The 10 Best Horror Books

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This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in March of 2018. If you find the thrill of losing yourself in a good horror novel irresistible, then this selection of books is for you. From disturbing narratives that send a chill up your spine to creepy twists and turns that will make you jump out of your skin when things go bump in the night, you'll find no shortage of suspense and excitement in the works of fiction featured here. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. The Institute

2. Bird Box

3. The Whisper Man

Editor's Notes

May 01, 2020:

Horror stories have been around since ancient times and continue to enthrall us to this very day. We know that everyone has a sub-genre they love, from suspenseful slashers to supernatural thrillers to revenge tales. For our list, we wanted to focus on contemporary selections that run the gamut to appeal to everyone.

Today we said goodbye to The Pilo Family Circus and The Red Tree. Each of these is interesting enough and has an intriguing premise, but we felt they weren't quite up to the same literary standard as the two novels we supplanted them with.

They are The Whisper Man and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The first is a New York Times Bestseller that blends plenty of classic themes without coming off as stale, with a touch of supernatural that doesn't feel overdone. It's like reading a crime novel and a psychological thriller at once, with ample doses of spine-tingling horror.

The latter we added to appeal to youngsters, and it does not disappoint. Many millennials and gen-Xers remember reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark in middle school and they prove to be just as bone-chilling now as they were then. This trio of books contain the original spooky art, which creates an almost visceral reaction in the reader and is sure to stay with them for a long time. While these stories are age-appropriate, they are not condescending or dumbed down, which kids and parents appreciate. Because they are entertaining enough for adults too, reading these aloud together makes for a solid bonding experience as children get older and crave more independence.

Finally, it wouldn't be a horror list without a Stephen King novel, and so we swapped out Doctor Sleep, which is still very good, for his newest release The Institute. Because this book is inspired by current affairs and the author is outspoken when it comes to his politics, many readers are wary that this work is overly partisan. While it has political undertones and ties into contemporary issues, it also speaks to age-old themes and is a horror book first and foremost. It does have a sprinkling of instances in which King weaves a jab or two in accordance with his personal views, but it's not overly saturated and can be enjoyed by any horror fan who appreciates literary works that draw inspiration from the times they are written in.

Special Honors

First Edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula Coming from one of the leading rare book firms in the world and first published in London in 1897, this first edition of Stoker's classic is printed entirely in German. It was the final translation published during the author's lifetime, and sports brown quarter morocco binding, a spine lettered in gilt, patterned sides, and marbled endpapers and edges. It's bound with half-title and terminal advertisements of the period.

4. Sharp Objects

5. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

6. "Horns" by Joe Hill

7. "Kin" by Kealan Patrick Burke

8. The Terror

9. Dark Harvest

10. The Ritual

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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