.

Open Road Media Harvest Home, by Thomas Tryon

After quitting his career as a Hollywood star, Thomas Tryon turned to writing and gave us a pair of bestselling horror novels. The Other may be better known, but Harvest Home is the true chiller. In classic New England Gothic style, a nice family relocates to a Quaint Little Town™ only to discover hideous secrets about the corn crop. What follows is an ultra slow-burn of tightening anxiety, with a folk-horror finale that rivals 1973’s other pagan classic, The Wicker Man , or even Ben Wheatley’s 2011 shocker, Kill List. The final passages are as bleak as horror got in the ‘70s.

Atria Books The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalila Harris

At first glance, the terrors of The Other Black Girl appear slight. Harris’ workplace thriller spends ample time cataloguing the microaggressions endured by Nella, the only woman of color at a major New York publishing house. However, when Hazel, the titular other Black girl, joins the firm, the novel moves into more uncanny territory. The result is a scalpel-sharp instrument of social horror—a book that exposes monstrousness in the minutiae of office politics and the complacent evil of white privilege. It’s particularly telling that Harris wrote the book after working in New York publishing…

Valancourt Books The Auctioneer, by Joan Samson

The Auctioneer may be the bestselling horror novel that most people have never heard of. It sold a million copies on release, garnered praise from genre heavyweights, and was further distinguished by the author’s death soon after publication. Yet Samson’s novel remained in obscurity for decades until Grady Hendrix and Valancourt Press reissued it as part of the Paperbacks from Hell series. In the figure of the titular auctioneer, Perly Dinsmore, and the havoc wreaked by his manipulation of a rural New Hampshire community, Samson’s novel refers back to Shirley Jackson’s ”The Lottery,” and must surely be the inspiration behind Leland Gaunt, the malignant shopkeeper in Stephen King’s Needful Things.

G.P. Putnam's Sons The Hunger, by Alma Katsu

The Hunger takes one of the darkest incidents in American history and makes it more horrible still. Katsu’s retelling of the Donner Party’s catastrophic attempt to cross the Sierra Nevadas in winter begins with the death of a child and heads onward, like the wagon train, into deeper horror. It’s slow progress, too. The Hunger takes its time to get to the awful fate we know is waiting. Some people may buck at the pace and the way Katsu dangles the grisliest elements of the story just out of reach. But for those who appreciate authenticity and great character work, it’s a piece of historical horror that takes exactly the route it should.

Simon & Schuster Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

It’s hard to overstate Bradbury’s contribution to speculative fiction. His unique blend of horror and fantasy is a clear influence on later giants like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. But his macabre whimsy was never more powerful than in Something Wicked This Way Comes, a tale of romanticized boyhood in the golden decades of post-war America. Best friends Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade (neatly born on either side of the same Halloween midnight) confront the loss of innocence in the form of Mr. Dark’s traveling carnival. The scene in which the aging Miss Foley is granted her wish to become young again stands out as the most horrifically poignant moment in a novel obsessed with the boundary between youth and adulthood.

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, by Eric LaRocca

At only 120 pages, Eric LaRocca’s novella is the shortest book on this list, but it may also be the most distressing. It is an epistolary period-piece—taking place in the internet chat-rooms of the early 2000s—in which two broken souls come together in a pact of extreme body horror and emotional degeneration. If that sounds fun, well, it isn’t. Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke pulls not a single punch, offering perhaps the single most upsetting scene to be found on this list (The Little Christ—if you know, you know!) and a question for the ages: “What have you done today to deserve your eyes?”

Dark Valley, by Joe Donnelly

Joe Donnelly’s books arrived at the tail-end of horror’s paperback boom, all gaudy covers and pulpy premises. Yet his final horror novel is an almost unknown classic: an adolescent trial set on the West coast of Scotland, where five young friends on a camping trip encounter a child killer. The Scottish setting gives a different tone and a grittier vernacular to the oft-romanticized coming-of-age tradition. Think Stand by Me refracted through Trainspotting. It’s a violent story, with the rare threat that simply being a child is not enough to save Donnelly’s characters from a brutal end.

Ace The Red Tree, by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Caitlin R. Kiernan floats freely across the map of speculative fiction, from hard sci-fi to lyrical fantasy. The Red Tree is their purest horror offering. When Sarah Crowe relocates to an isolated cabin in order to write and grieve, she falls under the influence of a strange manuscript and the history of a nearby oak tree. The found document and faux-lore locate Kiernan’s novel in the arcane tradition of M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft. But a postmodern unreliability pervades, with doubts about Sarah’s sanity, as well as ‘editor’s notes’ complicating easy separation of truth and fiction. Narrative trickery aside, The Red Tree also contains the creepiest cellar in horror.

Penguin Classics The Monk, by Matthew Lewis

Horror’s roots extend far back into the 18th century Gothic tradition, beginning with The Castle of Otranto in 1764 and evolving in Anne Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho in 1794. It is Lewis’ novel, however, that first showcases the genre’s power to shock. Written when Lewis was still a teenager, The Monk relates the demonic corruption of the devout Ambrosio. Upon its release, the novel was considered a danger to society; even now, its details of rape, incest, murder, and black sorcery remain eyebrow-raising. If the scares are dulled by archaic language, some moments still hit hard, such as when the prioress’ body is mutilated by a mob “till it became no more than a mass of flesh, unsightly, shapeless, and disgusting.” Remember, this was written in 1796!

Open Road Media Experimental Film, by Gemma Files

Files worked as a film critic for years, and in Experimental Film, all that insider knowledge is put to uncanny use. She blends a verité blogging style with the story of cursed film footage from the early 20th century and a frightening Slavic demon named Lady Midday. As so often happens in Files’ fiction, things get very weird, but the industry detail coupled with biographical allusions grounds the high strangeness into something truly unnerving. This is a too-often overlooked postmodern gem, one of the best in a string of books about the spectral effects of film.

Vintage Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho may be the most controversial novel of the late 20th century, but Lunar Park is the more affecting horror story. Ellis’ faux-memoir slides from authentic early experiences into a fictional middle-age as reluctant husband and father. Out in the suburbs, reality and fiction collapse, ushering horrors into Ellis’ home. These include a version of Ellis’ infamous killer, Patrick Bateman, and—in the centrepiece scene—a doll that undergoes a truly terrifying metamorphosis. Readers are never sure where truth or sincerity lie. The novel could be a big joke, or it could, as is suggested in the scenes between Ellis and his make-believe son, be a yearning for a life not lived. If American Psycho is the book that made Ellis the enfant terrible of contemporary fiction, Lunar Park is the book that exposes his heart.

Tordotcom The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle

H.P. Lovecraft’s imagination endures in countless derivations of his Cthulhu Mythos, but his bigotry remains a cancer at the heart of it all. Most imitators borrow the lore, but ignore the ideology. In The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle takes a different approach, choosing to explore the events of Lovecraft’s notoriously racist “The Horror at Red Hook” from the Black point-of-view of Lavalle’s own protagonist, Tommy Tester. Though there are ‘Old Ones’ aplenty, LaValle’s retelling suggests that cosmic peril is of less consequence to the Black community than the threat of white power. After all, the book asks, “What was indifference compared to malice?”

Ecco Press Bird Box, by Josh Malerman

Some books have a conceit that makes other authors seethe for not thinking of it themselves. Birdbox , you would imagine, is such a book. There are monsters, and if you see them, you kill yourself. It’s a riff on the Lovecraftian notion that the human mind can only withstand a certain degree of otherness. Yet Malerman has none of Lovecraft’s pomposity. Instead, he examines everyday humanity under extreme, inexplicable pressure. Trapped in a house with strangers, our protagonist Malorie gradually hardens into a pitiless survivor. Her journey to possible refuge is a masterclass in sustained tension and sensory storytelling.

Pan MacMillan Apartment 16, by Adam Nevill

Each of Adam Nevill’s novels is imbued with an unclean disquiet, a grimly British social-realist horror stripped of all romance. It’s never more effective than this story of an exclusive London residence haunted by a fascist, occult-obsessed artist. Apryl Beckford quickly discovers the supernatural menace within Apartment 16, but the real nightmares belong to a secondary character, addled security guard Seth. His repeated failures to escape the building lead to a chokingly claustrophobic breakdown. People will tell you to read The Ritual, but Apartment 16 is the Nevill book that’ll have you looking at the corners of rooms to make sure the shadows are still where they should be.

Dell Lost Souls, by Poppy Z. Brite

There is no more ‘90s novel on this list than Lost Souls. I’m not sure a more ‘90s novel exists. Poppy Z. Brite’s lament for misspent youth is as pitch black as the kohl around the characters’ eyes, and saturated with the angsty existentialism that typified the decade. The teens of Missing Mile, North Carolina are damaged—by substances, by hard living, and abuse—and that’s before the vampires arrive. When they do, the novel explodes in a debauch of violence and sex. It’s a road trip, a love story, and a brutal horror odyssey in which a vampire taking his own son as his lover remains one of the less transgressive elements of the plot.

Ballantine Books Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice

Anne Rice died in late 2021, leaving behind a legacy that few modern horror authors can match. Her Vampire Chronicles spans over a dozen novels, with numerous offshoots. Everyone has their favorite, but Interview is where the intricate, baroque tapestry of her alternative vampiric history begins. The interview in question is with Louis, an 1800s plantation owner turned into a creature of the night by the vampire Lestat. Over the course of the novel, Louis relates the history of their immortal companionship, including the perverse family they form with child vampire Claudia. The later series develops in outlandish directions (Atlantis!), but Interview anchors itself in the romantic tragedy of eternal life.

Gallery Books The House Next Door, by Anne Rivers Siddons

Haunted houses don’t need to be old. That’s the revolutionary premise that makes Siddon’s novel so freshly disquieting. Through Colquitt Kennedy’s polite, hyper-observant narration, we watch as a sequence of families move into the newly-built property next door, only for tragedy to unravel their lives. There isn’t a history of murder to taint the land, nor a single disturbed grave—just a random malignancy that suggests modern walls are no guarantee of safety. It’s a souring of the American Dream that Stephen King called one of the best horror novels of the 20th Century.

Simon & Schuster The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks

Frank Cauldhame wanders the beaches of his isolated island home, killing small animals. He has built an elaborate mechanism to ritualistically kill wasps. We are told he has killed three children before he entered his own teens. Oh, and he is the hero of this story. The Wasp Factory was Banks’ first novel, and it has the provocativeness of all great debuts. It was acclaimed for its mixture of horror and the blackest of comedy, just as it was pilloried for its depravity. Both sound like good reasons to read it. Be warned, though, this one contains some truly disgusting scenes.

Scribner Tender Is the Flesh, by Agustina Bazterrica

In Bazterrica’s brutal dystopia, a lack of animal meat has resulted in state-sanctioned cannibalism. Marcos works in a slaughterhouse, where human cattle (or ‘heads’) are bred for slaughter, and where he tussles with his inner morality within the industrial normalization of the universal taboo. The plot focuses on Marcos’ relationship with a head named Jasmine; what ensues is as disturbing as expected, though it’s the wider world-building that makes Tender is the Flesh a truly dispiriting read. Through both gorgeous metaphor and blunt statement, Bazterrica drives home the realization that we are all either meat or butcher in capitalism’s grinder.

Headshot of Neil McRobert

Neil McRobert is a writer, researcher and podcaster, with a specialism in horror and other darkly speculative topics; he is the host and producer of the Talking Scared podcast.  

preview for HDM All sections playlist - Esquire

@media(max-width: 73.75rem){.css-q1kujh:before{color:#FF3A30;content:'_';display:inline-block;margin-right:0.4375rem;}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-q1kujh:before{color:#FF3A30;content:'_';display:inline-block;margin-right:0.5625rem;}} Books Everyone Should Read

aapi books

What to Read While Getting High

books like daisy jones

What To Read After ' Daisy Jones & The Six '

chris pine

15 Books Chris Pine Thinks Everyone Should Read

wellness books

The Best Wellness Books For Your Body and Spirit

best memoirs 2022

The 20 Best Memoirs of 2022

best books

The Best Books of 2022

nonfiction books

The Best Nonfiction Books of 2022

dune books

How to Read the 'Dune' Book Series in Order


How to Read 'The Lord of the Rings' In Order

how to read game of thrones in order

How to Read 'Game of Thrones' In Order

best comedy books

The Best Comedy Books of 2022 (So Far)

  • Australia edition
  • International edition
  • Europe edition

Max von Sydow in the 1973 film of William Peter Blatty’s book The Exorcist.

Top 10 horror novels

From Stephen King to Oscar Wilde and Tana French, novelist Gabriel Bergmoser chooses Halloween reading that does more than simply shock and scare

A s much as horror is a genre it’s also a technique; a way to confront or explore something real by taking the audience to extremes. As a kid I was terrified of horror films – until I actually watched one and then I couldn’t get enough. But what really stood out about the films and books I loved the most was that more often than not the horrific aspect was only one part of what made the story special. The best horror has something more on its mind than just scares, and indeed finds a way to use the scares to explore whatever that something is.

In writing The Hunted I wanted to take the audience on a visceral, pulp-infused thrill ride, but beyond that I wanted to say something; about Australia, about masculinity, about fear. Whether I pulled any of that off is for others to decide, but below are 10 of the books that most inspired me, horror stories that in different ways revolutionised the genre by being far more than just bumps in the night.

1. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris The Silence of the Lambs gets all the attention, but the best Hannibal Lecter novel is still the first; a book that suggests the most horrifying of evils can grow from an all too human place, and that even heroes can carry something monstrous inside them. Every Lecter story on some level features an implicit Faustian bargain and none is more tragic than FBI crimimal profiler Will Graham’s knowing choice to sacrifice his own fragile peace of mind to stop a killer he understands all too well.

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde There are no real villains in Oscar Wilde’s first and only novel. The lurking danger of this book is our capacity for vanity and how it can literally and metaphorically disfigure us, how obsession with retaining beauty will inevitably lead to its destruction. Even Wilde’s central monster, Dorian himself, is more tragic idiot than conniving mastermind, a youthful dope consumed by a pathological belief that the only thing worth having is beauty at any cost. His descent would almost be funny if it wasn’t so chillingly believable.

3. Horns by Joe Hill Sometimes horror, even at its darkest, is the window dressing for something more tender. That’s the case with the unique and entirely enrapturing Horns, a book that starts out as a twisted revenge story before slowly becoming something more sprawling, knotty, and ultimately hopeful. Horns is by turns a gothic romance, a murder mystery, a supernatural thriller and a biting satire on how quick we can be to judge despite the darkness we all harbour.

4. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty Often the best horror stories are the ones that believe, through all the death, jump-scares and creepiness, in the fundamental triumph of goodness. That The Exorcist was long considered one of the most terrifying novels ever is in large part is down to how deeply we are led to care about the desperate plight of its central characters, and how carefully detailed every one of them is. The evil they face is huge and incomprehensible, but not, in the end, insurmountable, and much of the book’s (and film’s) power comes from the ultimate hard-won victory of a small group who sacrifice everything for an innocent child.

5. Ring by Koji Suzuki , translated by Robert B Rohmer and Glynne Walley Successive film adaptations have not managed to capture the true power of this relatively demure tale of a cursed videotape, a chilling and all too human story of coming to understand your own insignificance in the face of forces beyond your comprehension. While Ring is a classic, it’s in its two sequels that Suzuki revealed the scope of his ambition, organically building on his horror fable to craft something far more epic and transcendent than any filmed version has yet realised.


6. Psycho by Robert Bloch To be clear, like Jaws, the film is better; Hitchcock having made a series of clever tweaks to find new ways of manipulating the audience by making them care. But everything that turned Psycho into an enduring cultural lightning rod originated in Bloch’s novel; the shower scene, the house on the hill, the twist ending and the sense of gothic dread dripping from every moment. The gleeful subversion of conventions that Hitchcock gets all the credit for originated here, and without this book, horror – and cinema – wouldn’t be the same.

7. The Passage by Justin Cronin Justin Cronin’s epic vampire saga is a sprawling tale of love, loss and societies destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again, centred not only on characters we could care deeply for, but a slowly growing sense of insidious evil whispering from the shadows, a terror so unknowable that it was always going to lose a little menace once it was explained. But like the best horror writers, Cronin uses that inevitability to make his point – that all too often evil grows from a place that is a little more understandable than we might care to confront. The whole trilogy is fantastic, but for its singular atmosphere of growing dread the first will always be the best.

Kathy Bates in the 1990 film adaptation of Misery.

8. Misery by Stephen King There’s an intoxicating combination of anger, sadness and catharsis at the heart of Misery; a book written by an author trying to move away from horror only to find that his vast readership wouldn’t accept that. Cue the story of a writer literally held hostage by a fan torturing him into writing what she wants, facilitating the writer’s slow realisation that the genre he was so desperate to move on from may be the only one that’s right for him. It’s an intensely personal and ambivalent book, and one of the best explorations of the highs and lows of creativity ever written.

9. From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell I don’t know whether it’s cheating to include a graphic novel on this list, but this is a horror masterpiece unlike anything else I’ve ever read, a sprawling, phonebook-heavy exploration of not just the Jack the Ripper murders, but the society that allowed them to happen. Unflinching and harsh, grim and deliberate, the book is an almost forensic dissection of Victorian England, suggesting that the motives for the murders, caused by a collision of dogma, classism and puritanical propriety, were the inevitable result of the true human horrors that made up a seemingly polite society.

10. In the Woods by Tana French I know; this is not horror, at least not insofar as where it sits in bookstores. But I would also argue it’s not a traditional crime novel or literary character study either. In the Woods uses the structure of a whodunnit to craft one of the most haunting explorations of fear I’ve ever read and, in doing so, includes the only written scene to ever make me jump, a scene so infused with the force of an unshakable nightmare that it transforms the book around it, leaving readers with the sense that some evils can never be truly understood and some trauma is too great to move on from. If that doesn’t encapsulate horror at its most evocative, I have no idea what does.

  • Horror books
  • Thomas Harris
  • Stephen King
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Justin Cronin

Most viewed

books horror authors

  • Horror Writers
  • Bars Where Famous Writers Hung Out
  • Strange Stories of How They Passed
  • The Top Writers of All Time
  • The Greatest Science Fiction Authors
  • The Very Best Fantasy Authors
  • Crime Writers
  • The Very Best Living Writers
  • Suspense Authors
  • American Writers
  • The Greatest Living Novelists
  • History's Most Controversial Writers
  • Short Story Writers
  • Mystery Authors
  • Greatest Poets
  • The Greatest Novelists of All Time
  • Great Historical Fiction Writers
  • The Lamest Authors of All Time
  • The Best Selling Fiction Authors
  • The Best Modern Horror Writers
  • Romance Novelists
  • Russian Authors
  • History's Greatest Female Authors
  • Best Playwrights
  • Famous Authors Who Used Pen Names
  • Young Adult Authors
  • Writers Who Were Drug Addicts
  • Movies All Writers Should Watch
  • Do You Know What Famous Authors Look Like?
  • Alcoholic Writers
  • Great Movies About Real Writers
  • Female Novelists
  • Great Essayists
  • The Best Children's Book Authors
  • Documentaries About Writers
  • The Best Movies About Writers
  • Writers Who Should Have Biopics
  • Celebs Who Wrote Children's Books

The All-Time Greatest Horror Writers

Ranker Community

The best horror novelists include some great authors who manage to weave fantastical tales of horror that leave readers scared out of their wits. The horror fiction authors on this list write novels that can strike fear into the heart of virtually any reader, using elements of horror and dark fantasy. Whether it's a classic ghost novel or a book that features real-life evil (like serial killers), these horror novelists are some of the best in the horror genre. Be sure to vote for your favorite horror writers, and add your own personal favorite horror novelist if you don't see them on this list!

Some of the best horror writers on this list will be instantly recognizable. Horror authors like Stephen King and Dean Koontz, for example, are very well-known, popular modern horror fiction writers. I've also included some of the original, classic horror novelists, including the incomparable H.P. Lovecraft and the master, Edgar Allan Poe. Gothic horror writers like Maurice Level are included, as well. You'll notice that some of the top horror writers on the list are also known as science fiction writers and/or fantasy authors , including Ray Bradbury. There is some overlap, and I feel it's important to include these horror and dark fantasy writers as well. In addition, some of the best horror novelists on this list are winners of the prestigious Bram Stoker Award (Richard Matheson, Clive Barker and King, among them) for outstanding achievement in horror writing.

H. P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Stephen King

Stephen King

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson

Clive Barker

Clive Barker

Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker

Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson

Robert Bloch

Robert Bloch

H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells

Peter Straub

Peter Straub

William Peter Blatty

William Peter Blatty

Robert R. McCammon

Robert R. McCammon

Thomas Harris

Thomas Harris

Algernon Blackwood

Algernon Blackwood

Richard Laymon

Richard Laymon

Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz

Joe Hill

Ambrose Bierce

M. R. James

M. R. James

Ramsey Campbell

Ramsey Campbell

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman

Ira Levin

Robert Louis Stevenson

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro

James Herbert

James Herbert

Anne Rice

Arthur Conan Doyle

Michaelbrent Collings

Michaelbrent Collings

  • Entertainment
  • Horror Books

The Most Ridiculous Reasons Books Have Been Banned

books horror authors

With Us and Pet Sematary blowing up theaters, everyone has horror on the brain right now. If you're in search of a deliciously chilling novel to add to your TBR, look no further, because I've got 12 different scary book recommendations from 15 horror, thriller, and true crime authors (a.k.a. the experts) for you to discover below!

If there's one thing every book-lover should know, it's that horror novels aren't just for Halloween or the month of October. Scary stories are great for the winter, summer, and even the spring, because everyone could all use a good spine-tingle every so often. Even if you aren't in the mood for a tale of supernatural horror, an edge-of-your-seat mystery can bring you a much-needed dose of suspense, any time of the year.

The 15 horror and thriller authors who sent scary book recommendations to Bustle via email have made you a laundry list of great reads — a few of these books are so scary, they were recommended by more than one author. Check out what they had to say about their favorite frightening novels below, and be sure to take a glance at the new books they have available for pre-order and purchase today.

'A Double Life' author Flynn Berry recommends 'Bad Dreams' by Tessa Hadley

books horror authors

"Tessa Hadley is the master at creating a sense of dread, even if nothing particularly sinister seems to be happening on the surface. In her story 'An Abduction,' a teenage girl is abducted, sort of, by three charming Oxford students. After shoplifting some food and wine, they bring her to a beautiful modern house with a swimming pool. The story keeps shifting, becoming completely different than you'd expected, but somehow even more disturbing."

Flynn Berry's new novel, A Double Life , and Bad Dreams and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley are available now.

'Suspicious Minds' author Gwenda Bond recommends 'The Mist' by Stephen King

books horror authors

"I love being scared by fiction and film, though it's moderately hard to pull off now because I love it. Which is funny, because as a child I was so susceptible to the slightest suggestion of things that go bump in the night and monsters under the bed. I was banned from watching scary movies after a month-long stint staying up all night in bed reading, convinced monsters might come through the chimney at the end of the hallway, and going to sleep only once it was daylight out. I'm sure I won't be alone in choosing a Stephen King book, but I might be alone in choosing his novella, 'The Mist.' It's because I still vividly recall reading it — I stole my brother's copy of Skeleton Crew — and being completely scared by how true it felt to something that might happen in my own tiny, far-from-Maine town. I could imagine the religious fervor of someone trapped in the supermarket becoming almost as frightening as the largely unseen, but terrifying monsters outside in the title's mist. And then that ending, driving out into the literally hazy future. Still gives me chills to think about."

Gwenda Bond's new novel, the Stranger Things tie-in novel Suspicious Minds , and The Mist by Stephen King are available now.

'The Hunger' author Alma Katsu recommends 'The Little Stranger' by Sarah Waters

books horror authors

"The scariest book I’ve ever read… It depends on what one finds scary, don’t you think? I find monsters more poignant than frightening, for instance. But I love a story that gives you pause, that makes you think that all that talk about ghosties and goblins might actually be true. There are many wonderful tales in this vein but the one I keep coming back to is The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It’s a haunted house story, a trope where it’s hard to come up with something new but Waters managed to pull it off. The novel is set at the time when the British landed class was in decline, being overtaken by the working class, and isn’t that what a ghost story is: the present being haunted by the past it has displaced?"

Alma Katsu's latest novel, The Hunger , and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters are available now.

'A Deadly Divide' author Ausma Zehanat Khan recommends 'Dialogues of the Dead' by Reginald Hill

books horror authors

"The scariest thriller I’ve ever read is Dialogues of the Dead by the late, great Reginald Hill. In the 19th installment in Hill’s Dalziel/Pascoe crime series, the master is at the top of his game, expertly toying with his readers. The novel’s creeping horror emerges as a serial killer terrorizes a small community by mailing in 'dialogues' to a local writing competition. The catch? The dialogues are about the murders the writer is committing. Full of classical allusions and inventive wordplay, the letters offer clues to the next murder on the killer’s list. I wasn’t expecting this brilliantly literary novel to build to such a terrifying conclusion. My heart nearly stopped during the pulse-pounding climax where the killer was unmasked."

Ausma Zehanat Khan's new book, A Deadly Divide , and Dialogues of the Dead by Reginald Hill are available now.

'The Last Supper Before Ragnarok' author Cassandra Khaw recommends 'The Twisted Ones' by Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher

books horror authors

"Ursula Vernon's [written under the pseudonym T. Kingfisher] The Twisted Ones , which is coming out soon, is remarkable in that it managed to achieve a jump scare while being a book. This is, I might add, the first book that has made me go 'AH!' and chuck my Kindle away from you, suspicious of both the content and the fact it made me went 'ah.' I think a lot of it is tethered to Vernon's conversational prose, the way she builds up characters and friendships, ties people together into this beautiful landscape of interactions where everything feels familiar, everything feels like a life you'd led and know as intimately as your own routine. Then, Vernon stitches that discomfort into the everyday, builds on it, grows it, lets you sink into that nervousness that comes when you're not sure about what's outside of a still-alien door. Every one of us, we've always been afraid of home invaders and The Twisted Ones knows it. The Twisted Ones grows that unease until at last, it has thirtysomething horror writer squeaking at her Kindle and tossing it across the room."

Cassandra Khaw's new book, The Last Supper Before Ragnarok , is out on June 11 and available for pre-order. The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher is out on Oct. 1 and also available for pre-order.

'The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan' author Caitlín R. Kiernan recommends 'House of Leaves' by Mark Z. Danielewski

books horror authors

"It's a novel that's brilliant on so many levels, one of which is it's comprehension of humanity's fear of the darkness and of unknown spaces, our collective horror of what cannot be quantified and mapped and classified. It's really the ultimate 'haunted' house story, one that has no need of actual, literal ghosts."

Caitlín R. Kiernan's new collection, The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan , and House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski are available now.

'Miracle Creek' author Angie Kim recommends 'Carrie' by Stephen King

books horror authors

"This book didn’t scare me because it was scary (although it was). It scared me because of how much I empathized with and rooted for Carrie. I read this book in middle school, about a year after immigrating to the US. I understood English but still couldn’t speak it well, meaning that I was starting to understand that kids were making fun of me — of my accent, my weird clothes, my cluelessness. I burned reading about the mean kids’ bullying of Carrie, and when she decided to use her telekinetic powers to exact revenge on them, I whooped for her. As she grew out of control and caused explosions and fires that ended up destroying not only the school but the entire town, I was horrified not only by what was happening on the page, but by my initial approval of her actions, the intensity of my humiliation at being the square outcast."

Angie Kim's debut novel, Miracle Creek , is out on April 16 and is available for pre-order. Carrie by Stephen King is available now.

'The Favorite Sister' author Jessica Knoll recommends 'The Little Stranger' by Sarah Waters

books horror authors

"A few years ago, I had a winter trip planned to London and wanted to read something spooky and gothic to complement the setting. I packed The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters — Stephen King warned it would cause 'several sleepless nights' — thinking it would be fun to curl up in bed on a foggy London night reading about a crumbling and possibly haunted mansion in postwar England. If your version of fun includes being so scared that you have to ask your husband to sit in the bathroom with you while you shower (mine does!), then I can’t recommend this novel enough."

Jessica Knoll's new novel, The Favorite Sister , and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters are available now.

'Middlegame' author Seanan McGuire recommends 'The Twisted Ones' by Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher

books horror authors

"The scariest book I've ever read — or at least the scariest book I can think of right now — is The Twisted Ones , by T. Kingfisher. I literally stopped at one point, said 'Oh' aloud, and had to flee from the book, because otherwise it could see me, I guess? I'm not really sure what my logic was there. It scared the pants off of me. It's a brilliant piece. The pitch was 'The Blair Witch Project meets The Andy Griffith Show ,' and it lives up to that level of promise."

Seanan McGuire also writes as Mira Grant. Her new novel, Middlegame , is out on May 7 and available for pre-order. The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher is out on Oct. 1 and is available for pre-order.

'The Invited' author Jennifer McMahon recommends 'The Amityville Horror' by Jay Anson

books horror authors

"I snuck this book off my mother’s shelves (where I got all the best books — the ones I wasn’t supposed to be reading) when I was about 10 years old. I had never read anything like it. The horror was amped up for little 10-year-old me because it was Based on a True Story — I believed every word was non-fiction. It still gives me the crawling creeps to think about: the Red Room, the flies (oh my god, the flies!), Jodie the pig. I had nightmares about all of it, but I couldn’t get enough. I spent hours in our basement tapping on walls, looking for a secret room. I read my favorite, most terrifying passages out loud to friends at sleepovers, which inevitably ended with all of us too scared to sleep, every light in the house blazing. I think it’s fair to say that The Amityville Horror was the beginning of my love for scary fiction — or 'true stories,' as the case may be!"

Jennifer McMahon's latest book, The Invited , is out on April 30 and available for pre-order. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson is available now.

'The Runaway' author Hollie Overton recommends 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy

books horror authors

"The Road is still one my favorite scary books. It's not often where scenes are so disturbing you have to hide the book under the bed, but that's what I did. Cormac McCarthy creates such a chilling portrayal of what happens to a father and son when civilization is threatened. The desperation and despair leap off the page. Though there are truly sinister and terrible things that occur throughout, the real scares come from imagining how you would survive life at the end of the world and what lengths you would go to in order to save the people you love."

Hollie Overton's third novel, The Runaway , is out on Aug. 6 and available for pre-order. The Road by Cormac McCarthy is available now.

'The Poison Thread' author Laura Purcell recommends 'The Wise Woman' by Philippa Gregory

books horror authors

"I have never been more disturbed and horrified by a book. It probably didn't help that I was staying in a creepy Tudor mansion while I read it. The story is a wild ride of witchcraft, body horror, eroticism and spiritual peril. You will finish it feeling like you have come through an ordeal!"

Laura Purcell's latest novel, The Poison Thread , is out on June 18 and available for pre-order. The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory is available now.

'The Trial of Lizzie Borden' author Cara Robertson recommends "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

books horror authors

“The sense of dread builds and becomes almost unbearable as the reader realizes there is something dark underlying the ordinary gathering in the otherwise unremarkable town.”

Cara Robertson's first book, The Trial of Lizzie Borden , and The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson are available now.

'The Haunted' author Danielle Vega recommends 'House of Leaves' by Mark Z. Danielewski

books horror authors

"The concept behind House of Leaves is pretty basic: it's about a house that's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. And if you think that doesn't sound scary enough JUST WAIT. By the time you finish the book, you'll be obsessively measuring every room in your house, and probably losing your mind. The chapter on echoes was so freaky that I couldn't sleep after I read it. For extra points, listen to Poe's companion album Haunted while you make your way through the book."

Danielle Vega's new book, The Haunted , is out on June 4 and available for pre-order. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is available now.

'American Spy' author Lauren Wilkinson recommends 'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' by Alvin Schwartz

books horror authors

"The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series by Alvin Schwartz must've terrified hundreds of thousands of kids in the early '90s, and I was definitely one of them. A huge part of what was so frightening were Stephen Gammell's haunting illustrations. Plus, the stories themselves were full of ghosts, and corpses and monsters creeping up on you in the dark — just the kind of stuff that made my imagination run wild. Because the things that scare you when you're a kid have a bigger impact than anything that scares you as an adult, those are the most frightening books I've ever read, without question."

Lauren Wilkinson's debut novel, American Spy , and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz are available now.

books horror authors

15 Authors of Horror Books You Must Read


Among the various genres of literature that exist, horror is one of the most attractive to thousands of readers. In their stories, horror books authors tend to create a terrifying and mysterious environment, which can be of a natural or supernatural nature.

Countless literary works belong to the horror genre, by renowned authors who have set the standard in universal history.

Through their words, the writers of this type of book manage to enter the minds of the readers, creating a series of thoughts and sensations, which finally turn into terror and fear .

The presence of figures cataloged as monsters in horror stories is common, however, in some works terror can be caused by something unknown to which you often cannot give a shape or a name.

It is in these cases that the author’s creativity is revealed in its maximum expression. Here you will get to know the best 15 authors of horror books and their most outstanding works.

At the end we invite you to visit:

| Free Books: 100+ Horror Books for Free! [PDF]

| Best Books: The Best 25 Horror Books [Paid]

| Gifts Books:   The Best 5 Horror Books to Give as Gifts

Classic Horror Authors

Horror novels are some of the most striking in the world of literature. It is impressive but that dark and supernatural aspect has the capacity of captivating readers despite how gloomy and terrifying the story may be.

However, behind each plot there is a writer who takes all the credit, many of them are no longer with us but their works continue to accompany us, and have become classics of literature since they have endured over time from their creation to the present day.

Some of these writers are Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Anton Chejov, and Ernest Hemingway, among others, which you can meet below.

1) Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker

Abraham “Bram” Stoker was an Irish novelist and writer, best known for his 1897 novel Dracula.

Dracula was his most recognized literary creation, in which he enhanced the nuances of vampirism and which became a literary work passed down through the years. Today it is considered a classic of literature.

Oscar Wilde called it the best-written horror work of all time, and also “the most beautiful novel ever written.” Additionally, the book received praise from, among others, Arthur Conan Doyle .

Here we present an outstanding work by Bram Stoker :

Dracula is an 1897 gothic horror novel by the Irish author. It introduced the character of Count Dracula and established many conventions of later vampire fantasy.

The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he could find new blood and spread the curse of the undead, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of people led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.

Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres, including vampire literature, horror fiction, gothic fiction, and invasion literature. The novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film, and television interpretations.

2) Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was an American romantic writer, poet, critic, and journalist. He is generally recognized as one of the universal masters of the short story, of which he was one of the first practitioners in his country.

He was a renovator of the gothic novel, remembered especially for his horror stories. Considered the inventor of the detective story, he also created several works in the emerging genre of science fiction.

His figure as a writer, as much as his work deeply marked the literature of his country and the whole world.

Here we present 3 outstanding work by Edgar Allan Poe , if you want to read and download other works by Edgar Allan Poe in PDF format we invite you to visit our collection of Edgar Allan Poe books .

The Fall of The House of Usher

A young gentleman is invited to the old mansion of a childhood friend, Roderick Usher, a sickly and eccentric artist who lives completely secluded in the company of his sister, Lady Madeline, also in poor health.

Usher lives prey to an indefinable disease, which makes everyone fear for his life. The one who ends up dying is his sister. Her mortal remains are deposited in a crypt, but it does not take long for terrible events to take place that will lead to a tragic end.

The Fall of the House of Usher is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known stories and has been adapted for film several times.

The Raven is a narrative poem written by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1845. It is Poe’s most famous poetic composition, as it gave him international recognition. Its musicality, the stylized language, and the supernatural atmosphere that it manages to recreate are remarkable.

The text recounts the mysterious visit of a talking raven to the home of a grieving lover, and the latter’s slow descent into madness. The lover, who has often been identified as a student, mourns the loss of his beloved, Leonora.

The black raven, perched on a bust of Pallas Athena, seems to incite his suffering with the constant repetition of the words “Nevermore”. In the poem, Poe alludes to folklore and several classic works.

The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe framed in the Gothic narrative, first published in The Pioneer literary journal in January 1843.

The story features an anonymous narrator obsessed with the ill eye of an old man with whom he lives. He finally decides to kill him. The crime is carefully studied and, after being perpetrated, the body is torn to pieces and hidden under the floorboards of the house. The police go to the scene and the murderer ends up giving himself away, hallucinating and imagining that the old man’s heart has begun to beat under the platform.

The relationship between victim and killer is unknown. The ambiguity and lack of detail about the two main characters are in sharp contrast to the detail with which the crime is recreated.

3) H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft , better known as H. P. Lovecraft, was an American writer, and author of horror and science fiction stories and novels.

He is considered a great innovator of the horror story, to which he contributed his own mythology —the Cthulhu Mythos—, developed in collaboration with other current authors.

His work constitutes a classic of cosmic horror, a narrative line that departs from the traditional supernatural horror stories —Satanism, ghosts—, including elements of science fiction such as alien beings, time travel, or the existence of other dimensions.

Here we present 2 outstanding work by H.P. Lovecraft , if you want to read and download other works by H.P. Lovecraft in PDF format we invite you to visit our collection of H.P. Lovecraft books .

Call of Cthulhu

Call of Cthulhu is a short story by the American writer written in the summer of 1926, first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in February 1928.

The first part of the first chapter of the story, “The Horror in Clay,” comes from one of Lovecraft’s dreams he had in 1919, which he briefly described in two different letters sent to his friend Rheinhart Kleiner on May 21 and December 14, 1920.

In the dream, Lovecraft is visiting an antiquities museum in Providence, trying to convince the elderly curator that he bought a strange bas-relief that Lovecraft himself had carved, who initially taunts him for trying to sell something recently made to a museum of ancient objects.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is a short novel written by H. P. Lovecraft between 1927 and 1928. It can be considered one of the author’s major works.

Based on the well-known Salem Witches affair in 1692, the author recounts the strange events surrounding the protagonist and his mysterious ancestor who disappeared on the eve of the American War of Independence.

The main character, Charles Dexter Ward, is a young man from a wealthy English family who is said to have disappeared after a period of madness that had been brewing for some time. The story is told from the perspective of Dr. Marinus Bicknell Willet’s investigation into what caused Ward to lose his sanity, and which has also caused strange physical changes.

4) Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley was a British playwright, essayist, and biographer best known for authoring the gothic novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus in 1818.

This novel was considered the first modern science fiction novel and managed to inaugurate the genre.

Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was primarily recognized for her efforts to publish the works of her husband Percy Shelley and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired several film and theater adaptations.

Here we present 2 outstanding work by Mary Shelley:

Frankstein or the Modern Prometheus

Relive the wonderful story of Frankenstein through the pen of the author Mary Shelley, who transfers the incredible teachings of this old novel to our times, but this time she does it in the form of a fable without leaving aside the main point of this story.

Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus can be considered a literary adaptation, that is why its title, the author’s idea is that we can see a story that many of us already know from a different point of view.

Frankenstein is the main character, an aberration of human invention, the product of the evil ambition of a scientist, who after having created him immediately rejects him.

But beyond the story, the book touches on important issues such as life, love, and freedom.

The Last Man

The Last Man is a very interesting novel, although not very well known, because when it was published in the 1800s it was somewhat censored, however, it has been circulating for years because it presents a very good story.

It is about a futuristic world, where all or most of humanity has been affected by a deadly virus, leaving only one man alive, who in the midst of wonder and loneliness begins to go through moments of extreme misery.

Can you imagine being the only person on earth? It must be a pretty depressing situation, but it is the scenario where the author takes us through the pages of her book, and best of all, the way she writes will keep you captivated from the moment you start reading until you finish the whole novel.

Current Horror Authors

Horror books are still booming today, many writers choose to create novels of this genre since the majority of both occasional and recurring readers enjoy stories that cause fear.

Today Stephen King is the benchmark in this area, but other authors have created interesting novels, such as Anne Rice, a writer who has decanted the world of literature with her works about vampires, supernatural love, death, and much more.

We present below the horror authors who are currently being recognized within the horror genre and who manage to compete even with the classics of horror literature.

5) Stephen King

Stephen King

Stephen Edwin King , better known as Stephen King and occasionally by his pseudonym Richard Bachman, is an American writer of horror, supernatural fiction, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy novels.

His books have sold more than 350 million copies and most have been adapted for film and television.

His sense of storytelling, his lively and colorful characters, and his ability to play on readers’ fears have been praised.

Although in most of his stories he uses the resource of terror, he also regularly addresses issues such as childhood, racism, and war, providing a very realistic social portrait of the United States.

Here we present 2 outstanding work by Stephen King:

Stephen King’s It book, like all his published books, is one more bestseller by this incredible author, so much so that it has been taken to theaters twice, part 1 and part 2.

It is about a murderous clown who sows terror in a small region of a North American town, where he even murders children, and among the protagonists of this wonderful issue, there are children who are murdered in a cruel and ruthless way.

The point is that the surviving protagonists after 27 years of tranquility and distance, have to return to that horrible place due to a promise they made as children, in order to try to solve the enigma of the clown, the awareness that they can die accompanies the protagonists in this terrible but moving story.

View on Amazon

The Shining

When children, our children, or the little ones in the home are concerned about something, it is better to pay attention to them in detail, because they may be showing something important; this is the message of Stephen King, the famous horror novelist, in this work.

The Shining is about a 5-year-old boy, who without an adult or clear notion of reality notices some words written on the mirror “REDRUM” is the word, which is inverted because of the reflection of the mirror, but it really says murder.

The child, even without knowing what it means, is sure of something, that his fantasies with the glare of the mirror and this word had something in common and would end up being fulfilled. When he finds out that his father is leaving for 6 months to work in a hotel far from the city, that’s when the real terror begins.

6) Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson was an American short story writer and novelist specializing in the horror genre. She was popular during her lifetime and in recent years her work has received increasing critical attention.

She greatly influenced authors such as Joanne Harris, Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, Neil Gaiman, and Richard Matheson. She was a recipient of the Edgar Award.

She was convinced that a good writer does not need to explain her books because they explain themselves perfectly.

Here we present 3 outstanding work by Shirley Jackson:

The Haunting of Hill House

When a movie is released, there is always a sketch, book, or novel behind it, which becomes the origin of said movie. Such is the case of The Haunting of Hill House , a horror novel that has been brought to theaters twice.

It’s about a doctor who loves the occult and paranormal events who together with three “test subjects” enters the labyrinths of an old mansion called Hill House.

The idea of coming to this mansion is to look for paranormal presences, which according to the residents of the area, are events that occur frequently.

Once there, they will all have to face situations that are beyond their comprehension, and soon they will discover that the cursed house wants to keep one of them forever.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Terror expands to unexpected places, have you ever seen terrifying fairies? Perhaps not because they are always beautiful and sweet, but in this novel, you will find the opposite, the author’s pen and her imagination have created a setting worth admiring and enjoying.

We Have Always Lived in The Castle is a story full of a lot of drama, where terror and poetry become one, where dreams come true in a way contrary to what the main characters expected.

It is about a great family, which has many assets, and among one of them, there is a castle that reflects the human fears of those who inhabit it, because a curse is on it, and it brings its inhabitants doubts, insecurities, questions, and much more.

The Letters of Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson is one of the most important American authors of the last hundred years and one of the greatest chroniclers of the female experience. The Letters of Shirley Jackson is an extraordinary compilation of personal correspondence that bears all the hallmarks of Jackson’s beloved fiction: glimpses of the strange in the domestic, sparks of horror in the everyday, and the veins of humor that run through the good and the bad times.

Written from Jackson’s college years to six days before her early death at the age of forty-eight, these letters became the autobiography Shirley Jackson never wrote.

At the same time, many of these letters provide new insight into the genesis and progress of Jackson’s writing over nearly three decades.

7) Clive Barker

Clive Barker

Clive Barker is a British writer, film director, and visual artist. He began his career with various horror stories collected in the series Books of Blood and the Faustian novel The Damnation Game.

Later he moved into the modern fantasy genre with hints of horror.

Barker’s most characteristic style is the idea that there is an underlying and hidden world that coexists with ours, the role of sexuality in the supernatural, and the construction of coherent, complex, and detailed mythologies.

Here we present 2 outstanding work by Clive Barker:

Hellraiser is a novel that you will not be able to stop reading, its incredible story has allowed it to become an unparalleled bestseller, the author’s pen is the hallmark of the work and it is one of his greatest works worldwide.

Hellraiser has its origins in the heart of man, and its plot speaks precisely about it, but the author describes it in such an amazing way that it will leave you stunned while reading, the main themes are love, greed, despair, lack of love, desire, slavery, blood, and death.

Elements that are characteristic of every horror story, and that are combined in the masterful way presented to us in this novel, offer us a literary ecstasy worthy of having a place in our personal library.

Books of Blood: Volumes I, II and III

Books of Blood: volumes I, II, and III is a series of short stories, stories that can be read every night before going to sleep, and thus have a few nightmares from its fantastic author Clive Barker.

In this installment, a fairly extensive compilation of his stories is made, which are written in a very particular and simple way to read, but at the same time, their plots are so deep that they will make your imagination fly while you immerse yourself in each one of them. the scenes.

You will find titles like: The Pig’s Blood Blues, The Midnight Meat Train, Terror, Death Knocks at the Door, A Princess Dead by Day and Alive by Night, The Cross of the Bloody Carnival, The Scarecrow’s Bride and many stories more.

8) Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz

Dean R. Koontz is an American horror writer. After a difficult childhood, he found his calling in literature. At twenty years old, he won the Atlantic Monthly novel prize and since 1969 he has dedicated himself exclusively to writing.

He is an author of suspense, science fiction, horror, and mystery novels. Koontz first published in 1968, and his novels have frequently topped the New York Times bestseller list ever since.

His novels have been translated into 17 languages, have sold more than fifty million copies worldwide, and some of them have been made into films and television.

Here we present an outstanding work by Dean Koontz:

The Eyes of Darkness

The Eyes of Darkness is a thriller novel by American writer Dean Koontz, published in 1981. The book centers on a mother who embarks on a quest to find out if her son really died a year earlier or if he is still alive

At the end of 2019, a deadly virus called “Wuhan 400”, which is a biological weapon, is created and released in the city of Wuhan, China. In 2020, the protagonist sends her son on a camping trip with a monitor that she has previously taken to the mountains without mishaps, but this time it is not like that. Each of the campers, the monitor, and the driver die without explanation.

As the grieving mother begins to come to terms with the fact that her son is dead, she begins to be viciously harassed by messages out of nowhere, such as phrases written on blackboards, words off printers, and other “signs” that say her son is not dead. Along with her new friend, she sets out to find out what could have happened on the day her son “died”.

9) Anne Rice

Anne Rice

Anne Rice was an American author of best-selling gothic and religious themes.

Her best-known work is the Vampire Chronicles literary series, whose main theme is love, death, immortality, existentialism, and the human condition. Her books have sold nearly one hundred million copies, making her one of the most widely read writers in the world.

Two of her Vampire Chronicles books were the subject of two film adaptations: Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned.

Here we present an outstanding work by Anne Rice :

The Vampire Chronicles

The Vampire Chronicles is a series of fantasy novels written by Anne Rice that tell the story of the fictional character Lestat de Lioncourt, accompanied by a series of enigmatic vampire characters.

They are recognized as one of the best novels dedicated to the current vampire myth, responsible for resurrecting the myth in the US. It is really difficult not to mention this literary saga when referring to the world of vampires, gothic, and horror.

The titles from this series are “Interview with the Vampire”, “Lestat the Vampire”, “The Queen of the Damned”, “The Body Snatcher”, “Memnoch the Devil”, “The Vampire Armand”, “Merrick”, “Blood and Gold”, “The Sanctuary”, “Prince Lestat and the Kingdoms of Atlantis”, and “The Community of Blood”.

10) Ramsey Campbell

Ramsey Campbell

John Ramsey Campbell is a British short-story writer, novelist, and editor, considered by critics to be one of the great masters of the contemporary horror story.

Due to his concern for formal issues, Ramsey Campbell is considered one of the best stylists in the genre. He has also excelled as an editor of horror anthologies and collaborates with the BBC on film review programs.

His novels have been adapted to the big screen twice: Los sin nombre by Jaume Balagueró and El Segundo Nombre by Francisco Plaza.

Here we present 2 outstanding work by Ramsey Campbell :

The Searching Dead

The Searching Dead is the first part of Ramsey Campbell’s Daoloth trilogy, followed by Born to the Dark and The Way of the Worm. Set in Liverpool in 1952, it follows the story of schoolboy Dominic Sheldrake and his friends Jim and Bobby.

This author’s new trilogy, The Three Births of Daoloth, further develops the cosmic horrors he invented in his first published book, The Lake Dweller. The Seeking Dead is the first volume, followed by Born in Darkness.

Dominic, the narrator, lives with his parents and attends a local Catholic school for boys. When his class goes on a school trip to France to visit some war sites, Christian Noble, one of the teachers, begins to display sinister behavior, leading the three friends into a terrifying encounter with paranormal forces.

Born to the Dark

Born To The Dark by Ramsey Campbell is the second book in The Three Births of Daoloth trilogy.

It is now 1985 and more than thirty years have passed since the events of The Seeking Dead. While some background is provided, this is a trilogy with one continuous story told in its three volumes.

Dominic Sheldrake is now a university film professor, is married, and has a five-year-old son. At the opening of the novel, Dominic has traveled to London to meet up with his childhood friends Jim and Roberta (Bobbie), who is now a journalist. Naturally, this meeting stirs up memories of Christian Noble and his sinister cult.

11) Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson was an American fantasy, science fiction, and horror writer and screenwriter.

He began publishing his stories in the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper. Later, he started writing fantasy, horror, and science fiction stories. His first published story Born of Man and Woman made him immediately famous.

In 1954 his already classic novel I Am Legend resurfaced. In 1957 he adapted his novel The Shrinking Man for the cinema, resulting in a cult film by the same title. He also stood out as a screenwriter for several episodes of the television series The Twilight Zone and the Steven Spielberg film, Duel, based on his story.

Here we present 3 outstanding work by Richard Matheson:

Hell House is a horror novel by American novelist Richard Matheson, published in 1971.

The story revolves around four people who are hired to investigate the possibility of an afterlife and solve it with a time limit of one week. To do so, they must enter the infamous Belasco House in Maine, considered the most haunted house in the world.

The novel blends supernatural horror with mystery as the characters attempt to investigate the house’s curse while its sinister influence subtly undermines their sanity. The house exploits the deepest desires of its guests and tries to turn people against each other during the course of their visit.

I am Legend

Richard Matheson, who was one of the most influential authors of the 20th century in life, was considered a great writer by the one and only Stephen King, a compelling reason to consider his books, most of which have been international bestsellers.

I Am Legend is one of his most famous works, it tells the story of a man who for fortuitous reasons became the only survivor of a bacteriological war where people became vampires.

However, these creatures have a high degree of intelligence, and they are not mere zombies, but dangerous beings that come out at night to hunt; therefore Robert Neville (the legend) takes care during the day to eliminate as many as possible to withstand the night siege.

What Dreams May Come

What Dreams May Come is a 1978 novel by Richard Matheson. The plot centers on Chris, a man who dies and then goes to heaven but descends to hell to rescue his wife.

The book explores a variety of paranormal phenomena and advances a philosophy of mind over matter, arguing that the human soul is immortal and that a person’s fate in the afterlife is self-imposed.

The novel’s powerful story of life and love after death was the basis for the Oscar-winning film starring Robin Williams.

12) Peter Straub

Peter Straub

Peter Francis Straub is an American novelist, short story writer, and poet specializing in the horror genre.

After several attempts, he attracted the attention of critics and the public with his fifth novel, Ghosts (1979), made into a film two years later. Straub has written some novels in collaboration with Stephen King.

His macabre stories have received several important awards in the Anglo-Saxon sphere: the Bram Stoker Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the International Horror Guild Award, which places him among the most awarded authors of the genre in recent history.

Here we present an outstanding work by Peter Straub:

Koko is an American mystery horror novel by American writer Peter Straub, first published in the United States in 1988 by EP Dutton and in Britain by Viking. It was the winner of the World Fantasy Award for best novel in 1989.

The plot unfolds at the inauguration of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., where four surviving members of an Army platoon meet. Their current lives differ greatly in social standing and degree of success, yet they still cannot shake the memories of the hell they endured together in S.E. Asia, and there is a memory of the past rearing its ugly head.

This novel is a gripping psychological thriller in which horror and paranoia are indistinguishable from reality.

13) Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury was an American fantasy, horror, and science fiction writer. He is primarily known for his work The Martian Chronicles, and the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451.

He considered himself “a storyteller for moral purposes.” His works often produce in the reader a metaphysical and, therefore, disconcerting anguish, but always with a touch of daily life, since they reflect Bradbury’s conviction that the destiny of humanity is “to traverse infinite spaces and suffer excruciating sufferings to conclude defeated, contemplating the end of eternity».

Although Bradbury is known as a science fiction writer, he stated that he was not a science fiction writer, but a fantasy writer and that his only science fiction novel is Fahrenheit 451.

Here we present 3 outstanding work by Ray Bradbury:

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury, published in 1953 and considered one of his best works. The novel presents an American society of the future in which books are prohibited and there are “firemen” who burn them.

The protagonist of the story is a firefighter named Montag who eventually gets tired of his role as a censor of knowledge, decides to quit his job, and eventually joins a resistance group dedicated to memorizing and sharing the world’s best literary works.

The novel has been the subject of interpretations that focus on the historical role that the burning of books has had in repressing dissenting ideas. In a 1956 radio interview, Bradbury claimed to have written Fahrenheit 451 because of his concerns during the McCarthy era of the threat of book burning in the United States.

The Martian Chronicles

The Martian Chronicles is a series of short stories by writer Ray Bradbury. The stories lack a fixed linear plot line, but the contextual and temporal reference is the same in all of them: the arrival on Mars and the colonization of the planet by humans.

Published in 1950, The Martian Chronicles, recognized alongside Fahrenheit 451 as one of Bradbury’s best books, abounds in poetic and melancholic descriptions of Mars and the Martians, and of American society in Bradbury’s day.

Although the book is titled The Martian Chronicles, it deals with perennial themes of all humanity: war and man’s self-destructive impulse, racism, both towards Martians and towards other people, and the smallness of man before nature and the universe.

The Illustraded Man

The Illustrated Man is a 1951 book of eighteen science fiction short stories written by Ray Bradbury, all of which explore the nature of humanity. A recurring theme throughout the eighteen stories is the conflict between cold technological mechanisms and people’s psychology.

These different stories come together with the figure that frames “The Illustrated Man”, a homeless man with his body entirely tattooed whom the publisher of the book, who remains anonymous, knows. These tattoos were made in theory by a time-traveling woman, they are animated and each one tells a different story.

Thus, the story of “The Illustrated Man” serves as the framework narrative for all the tales. All but one of the stories had been previously published, although for the book’s publication Bradbury revised some of the texts.

14) Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons is an American writer. His best-known work is Hyperion, winner of the Hugo and Locus science fiction awards. Hyperion is the first novel of the tetralogy The Songs of Hyperion, completed by the works The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and The Rise of Endymion.

Dan Simmons often cultivates the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, sometimes mixed into the same work.

In 1982 he published his first story with which he won the first Rod Serling Story Conquest for short stories, and since 1987 he has been writing full time.

Here we present an outstanding work by Dan Simmons:

The Terror is a novel by Dan Simmons published in 2007 that fictionally recounts events inspired by the lost Franklin Expedition. Simmons adds paranormal elements to a true story.

In September 1847, two British Navy ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, under the command of Sir John Franklin, go in search of the Northwest Passage. In the vicinity of King William Island, they are trapped in the Arctic ice.

The conditions of survival are extreme with temperatures exceeding fifty degrees below zero, scarce food supplies, the deterioration of ships, or the arrival of diseases. The strange presence of a mysterious beastly creature leads the men to believe they are up against supernatural forces. Mutiny and cannibalism loom over the survivors.

15) John Ajvide Lindqvist

books horror authors

John Ajvide Lindqvist is a Swedish writer of horror novels. His first novel Låt den rätte komma in, a vampire story published in 2004, enjoyed great success in Sweden. And since then he began his professional career as a writer.

Among his favorite authors he has mentioned Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges; especially the first.

Throughout his career, he has received awards such as the Selma Lagerlöf, one of the most prestigious in Sweden.

Here we present an outstanding work by Susan John Ajvide Lindqvist:

Let Me In is a book with a chilling horror story, from the main character who has a strange hobby, to the supernatural presence that moves within its pages.

It tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy named Oskar. He has no friends, spends his time alone, and likes to collect news of murders that appear in the newspapers, he usually cuts them out and keeps them in a notebook.

His life is boring and somewhat full of problems at school, where he is teased and harassed by his classmates.

But one day, Eli, a girl his age, shows up, and they quickly become inseparable friends. From this point on, his life becomes happier, however, a series of serial murders begin to happen in his town, so much so that the police have no solution.

Here ends our selection of Authors of Horror Books. We hope you liked it and already have your next book!

If you found this list useful, do not forget to share it on your social networks. Remember that  “Sharing is Caring” .

Do you want more  Horror in books PDF format ?

Horror Books

| Children's Horror Books

| Cosmic Horror Books

| Ghost Horror Books

| Gothic Horror Books

| Horror and Romance Books

| Horror and Science Fiction Books

| Horror and Suspense Books

| Horror Books for Halloween

| Horror Books for Teenagers

| Horror Books with Haunted Houses

| Horror Books Written by Women

| Horror Short Stories

| Paranormal Horror Books

| Psychological Horror Books

Other articles that may interest you

What is Psychological Horror?

books horror authors

On this occasion, we will delve into this type of literary fiction, we will tell you what psychological horror is,…

Horror as a Literary Genre

books horror authors

The dictionary defines horror as a genre of fiction that has the purpose of making us feel fear, repulsion, and…

What was the First Horror Book or Tale?

books horror authors

If you have read a horror story or novel, you will know that this fiction genre is designed to scare…

What is the Most Read Horror Book?

books horror authors

Are you curious to know which is the most read horror book in the world? Well, in this article we…

What is the Scariest Book in the World?

books horror authors

Surely you are wondering what is the most terrifying horror book in the world and that is why you are…

TOP 9 Horror Books Made into Movies

books horror authors

Looking for horror books made into movies? There are many adaptations, but here we will tell you about the most…

5 Horror Book Sagas That Will Make You Cringe

books horror authors

When we talk about horror book sagas, there is a wide range of options. As with fantasy, adventure, or sci-fi,…

Most Famous Horror Books That Won’t Let You Sleep

books horror authors

No matter how we consume horror stories, the truth is that it is an overwhelmingly popular genre. Its success is…

Alternative Therapy Books

Alternative Therapy

Animal Books

Art & Photography

Biology Books

Business and Investment

Chemistry Books


Computer Science Books

Computer Science

Engineering Books


Esotericism Books


Food & Drinks Books

Food & Drinks

French Books

French Books

History Books

Mystery and Thriller

Mythology Books

Portuguese Books

Psychology Books

Self Improvement

Short Stories

Short Stories

Spanish Books

Spanish Books

Sports Books


InfoBooks on Facebook

InfoBooks is a website to download free books legally.


books horror authors

The 25 Best Horror Books of 2023

' src=

Emily Martin

Emily has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, MS, and she has an MFA in Creative Writing from GCSU in Milledgeville, GA, home of Flannery O’Connor. She spends her free time reading, watching horror movies and musicals, cuddling cats, Instagramming pictures of cats, and blogging/podcasting about books with the ladies over at #BookSquadGoals ( She can be reached at [email protected].

View All posts by Emily Martin

Horror fans, is there anything more terrifying than the relentless passage of time? We’re already approaching the halfway point of 2023, and now seems like a good time to reflect on the best horror books of the year. These are the best horror books that came out in the first half of the year and the best horror to look forward to reading in the second half.

So what has the year in horror in 2023 looked like so far? We’ve gotten a lot of new favorite books from some of our go-to horror authors. We’ve also gotten a lot of debuts and new authors to get excited about. It’s no surprise that haunted houses have been really big this year — after all, haunted houses are, in my opinion, just perpetually scary. Witches have also continued to be big in 2023. We’ve also gotten a few really great horror short story collections this year.

In no particular order, here are the best horror books that have helped to define the year in horror. Did your favorite horror book of 2023 make the list? Read on to find out.

The Best Horror Books: 2023

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix - book cover

How to Sell A Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

How to Sell A Haunted House isn’t really Grady’s first foray into the haunted house horror sub-genre. Horrorstör takes place in a haunted IKEA-like furniture store. But Hendrix’s new novel is his first haunted puppets story. And if you’re wondering how puppets can be scary, read this book to find out. After Louise’s parents die unexpectedly, she’s forced to go home to Charleston to take care of their affairs. Louise thinks the most difficult part of selling her parents’ home is going to be dealing with her shiftless brother Mark. But neither Louise nor Mark are prepared to face what really awaits them in that house.

the spite house book cover

The Spite House by Johnny Compton

Let’s keep the ball rolling with the haunted house stories. The Spite House is a debut novel from author Johnny Compton. This one has The Shining vibes for sure, but trust me, there are plenty of surprises and new terrors happening here. Eric Ross is on the run and desperate to find shelter for himself and his two daughters as well as a job to keep them afloat. So when he sees the ad for a caretaker for the Masson House in Degener, Texas, it looks like a dream come true. Even though the house is supposedly haunted.

cover of Tell Me I'm Worthless by Alison Rumfitt; painting of woman's eyes showing through lace with a dark mansion resting above

Tell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfit

More haunted houses? Don’t mind if I do. Three years ago, Alice and her friends Ila and Hannah spent one night in a haunted house, and nothing has been the same since. The last thing Alice wants to do is return to that place, but when Ila tells her they have to return to rescue Hannah, Alice knows she has no choice. Now Alice and Ila will be forced to face the horrors that happened to them three years ago or risk losing Hannah to the house forever.

She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Trans book cover

She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran

One thing that makes haunted house horror even more terrifying? Family drama. And there’s plenty of that in She is a Haunting, a story about Jade Nguyen, who comes to Vietnam to reconnect with her sister Lily and her estranged father, who is restoring a French colonial house. But the house has a mind of its own, and Jade can’t ignore the ghost of a beautiful bride who warns her not to eat. No one else will believe Jade when she says the house is haunted, but she’s determined to prove it.

Don't Fear the Reaper cover

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones

If you loved Stephen Graham Jones’s My Heart is a Chainsaw , then you have to come back for the sequel, Don’t Fear the Reaper. Set four years after the event of the first novel, this novel sees Jade Daniels return to the rural lake town of Proofrock on the same day serial killer Dark Mill South escapes to exact his revenge. A lot has changed since Jade’s senior year, but after Dark Mill South’s 36 hour rampage and 20 dead bodies, many of the horrors of that year come flooding back.

cover of Bad Cree: A Novel by Jessica Johns; red tinted photo of birch trees against the sky

Bad Cree by Jessica Johns

This debut novel is a must-read supernatural horror story. Every night, Mackenzie has unsettlingly realistic dreams recalling memories of a weekend at her family’s lakeside campsite, a time before her sister Sabrina’s untimely death. In her waking life, Mackenzie is being followed around by a murder of crows, and she keeps getting texts from someone claiming to be Sabrina. To stop these horrors from consuming her, Mackenzie returns to her home in Alberta to make sense of what happened to her sister years ago.

natural beauty book cover

Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang

Here’s another exciting debut that tells a unique horror story. Natural Beauty combines horror and humor to tell the story of an unnamed narrator who quits her job as a pianist to care for her parents in New York City. There, she takes up a job at a high-end beauty and wellness store called Holistik and grows close to the owner’s niece Helen. The two form a friendship that slowly becomes more, and the narrator becomes deeply wrapped up in the products and ideology of Holistik. But underneath its glossy surface, Holistik hides something sinister.

cover of Lone Women by Victor LaValle; illustration of a Black woman in a white blouse and blue skirt standing in a field of wheat

Lone Women by Victor LaValle

The latest from acclaimed author Victor LaValle takes readers into the American West in the year 1915. Adelaide Henry is on the run after her secret sin killed her parents and forced her to leave her hometown of Redondo, California. Her journey will take her to Montana to be one of the “lone women” who will take advantage of the government’s offer of free land for those who can cultivate it. But Adelaide isn’t alone. With her, she carries an enormous steamer trunk that must always stay locked. When the trunk gets unlocked, people around her start disappearing. The locked trunk holds the secrets to Adelaide’s past. And that secret she’s keeping locked away might also be the only thing keeping her alive.

Our Share of Night by Mariana Enríquez book cover

Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez

Mariana Enriquez has previously has short story collections translated into English (they’re amazing, by the way), but this is her first novel translated into English. And it’s pretty stunning. After his wife Rosario’s mysterious death, Juan and his son Gaspar set off on a journey to return to Rosario’s ancestral home, where her family gathers as a maniacal cult called the Order, committing horrifying acts in search of immortality.

cover of Monstrilio by Gerardo Samano Cordova; painting of a gray bat creature with red eyes

Monstrilio by Gerardo Sámano Córdova

Monstrilio is a literary horror debut about a grieving mother named Magos who nurtures a small piece of her deceased 11-year-old son Santiago’s lung until it grows into a monster. While the little Monstrilio in many ways resembles Magos’s son, the creature has animalistic impulses that threaten to destroy everything. This novel is a chilling and heart-wrenching examination of the complicated and all-consuming journey of grief.

Venco by Cherie Dimaline book cover

VenCo by Cherie Dimaline

Cherie Dimaline is back with another banger, and this one is all about witches. Lucky St. James lives in a tiny apartment in Toronto with her grandmother Stella. One day, she finds something strange in the wall of her apartment: a silver spoon with the image of a witch etched into it and the word “SALEM.” Lucky has no idea that the spoon actually links her to a whole network of witches throughout North America through a front company called VenCo.

The Marigold Book Cover

The Marigold by Andrew F. Sullivan

The Marigold is such an exciting new entry into the eco-horror sub-genre. The story takes place in the Marigold, a luxury apartment complex that hasn’t sold nearly as well as expected. The apartment building has been left half-full, and a second building remains unfinished. The remains of the unfinished Marigold II is where horror is brewing. There is toxic mold growing in the building, but this isn’t just your average mold. Just how evil can mold be? You’ll have to read to find out.

cover of Pinata by Leopoldo Gout; illustration of a black skull with long black spikes growing out of it

Piñata by Leopoldo Gout

Some horror books are just kinda eerie, and some are straight up scary. Where does Piñata fit on that scale? It kind of depends on what scares you, but this one is pretty freaking frightening. Carmen Sanchez is back in her home country of Mexico with her teen daughters, Izel and Luna, to oversee the renovation of an ancient cathedral into a boutique hotel. The locals treat Carmen and her daughters like outsiders, and her contractors are openly sabotaging the project. After Luna is nearly injured at the construction site, Carmen decides enough is enough and she returns with her family to New York. But returning to New York doesn’t mean escaping the troubles the Sanchez family encountered in Mexico. Something has been awakened, and it might be too late for Carmen and her daughters to escape.

delicious monsters book cover

Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury

2023 is the year of haunted houses, it seems. This is another one that was a super compelling and scary read. Daisy has the ability to see dead people, which can be quite overwhelming when she lives in a city, where there are ghosts on every corner. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion, Daisy is relieved to get away from the noise of the city. But the house hides horrors Daisy could never have imagined. And the horrors there aren’t just supernatural.

sister, maiden, monster book cover

Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder

Love cosmic horror? Love apocalyptic fiction? Get your hands on Sister, Maiden, Monster. A virus has torn the world apart, and in the aftermath of the world’s horrific transformation, three women are pulled together but dark, cosmic forces. Erin has acquired a particular taste for one woman and her brain. Savannah finds sexual pleasure in committing murder. And Mareva, who is riddled with tumors, has a divine role in the coming apocalypse that she will be forced to face, whether she likes it or not.

cover of The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw; illustration of a plague doctor and and a mermaid monster holding a skull

The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw

What if The Little Mermaid was a horror story? Then you’d have Cassandra Khaw’s The Salt Grows Heavy, a short but effective and atmospheric horror novel where mermaids have teeth and destructive tendencies. And this little mermaid is joined on land by a plague doctor with plenty of their own dark secrets. On their strange journey, the two come across a village filled with children with a taste for blood. Will they be able to make it out alive?

The Haunting of Alejandra by V Castro book cover

The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro

La Llorona has been getting a lot of attention in recent horror movies. But you’ve never seen this folk demon quite like this. Within Alejandra is a darkness struggling to be released, but no one knows it but her. So Alejandra goes to a therapist. To unravel why she’s seeing the spirit of a crying woman, Alejandra will first have to unpack her family history and generational trauma. Will Alejandra be able to summon the strength to overcome the horrors of her past and be rid of La Llorona forever?

cover of A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher; illustration of the shadow of a buzzard on the wall in the hallway of a house

A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher

If you’ve got room in your heart for more scary houses (I know I do), pick this one up. A House with Good Bones  is about Sam Montgomery, who is really worried about her mother. Out of nowhere, Sam’s mom is acting jumpy and nervous, and she’s starting to make strange changes to the family home on Lammergeier Lane. Sam wonders if her mother’s behavior has anything to do with her late grandmother. And as shocking family secrets are revealed, Sam will discover that she’s not wrong. Now Sam struggles to uncover the truths behind their family home before Lammergeier Lane completely consumes her.

everything the darkness eats book cover

Everything the Darkness Eats by Eric LaRocca (CLASH Books, June 6)

Eric LaRocca became something of a TikTok darling with his shocking novella Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke . Now LaRocca is back with his first full-length novel. A string of shocking disappearances have rocked this small Connecticut town. As the local law enforcement starts to investigate the strange disappearances, the insidious hatred that’s hidden behind the friendly exterior of the small town threatens to bubble up to the surface.

nineteen claws and a blackbird book cover

Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica (Scribner, June 20)

Speaking of viral horror books, Agustina Bazterrica is another author that made waves on BookTok and BookTube with her horror novel Tender is the Flesh . Her newest book is a collection of 19 short stories that will lure readers into terrifying stories and make them face their nightmares.

the beast you are book cover

The Beast You Are by Paul Tremblay (William Morrow, July 11)

Here’s another excellent horror short story collection for 2023. The Beast You Are consists of 15 short stories and one novella. The horror in these stories is experimental and creative. It will twist your brain. So obviously you have to read it! Paul Tremblay has proven himself as a master horror author with novels like Cabin at the End of the World and Head Full of Ghosts , and his short stories are just as spectacular.

looking glass sound book cover

Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward (Tor Nightfire, August 8)

Catriona Ward remains one of my favorite horror authors, and Looking Glass Sound is one of her best. Years ago when Wilder Harlow was young, there was a summer that changed everything. A killer stalked his small town in Maine, and a tragedy bonded Wilder to his friends, Nat and Harper, in ways that would forever change them. Now, decades later, Wilder has returned to the town in the hopes of making sense of that summer’s events as he writes his memoir. But the longer he spends in the town and the more he writes, the more Wilder feels like he’s losing his grip on reality. And it feels as if the book is somehow writing itself.

vampires of el norte book cover

Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas (Berkley, August 29)

Isabel Cañas’s The Hacienda was one of the best horror books of 2022. Her latest is a supernatural western set on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1840s. As the daughter of a rancher, Nina knows there are things much more dangerous than the Anglo settlers in the north. Something stalks the ranch at night, attacking people and drinking their blood. Nena knows it’s there because she was once attacked. Meanwhile, Néstor thinks Nena is dead. Since the attack, he has been moving from ranch to ranch working as a vaquero, unable to shake the grief from losing his childhood love. When the United States attacks Mexico in 1846, Néstor meets Nana again in a shocking reunion.

what kind of mother book cover

What Kind of Mother by Clay McLeod Chapman (Quirk Books, September 12)

How lucky are we that we get a new Clay McLeod Chapman novel in just a few months? What Kind of Mother is a Southern Gothic horror novel that follows Madi Price, who has reluctantly returned to her hometown of Brandywine, Virginia, with her 17-year-old daughter. Madi scrapes by working as a palm reader, and this is where she encounters Henry McCabe, whose son went missing five years ago. Everyone assumes Henry’s son is dead, but when Madi reads his palm, she sees something different. Something that will haunt her.

the reformatory book cover

The Reformatory by Tananarive Due (Saga, October 31)

On June 27, we’re getting a new horror novel from Tananarive Due for the first time in eight years. And it was well worth the wait. The Reformatory is set in Gracetown, Florida, in the summer of 1950. Robert Stephen Jones Jr. is sent to Gracetown School for Boys after kicking a white boy’s leg. Robert thinks he’s just being sent to a reform school, but Gracetown is something much more than that. The school is a segregated school that is haunted from the boys who have died there.

If you want more of the best of the best horror, check out the Best Horror Books of 2022 . And be sure to try all of the books HorrorTok recommends as well!

You Might Also Like

10 of the Most Polarizing Books to Ponder

  • Skip to main content
  • Keyboard shortcuts for audio player

Author Interviews

Rachel harrison on her new horror novel 'black sheep'.

Ayesha Rascoe, photographed for NPR, 2 May 2022, in Washington DC. Photo by Mike Morgan for NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe

Melissa Gray

NPR's Ayesha Rascoe talks with Rachel Harrison about her new horror novel, "Black Sheep," which asks what must be sacrificed in order to go home again.


When we meet Vesper in the new horror novel "Black Sheep," she's a prickly 23-year-old waitress estranged from her family for years. Her father is nowhere to be found. Her mother, Constance, is a horror movie scream queen with a taste for the macabre and zero interest in parenting. The only love Vesper has is from her aunt and her cousin, but was it really love?

RACHEL HARRISON: (Reading) It occurred to me then that our past is not the truth. It's warped by time and emotion, inevitably muddied by love and resentment, joy and shame, hope and regret. I couldn't trust my own memories, good or bad.

RASCOE: In Rachel Harrison's novel "Black Sheep," Vesper questions all her memories when she finally returns to the fundamentalist community that she grew up in to attend her cousin's wedding. And then - plot twist - we discover it's not a Christian fundamentalist community - uh-uh (ph). When this crowd is talking about the Lord, they are actually talking about Satan.

HARRISON: Satanism is sort of just a cover for how fanatical these people are. What kind of religion it was didn't really matter to me. It was more about how much they believed and putting these people - her family, her community - at odds with Vesper, my protagonist. So it was less about, how does this church I made up work? - or basing it on anything specific in reality versus just, what does it mean when you come from a community that believes in something with all their heart and you're - just don't buy it? And when you're alienated from your family and community, what does that do to a person, and where do you go from there? And can you ever go home again?

RASCOE: You know, Vesper talks about, like, Hell's Gate. They're believing the end times are coming and everybody else who's not chosen, they're going to burn and all this stuff. It made me think of, like, you know, growing up in church and you're hearing about, these are the last and evil days. There can be, like, a lot of very violent imagery that children are exposed to because I remember hearing last and evil days and being afraid 'cause I was, like, a little kid. I'm like, I haven't even lived yet. But everybody else will be happy. (Laughter) And it's, like, kind of bizarre.

HARRISON: It's interesting looking back because when you're young, you kind of just accept things as they are.

RASCOE: Yes. Yeah.

HARRISON: And then looking back, you're like, I was young to be hearing about that kind of stuff.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Yes. Yeah. And it was like - that was very scary. And I didn't have context for this.

HARRISON: In some ways, it can be very scary going to church...

RASCOE: (Laughter) Yeah.

HARRISON: ...Especially if you were like me and it was like, sit still. Be quiet.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Is that some of what you wanted to convey? Like, sometimes these things can be scary in general.

HARRISON: Yeah. And everybody has their own different experience. I had some experiences with religion growing up. I went to a church that had pictures of the crypt-keeper in the bathroom that was like, Satan is watching you. Like, these things we experience as kids, they mess us up great so we can write about them later. For me, in that way, it was personal. But it was less about me thinking about how church is scary and more a product of doomscrolling, which I think we've all done quite a bit over the past few years, and just seeing a lot of cynicism and seeing people say, this is the worst time to be alive, everything sucks, it's hopeless, and having to ask myself, is it hopeless? And writing this book, through Vesper, she has that attitude of cynicism and just not having faith and feeling pretty jaded about it.

RASCOE: Obviously, there's a very dysfunctional family in this book, do you know what I'm saying?


RASCOE: That's kind of next level, but you know what I'm saying (laughter).

HARRISON: Yeah. I would hope everyone who reads this book comes away with it like, OK, my family isn't that bad.

RASCOE: Not that bad (laughter).

HARRISON: If anyone comes away from "Black Sheep" and is like, you think that's rough, come to Thanksgiving at my house, then we're in trouble.

RASCOE: Yeah. Yeah (laughter). You know, obviously most families are not going to be as dysfunctional as this, but, like, you do this really great job of showcasing that there can be this awkwardness in family where, you know, Vesper gets along with some members of the family. She's annoyed by others, seemingly always at war with her mother. But she has this loyalty, say, to her cousin, and that's what brings her back. And she forces herself into some type of reconciliation. What do you think about this idea of reconciliation and your family's always being with you or part of you or making peace with that?

HARRISON: Reconciliation is going to be different for everyone. I think in the beginning, Vesper has reason to have hope that it could happen and want it to happen. She goes home because she wants things to change. In those relationships, there needs to be give on both sides. She doesn't really get give on the side of her family. So in this situation, people have to read to see what happens. But I do have hope that people who have family issues can reconcile. But I also am a big believer in boundaries and protecting yourself. So I think with the knowledge Vesper has at the end of the book, I think she would advocate for boundaries as well. But it's our own - she had to go through the journey.

RASCOE: To journey to get there, to - you know, to try and see what happens. Ultimately, when people read the book, it's not that you want them to learn a lesson, but I guess, when people read "Black Sheep," what ultimately do you want them to take about this idea of belief?

HARRISON: I hope when they finish reading they, first of all, had a ton of fun reading it. I hope they were scared. And I hope that it's just food for thought. Just think about our relationship to faith and nature versus nurture. Those are big questions. I hope it just prompts some thought and that they sleep with the lights on...

RASCOE: (Laughter).

HARRISON: ...And it keeps them up to think about these big questions.

RASCOE: That is Rachel Harrison. She is the author of "Black Sheep." Thank you so much for joining us.

HARRISON: Thank you for having me.

Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

96 New Picks from the Big Celebrity Book Clubs

  • Discussions
  • Reading Challenge
  • Kindle Notes & Highlights
  • Favorite genres
  • Friends’ recommendations
  • Account settings


Felicia's Reviews > Escaping the Darkness: A Dark Horror Romance

Escaping the Darkness by Georgia Wells

Reading Progress

Post a comment » comments.

Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

books horror authors

Screen Rant

10 best horror comic books of all time.

The horror genre has always been essential to comic books as a medium; below are the 10 best, most intense horror series of all time.

Warning: All titles on this list are MATURE comics

With the Halloween season approaching, Screen Rant is revisiting the best Horror comics of all time. The horror genre has been essential to the comic book industry since its inception, producing some of the medium's most critically acclaimed works, along with some of the best writers and artists. For readers who are ready for grotesqueries of gore and ghastliness, the series curated below will more than sate the appetite for terror.

Comics have an ability to communicate horror in different, more subtle ways than other media, with the panel format often supporting novel and creative storytelling techniques, facilitating terrors that cannot be replicated. Readers are sure to be shocked and dismayed, in the best possible way, by the sheer, unadulterated scariness emanating from the ten tomes of terror listed here.

10 30 Days of Night

Every year, in the town of Barrow, Alaska (now known as Utqiagvik) the sun courses below the horizon, departing for over a month. As 30 Days of Night demonstrates, that’s all you need for the scariest story imaginable. Anchored by the brutal minimalistic writing of Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith puts on a virtuoso performance of abstract-style horror art, as a hidden nation of vampires reveals itself to a beleaguered town on the edge of the world, with only a simple sheriff Eben Olemaun standing against perhaps some of the most fiendish, grotesquely wicked bloodsuckers in the medium. Ultimately, 30 Days of Night is a rock solid production, which gradually unfurls in sequels into a superb monster-next-door yarn in modern America.

9 Once and Future

A more light-hearted tale of terror, the action-packed parable Once & Future follows museum curator Duncan Macguire , who battles a resurrected demon King Arthur alongside his psychopathic, former vigilante grandmother Bridgette. A philosophical romp, Once & Future actively reflects on the nature of self-identification with mythic figures, evoking the power of stories, and the often terrifying pitfalls therein. Grim humor from Kieron Gillen, and a touch of cartoonish whimsy from Dan Mora, illuminate a world of medieval Halloween ghouls, ghosts, and skeleton warriors, with a certain charm that elevates this monster-hunting yarn into an endearing meta-narrative fable. Albeit one with enough darkness around the edges to conduct a proper chill up a reader’s spine.

8 Deadworld

An early pioneer in hyper-violent zombie comics, Deadworld – originated by Stuart Kerr, Vince Locke and Ralph Griffin in 1987 – is among the most harrowing documents of the medium, distilling within it a devastatingly horrific spark of ‘80s horror aesthetic, refusing to slide into self-parody despite its more absurd cultural artifacts. The tragic tale of young survivors, attempting to make their way across the country in search of civilization amidst a zombie apocalypse, the totality of what Deadworld manages to accomplish within its black-and-white pages, in service to the old slasher-movie style, proves to be highly predictive in its oppressive brutality and bleakness, in a way which only heightens its relevancy, despite its many flaws.

7 Sláine

2000 A.D.’s long-running dark fantasy serial, about an ancient hero in prehistoric Ireland, Sláine – created by Pat Mills and Angela Kinkaid – delves into the more outlandish and unreal side of sword and sorcery, concocting a world swimming in dark wizardry and darker mayhem. Culminating in perhaps its best volume, The Horned God – drawn in twisted, madness-tinged glory by Simon Bisley – the series finds the banished berserker battling against tribes of monsters, eldritch horrors, and the ancient, insane Drune Lord Weird Slough Feg, in an epic tale of reality-bending wonder. Always looking to push the boundaries between dream and nightmare, Sláine manages to present a refreshingly modern take on traditional horror fantasy tropes, while immersing its readers in a naturalistic, yet vividly enchanting realm of demons and dark magic.

Robert Kirkman’s follow-up to his blockbuster series The Walking Dead , created alongside artist Paul Azacata, Outcast follows exorcists Kyle Barnes and Reverend John Anderson attempting to thwart an earthly devil named Sidney from corrupting the lives of the innocent through demonic possession. A story about trust, and living with unforgivable choices, Outcast ultimately presents a tighter, and in many ways more cohesive narrative than Kirkman’s more famous series, focusing quite pointedly on the trauma suffered by victims of abuse. While TWD may have been a showcase for Kirkman’s sprawling world-building, Outcast ’s more limited scope, and non-post-apocalyptic setting, allow him more to build an emotionally focused experience , providing a resonant, more relatable, and shocking profile of modern horror.

5 Black Hole

A riveting fever dream about the consequences of STDs, Black Hole is a tour-de-force of terror, asking tough questions about social alienation and growing up. Following two 1970s high school students in a small American town afflicted with “the Bug,” an STD that mutates those affected in bizarre and often horrifying ways, Black Hole accomplishes a rare task, highlighting the existential terror brought about by making bad mistakes and being caught in bad situations. One remarkable attribute of the series would be writer/artist Charles Burns’ ability to weave an atmosphere of disconcerting, off-kilter delirium, allowing the horror to form around the edges and gradually seep in. Not for the faint of heart, Black Hole is a masterpiece of understated horror.

4 The Sandman

Neil Gaiman’s magnum opus, The Sandman transcends genre through the celebration of storytelling, but it is always a horror comic at heart. Following the adventures and travails of the ghostlike Dream of the Endless, a godlike being who oversees the dreams of all living beings, The Sandman ends up being a story about consequences , highlighting the terrifying ramifications of what happens throughout history when those who have power use it unwisely. King of Dreams though he may be, the titular Lord Morpheus comes to represent that which he always dreaded: a bad dream. Journeying through the realms of Faerie, encountering supervillains and claiming the key to the Gates of Hell, a sense of doom always lurks just around the corner, even in the Dreaming Pastures of The Fiddler’s Green.

3 Vic and Blood: The Chronicles of a Boy and His Dog

Though little known, the comic adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s surreal post-apocalyptic tale of a misanthropic boy and his psychic dog companion is among the most pulse-pounding, terrifying reads ever produced. In the world of Vic and Blood , there is no hope; the world spirals further and further into chaos, and the two protagonists are not on the side of order. A violent dog, and a violent boy, Vic and Blood pulls no punches, and offers no respite from the never-ending hell of living in a world reeling from nuclear holocaust, crawling with mutated monsters. The series does not ask you to trust the boy, nor his dog. Their path of destruction, death and terror speak volumes enough.

2 Tales From the Crypt, et al.

There’s very little question that, for horror comics, there is one trendsetter: EC Comics . Their famed line of 1950s horror comics was so egregiously scary that the publisher was forced to testify in front of Congress. Even now, under the pen of such incredible talents as Johnny Craig, Wally Wood, Graham Ingels, Jack Davis and Reed Crandall, these anthologies stand the test of time, sending readers into a world of tragedy, terror and tension. Whether featuring werewolves, vampires, or simply just creeps and con-men, editor Al Feldstein left a vibrant legacy of horror with Tales From the Crypt , The Haunt of Fear and what is still the gold standard of horror fiction, The Vault of Horror. Standouts include Crandall’s “Swamped”, Feldstein’s “The Thing From the Grave”, Ingels’ “About Face” and Davis’ infamous “Foul Play.”

1 From Hell

From Hell is an achievement in more than just horror: it also constitutes perhaps the most cohesive historical fiction work ever made, as writer Alan Moore took great pains to use primary sources, including Victorian maps, crime reports, and testimonials from the personages involved, to give a plausible recreation of what really might have happened during the 1888 Jack the Ripper murders. Beginning with a government conspiracy to quash knowledge of the existence of a secret royal child, From Hell spins out into a tale of murder, sacrifice, and the lingering effects of violence , in a comprehensive look at Victorian society, leaving no stone unturned.

The result, brought to life by a masterclass of accurate recreation and a pall of alienated realism by artist Eddie Campbell, comprises one of the most terrifying psychological sketches of a murderer ever produced in its representation of the Ripper, William Gull. Not simply a sketch of a serial killer, From Hell is reinforced by the extreme display of narrative control exerted by Moore in exploring 1880s London, particularly through a heartfelt depiction of the lives of Gull’s underclass, prostitute victims in all their tragedy. A strong and viscerally gripping work top to bottom makes From Hell the Best Horror Comic of All Time .

Wayne State professor's book 'I Saw Death Coming' in contention for National Book Award

books horror authors

A Wayne State University professor is in the running for one of the most prestigious honors in American literature.

“I Saw Death Coming: A History of Terror and Survival in the War Against Reconstruction, " by Kidada E. Williams, has been praised for its unblinking account of the brutal campaign waged against Black people by white supremacists in the South in the era following the Civil War.

It is one of only 10 titles in the nonfiction longlist for the 2023 National Book Awards, which were chosen from from 638 submitted by publishers.

The longlist will be shortened to five finalists on Oct. 3. The winner of the category — and those in the fiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature categories — will be announced at a Nov. 15 ceremony in New York City.

The Washington Post called Williams’ book “an unflinching and deeply compassionate account” that frames the Reconstruction not as a failure, but as a racist, horrific war that aimed to keep newly freed Black Americans from attaining their civil and economic rights.

“It is about what it meant not just to live through, but live with, the violence and its traumatic effects on individuals, families and communities. This is what will stay with you when you put down this book,” wrote the Post.

Williams grew up in Michigan and received her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Central Michigan University and her doctoral degree at the University of Michigan. She joined the faculty of Wayne State in 2006. Through her research on African American experiences of racial violence, she has built a distinguished academic career and achieved her own long list of efforts to reach and teach a broader audience.

Williams is the host and co-producer of “Seizing Freedom,” a podcast about real-life Black Americans who were unsung heroes in their fight for freedom. She has appeared on TV projects like Henry Louis Gates’ PBS series “Reconstruction: America after the Civil War” and Nikole Hannah-Jones’ "The 1619 Project" series for Hulu.

In addition, Williams was among the co-developers of  #CharlestonSyllabus , a crowd-sourced selection of readings on racist violence that came about after of the 2015 racial mass shooting at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church.

Williams shared some thoughts via email with the Free Press recently about her book’s relevance to what's happening today and her reaction to being recognized by the National Book Awards. Her answers are lightly edited for space.

QUESTION: The research you’ve done on racist violence would be important at any time. But do you think “I Saw Death Coming” and your work in general is particularly vital now as some states are trying to restrict or eliminate African American studies?

ANSWER: I do. The nation’s failure to meaningfully reckon with racist and state violence against unarmed Black Americans is why we’re still facing it today. The so-called “racial reckoning” that followed the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor brought new attention to these histories of deliberate harm and inspired more organizing, including in classrooms, to end it.

People who don’t seem to believe in liberty and justice for all Americans, including Black ones, seem to feel threatened by the prospect that knowledge about historical injustices might inspire people to build a more just world. They prefer to work against a complex, nuanced understanding of U.S. history.

If you whitewash the history and indoctrinate young learners with comforting, convenient narratives of hero-worship, you cultivate a kind of passivity and timidity that discourages Americans from playing a more active role fulfilling our obligations to form a “more perfect union” for our times.

African Americans’ efforts to remake the world into one that’s more just and less extractive of their and other people’s lives, labors, and talents is incredibly inspiring. But people banning Black history and censoring white history seem to be invested in sustaining and even resurrecting old systems of injustice.

More with Kidada Williams: Will Fourth of July ever be the same? Not if we're fortunate enough to evolve as a nation

Q: Do you see parallels between the Reconstruction era and now, in terms of the backlash that inevitably follows progress toward equality in America?

A: Yes. White backlash to justice movements, especially those that advance equality, has been a through-line of American history. After the Civil War, African Americans fought to live upright and access all the freedoms, liberties, and privileges denied to them in slavery. White extremists in the South targeted them for their success and tried to destroy everything Black people achieved with emancipation and Reconstruction, and the rest of the nation —elected officials, institutions, constituents — essentially let them and then stood by while they installed the racist apartheid system of Jim Crow.

Since what some call the “Second Reconstruction” (the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s ), we’ve seen ongoing and escalating attacks on voting rights, acts of white terror and vigilante violence, state violence (including police killings of unarmed Black people and the spread of the prison industrial complex), and disinformation about these practices and the underlying logics of white supremacy behind them. Equality’s opponents are largely pulling from the playbook of the assault on Reconstruction that facilitated the establishment of Jim Crow.

But I push against the idea that backlash is inevitable. It hasn’t had to be, and it doesn’t have to be if people who see themselves as good, justice-and-liberty-loving Americans actively and consistently stand up to bigotry and hate by fighting everyone to enjoy the same rights and privileges as they do. Historically, not enough of the majority has done that, for long enough to keep just policies in place.

This is where I think history is incredibly valuable. U.S. history is filled with people who stepped up to make the nation and its policies and practices more just. Proponents of the Reconstruction Amendments and the Civil Rights Acts did this. But so did millions of ordinary people who supported freed families, schools, churches, voters, and officeholders remaking the nation after the Civil War. There are lessons in understanding what worked and didn’t, and who was responsible for undoing this progress and why.

Q: What were some of the most valuable sources of information for the book? Wondering whether it was newspaper accounts of the time, letters, archives or other sources?

A: The most valuable sources for unearthing this history included: African Americans’ testimonies in trials and at the congressional investigations into the Klan and into the Exoduster Movement to Kansas; affidavits given to Freedmen’s Bureau agents; letters, petitions and memorials detailing violence; WPA Freedom Narratives (aka Ex-Slave Narratives); newspaper accounts; federal reports; and the Congressional Record.

As you can see, there is a vast amount of documentation of the violence I detail in the book. These records have been available for more than a century and a half … What I tried to do differently was to focus on targeted African Americans’ efforts to articulate what their families had gained with Reconstruction (what they had achieved with freedom and the expansion of democracy) and what they had lost and were losing to racist violence.

Q: Is this your first nomination to the National Book Awards? What is your reaction to making the list of finalists?

A: This is my first nomination. I think it’s fair to say that I’m wrapping my head around it while not letting it go to my head.

I wrote the book prioritizing getting the history right and making academic understandings of Reconstruction accessible to the nonfiction reading public. I wasn’t thinking much beyond that. The larger public reception of the book suggests I hit the mark. Making the National Book Award longlist is surreal. It’s an incredible honor. I’m astounded but grateful to the…nonfiction judges and to my agent, editor, press, family, friends, and students who all supported me bringing this book into the world.

Contact Detroit Free Press pop culture critic Julie Hinds at @[email protected].


  1. 10 Scary Book Recommendations From a Bestselling Horror Author

    books horror authors

  2. The Best Books on Horror Stories

    books horror authors

  3. Best New Horror Books in December 2018

    books horror authors

  4. 20 Great Horror Books by Black Authors

    books horror authors

  5. Best Modern Horror Authors

    books horror authors

  6. 5 Horror Authors and Their First Novels

    books horror authors


  1. Some SCARY New Horror Books I Want to Read Soon! 📚👻

  2. #horror #books #booktube #horrorstories #horrorshorts #creepystories

  3. TRUE STORY OF A HORROR BOOK #creatorsearch2 #shortscreator

  4. books by Black authors #creepystories #booktoks #bookhaul #booktoker #spookybooks #spookyreads

  5. my favourite HORROR/THRILLER book recommendations

  6. horror shorts ☠️☠️💀💀👹!!Army man sunna !!#viral #shorts #short #funny #horrorstories #shortvideo


  1. 32 Must Read Horror Authors

    32 Horror Authors Every Scare-Chaser Needs to Know These must-read horror authors should be on the shelf of every serious horror fan. By The Lineup Staff | Published Oct 15, 2021 Some say we are in a golden age of horror fiction—and with so many horror books available by authors new and old we tend to agree.

  2. 15 Best Horror Authors You Must Read

    Whether you're looking for a classic ghost story or real-life serial killer scares, these 15 horror story authors are a great option to keep you up at night and leave you rattled during the day. Browse our list of the best books in the horror fiction niche and find where to get them on Amazon.

  3. Who Are the Best Horror Authors of All Time?

    Here is the list of the 14 authors who made it onto this weird hybrid list of the best horror authors, along with the number of resources that had listed that particular author: Stephen King (5) Dean Koontz (5) Clive Barker (4) Peter Straub (4) Bram Stoker (4) Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (4) Anne Rice (4) Ramsey Campbell (3) H.P. Lovecraft (3)

  4. 100 Best (and Scariest) Horror Books of All Time

    📚 Which horror book should you read next? Discover the perfect horror book for you. Takes 30 seconds! Start quiz 1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818) Buy on Amazon Add to library Is there a name more synonymous with horror?

  5. List of horror fiction writers

    William Peter Blatty (1928-2017, US) Robert Bloch (1917-1994, US) Roy C. Booth (born 1965, US) Guy Boothby (1867-1905, Australia/England) Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986, Argentina/Switzerland) (born 1943, US) Marjorie Bowen (1885-1952, England) Ray Bradbury (1920-2012, US) Walter Brandorff (1943-1996, Germany/Austria) (1933-2013, US)

  6. 29 Best Horror Books to Read in 2022, From Classics to Thrillers

    Written by Katherine Fiorillo Updated These are some of the best horror books to read in 2022, from Stephen King classics to thrilling new releases. Amazon; Alyssa Powell/Insider Great horror...

  7. Horror Books

    Morgan Quaid (Goodreads Author) Release date: Aug 01, 2022 Heed the Brine song, for the Old Gods have returned, and the world will drown in brine and darkness. On the back of his confrontation with the Crimson ...more View Details » Enter Giveaway Format: Giveaway ends in: 1 days and 22:58:06

  8. Best Horror Novels (1914 books)

    Listopia Best Horror Novels What novels made you want to sleep with the lights on? Please note: This list is for NOVELS only! For anthologies (multiple authors) see: Best Horror Anthologies For single-author collections see: Horror Collections Single Author For graphic novels & comic books see: Best Horror Comics/Graphic Novels!

  9. Looking for a Fright? Here Are the Best Contemporary Horror Authors to

    While there are so many classic horror authors—such as Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Shirley Jackson—you ought to explore, this list focuses on a selection of current, contemporary horror authors whose works are as enthralling as they are terrifying.

  10. 8 New Horror Novels to Read This Season

    Horrors of the mind are at play in Catriona Ward's brilliant new novel, THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET (Tor Nightfire, 319 pp., $27.99), a terrifying exploration of human consciousness that ...

  11. The 50 Best Horror Novels of All Time

    And what is scary? What might shock one reader is laughable to another. Ghosts, serial killers, great heaving monsters, the loss of self-control, plagues, impossible physics and a creepy clown all...

  12. 12 Best Horror Authors of All Time (2021 Edition)

    12 Best Horror Authors Narrowing down the plethora of writers in this genre for a best horror authors list is nearly impossible. The horror genre comes in so many flavours, from so many...

  13. The 50 Best Horror Books of All Time Will Scare You Sh*tless

    $19 at Amazon You could argue that body horror is the purest horror. It taps into our basest fears: the vulnerability of our own bodies to infection, mutation, and destruction. In The Loop, a...

  14. The Year's Top Horror Authors Recommend Seriously Scary Books

    When you want a book recommendation for a scary story, you're better off going right to the source: authors of scary stories. As part of our Horror Month celebration of all things scary, we asked some of the genre's leading writers to recommend four horror books that, well, scared the hell out of them. (It's industry jargon.)

  15. Top 10 horror novels

    1. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris The Silence of the Lambs gets all the attention, but the best Hannibal Lecter novel is still the first; a book that suggests the most horrifying of evils can grow...

  16. 25 Best and Scariest Horror Books Ever

    25 Best and Scariest Horror Books Ever. This list of must-read, truly bone-chilling books will have you triple-checking your door locks and sleeping with the lights on. Whether you're looking for classics like The Haunting of Hill House and Dracula or new favorites like Nineteen Claws & a Black Bird or How to Sell a Haunted House, pick up any ...

  17. The All-Time Greatest Horror Writers

    Horror authors like Stephen King and Dean Koontz, for example, are very well-known, popular modern horror fiction writers. I've also included some of the original, classic horror novelists, including the incomparable H.P. Lovecraft and the master, Edgar Allan Poe. Gothic horror writers like Maurice Level are included, as well.

  18. New Horror Novels: 18 Books to Keep You Scared in 2021

    Emily Martin Sep 13, 2021 This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. New horror novels are welcome any time of the year. But fall is right around the corner, meaning Halloween is almost here too. And you know what that means?

  19. The Terrifying Books That Scared These 15 Thriller, Horror ...

    The 15 horror and thriller authors who sent scary book recommendations to Bustle via email have made you a laundry list of great reads — a few of these books are so scary, they were recommended ...

  20. 15 Authors of Horror Books You Must Read

    Some of these writers are Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Anton Chejov, and Ernest Hemingway, among others, which you can meet below. 1) Bram Stoker

  21. 20 Horror Books by Authors of Color

    Horror Books by Authors of Color: Short Story Collections. Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. Coyote Songs ended up on my horror buy list because it was a nominee for the 2018 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, ...

  22. The 25 Best Horror Books: 2023 Picks

    Speaking of viral horror books, Agustina Bazterrica is another author that made waves on BookTok and BookTube with her horror novel Tender is the Flesh. Her newest book is a collection of 19 short stories that will lure readers into terrifying stories and make them face their nightmares.

  23. Rachel Harrison on her new horror novel 'Black Sheep'

    NPR's Ayesha Rascoe talks with Rachel Harrison about her new horror novel, "Black Sheep," which asks what must be sacrificed in order to go home again. When we meet Vesper in the new horror novel ...

  24. Felicia's review of Escaping the Darkness: A Dark Horror Romance

    5/5: Escaping The Darkness by Cora Masters and Georgia Wells is a dark horror romance. This is the second book in The Playhouse Horrors series. I am loving the world that Cora and Georgia created in this series. I would highly suggest taking the warnings to heart. This series is definitely not for everyone. I was pulled in from the first chapter and couldn't help but binge the book. This is ...

  25. 10 Best Horror Comic Books of All Time

    4 The Sandman. Neil Gaiman's magnum opus, The Sandman transcends genre through the celebration of storytelling, but it is always a horror comic at heart. Following the adventures and travails of the ghostlike Dream of the Endless, a godlike being who oversees the dreams of all living beings, The Sandman ends up being a story about ...

  26. Wayne State professor's book 'I Saw Death Coming' in contention for

    Kidada E. Williams is one of 10 authors whose nonfiction books are on the longlist for a 2023 National Book Award, the prestigious literary prize.

  27. Samara Weaving-Starring Azrael Earns Distribution Rights

    The ambitious action-horror gets one step closer to release. By Patrick Cavanaugh - September 27, 2023 03:43 pm EDT. Share ... Stranger Things Writers Resume Work on Season 5