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There's no shortage of excellent horror fiction out there. Recently I read The Terror by Dan Simmons and can't remember the last time I felt that claustrophobic and nervous. But I am also a fan of quite a few classics. Are there any other horror books that capture grief as effectively as Stephen King's Pet Sematary? What other book evokes folk horror as beautifully as Thomas Tryon's Harvest Home? Let's not forget this wonderful classic: The Haunting of Hill House. I could rave about that one (and Shirley Jackson) for days. All of these books left their mark on me and yes, I'd include them on a list (if I were to make one) of some of the scariest books I've read.

People had their own opinions to share––and books to recommend––after Redditor Tylerisdumber asked the online community,

"What's the scariest book you've ever read?"

"I've read..."

"Gerald's Game. I've read lots of Stephen King and this one scared me the most. Slept with the lights on for several nights."


Everything about this book is creepy. Don't even get me started on the... degloving. I'm sorry I even typed that word out.

"It's not a long story..."

"The Yellow Wallpaper.

It's not a long story and I'd highly recommend going in knowing little to nothing about it. It's brilliant and terrifying. Published in 1892 as well if that's any interest!"


Few stories make you feel this sad. A pretty stunning piece of work––and yes, unnerving. Can really get under your skin.

"I think it was mainly..."

​"For some reason, Salem's Lot by Stephen King.

I think it was mainly because I was on a week-long hiking trip in the Australian bush and it got dark and scary at night. But damn, I had trouble sleeping for a couple of nights. Then the friend I was hiking with read it, and he couldn't sleep either."


This is probably my favorite early King––and for good reason. The sense of atmosphere is impeccable. Those characters are loveable and you genuinely care about what happens to them. Then the book veers from horror into tragedy. It's quite moving.

"Just the knowledge..."

"On The Beach.

It's the most soul-crushing book I've ever read, and there's really nothing scary in it.

Just the knowledge of impending death for everyone that feels so awfully heavy."


This is one of those books that makes you feel hopeless.

It's impeccably written but wow... it's a truly heavy read.

"You never knew..."


It's a classic. I found it to be immensely chilling. You never knew what would happen and the writing instilled a sort of dread. I read it in the dark before I went to bed until I finished it."


A book I can read and re-read over and over again. It's a beautiful horror novel. It's also a really fascinating window into the era and manages to say a lot about social and class mores.

"Very creepy..."

"I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. Very creepy and unnerving, definitely scared me reading it at night."


I wanted to really like this one––unfortunately, I did not––but there's no denying that the first third or so (especially once the two protagonists get to the house) is pretty unnerving. Shame the payoff wasn't all that.

"It was disturbing and horrifying..."

"Helter Skelter. It's about the Manson murders and goes into quite a bit of detail. It was disturbing and horrifying because, unlike the King novels also mentioned, it's true. What they did to Sharon Tate is so absolutely devastating. Pure evil."


This book is gruesome and not for the faint of heart. The level of detail we dive into learning about the Tate-LaBianca murders is remarkable and also rather nauseating.

"So the book's characters..."

"Bird Box by Josh Malerman.

Forget the Netflix movie. The book's monsters are terrifying, in that you simply just don't know what they are or what they look like. They could be anything. What they are is enough to drive people insane by just being looked at.

So, the book's characters have to navigate a world mostly without one of our most used senses, and what's more terrifying than something you can't see?

This leads to some utterly scary scenes in the book that sent my heart racing and I had to put down for a breather."


It's a shame that movie wasn't all that and a bag of potato chips.

"It's a different kind of scary..."

"It's a different kind of scary, but The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood's dystopian nation feels not that far from reality sometimes, and it absolutely terrifies me."



We're going to go there.

Yes, this book is terrifying.

"I feel like the movie..."

"The Ruins, by Scott Smith, messed me up pretty good. My favorite kind of horror is psychological, and while there is a physical "entity" the real horror is the helplessness of this stranded group trapped by something they don't understand. Their desperate struggle to hold on to their sanity and the slow descent into hopeless desperation just really hit hard.

I feel like the movie was a fairly faithful adaptation, although it's been a while since I've seen it."


I love this book and have read it multiple times over the years. It's slow-going... and then the final one-hundred pages are just horrifying.

Well, if you haven't read any of these... What are you waiting for? Get on that. You won't regret it.

But also... the world is pretty scary right now, so we understand if you need to take a step back.

Have some suggestions of your own? Feel free to tell us in the comments below!

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