Top Ten All Time Favourite Horror Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and The Bookish. I can’t believe it’s been a little more than a year since I participated in one of these.
It’s been a while since I revisited horror. The last book I read was Doctor Sleep (it has made it to the list.) I don’t like the stigma associated with the genre; the “Stephen-King-is-my-favourite-author” gets a whole range of judgmental reactions from “Really?-So-you-don’t-like-classic-literature.”, or a simple “But-he-has-no-‘literary-value’.” or “I-don’t-read-genre-fiction.” or the classic, “Oh-you-don’t-seem-like-that-type-of-person.” Well, I am, just deal with it. Plus, whoever says Stephen King is just a horror writer hasn’t read the right books.
This is a list of my Top Five All Time Favourite Horror Books, though I have a vague feeling I have already made this list on the blog. Anyway, a few of the titles link to reviews.

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker – as my favourite gaslamp fantasy

2. The Shining and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King – as the first and latest Stephen King I read, both more emotional than they appear

3. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H. P. Lovecraft – as my introduction to Lovecraft, macabre and weird fiction

4. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – for the musings over coming-of-age and the lessons of life and death

5. The Terror by Dan Simmons – for being wonderfully evocative and steeped in history and mythology
That being said, these aren’t the scariest, most horrifying horror books I’ve ever read. So here’s another list; my Top Five All Time Scariest Books

6. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty – All the spidery-crawli… no, no, I can’t relive it.

7. IT by Stephen King – One word, clowns.

8. Ghost Story by Peter Straub – How could anything be scarier than fear taking a physical form?

9. The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker – My first Barker, I wasn’t prepared for the gore.

10. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – The strange knocking on doors, the holding a hand in the dark only to find out…*shudders*
The two books that get a special mention in the second list are The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris and American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – neither needed horror of the supernatural kind to be mind-numbingly scary.

*Edit: Also add all of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, though I don’t exactly like them for being horror, but didn’t you hear? The Brat Prince is back! That calls for a lengthy re-read.

So which are your favourite horror books? Or your scariest?

28 thoughts on “Top Ten All Time Favourite Horror Books”

  1. Horror novels! I don't read enough of these 🙂

    – Jackson's been on my to-read list for ages. I should head to the library and take the plunge already!
    – It is one of the few King novels that I've read, but WOW is that a horror novel. Some parts were a bit… odd, but Pennywise is the most frightening thing ever!
    – Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes has been on my list for SO long. I saw it in my local store again the other day too…
    – And if you need more recommendations, I wrote about horror novels for Halloween!:


  2. I don't usually read horror – the only books on this list I've read are Dracula and Something Wicked This Way Comes. I've been meaning to read Stephen King, so I'll give those books a shot!

    – Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider silk


  3. Yeesh! Horror! I don't do horror. I thought I could handle it, that horror books would be less scary than movies…I was SO WRONG. Why did I think that? I mean I know the imagination is scarier than anything I could see on screen. I read Misery by Stephen King, and I literally cried myself to sleep I was so scared haha


  4. I'm not a huge fan of horror. I have such a vivid imagination that runs away with itself when I read something scary. I'm attempting some Stephen King soon though. Eek. Starting with Carrie.


  5. YES!! A Haunting of Hill House is such a good book!! Have you read any Joe Hill yet? Horns was amazing to me. Dracula of course. I have a neat edition with Edward Gorey drawings in it. I love it sooo much! I too can't stand the stigma Stephen King gets. One time I went to someone's house and told them that I was going to see King (HELLO!!) and they looked me straight in the face with disgust and told me "I don't like Stephen King". Well Well.. get off your high horse!


  6. Maggie – Hey, thanks for the link, I always need more horror recommendations! I know, Pennywise is creepy – how kids can stand clowns, I'll never know. Something Wicked This Way Comes is a definite must-read, whether you like horror or not. 🙂

    Kritika – You've got to read at least one Stephen King (and there are many!) Who knows, you might even end up liking horror, like me.

    Elizabeth – Haha, but that's part of the fun. 😉

    Chrissi – Carrie is a good place to start, considering it was his debut book. Hope you enjoy it!


  7. Angela – I read Horns last year and it was everything you'd expect from King's son. I do want to read Joe Hill's NOS4A2, but it's too intimidatingly big. I'd love to own a proper copy of Dracula, I'd read a tattered book from the library. Wait, you saw King? As in, you SAW him? *dies of envy*


  8. Wow, no, I am such a scaredy cat… I pretty much stopped reading horror when I was a little girl and R.L. Stine and C. Pike gave me nightmares. Do those even COUNT as horrors? (To explain further: I was 15 when I watched House of Wax, and I couldn't get past the first 30 minutes.)

    I did recently read Dracula. Slept with my nightlight on for two nights after that, but I survived it. Honestly, I have to grab my shield and sword just for reading paranormal things like The Evolution of Mara Dyer.

    So while I enjoyed your list I'll most definitely be staying away from the last five on your list. The description of The Shining has always intrigued me though, and I wonder if I shouldn't try it.


  9. I haven't read any Stephan King books. o.O I know. It's a terrible thing. I really do want to, but I don't know exactly where to start. 😉 I've heard a lot of creepy (and good) things about IT, so maybe I'll start there??
    My TTT!


  10. barefootmeds – R L Stine gave me nightmares too once upon a time, though I can't figure out now why! I like to say King was my introduction to proper horror, because Goosebumps isn't exactly all that scary now. 🙂
    The Shining is also very scary, but I'd still recommend it.

    Hey Cait, thanks for stopping by! IT is huge, terrifying and intriguing – definitely one of King's bests! Hope you do get around to reading it. 🙂


  11. My list would be empty. LOL!

    Here's my list: Favorite Foodie Narratives! Love to have you stop by!


  12. I did see King!! If you liked Joe Hill you should try out Locke and Key if you haven't yet. It is amazing and if you have never read a graphic novel this is perfect to get you started.


  13. I was trying to think of "The Terror" by Dan Simmons a week or so ago. Thanks for pointing that one out! 🙂


  14. I keep seeing Clive Barker books around but have never read anything by him. So… his work is pretty violent then?


  15. Angela – You are SO lucky. Thanks for the link! I have heard about Locke and Key, will definitely check it out.

    Vi – Glad to be of help. Thanks for stopping by!

    Restiva – The horror books are pretty violent, but the fantasy is something else. If you don't think you can stand the gore, I'd definitely recommend Barker's dark fantasy such as The Thief of Always or Weaveworld.


  16. I love your list! I'll have to give Doctor Sleep and The Terror a try; both sound really awesome.

    I second Locke and Key, although the scariest book I've ever read hands-down is Penpal by Dathan Auerbach. I read it one night and was too frightened to sleep afterward!


  17. Great list! I used to say Stephen King was my favourite author and then I stopped reading him for awhile. I'm using King's March as a good excuse to catch up on some of this books. Right now I'm reading Joyland and it's pretty good storytelling.

    I read Dracula in October and really enjoyed it because it was so easy to read and an entertaining supernatural thriller. But I was a little surprised at how Dracula kind of disappears in the second half of the book.


  18. honeyimreading – Haha, that's true. For me the whole of Dracula was kind of unexpected, I had no idea it was in the form of letters and such.
    I love SK, but usually I can't take more than a couple of his books at a time, after that the horror just gets a bit too much. Hope you enjoy Joyland, though.


  19. I can't say that the horror genre is particularly appealing to me but you got several good titles listed here. I recall reading "IT" as a teenager and it really creeped me out. I like to pretend the movie adaptation doesn't exist, what a joke.

    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is my favorite from your list. This one really gets under your skin and that twist! Gotta love it.


  20. How come Omen is not on this list? That to me was the scariest, scared the living daylights out of me, and then I watched the movie, and went back to sleeping with my mom for the rest of the year.


  21. Jason – You're right. The Haunting of Hill House was a special kind of creepy. Sometimes I can't even bear to think about that book!

    Nishita – I actually didn't dare read Omen, after I saw the movie. I don't think I ever will. 😮


  22. Great list! I haven't read The Exorcist yet but I do want to. I'd have to say Pet Sematary was one of the scariest books I've ever read. That and The Shining. There's also a historical based on a real life female serial killer that creeped me out, it was called The Countess.


  23. Naida – Hey, thanks. I haven't yet dared to read Pet Sematary, the book cover was enough to completely freak me out. The Countess as in Elizabeth Bathory? Ooh, that's a book I'd like to read, thanks! 🙂


  24. I love horror books and it all started when I was in elementary school reading R. L. Stine. Despite this, horror movies where something that I would never watch. Now I enjoy both forms of horror equally.

    I actually wrote a recent article comparing my two favorite young adult horror authors R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike –


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