If you think that books can’t freak you out more than a movie, get ready to be proven wrong. Horror movies are scary because they solidify the murky nightmare ideas from your imagination. The blood, the suspenseful music, the pop outs — it’s all frightening physical, visual terror. And you’re thinking, books don’t give you any of that. But what books do go far deeper.
Horror books penetrate the inner sanctuary of your mind and implant the story there. When you’re finished a horror movie, the images stop; but since the horror in horror books is based on not only visual cues, but also emotional and psychological twisting, you live with the horrors for quite a while longer.
Here are some of the scariest horror books we could find:
1) Before I Go to Sleep – S.J. Watson
What makes this story so horrifying is that you are as much in the dark as the main character. Slowly, she starts realizing things are not adding up. She starts only taking truth from the things she’s written in her secret journal. What really happened to her? What’s the true story? This story really digs deep into your head and imprints itself there as the terrifying truth unfolds.
2) The Witches – Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl, the author of wonderfully funny and sweet children’s story like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, and Matilda has churned out one of the scariest novels for children and adults alike.
In this world, witches exist, and they blend in with everyday people so you don’t know who’s an evil kidnapping witch, and who’s just a regular woman with a big wart. The main character is a little boy who, wait for it, get’s turned into a mouse when he stumbles into a secret witch’s convention. He decides he needs to find a way to defeat the witches.
It’s scary, trust.
3) The Shining – Stephen King
Now, what horror book compilation (or any horror compilation, for that matter) would be complete without something from Stephen King?
A family goes to occupy a hotel, where the father has taken the role of off-season caretaker. However, the son possesses an eerie ability called the shining, with which he is able to see the alarming past events of the hotel. Slowly, the supernatural powers wreak havoc upon the father’s sanity and things start taking a bloodthirsty turn. Sinister secrets and truths unfold, all the while, you’re scared, literally, out of your mind.
4) Coraline – Neil Gaiman
Yeah, this is also a kid’s book, but this is one of the most twisted, creepy, and psychologically disturbing horror books you will ever read. Coraline, a little girl, feels bored and neglected by her real world parents; one day she crosses into an (extremely strange) alternate universe where everything and everyone has a creepy counterpart with buttons as eyes. Superficially, everything in this new universe seems better — Other Mother and Other Father are super sweet to her, and they invite her stay forever with them.
However, there are some sinister secrets hiding in this world, as Coraline, through a series of eerie twists, finds out for herself.
5) I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
I’m sure most of us have either watched or heard of the movie with Will Smith. It’s basically the forerunner of the zombie genre.
The main character is the only survivor in a world where people are seized with a disease that makes them vampire/zombie-like. They are hysterical, bloodthirsty, and unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen to the main character and are kept in eternal suspense. It’s a violent story about the loss of humanity and one man’s brave and horrifying mission to save it.
6) American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
Another psychotic tale that messes with the parts of your head you thought were safe. Patrick Bateman seems to lead a perfect life during the day — he’s rich, he’s handsome, and he’s well-educated. However, what he does at night is a complete horror.
The narrator is the backbone of the story, the one voice you know you can follow — except in this case. The thing that really gets at you about this horror book is that you don’t always know if you can trust the narrative voice of Bateman. He’s ambiguous, contradictory, and of course, psychotic. Is he deluded? Is he bloodthirsty? Can you really believe the accounts he gives? What is happening?
7) The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
The best haunted house story ever. This horror book follows four extraordinarily different main characters as they spend a summer at Hill House in pursuit of supernatural activities. The house has been known for strange suicides and violent deaths in the past. Slowly, the inhabitants get into some truly haunting experiences from the mysterious house. However, of the many odd events, some may or may not be stemming from one of the inhabitants.
It’s another terrifyingly close novel that makes you question sanity and if everything is truly what it seems.
What’s the most horrifying book you’ve ever read?
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