Horror is a very broad category. A work that has the capacity to fill you with shock, fear and disgust can be described as horror. But generally, when we talk about horror in films and literature, it is generally the works which deal with the unknown.
Here are some of the scariest books you will ever read.
1. Dracula – Bram Stoker
The book has now become a benchmark for all other horror stories. His story reignited the Dracula myth. You can safely say that most of the vampire stories that you can see today are inspired from this particular classic.
The story of vampire Count Dracula, whose never-ending lust for human blood strikes fears into the heart of the characters in the book and the readers alike.
2. The Tell-Tale Heart – Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is arguably the first person who made an entire generation fall in love with horror stories. Today, many popular authors of horror stories, see Poe as an inspiration.
It is a tale of an unnamed narrator who tries to explain his sanity to the readers. He has committed the murder of a vulture-eyed man. The most horrifying part is, the narrator can still hear the man’s heart beating under the floorboards.
3. Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe – Thomas Ligotti
Ligotti is often counted as one of the most underrated writers. Apparently, many elements of the popular TV show True Detective were taken from this book. The way he deals with the occult in his books is quite amazing.
In this book, he explores the inner workings of the mind. The way he blends the natural and supernatural is quite amazing. It is for reason that his works are often described as philosophical horror.
4. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson is without doubt one of most popular writers of horror fiction. This book is often considered one of the best literary ghost stories of all time.
It is the story of a demonic house, which slowly possess almost anyone who lives there. This book is going to give you many sleepless nights.
5. The Devil in Silver – Victor LaValle
The story of a man who is not mentally ill but is admitted into a mental hospital. On his first night a terrifying creature with the body of an old man and the head of a bison which nearly kills him. The scary part, it was not a delusion and the devil actually in the hospital.
6. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
It is considered an all time classic. The book has never gone out of print ever since it’s release. Although, many might not call it an out and out horror still the story of a sinister housekeeper’s obsession with a dead woman is pretty scary. Moreover, how the dead woman is actually the protagonist is quite horrifying.
The book falls more under gothic literature than horror.
7. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
One of the most popular horror films of all time was based on this book. This would give you a fair idea about how scary the book really is. People who have both read the book and watched the film confessed that the film is no way near as scary as the book.
The book deals with the demonic possession of twelve-year-old girl and a priest who tries to exorcise the devil. Even so many years after its release, the book still remains quite popular.
8. Hell House – Richard Matheson
The book achieved both critical and commercial success. The book would redefine your definition of a haunted house. The scary part is, although it is a work of fiction, most of the incidents are real.
Matheson claims that all the incidents mentioned in the book have actually happened in various haunted houses throughout the world.
9. Pet Sematary – Stephen King
You cannot make a list of horror books and leave out Stephen King. He is the uncrowned prince of horror stories. Many consider this book to be his best.
The books talk about a family which moves to house next to a pet cemetery. They are told that animals buried in this cemetery come back to life. They refused to believe it until one day their dead cat, who was buried in the cemetery comes back home.
10. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
This particular book has received both awards and accolades. The book also received the prestigious Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers.
This dark novella deals with a young girl whose curiosity leads her to open a door that leads her to a mysterious and terrifying world. In that world, she meets the older version of her own self and her older father and mother.
11. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
For of many of us, Frankenstein was the first horror book that we read. Mary Shelly opens a new door of gothic literature through her work. The book is considered an all time classic.
It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a horrifying creature through a scientific experiment using dead bodies. The monster he creates is basically a person who rose back from the dead.
12. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
Peter Straub is another brilliant author who is mainly popular among the fans of horror fiction. It is the story of five old men who meet and share ghost stories with each other. Suddenly one of them dies and rest of them start having weird and horrifying dreams.
It is revealed to the readers that probably the ghost of the young woman has returned to take revenge for her murder.
13. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
This famous novel has also been made into a film of the same name. The book has elements of crime, thriller, and horror. The entire setting of the book is quite chilling. Although there are no ghosts in the book yet it manages to scare you pretty well.
The disturbing book deals with rape, torture, murder and madness.
14. City Infernal – Edward Lee
This creepy book is about a girl who wants to bring back her twin sister from Hell. This book’s take on Hell is quite refreshing and terrifying at the same time. The book was also nominated for the Bram Stoker Award.
15. The Shining – Stephen King
Undoubtedly, King’s most popular work. It deals with a certain Overlook Hotel, which seems to have the soul of a devil. The supernatural forces in the Hotel affect everybody’s sanity. After reading this book, you will never dare to stay at a hotel which is named Overlook.
16. The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
If you have seen Conjuring 2, then you are pretty much aware of the story. Based on true incidents, it is often described as one of the most known horror stories of all time. So, if you want to relive the Conjuring 2 once more, then you are most welcome to read this book.