20 Scariest Horror Books Of All Time

We’ve compiled a list of the 20 best scariest horror books of all time, guaranteed to send chills down your spine and leave you sleeping with the lights on. From classics like Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” to modern terrors like Joe Hill’s “Heart-Shaped Box,” these tales of terror will have you questioning what lies beyond the safety of your own imagination. So grab a nightlight, settle in, and get ready to confront the horrors that lurk within the pages of our selection. But be warned: once you start reading, there’s no turning back. The fear factor is high, and you might just find yourself checking under your bed for monsters before dawn.

List of Bestselling Horror Books Of All Time

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Four strangers are invited to stay in a haunted house, Hill House, by an occult scholar seeking proof of paranormal activity. They experience strange occurrences but soon realize that the house has a mind and is targeting one of them to become its new resident.

The Shining by Stephen King

Jack Torrance takes a job as a caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel, hoping to bond with his family and work on his writing. However, as the harsh winter sets in, the hotel becomes increasingly eerie and sinister, and only Jack’s son Danny, who possesses psychic abilities, recognizes the danger lurking within.

The Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill

A young woman named Apryl inherits an apartment in a prestigious London building, Barrington House, where a mysterious and frightening presence has been rumored to exist for 50 years. Despite warnings from the night watchman, Apryl investigates the empty apartment and uncovers a dark history involving her great aunt, who died under suspicious circumstances. Determined to uncover the truth, Apryl discovers that the building is home to a malevolent force that can manipulate reality, and the door to Apartment 16 leads to a terrifying realm beyond our own.

IT by Stephen King

In Derry, Maine, a group of teenagers band together to defeat a monstrous entity that preys on the town’s children. Twenty-eight years later, they reunite to face the creature again, forced to confront their traumatic past and the darkness that has haunted their lives.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

A young girl named Regan begins exhibiting strange behavior, such as unexplained noises in her room and an icy chill. As her condition worsens, doctors are unable to find a medical explanation, and some believe she may be possessed by a demon. Father Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest, is called in to perform an exorcism and rid Regan of the malevolent force.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

In a small New England town, a series of eerie events, including a missing boy and mysterious forces of darkness, prompts writer Ben Mears to investigate. With the help of a few allies, Mears must confront the evil threatening the town and stop it from spreading. This novel solidifies Stephen King’s reputation as a master of horror, using familiar settings to create an even more unsettling atmosphere.

The Ruins by Scott Smith

On a Mexican vacation, two couples search for a missing friend in the jungle, finding ancient ruins and a terrifying presence. Their fun day trip turns into a nightmare.

This national bestseller, now a major motion picture, is hailed as one of the best horror books of the century by Stephen King.

The Exorcist’s House by Nick Roberts

A family moves to a rural Appalachian farmhouse, unaware of its dark history as a former exorcist’s residence. They soon discover a hidden room in the basement, sparking a chain of terrifying events that test their sanity and faith. This 1990s horror novel is ideal for fans of family thrillers, demonic possession, exorcism fiction, and occult stories.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

A family’s life is turned upside down when their teenage daughter displays signs of schizophrenia. Desperate for help, they turn to a priest who suggests an exorcism and allows a TV crew to document their story. Tragedy strikes and the family becomes the subject of a hit reality show. Years later, the younger sister reflects on those events, revealing secrets and challenging the truth presented on TV.

Penpal by Dathan Auerbach

A man tries to make sense of his disturbing childhood memories by piecing together his past, only to discover a horrific truth that he never could have imagined. Each chapter reveals a new part of the puzzle, leading to a shocking conclusion that will leave readers wishing they could forget what they’ve learned.

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Kris Pulaski, a former lead guitarist of a ’90s heavy metal band, sets out on a cross-country road trip to confront her former bandmate and nemesis, Terry Hunt, who she believes sabotaged her life and the band’s success. Along the way, she encounters a series of strange and sinister events that suggest a deeper conspiracy at play. We Sold Our Souls is a horror novel that delves into the darker side of fame, ambition, and the human psyche.

Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung and Anton Hur

Cursed Bunny is a collection of surreal and chilling fables by Korean author Bora Chung that challenge societal norms and conventions. Translated by Anton Hur, the stories blend horror, sci-fi, fairy tales, and speculative fiction in unique and imaginative ways.

Each tale is distinct, ranging from a woman haunted by her own body waste to a dystopian gynecology office where a pregnant woman must find a father for her baby. The titular story revolves around a cursed rabbit lamp with sinister powers. The book is described as unforgettable and absorbing, with a wit and energy that will keep readers engaged until the very end.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Dr. Faraday visits Hundreds Hall, a decaying Georgian mansion, to treat a patient. The Ayres family, who have lived there for over two centuries, struggle to adapt to changing times. But the family’s troubles go beyond social change, as they are haunted by a dark and terrifying force that will soon affect Dr. Faraday in ways he cannot imagine.

Carrie by Stephen King

Bullied teen Carrie White discovers she can move objects with her mind. An act of kindness offers her a chance at normalcy, but cruelty turns her power into a destructive weapon.

The Amulet of Fear by Michael McDowell

After a rifle range accident leaves her husband in a vegetative state, Sarah’s dreary life in Pine Cone, Alabama is made worse by her loathsome mother-in-law Jo, who blames the town for her son’s misfortune. When Jo gives a strange amulet to the man she believes responsible, a series of gruesome deaths ensues. Disbelieved by others, Sarah and her friend Becca must track down the amulet to stop the killings before it’s too late.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Arthur Kipps, a young London solicitor, travels to the remote town of Crythin Gifford to settle the affairs of a deceased client, Mrs. Alice Drablow. But upon arrival, he finds himself haunted by a series of eerie occurrences, including a ghostly woman in black. As the terror mounts, Kipps must uncover the dark secrets behind the haunting and confront his own fears.

The Stand by Stephen King

A deadly flu pandemic wipes out 99% of the world’s population, leaving survivors scattered and scared. Two leaders emerge – Mother Abagail, a kind 108-year-old woman who advocates for building a peaceful community, and Randall Flagg, a malevolent figure who revels in chaos and violence. The remaining humans must choose between these opposing forces, determining the future of humanity.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian is a suspenseful and beautifully written story about a young woman’s quest to uncover her family’s dark past, which leads her on a thrilling adventure across Eastern Europe. Along the way, she discovers a centuries-old pact that may have kept the evil deeds of Vlad the Impaler alive and must confront the truth about her family’s connection to this terrible history.

The Ring by Koji Suzuki -A Japanese Horror Book

A cryptic videotape predicts the deaths of four teenagers, and journalist Asakawa investigates, racing against time to uncover the truth behind the curse. His pursuit takes him from Tokyo’s urban landscape to rural Japan, where he encounters haunting remnants of the past. With each passing day, the mystery deepens, and Asakawa must solve it before it’s too late for everyone.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Joe Hill’s debut novel, Heart-Shaped Box, received widespread critical acclaim, including being named Best Book of the Year by several publications. Neil Gaiman calls it “relentless, gripping, powerful.” The story follows aging rock star Judas Coyne, a collector of the macabre, who purchases a one-of-a-kind curiosity off the internet: a dead man’s suit inhabited by the spirit of its late owner. Everywhere Judas goes, the old man watches, waits, and dangles a razor blade on a chain from his bony hand.

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