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The 10 Scariest Novels of All Time

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Isolating the 10 scariest novels of all time is essentially impossible. Rankings of this nature are subject. There is no scientific proof with which to bolster our claims. These forms of lists are comprised of books that leave a burning trail of fear in our hearts. Our personal hearts. The stories that haunt our sleep long after we’ve finished the final page.

We’ve all got different hearts, different thresholds, and different dream tendencies. Maybe these 10 tales don’t leave you particularly petrified. Good, you’re human, free-thinking mind and all. That said, I’ll bet there are a few pieces incorporated in this list that give you the willies… every damn time you read them.

It is fine to chime in with agreement, and it’s strongly encouraged to weigh in with your own votes or blatant differing opinions. Perhaps we can unearth some terrifying pieces of fiction that may have otherwise gone unknown to some of us. Perhaps we stand to learn something from this list.

Regardless, here’s the list of the novels that left me mortified, a tense shell frozen in bed, rigor mortis slowly setting in, tears streaming down my cheeks, a dull sheen decorating clammy flesh.


10. Stephen King – Pet Sematary

King’s tale of severe desperation still brings a bead of sweat to my forehead today. I’ve read the novel at least a half dozen times, but time and repetition fail to dull the book’s impact. The burial ground still crawls under my skin, Gage Creed’s fate still tears at my inside. Jud Crandall still strikes me as one of the most sympathetic figures ever created, and his death in the waning moments of the story still leave me deeply melancholy and completely petrified.

Pet Sematary is an A-class effort from Stephen King.

Synopsis: “The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed’s rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.”


09. Richard Matheson – I Am Legend

This book is so unbelievably desolate and detached from all things comforting that an immediate unease sinks into the belly as the pages begin to turn. Robert Neville’s battles as the final man on an earth overrun by vampire/zombie creatures is intense on completely new levels. Neville may be a serious braniac, but there’s panic in his existence and an unwavering tension that courses through the novel: his mental struggles are terrifying, just as is the idea that he may be forced to spend his final days in hiding, awaiting an impending death… a violent one at that.

Synopsis: “Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth…but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville’s blood.

By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn.

How long can one man survive in a world of vampires?”


08. Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House

What I’ve always found so terrifying about this novel is the subtlety with which Jackson handles the content. She never throws unbelievably outlandish sequences in readers’ directions. Rather, she establishes a slow shift in her characters that take on a turn for the dark and dank. Ultimately this one could be called just as sad as it is frightening. That said, it’s one of the very few haunting books that left me genuinely frightened after reading it.

Fantastic characters, fantastic pacing and an almost palpable atmosphere aid in the longevity and unease manufactured by The Haunting of Hill House.

Synopsis: “First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.”


07. William Golding – Lord of the Flies

Look for no massive, disfigured creatures eager to consume the flesh of innocent children from Lord of the Flies. You won’t find that brand of horror in Golding’s paralyzing classic. No, in this tale, it’s the children to fear. It’s the craving for power, and the rapid loss of reason and humanity. It’s a sudden shift made in an attempt to survive a nightmarish scenario; the primal instincts of desperate youth.

Lord of the Flies is about as close to a perfect character study as you’ll find on the market today. Our characters are very real, and their descent into madness is also very, very real. This is a horrifying piece of literature that may leave you looking at children in a different light.

Synopsis: “William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first it seems as though it is all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious and life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic and death. As ordinary standards of behaviour collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them—the world of cricket and homework and adventure stories—and another world is revealed beneath, primitive and terrible. Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature.”


06. Peter Benchley – Jaws

I don’t think there’s a soul alive that isn’t familiar with this game changer. If you saw Steven Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece, you’ve got a really good idea of what’s going on off the coast of Amity. The film is surprisingly faithful to the novel (sans, in specific the final act), however reading this one allows for more gestation period in the mind. Readers find themselves tangled up in sequences of intense horror, and where the film offers little time to dwell, the novel proffers plenty of lengthy, silent moments to soak up the tragedy that just unfolded.

I’ll forever recognize the genius in Spielberg’s picture, but Benchley’s novel is a completely different beast that leaves a far deeper mark on the psyche.

Synopsis: “Peter Benchley’s story of a man-eating shark, is famous all over the world. Its fame comes from the movie Jaws, made in 1975 and directed by Steven Spielberg. Jaws is one of the most exciting, frightening movies ever made. But the novel on which the movie was based is itself hugely exciting and frightening. Since it was written in 1974, it has sold over 5.5 million copies.

The novel Jaws tells the story of a monster fish, a Great White Shark, that starts attacking swimmers off the coast of America. The scene is the sleepy coastal island of Amity, near New York, where tourism is the main business.”


05. Thomas Harris – The Silence of the Lambs

The thinking man’s horror novel that pushes the envelope on a constant basis, The Silence of the Lambs is a novel unlike any other… save for Harris’ connecting tales. This is a complex piece of fiction that frightens on an emotional level, which is a feat rarely accomplished. Mentally this tale of cannibalism and manipulation is disconcerting. In regards to physical havoc, we’ve got our fair share of that to chew on as well. But those aren’t the keys that make this one feel as though your hearts been swapped for a dying black handful of mush. It’s the emotional anguish brought to the surface of The Silence of the Lambs that still scares the crap out of me.

Synopsis: “There’s a killer on the loose who knows that beauty is only skin deep, and a trainee investigator who’s trying to save her own hide. The only man that can help is locked in an asylum. But he’s willing to put a brave face on – if it will help him escape.”


04. Scott Smith – The Ruins

Surprised to see The Ruins make the list? You shouldn’t be. This novel is insanely frightening. I’m talking lose loads of sleep and adopt a sudden measure of paranoia frightening. Smith’s visuals are stomach turning (no joke, this novel was the first to ever make me physically nauseous… it’s that descriptive) and the complete certainty that this misfortunate crossing of paths will lead to nothing other than the loss of copious amounts of blood and subsequent life is chilling. Right down to the bone. Speaking of bone, there are some transfixing moments in the book involving bone breaking, and the flesh-eating plants are about infinitely more intimidating than you might anticipate.

Synopsis: “Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine. Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.”


03. William Peter Blatty – The Exorcist

Like Jaws, if you’re familiar with William Friedkin’s 1973 screen adaptation, you’ve got a fantastic knowledge of what to expect from The Exorcist. That said, again, like Jaws, there are some differences on paper. The largest difference however, is the pacing. While the movie tends to drag in the earlier goings, Blatty’s novel maintains a constant sense of discomfort. That attack helps to guide readers smoothly into a jaw dropping finale.

It’s been a few years since I picked this one up, but just discussing it has me eager to pillage the bookshelves.

Synopsis: “The phenomenal bestseller that inspired the classic motion picture–newly re-released in a version you’ve never seen before! When originally published in 1971, The Exorcist became not only a bestselling literary phenomenon, but one of the most frightening and controversial novels ever written. (When the author adapted his book to the screen two years later, it then became one of the most terrifying movies ever made.) Blatty fictionalized the true story of a child’s demonic possession in the 1940s. The deceptively simple story focuses on Regan, the 11-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C.; the child apparently is possessed by an ancient demon. It’s up to a small group of overwhelmed yet determined humans to somehow rescue Regan from this unspeakable fate. Purposefully raw and profane, this novel still has the extraordinary ability to literally shock us into forgetting that it is “just a story.” The Exorcist remains a truly unforgettable reading experience. Blatty published a sequel, Legion, in 1983.”


02. Ira Levin – Rosemary’s Baby

As an overprotective parent, I’ll openly make it known right now: Rosemary’s Baby damn near leaves me in a state of shock. Reading this novel, I could see myself completely shutting down, if it weren’t for the nagging disgust tugging at my brain fibers. That sensation seems to keep me in the ball game. There is nothing more sacred in this world than our children. This taboo tale takes that ideology and completely defecates on it, while incorporating a far grander text of terror. I can’t read Rosemary’s Baby at night near the bedside lamp. No lie.

Synopsis: “Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, an ordinary young couple, settle into a New York City apartment, unaware that the elderly neighbors and their bizarre group of friends have taken a disturbing interest in them. But by the time Rosemary discovers the horrifying truth, it may be far too late!”


01. Jack Ketchum – The Girl Next Door

So I mentioned the taboo nature of Ira Levin’s, Rosemary’s Baby. Perhaps I should have saved that shpeal for this choice, because if there’s anything Ketchum does in abundance during the span of The Girl Next Door, it’s dip his hands into the most taboo concoction conceivable. This tale takes torture in a very unorthodox direction: it is mind bogglingly disquieting, yet it somehow avoids treading into weightless sadism. I’m not certain hoe Ketchum makes it happen, but he does. Every emotion ever felt by man or woman is touched upon, poked and painfully prodded in this brilliant novel. Expect to shed a few tears, expect to be repulsed; to feel sympathy and helplessness. Also be prepared to find yourself mortified by how alarmingly realistic this entire tale feels.

This is what fear is all about ladies and gents.

Synopsis: “Suburbia in the 1950′s. A nice quiet simpler time to grow up -unless you count the McCarthy trials and red-scares and the shadow of the Bomb and the Cold War, unless you could see the dark side emerging. And on a quiet tree-lined dead-end street, in the dark damp basement of the Chandler house, it’s emerging big-time for teenage Meg and her crippled sister Susan -whose parents are dead now, who are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant Aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons -and finally an entire neighborhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make. Between love and compassion, and lust and evil.”

// //

About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

82 Comments on The 10 Scariest Novels of All Time

  1. LOVED Ketchum’s “Girl…” totally agree with it taking the top spot. still the only book I’ve ever read in one sitting. I stayed up all night. Read “The Ruins” and “…Hill House”. Both were great books, but I didn’t really consider either particularly terrifying. Ketchum’s “Off Season” and Keene’s “Urban Gothic”, Laymon’s “The Woods are Dark” and Matheson’s “Hell House” (much more terrifying than Jackson’s classic-imho).

    Just my two cents 😉


    • Some great insight and recommendations. I actually haven’t read The Woods are Dark. Now I want to. The Ruins scared the piss out of me. I think I might have literally trickled.


      • I am a horror junky, but I could not even finish The Ruins, it scared the crap out of me… Something about the idea of being stuck at the bottom of a hole while a carnivorous plant nibbles away at you was just too much for me.


      • The Ruins is one of the very, very few books that made my stomach turn. I’m so in love with that novel, and can’t bring myself to revisit it haha


  2. Crazy Goblin // April 9, 2013 at 11:50 am // Reply

    My vote will have to go to; Richard Matheson – I Am Legend, William Peter Blatty – The Exorcist and William Golding – Lord of the Flies. Great list!


  3. jameskeen89450 // April 9, 2013 at 12:06 pm // Reply

    Great list, Matt. Cool to see Scott Smith getting some love. Have you thought about maybe adding a ‘forum’ section to the site? This kind of stuff would be perfect for that and really open the articles up for rabid dissemination by fans.
    I second the 1984 nod and I’ll add two more: Straub’s Ghost Story and Barker’s ‘Hellbound Heart’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What I want to do is a massive overhaul with the site. COMPLETELY different layout, still simple but far more professional, and you bet I want a forum included. My line of thought is this: When I’m AVERAGING no less than 1000 views daily, I’ll be able to afford that. We’re on our way there, but haven’t hit that level of consistency just yet. I think we’re going to do some big things with the site. And I’ve really got my eye on you in terms of insider help. I’d love to be in a position to put both you and Wayne on payroll. We’ve just got to keep pushing and make that reasonable.


  4. Wayne C. Rogers // April 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm // Reply

    Everybody has an opinion on something like this, including myself. My question is which books hold up over the period of time? What we once thought was scary might not be at this point in time. Even King admits that. I once thought Hill House was scary because of what it didn’t tell the reader, then Hell House by Matheson took over the spot. The novel Hell House is also scarier than the movie. It’s just the opposite with Jaws. I read the book first and got kind caught up in the affair between the sheriff’s wife and the oceannographer. That was cut out for the film so the audience could focus on the shark. Because of that movie, I’ve never been swimming back in the ocean. I never go out beyound ankle level. The film for the Exorcist holds up a lot better than the novel. I re-read the novel a few years ago and was surprised at how bland it was. I find the movie a lot more interesting, except for the head-spinning scene. The book and movie version of Rosemary’s Baby were good, though not really scary to me. The novel of Pet Sematary was much scarier than the movie, but I don’t think it was the scariest of Kings’s novels. The Shining still holds that spot. Silence of the Lambs is definitely a scary novel and still holds up today. The film is also excellent. i think part of the fear factor for Silence has to do with the fact that there are literally hundreds of serial killers roaming the United States. This is according to the FBI. That fact alone makes me realize why God and Smith & Wesson created the .44 magnum revolver. I would certainly second some of the other people about Straub’s Ghost Story being a scary novel, though it’s been a decade since I last read it. It’s one of the few novels I’ve read twice. I bought the Ruins by Smith and couldn’t get into it. It was the same with the movie. One novel that no one has mentioned is The Terror by Dan Simmons. For me, this book was terrifying when the creature would stalk the sailors and kill them, or enter the ships at night and hunt them through the darkness. James Keen told me that Ridley Scott was turning The Terror into a mini-series for HBO. Let’s see if the movie is as scary as the novel. Anyway, it’s difficult to come up with ten all-time scary novels. I’m interested to see what some of the other readers have to say. It might lead me to some new reading material.


  5. Great list! It’s so hard to boil down all of the great horror novels into a top 10. I love that you gave Kethcum’s book the top slot. That one is disturbing on so many levels. A real master work. I might add James Herbert’s The Magic Cottage and Bentley Little’s The Resort as honorable mentions.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. never read The Ruins or Silence of the Lambs, I find it difficult to read the book after I see the movie, I prefer it the other way around. Haven’t been truly scared by a book in quite some time – two I remember from my youth were, ‘666’ by Jay Anson and ‘Communion’ by Whitley Shrieber (freak me out). Would like to revisit those and see if they hold up.


  7. I’d like to check those out as well – as ignorant as I may sound: completely foreign to both titles 😦


  8. A call to arms: PLEASE everyone share this on facebook/twitter/other social medcia outlets. This one could go viral but I’ll need your help in making that happen!


  9. Great list! I definitely agree Pet Semetery is by and far King’s scariest. I want to argue so many other books should be on there, but top 10s are difficult. If anything, I think that The Collector by John Fowles needs a shout out though!


    • by all means, please argue for others! I DEFINITELY hope to unearth some great reads! If I’m missing it, I want it brought to my attention!


      • Well in that case I would also throw in there Ghost Story by Peter Straub, We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Jackson, and The Other and Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon! Tryon in particular is a great forgotten horror author.


    • i’ve never read We Have Always Lived In The Castle – but Ghost Story was (probably surprising to many) a little bit of a letdown for me. Something about Straub’s work has never really moved me much. The Other = sure fire winner.


      • Arsalan // May 21, 2013 at 2:57 pm //

        I couldn’t agree more. Straub leaves me cold. I find his writing style a bit dry and stilted, it doesn’t flow naturally like King (although King has his own faults, his writing style isn’t one of them).


  10. Karelia Stetz-Waters // April 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm // Reply

    I am a sucker for a good “top ten” list. And this one was very good. Thank you. I had read a lot of these, but not all. I’ve got some good books to put on my list to read.


  11. You need to include The Lost Boys by Orson Scott Card


    • Err…How about no? Not to be rude but Orson Scott Card is a douchebag. He hates gay people and works for a hate group against gays. Hell, he wants gays to be criminalized. He is wacko…and not the classy Joker kind. He is just as crazy as a Westboro Church member…so no. I won’t spend my money towards some tired loony.


    • God, yes, The Lost Boys shocked the crap out of me with that reveal at the end. I think I went back and reread the ending several times hoping it would change.


  12. Ross Warren // April 15, 2013 at 7:42 pm // Reply

    Mendel Johnson’s ‘Let’s Go Play at the Adams” is based on the same case as the Jack Ketchum and is even more shocking in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ritual by Adam Nevill takes the top spot for my scariest book, followed by Jackson’s Hill House

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Persephone1976 // April 16, 2013 at 1:35 am // Reply

    You mentioned The Exorcist but you didn’t mention Legion. It was also written by Blatty and it was the basis for the movie The Exorcist III. This novel is easily one of the scariest books I have ever read. There is something about hearing the voices of the dead within white noise (radio static) that completely creeps me out.


    • to be honest i’ve only read legion once (been sitting on one of my bookshelves for too many years now to count lol), when I first got my hands on it, and I didn’t find it to be anywhere near as jarring as the exorcist. would I have a different view of it nowadays? quite possibly. Unfortunately the 65 novels waiting in line to be reviewed are devouring all time for revisits 😦


  15. Now I have to read Legion and Ritual….I actually own Ritual-just haven’t gotten to it yet.- Thanks again, Matt, for putting this up.


    • Mattie Appleyard // May 17, 2013 at 5:22 am // Reply

      Legion is amazing, but I also have to plug Blatty’s “Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane,” which was made into a crazed film called the Ninth Configuration. Truly astonishing and unlike anything I’ve ever read since.


  16. Meet Me In Medias Res // April 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm // Reply

    What about Danielewski’s “House of Leaves”?


    • Mattie Appleyard // May 17, 2013 at 5:23 am // Reply

      Completely left me freaked out, disturbed and afraid to go into any of my closets. Great concept and well worth the effort it requires to get through.


      • K Thome // July 25, 2013 at 5:44 pm //

        So happy this book was mentioned. I bought it towards the end of last year and I’ll pick it up but put it back down. I guess I will have to pick it up again!


  17. One of the most disquieting novels I’ve ever read is Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. I lack the ability to get scared, but this book made me uncomfortable on so many levels. I also write short horror, if you’d like to check my blog out.


  18. I would have to put, “A Clockwork Orange” on this list. One of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read.


  19. Mark Underwood // April 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm // Reply

    “Come Closer” by Sara Gran for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I remember being totally freaked while reading “The Amityville Horror”. It was hailed as a true story at the time and gave me some serious nightmares.


    • Me too. At least, the first time when I was 15 in 1977. The only reason that kept THE AMITYVILLE HORROR from instantly becoming the scariest novel I’d ever read was because I’d read ‘SALEM’S LOT earlier that summer. Still, for quite a few years HORROR remained high on my list of real chillers & I fondly recalled how much it’d scared me. That is until I finally got around to rereading it about ten – 12 years ago… Well, heed my warning friends, if you have pleasant memories of how good & how chilling the book was when you read it years back & you would rather that reality doesn’t crush those warm & fuzzies, then DO NOT reread it. To me, while I was rereading Anson’s work it felt pretty much like I was reading a 69 cent Schoolastic juvenile novel with a couple of minorly spooky scenes. I had NO idea how I could have ever liked it or been scared by it. But, after thinking about for a wee bit, I realized that it had been the mystique of it supposedly being based on actual events. Without that to hype it, it’s just a poorly written piece of schlock.


  21. I’m building an awesome list of must-reads! Thanks guys!


  22. I’d add “Shadowland” by Peter Straub (scarier than Ghost Story IMO), “The Boys From Brazil” by Ira Levin, and “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. The latter two may not necessarily be horror but they are horrific. And in that same vein, I’d add “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess, “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, and “I Who Have Never Known Men” by Jacqueline Harpman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While Boys From Brazil was a good thriller, it didn’t scare me much. But Marathon Man, by William Goldman, made me (more) terrified of going to the dentist, just like Jaws made me scared to get any more than ankle deep in the ocean.


  23. Mattie Appleyard // May 17, 2013 at 5:25 am // Reply

    Agree – the Other was freaky scary and messed up. Still recovering from Song of Kali by Dan Simmons (I immediately gave the book away). And, although not scary throughout, the end of the first chapter of Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Bottoms” is the only book that has made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and made me really uncomfortable!


  24. I think the novels of R L Stine and Richard Laymon should also be there on the list


    • I think Laymon has had some AMAZING works. Could have EASILY found a Laymon entry. At the end of the day, it comes down to picking 10, and ultimately it’s a little tough. There are a whole lot more than 10 amazingly frightening novels out there.


  25. where’s peter straub’s ghost story. It’s too much horror fiction. You might’ve forgotten,right?


    • I won’t lie to you, I’ve never been a massive Straub fan. I think he’s had his moments, but I often find his works to be a bit dull. Perhaps it’s time to give him another go.


  26. Have you read Little Star by John Lindqvist? I enjoyed Let the Right One In, but Little Star actually kept me awake at night and made me wary of all teenaged girls…

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I agree on some of the books, others i can’t give an opinion since i haven’t read them.

    However as a father i found d.carissi the whisperer very disturbing. The story is solid and dark, and the further it goes the darker it gets. Couldn’t put it down once i started it.

    If anyone read it, please share your ideas about it. I’d like to know if i’m the only one that thinks its nearly as good or maybe even better then silence of the lambs.


  28. Dark_n_Spooky_Night // July 26, 2013 at 11:13 am // Reply

    If you are a hard-core horror fan then you have to try the “Hillary” series by Angel Gelique–“Hillary: Tail of the Dog” and “Hillary: Flesh and Blood.” They’re both so sick and twisted. Gave me nightmares!


  29. I wonder why nobody mentioned The Turn of the Screw by Henry James- when it comes to sophisticated horror, this book is so far the best I read (beside House of Leaves)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The sentence structure to that story was so convoluted that I found myself having to start reading many sentences over again, often repeatedly. I found myself abandoning the thing about halfway through. I’m not averse to complex thoughts, but I really didn’t understand why James constructed his words the way he did.


  30. Where is The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James? The original and the best. Couldn’t even finish the freakin’ thing.


  31. I always found “The Stepford Wives” to be the scariest of Ira Levin’s works… also like to mention “Zombie” by Joyce Carol Oates. Sometimes hell really is other people.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. That part in The Ruins where they have to amputate the guy’s leg was truly some of the most disturbing stuff I have ever read. The movie was just kinda alright for me but in the novel the way he describes the whole scene, it involves all of the senses and if you are really reading it in a quiet space free of distractions it is a truly gut wrenching experience. It is not an easy thing to do.

    Aside from the way he writes it there is also the complete understanding of just how F&#$ed they are, there is literally no way out of their situation. An underrated film that accomplishes this to me is The Strangers. The setting, the environment and the situation are all part of the overall scare factor. That is where Smith really shines in The Ruins.

    Thanks to all the responses here I have a few new items I’d like to read. Very nice job everyone!


    • I can’t agree with you more. It’s one of the most repulsive novels I’ve ever read, and yet it’s so beautiful and the character examination is just mind boggling. But, yep, REALLY disturbed me. It was one of the hardest books to get through thanks to a few specific scenes. Lord I love that book.So disgustingly gorgeous and genuinely dreadful.


  33. i am loveing this list of reads :D. but i have a request. im lookingbfor a book were a group of people are traped (in a house, storm or house in a storm exetra) and must survive against by “something” thats killing them off one by one. a creature or monster (like ruins or the thing), horrific. with a sense of terror and fear. would prefer to stay away from zombies and dont want any ghost. a scary thriller. ideas?


  34. (also might i add)or even a bunch of creature loose in a city. thank u


  35. Tyler, I would go with Brian Keene’s urban gothic.


  36. Tyler, I would try Brian Keene’s Urban Gothic


  37. Reblogged this on Official Site of Alex Laybourne – Author and commented:
    Couple of books on here that I haven’t read. Guess my TBR list is going to grow again.


  38. Excellent list! I’m currently publishing a blog that reviews classic horror and sf stories.Feel free to check it out and make suggestions.


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  45. Hey guys great job! I just gave your site a plug over at our facebook web page EddieG’s Horror 101 “A Study of the Macabre”.
    Please stop by and like us. We are just getting started and your top 10 of horror novels helped us and like I said I put the link to your web page so you just may be getting new faces at your site. Thank you for outstanding hard work, its cool to have friends in horror!



  46. I have to read these, I absolutely love horror


  47. Hey. Just read this. Very good list. Pet Sematary is by far King’s scariest novels. (in my opinion) The only stories that come close to that level of dread are his storts from Night Shift. I loved the Thomas Harris novels. Love Silence of the Lambs. But Hannibal was, for me, much more frightening. I had the flu when I read it, right after Lambs, and that ending made me sicker!


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