Stephen King’s IT is killing at the box office, and we’re sure there are readers out there who are just dying for even more terror. Whether you are a die-hard horror fan or just like the occasional fright, we’ve put together this list of terrifying reads that are totally worth the nightmares. From haunted houses and not-so-friendly ghosts to psychopaths and mysterious deaths, you’ll definitely want to read these books with all the lights on.
Haunted Nights Edited by Lisa Morton and Ellen Datlow
Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween.
Inside, you’ll read stories about scheming jack-o’-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, and cult horror movies. Read if you dare . . .
The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke
The host of the hit podcast Lore serves as a guide on a fascinating journey through the history of the monsters that are part of our collective psyche, exploring not only the legends but what they tell us about ourselves.
They live in shadows—deep in the forest, late in the night, in the dark recesses of our minds. They’re spoken of in stories and superstitions, relics of an unenlightened age, old wives’ tales, passed down through generations. Yet no matter how wary and jaded we have become, as individuals or as a society, a part of us remains vulnerable to them: werewolves and wendigos, poltergeists and vampires, angry elves and vengeful spirits.
Whether these beasts and bogeymen are real or just a reflection of our primal fears, we know, on some level, that not every mystery has been explained and that the unknown still holds the power to strike fear deep in our hearts and souls. As Aaron Mahnke reminds us, sometimes the truth is even scarier than the lore.
LORE will also premiere as a streaming series on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, October 13th.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Ten years ago, Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. She became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. But as new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
Ill Will by Dan Chaon
Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense.
Dustin, a psychologist, is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.
Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient’s suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence.
“The scariest novel of the year . . . ingenious . . . Chaon’s novel walks along a garrote stretched taut between Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock.” —The Washington Post
Slade House by David Mitchell
Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents—an odd brother and sister—extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late . . .
Spanning fie decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only the bestselling author of The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas could imagine it.
Ex-Isle: A Novel by Peter Clines
It’s been years since the tidal wave of ex-humans washed over the world. Since then, thanks to St George and his fellow heroes, the community known as the Mount has been the last known outpost of safety, sanity, and freedom left to humanity. But even for the Mount, survival still balances on a razor’s edge—and after a disaster decimates the town’s food supply, the heroes must make a risky gamble to keep its citizens from starving.
And then the news arrives of a strange, man-made island in the middle of the Pacific. An island populated not just by survivors, but by living people who, like the heroes, have somehow managed to keep the spark of civilization alive. Paying this place a visit should be a simple goodwill mission, but as the island reveals itself to be a sinister mirror-image of what the heroes have built at the Mount, the cost of their good intentions becomes dangerously high.
Joyland by Stephen King
A terrifying tale of crime, mystery, and ghosts from one of the bestselling horror authors of all time.
Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.
Blood Crime by Sebastia Alzamora
Narrated by a vampire who thrives in the havoc of the war, this is a stunning novel inspired by the true story of a massacre in the early days of the Spanish Civil War.
It is 1936, and Barcelona burns as the Spanish Civil War takes over. The city is a bloodbath. Yet in all this death, the murders of a Marist monk and a young boy, drained of their blood, are strange enough to catch a police inspector’s attention. His quest for justice is complicated by the politics, dangers, and espionage of daily life in a war zone. The Marist brothers of the murdered monk are being persecuted; meanwhile, a convent of Capuchin nuns hides in plain sight, trading favors with the military police to stay alive. In their midst is a thirteen-year-old novice who stumbles into the clutches of the murderer. Can she escape in this city of no happy endings?
Perfect Days by Raphael Montes
Brimming with horror and suspense, Perfect Days is a chilling journey in the passenger seat with a psychopath.
Teo Avelar is a loner. The only time he feels honest human emotion is in the presence of his medical school cadaver—that is, until he meets Clarice. An aspiring screenwriter, she’s working on a screenplay called Perfect Days about friends who go on a road trip across Brazil. Teo begins to stalk her, and when she rejects him he kidnaps her. They embark upon their very own twisted odyssey across Brazil, tracing the same route outlined in her screenplay. Teo is certain that time is all he needs to make Clarice fall in love with him, but as the journey progresses, he digs himself deeper and deeper into a pit that he can’t get out of, stopping at nothing to ensure that no one gets in the way of their life together.
The Apartment by S. L. Grey
A chilling novel of horror, psychological thrills, and haunting suspense.
Mark and Steph have a relatively happy family with their young daughter in sunny Cape Town until one day when armed men in balaclavas break in to their home. Left traumatized but physically unharmed, Mark and Steph are unable to return to normal and live in constant fear. When a friend suggests a restorative vacation abroad via a popular house swapping website, it sounds like the perfect plan. But once they arrive in Paris, they quickly realize that nothing is as advertised. When their perfect holiday takes a violent turn, the cracks in their marriage grow ever wider and dark secrets from Mark’s past begin to emerge.
“Dark and deeply disturbing. Trust me–this tense and frightening piece of horror is not for kids–or for the faint-of-heart. I’m still shuddering.” —R.L. Stine, New York Times bestselling author of Goosebumps and Fear Street
The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
An atmospheric, gripping, and suspenseful tale that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets.
Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper’s kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel’s past, something that ruined their friendship forever.
Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock’s next leading lady.
As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.
The Horror in the Museum by H. P. Lovecraft
Some tales in this collection were inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, others he revised, two he co-authored–but all bear the mark of the master of primordial terror.
Read chilling stories like “The Horror in the Museum.” Locked up for the night, a man will discover the difference between waxen grotesqueries and the real thing. In “The Electric Executioner” a train traveler must match wits with a murderous madman. In “The Trap” a mirror wants a great deal more than your reflection. And, in “The Ghost-Eater” an ancient woodland, the past comes to life with a bone-crunching vengeance.
And twenty more stories of unspeakable evil lie within its pages . . .