Halloween approaches and I’m back to share ten of my most beloved scary books. Some contemporary, others classic, all bring moments of fright and delight to this hallowed time of year.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl since January of 2018. Jana writes, “it was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.” In that spirit, link up with your list at That Artsy Reader Girl and comment with your list, link, or thoughts below.
10. Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural, haven’t read all of these yet, but had to feature it. Isn’t that cover chilling? The artwork is the reason I snatched up this thrift copy, and I was excited to find lesser-known stories by Poe, Shelley, Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft and even J.R.R. Tolkien.
9. Midnight by Dean Koontz- read waaaay back in my youth. My first Koontz book was the best of the 10-15 I barreled through during my horror phase. The story is dated now, but that opening scene is one of the most frightening passages I’ve ever read.
8. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. Ah, this tale comes back to me as startling images every so often. The plot plays on childhood fears quite well, but even scarier, it mercilessly ferrets out the hidden darkness of adulthood.
7. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. A classic for a reason. Now that I’ve recently traveled unfortunate Ichabod’s trail through Tarrytown, Irving’s densely descriptive setting has come to life in my imagination.
6. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. Sinister, sparse, and gory. These graphic tales of unexplained phenomena and spirits with unsettling motives work especially well set in the nostalgic isolation of pre-cell phone days.
5. The Passage by Justin Cronin. Vividly terrifying on many levels; government experiments gone awry, super vampires, a child possessed with extraordinary powers, end of days panic and [my favorite part] the breach and fall of the last safe place on earth.
4. Stephen King’s books could occupy their own top ten post. However, both The Stand and The Dark Half remain constant horror favorites to me. Whether the battle between good vs. evil encompasses the entire world, or the space within one man’s psyche-King reigns supreme.
3. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. A Russian folk/fairytale combining ancient magic, zealots, a creepy encounter with a recently dead upyr, and a smidge of witch/wizard romance. This novel gave me actual goosebumps while reading. Unfortunately the second of the trilogy was a letdown, but I still recommend this book for a spooky one-off thrill.
2. Birdbox by Josh Malerman. Nonstop tension gave my fight-or-flight muscles an imaginative workout.
1. The Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King. An underrated entry in King’s canon, perhaps due to its graphic novel format. A thrilling mysterious build-up with resourceful child ‘detective’ characters captured long before the Stranger Things kids came to be. The encounter on the covered bridge between wheelchair-bound Marty and the villainous werewolf he exposes equals definitive horror brilliance.
Reviewing these titles caused me to realize I prefer eldritch tales of isolation and madness over the traditional witches, spooks and vampire stories. Have you read any on my haunting list? What’s the scariest book you’ve read?
I’m a huge fan of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Such a fun book.
I enjoy the Legend as a tight, highly scenic story, but it’s pretty scathing when you get into it. Neither Ichabod nor Brom Bones were nice fellows.
I don’t mind scary stories, but not into gore. https://pmprescott.blogspot.com/
Same, psychological horror rings my chimes. I’ll leave the gore to others, it devolves into gratuitous or even laughable territory to me for some reason.
I love this list! Through The Woods is one of my favorite graphic novels. It’s so pretty! The Stand is one of my favorite King books.
Thank you:) You are so right, pretty is the perfect way to describe Through the Woods, even the red worms. The Stand is near and dear to my heart, reminds me of college.
Ooh! Great picks! A lot of spooky goodness.
Thank you, it was a fun challenge this past week.
I love Koontz, but I’ve never read Midnight. I need to pick that one up! I haven’t read much of King, but I finished The Shining for the first time this morning. I was surprised it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Maybe because I’ve heard so many spoilers over the years?? I’ll definitely be reading more from him though. Great list!
It’s not considered his greatest, but it introduced me to the adult horror world and benefited from a likeable humorous protagonist. I should reread sometime to see if it holds up. Do you have a fave Koontz?
Scariest book I ever read was a little prequel novella from the Warm Bodies world called The New Hunger. It sets up the main characters of Warm Bodies two or so years before they come together. The climax of the story, involving the character of Nora and her little brother, is the most frightening thing I’ve ever read! I was genuinely spooked, and I was reading it during the day, in the bright light, under my desk during a really boring court hearing peppered with continuous breaks. And yet it still managed to have me riveted and terrified. It was great. 🙂
Just finished The Dark Half a month or so ago. Not too surprising here, but I thought he whiffed the ending – it built up to this major thing, and then just sort of whiffed out. But I do love the character of Sheriff Pangborn – was glad to see him show up in last season’s Castle Rock, amongst other King properties.