New Reviews

The Top 10 Most Violent Horror Books

Written by: Erin Shaw

Sometimes it seems that good, drippy violence is hard to come by. Many writers are afraid of excess and shy away from the jaw-droppingly gruesome. The books that follow deliver the goods and guarantee a fine reading experience.


10. The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Since everyone knows the plot of The Godfather, they also know that it may not be the most violent book out there. However, I stick to my choosing it for this list by saying that it has acts of violence that stand out so starkly that they rival the petty violence of many other books. The ruining of Sonny’s face after being shot repeatedly, the long slow blows that Carlos delivers Connie; designed not to leave marks….these scenes are written so well as to leave a more chilling impression than your run of the mill slasher book.


9. Vampire$ by John Steakley

Vampire$ is a dizzy, raucous mess of nasty, gruesome vampires and the nasty gruesome people who hunt them. It’s dark, gritty, surprisingly touching and full of blood, guts and gore.


8. Blood Crazy by Simon Clark

This is a book about a zombie-like virus that makes adults go insane and single-mindedly seek out and slaughter any and all children. The premise is ghastly enough but what makes the book truly gruesome is the weird ‘Lord of the Flies’ like world that is left behind and all the giddy bloodshed that comes from immature kiddie cruelty in a world with no rules.


7. The Dead by Mark E. Rogers

This is another book that isn’t necessarily blood-soaked but has its violence carefully and effectively meted out. This is a story with large theological overtones that is about a Christian rapture style apocalypse where demons take over the bodies of the dead to wreak havoc on the hapless inhabitants left on earth. I won’t spoil the wet bits but many have to do with a tall, menacing demon who says only that he is ‘Legion’ BRRRRRR……


6. The Killing Kind by Bryan Smith

This is a really fun sex and gore fest about a few young couples on a road trip vacation and the sexy and psychotic woman who is intent on slaughtering them all. Great beach read.


5. Succulent Prey by Wrath James White

This is a story about a sympathetic cannibal. It is so well-written that his crimes can nearly be excused in his quest to find a place for himself in the world. Along the way, however, is some of the most brutal, splattery violence ever put to paper. It is detailed, articulate and thoroughly messy. Only for the strong of stomach.


4. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

This book deserves a nod firstly because it is based on a true story and it proves that truth is often stranger than fiction; it also deserves consideration, however, for being plainly mean and sadistic and unspeakably cruel. It has some of the most hair raising torture scenes on record and it never pulls a punch.


3. Survivor by J.F Gonzales

This one’s about snuff films so that puts it on this list right away. It could have been ho-hum in the hands of another writer though, but Gonzales pushes the envelope so far, we forget where we started from. The line between sex and death is nonexistent and there is no taboo unexplored. We’ve got necrophilia, cannibalism, torture, baby mutilation…. Wow, just wow!


2. Urban Gothic by Brian Keene

This is about a group of teens taking refuge in the wrong house in a bad neighborhood. When I say the wrong house, I mean – WORST LUCK IN THE HISTORY OF LITERATURE! This book’s got creatures wearing other people’s skin, babyish giants who like to play with wet sticky things and lots of caved in heads that you can just hear making that satisfying popped melon sound. Great fun!


1. Jigsaw Man by Gord Rollo

This book is a trip! Basically it’s about a lot of severed body parts being put together in really odd and obscene ways by completely bat crazy scientists. Think Frankenstein on a baaaad acid trip. The plot whizzes along so well that you could just enjoy the ride without taking time to appreciate the true horror of what you’re reading but if you slow down and relish the experience, you will never forget it.

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

42 Comments on The Top 10 Most Violent Horror Books

  1. Reblogged this on Official Site of Alex Laybourne – Author and commented:
    10 new books for me to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. awesome list. Ashamed to say I haven’t read even half of these.


  3. D.S. Ullery // March 8, 2014 at 6:24 am // Reply

    I’m really surprised to not see Stephen King’s Misery make this list. The movie may have toned things down, but the original novel was ultra violent and horrific throughout.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on dust and shadow and commented:
    Hmm…any top [anything] list is bound to stir up controversy. This one is no exception. No Clive Barker? Really? REALLY?


  5. I was hoping you would include The Girl Next Door and Survivor. One question: where is Off Season by Ketchum?


  6. My next book might make a run at this distinguished list. Great list btw


  7. Reed Andrus // March 8, 2014 at 7:35 pm // Reply

    I’m guessing, but it seems to me that this list is indicative of the author’s age. Many of the entries involve relatively new authors. No Richard Laymon? No Edward Lee? Along with Jack Ketchum this is the triumvirate of ugly. Stephen King and Clive Barker have their moments, especially Barker in his early stories published in Books of Blood, but neither are as consistently gruesome as the Big Three. I’m not criticizing, though a list of “most gruesome” shouldn’t be limited to the last decade of genre material.


  8. Yes, and no Graham Masterton was a surprise. Read the first chapter of Black Angel and you will see what I mean.


  9. Wayne C. Rogers // March 9, 2014 at 12:58 am // Reply

    Black Angel by Graham Masterson was also written under the title of Master of Lies.


  10. Author speaking here- I included Ketchum, haven’t read a Lee yet that surpasses these guys and while Laymon spun a good yarn, he gets no award for most memorable violence in my opinion. Barker’s great, but his stuff is of a different ilk, same with venerable old King. Their works stand out on other merits before violence whereas violence is what makes my picks memorable before their other elements. Check the publication dates on a few of these btw….not all last decade. It also isn’t nice to comment on a lady’s age……lol. Thx for the comments all!


    • I take it you’ve only read Edward Lee’s mass market books. They aren’t that violent. I recommend checking out THE HAUNTER OF THE THRESHOLD, THE BIGHEAD, BRAIN CHEESE BUFFET, or THE PIG AND THE HOUSE. Quite frankly, they are way more violent that many books on this list.

      Also, GENITAL GRINDER by Ryan Harding is a noticeable omission.


  11. Peter Mancini // March 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm // Reply

    The Dead freaked me out so badly that I had to take a month or so off before going back to finish it. I still feel dirty after reading The Girl Next Door and that was almost a year ago. No other book has gotten under my skin in the same way.


  12. Matt Barbour // March 12, 2014 at 2:51 pm // Reply

    Reading Urban Gothic right now. Great tale. I have read less than half the novels on this list. So there is a lot here for me to explore in the future. I agree with others I would have put Barker, Laymon and Lee on the list, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. Moreover some of these more modern writers are running circles around the 80s classics in terms of violence and gore. What was taboo a generation ago has gone mainstream. A perfect example is Off Season, the publisher wasn’t willing to let Ketchum write like he wanted originally and heavily censored the book. It was not until he found mainstream success (and over a decade later) that they released the book with the ending the author initially intended.


  13. Wow. I’m feeling quite honored that my JIGSAW MAN novel has been given the #1 ranking spot. Thanks a lot. I hope some of you readers decide to give not only my books, but some of the other writers on the list as well. Some truly excellent fiction on that list. Cheers!


  14. No SUFFER THE FLESH? I’m surprised.


  15. JUST SAYING, READ JIGSAW MAN !!! ……..I found it so refreshingly different that I googled this author Gord Rollo and found that he has many other books and such……I am reading them one by one…..brilliant!!!


  16. Wow, def adding a few of these to my to-read list. A little surprised that American Psycho is missing. Mad props for the Ketchum! Off Season is probably the most gruesome book I’ve ever read, though Girl Next Door is scarier in many ways because of the POV character.


  17. Duane Jester // April 1, 2014 at 3:56 am // Reply

    Rag Men by Rocky Alexander. In the 2nd chapter a guy smashes a girl’s head in while he’s having sex with her and keeps on screwing her dead body, and it only gets worse from there. Blood Meridian by Cormac MCCarthy. At one point the characters come upon a tree that has dead babies hanging from it. The violence is like that all through the book. Those are two of the most violent books I’ve ever read.


  18. John Higgins // April 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm // Reply

    Sorry but there are a lot more that are more gruesome that missed your list.

    1. “American psycho “(stuffed cheese vagina scene makes people vomit alone)

    2. “Header “(a lot scarier and brutal then aforementioned books

    3. “Snuff” by Eric Enck (most brutal sex book and snuff film psycho story ever written bar/none. Survivor comes close second.


  19. By the way, I don’t see my own vote cast in here (I’m tired, maybe I’m missing it lol) but my pick will probably baffle some: The Ruins. I’ve read a lot of EXTREMELY gory/violent books, and while The Ruins isn’t profoundly VIOLENT, it’s the only novel to ever make me queasy.


  20. You know I am glad to hear that splatterpunk is alive and well and wearing someones elses skin to lunch, only one I have read is the godfather but I know that when I use my mutant shopping powers to find these in charity shops I will enjoy them or at the very least freak out people reading maeve binchy sitting opposite me on buses.
    Personally I think American Psycho should be removed from any list simply on the basis that the main character likes Phil Collins.
    Barker I never found that horrific, but then I read them during a period when I figured out how to generate the sort of nightmares that Ed Gein would think was a bit too much.


  21. Hi folks. To show my appreciation I’ve put one of my most violent stories on amazon for free. It’s a 12,000 word novella about a man with a problem with self mutilation. It’s about a character in my novel STRANGE MAGIC called PEELER. Hope you’ll give the ebook a try. You can’t beat the price and it will be a great way for those of you who have never read any of my work to check it out. You may have to copy this into your browser or just go to Amazon and look for it. Cheers!


  22. I was hopefully expecting Gorge Orwell’s “1984”. 🙂


  23. Wow! Thanks Gord!


  24. Great list. Jigsaw Man looks interesting. I’ll bet Wade H. Garrett’s stuff will be at the top of the gruesome list in a few years.


  25. There’s half a dozen James Herbert novels that could have easily made this list.


  26. I stopped reading after I saw The Godfather on the list. Because obviously the person who made this list doesn’t know what the hell they’re taking about.


  27. Matthew Dalldorf // August 7, 2016 at 10:42 pm // Reply

    I’d remove ‘Survivor’ because while it is violent and had potential to be disturbing, the terrible writing leaves it a little limp. Replace it with something by Joe R. Lansdale and then you got yourself a list!


  28. Scot McMonigle // October 10, 2016 at 12:41 am // Reply

    Has anyone ever read a novel by Charlee Jacob now this what I call the most literate, violent, most horrific nightmare inducing writer in horror fiction history! Haunter, This Symbiotic Fascination, Dread in the Beast!!!


  29. Hi Matt. I read The Girl Next Door a few years ago and I was affected by it for 3 solid weeks after. I’ve told friends about it but then advised them to not read it. Long story, but I’ve watched the most disturbing films now and thought I’d look for books. After about an hour back and forth I finally decided to buy a copy of Survivor. Whilst watching the films, though, by the time I got to the two worst ones I was somewhat immune. I don’t know if that will happen with the books and I’m a bit nervous waiting for Survivor because I don’t know how I’ll react. Yet, at the same time, I’m looking forward to it!! And that’s what tipped me to buy it – it just ‘Has’ to be read!! And from the write up, it should be good 😆 (If I survive!)


    • Matthew Dalldorf // February 2, 2017 at 4:34 pm // Reply

      Be warned; the scariest thing about ‘Survivor’ is how shitty the writing is. If you want something scary, violent and well-written, check out, ‘Act Of Love’ by Joe R. Lansdale. Also, check out ‘Headhunter’ and ‘Ghoul’ by Michael Slade.


  30. I’m very interested in Survivor but according to your comments… What about Castaways by Brian Keene and Island by Richard Laymon? Scary enough?


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