This week I want to talk about some of my favorite horror books.
You know, those books that do things to your head or your heart or your soul and make you want to read them over and over again?
Incidentally, if you like horror, there shouldn’t be any surprises here. These are the classics everyone should be cutting their teeth on. So to speak. So here, in no particular order are my choices:
- Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury. 1962. This is a dark fantasy about two 13-year-old best friends, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, and the nightmarish travelling carnival that arrives in their small town a week before Halloween.
- Hell House, by Richard Matheson. 1971. Not sure if this was the first real haunted house novel, but it was certainly the scariest. A physicist and two mediums — one mental and one physical — are offered $100,000 each to spend the night in a haunted mansion so terrifying that it’s been abandoned and sealed since the last psychic expedition in 1949. But don’t take my word for it. “Hell House is the scariest haunted house novel ever written. It looms over the rest the way the mountains loom over the foothills.” — Stephen King
- The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty. 1971. Based on the true story of a child’s exorcism in St. Louis in 1949, it has been called the most controversial novel ever written.
- The Shining, by Stephen King. 1977. A disgraced prep school teacher accepts the job of seasonal caretaker at a haunted resort in Colorado with a long history of murder and debauchery. Oh, and he brings his wife and young son along for the ride. All the characters are top-notch here with one of my favs being the Overlook’s chef, Dick Hallorann.
- ‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King. 1975. A writer returns to the small Maine town where he grew up and discovers the residents are gradually turning into vampires. With a bit of Bram Stoker’s Dracula mixed in there for flavor, this book took vampires out of Transylvania and plopped them right in the middle of rural America. And made a convincing argument for why it could really happen, too.
- Night Shift, by Stephen King. 1978. King’s first short story collection. There are some heart-racing gems in here. Favs — “The Graveyard Shift,” “The Mangler,” and “I am the Doorway.” Shudder.
- The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe. My first introduction to horror. Don’t be afraid you won’t like it because it’s written in a kind of old-fashioned style — it’s Poe, goddammit! He’s the original tortured artist. Just suck it up and read them. Favs — “The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
- The Ruins, by Scott Smith. 2006. A horror thriller set in the Yucatan Peninsula, a group of young American, German, and Greek college students/tourists head into the Mexican jungle searching for a missing girl. What they find is literally the stuff of nightmares. This one had me sweating.
- Books of Blood, by Clive Barker. 1984-1985. Six volumes of dark, bloody horror stories. Favs include “The Book of Blood,” “The Midnight Meat Train,” “The Yattering and Jack,” “In the Hills, the Cities,” “Son of Celluloid,” and “Rawhead Rex.”
There are SO many more, but this post has to end somewhere. There is a butt-ton of books I haven’t listed here, and others I know are out there waiting for me to discover them. Ugh. Why can’t we live forever?
Anyway, thanks for reading and let me know some of your favorites in the Comments section.
Thanks. See you later!