As Halloween draws nearer and days get shorter, it’s the perfect time to read a book that will make you sleep with the lights on. The Writer’s Relief bookworms (or at this time of year, bookdragons) love to read all genres, including thriller and horror. And some of those books continue to give us chills long after we’ve finished reading them! Here’s our list of the 8 scariest books we’ve ever read—don’t say we didn’t warn you! (One’s a true story!)
8 Scariest Books We’ve Ever Read…Don’t Read Them Alone!
’Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Of course the master of horror would make our Scariest Books list! This book gave our garlic necklace-wearing reader a sinking feeling of dread, because the vampire infestation in the town continually gets worse as beloved characters are picked off, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any hope to save the town.
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
This spellbinding murder case and courtroom drama about the Manson murders was written by the prosecuting attorney. Our twitchy reader kept peering out the window and stated: “Unbeknownst to my aunt, I read a lot of this book as a child during an extended visit to her house. Nightmares for years!”
The Ritual by Adam Nevill
This bookdragon peeked out from behind the sofa to say this about The Ritual: “A camping trip with four buddies gone wrong in Scandinavia. They’re far from home with no way to get back. It’s thrilling and terrifying all at the same time—especially if you’ve ever been hiking, camping, or made a late-night visit to your local Walmart. The book offers plenty of creep factor, from the isolating wilderness atmosphere to supernatural terror to satanism.”
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
Hiding under the bed, this reader told us: “The scariest book I’ve ever read is Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. It’s an existentialist psych horror manifesto told through dozens of short stories that together form an overarching narrative. It’s highly critical of the desire for exposure among creative minds and the levels of depravity to which they will go to attain it. Highly recommended!”
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Sometimes the story isn’t meant to be scary, but the details are—and the impressionable age of the reader makes a difference! Found quivering under several blankets, this reader vividly recalls the mountain lion and all the gory descriptions of Old Dan’s injuries in Where the Red Fern Grows. “Read it when I was a kid, and I still remember all the horrific details in those chapters!”
The Haunted States of America…and Canada Too! by Joan Holub
What? This book looks too cute to be really scary! But don’t let the cover fool you: Scary legends are legends for a reason. This book presents haunted spots in all fifty U.S. states and a few in Canada. Our bleary-eyed book reviewer tells us: “While many of the stories in the book kept me up at night, the Bell Witch haunting in Tennessee particularly freaked me out, with accounts of an invisible presence pulling people’s hair in the dead of night.” (Editor’s note: Okay…yikes!)
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
This famous, classic ghost story—which has been adapted into two films and a play—tells the story of Arthur Kidd, a young lawyer who is sent out to settle the affairs of a recently deceased woman in her isolated, marshland-surrounded house. This reader refused to open the door, and simply whispered through the keyhole: “Worth reading for its exercise in atmosphere, but perhaps a little too atmospheric!”
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
The devil is in the details, and that’s an accurate description of the horrifying details in Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, who makes his second appearance on this frightening list. Dan Torrance survived his time at the Overlook Hotel, but now he’s faced with saving a child in danger from an even more horrible, evil source. Crouched in the corner and wild-eyed, our reader mutters: “This book was so scary…I couldn’t even finish it! Don’t go in the cornfield…”
After reading one or more of the books on this scary list, you might want to read something more uplifting and soothing. Check out: 10 Books That Inspire Hope And Joy!
Question: What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?
I can’t believe Shirley Jackson’s masterpiece, “The Haunting of Hill House” didn’t make this list. It is, quite simply, one of the greatest scary novels ever.
The Haunting of Hill House, a masterwork by Shirley Jackson, shouldn’t have been left off of this list, in my opinion. Simply put, it’s one of the best scary books ever.