Halloween is here, and our need to frighten ourselves has only just about peaked. And what better way than to read the most terrifying novels, a collection of short stories.
Here are the 15 most insane horror books, some of which we found thanks to this fantastic Reddit thread:
1. The Descent by Jeff Long
One of the most accurate horror novels on topography and mountaineering, it describes the discovery of the Earth’s upper mantle found to be inhabited by malicious species, who consider themselves an evolved form of Satan.
2. The Time Of The Angels by Iris Murdoch
An Anglican priest locks himself in his upstairs study in a bombed-out London. He decides that God has been killed, leaving his angels free to do as they please. This novel could very well be one of the best haunted house novels.
3. Night Shift by Stephen King
King has a rich legacy of one of the best horror writers of all time with novels like It and Pet Samatary, however, it is this earlier collection of short stories that IMO qualify as some of the best horror writing available out there.
4. The Ritual by Adam Nevill
Four college friends get together for one last reunion in the uncharted wilderness of northwestern Sweden, and they encounter a force that is intent on ensuring that they never leave. This Hostel-like premise might seem familiar, but the book’s climax is anything but.
5. The Fog by James Herbert
Completely unrelated to John Carpenter’s book of the same name, this novel follows a deadly fog that envelopes a town and drives them crazy, as soon as they come it touch with it. If psychological terror is your thing more than monster/ghosts, you should pick this up!
6. Books Of Blood by Clive Barker
A 6-part series which came out between 1984 and 1985, served as inspiration for many acclaimed horror movies like The Forbidden and Midnight Meat Train. Clive Barker became such an overnight sensation and was even touted as the future Stephen King of Horror.
7. Phantoms by Dean Koontz
Based on a famous urban legend of an entire town vanishing rather mysteriously at Angikuni Lake in the Nevada mountains, this terrifying novel was adapted into a 1998 film of the same starring Peter O’Toole, Rose McGowan and Ben Affleck.
8. The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions
Considered the gold standard for horror writing, this novel set the trope of the haunted house. Released all the way back in 1911, this one remains one of the classics of the genre for the sheer amount of psychological horror it unleashes upon its readers.
9. The Conspiracy Against The Human Race by Thomas Ligotti
Considered as the main inspiration for Rust Cohle’s pessimistic and anti-natalism beliefs in the first season of True Detective, this non-fiction novel might be the spookiest story about how mankind is hardly relevant in the bigger scheme of things. What is cooler is how Cohle is deeply influenced by author Ligotti, echoed by show-creator Nic Pizzolatto.
10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
If future dystopian stories could be a fucking horror, then Margaret Atwood’s novel is without doubt at the top. Pushed by Hulu’s TV adaptation of the novel, the novel has become even more iconic for its readers.
11. Songs of A Dead Dreamer by Thomas Ligotti
Another seminal collection of horror stories by Ligotti, this one is widely celebrated by the ‘Gods’ of the genre including the likes of Ramsey Campbell and Edgar Allen Poe. One of the stories even served as an inspiration for 2007 film The Frolic, whose screenplay Ligotti co-wrote.
12. The Amber Witch by Wilhelm Meinhold
This 19th century novel continues to be one of the classics of the genre. It follows the life of a reverend saving his little girl from a rejected suitor, who accuses them of practising witchcraft. Even after nearly 150 years, it remains one of the best.
13. The Green Man by Kingsley Amis
The novel is based on an inn between London and Cambridge owned by Maurice Allington living with a second wife, a teenage daughter and an 80-year-old father. The book is inspired by an actual 14th-century innkeeper, who was associated with two unsolved murders and dabbling in the occult.
14. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
Published in 1748, this is one of the longest novels and the most scary novels in the English language. Following the life of a beautiful, virtuous lady of the same name it sees her fall for an admirer who asks her to elope with him and then rapes her. After which the lead character contemplates death.
15. The Cipher by Kathe Koja
A black hole appears inexplicably in the floor of a couple’s apartment in Detroit and dreadful things happen. If that plot summary doesn’t hook you, then I don’t know what will. One of the most underappreciated horror novels of the 90s.
Happy hunting, this Halloween!