As we approach Halloween, creepy books are the best way to get in the spooky spirit of the season. As a horror fan myself, I’ve scoured my collection to find the ten best collections of terror and gore for the reader tried to try to track down something that will send shivers down their spine.
1) Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Everyone knows Neil Gaiman is a whimsical genius, one of the most celebrated authors of his time. Coraline might seem like a book better aimed for younger readers due to its child protagonist. Make no mistake, this tale of alternate realities, soul stealing, and terrifying creatures trying to sew buttons over your eyes will keep you glued to the page and up all night. Also great to check out if you’re already a big fan of the movie (though the two are different in some ways).
2) Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
Horror literature tends to be sort of cut and dry, with the most visually stimulating book people remember being the Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark series. However, Grady Hendrix decided to go a different route and built his horror novel to look like an IKEA catalogue knock-off. The story itself is about a group of employees at a fake IKEA furniture warehouse called ORSK, which has been trashed night after night. However, they’ll soon discover that what really lurks in the aisles and aisles of make-it-yourself knick knacks is so much worse than they could ever imagine. Get it if just to enjoy the creativity of how the book is put together.
3) Penpal by Dathan Auerbach
Based on a popular creepy pasta, Penpal proves that a great story can come from anywhere. Following the life of Dathan as he attracts the unwanted attention of a murderous stalker. From childhood into late adolescence, Dathan has a number of upsetting, disturbing close calls, ultimately culminating in someone’s death. While you can only really get it on Amazon, it’s well worth paying shipping as Auerbach weaves a complex and thrilling tale over years that grabs you with such force, I kept missing my train stop because I couldn’t put it down.
4) Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
If you like weird science fiction, the kind that is deeply disturbing and nay comprehensible in the depths of its terror, then do I have a book for you. The first in the Southern Reach Trilogy, this book chronicles the twelfth expedition into the mysterious and mind-altering Area X, which has long been reclaimed by nature. The narrator, simply known as The Biologist, tries to figure out some of the mystery of this untamable land but everything falls apart within days, and the first order of business becomes survival. It’s a must read for people who love the bizarre as well as the dangers of nature.
5) Revival by Stephen King
I have always been a huge Stephen King fan but even I’m willing to admit that he doesn’t always stick the landing. This book, however, manages to get it right in the best way. A story of addiction and redemption, Jaime is saved from his terrible drug addiction from his former reverend, Charles Jacobs. But Jacob’s own obsession with electricity and death prove not only to be fatal but also absolutely catastrophic in terms of its effects. The ending will have you screaming internally as a nightmare world unfolds and nearly destroys our protagonist with unimaginable and gripping terror. If you’re into Lovecraft, this will be right up your alley.
6) Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
When you have a book infamous for making people faint, you can bet it’s going to end up on the best horror literature lists. This anthology starts off with several writers signing up for a retreat that turns out to be twisted game of survival. The more desperate they get, the more outrageous and gruesome the stories become. With a mix of humor and horror, these stories will turn your stomach and make you throw the book down as it all spirals out of control. Definitely a must for people who already love Palahniuk’s bizarre style or who are looking for a little more “ew” in their Halloween.
7) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
If you’ve never heard of Joe Hill, or maybe only heard it in passing, you might not know that he is actually the son of horror legend Stephen King. He took on his mother’s last name to make his fame without his father’s legacy (also Joe King is a terrible name). Hill is a horror visionary in his own way, some even say scarier than his father, and this is the book that helped prove that. The story is about an aging rockstar who collects disturbing memorabilia, including a suit with a person’s spirit still attached. While this sounds like a silly premise, it starts to ramp up quickly as people start dying left and right. Hill tends to go deep and dark, so if you’re looking to read something truly frightening, this is a good place to start.
8) Slade House by David Mitchell
Mitchell is best known for his science-fantasy book Cloud Atlas, but he recently released a book that was a spiritual successor to The Bone Clocks. Truthfully, I hadn’t read the other book when I picked this up, and I honestly think you don’t need to. Slade House is the kind of old English house where people keep seeming to disappear, but behind the walls and shrubbery, there is something dark and disturbing afoot. Every chapter is a different year, and even though they are filled with different characters, each one is built in such a clever way that they stand on their own and yet manage to form a decades long narrative that will leave you shocked.
9) I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
Who doesn’t love a good story about the end of the world? Harlan Ellison is one of those science-fiction writers who may not get all the praise but he certainly has the work to get him all the acclaim. One of his most beloved work is I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, a tale of a supercomputer who destroys the world when he realizes it has been given sentience but must also live forever. So that it does not grow bored, it keeps five humans alive and tortures them endlessly with their personal Hells. The title describes part of the ending, so I won’t ruin it for you, but it’s as ominous as it sounds. This is the book you might have the most trouble getting a copy of, but it is worth the journey.
10) Lovecraft’s Monsters by Ellen Datlow
Do you love the idea of Lovecraftian horror but can’t quite get past the dense language and slow pace? Look no further than Lovecraft’s Monsters, a short story anthology by some of the best writers in the business that bring their own spins to the world of sea monsters and Elder Gods. Some are a little more comedic, some more adventure-packed, while others are just downright creepy, so there’s something for every taste. It even has a glossary of monsters in the back so that you can easily identify the creatures in the stories if you’ve never heard of them before — super useful for the newbies!
Have some favorite creepy books of your own? Let us know your recommendations in the comments below!