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Have you recently looked for an excellent horror book? It is impossible to look for recommendations on any website without running into Stephen King’s works all over the place. Undoubtedly, when we think of horror, we think of Stephen King’s writings, but there are a ton of other fantastic writers out there who are writing their own unique style of supernatural fear.
There are so many distinct subgenres to select from, which is one of the best things about horror literature. These eight tales have something for everyone, whether you’re seeking for ghosts, mad cults, psychopaths, or dystopian dread. Check out the other books by the authors on the list; many of them have authored many novels. Here are some terrifying stories that you should read in the dark.
Last Days by Adam Nevill
You may be familiar with Ritual, possibly Nevill’s most well-known book, but the prolific British author also wrote other books about the paranormal. One of his most horrific books is Last Days. The story centers on Kyle, a reporter sent to look into a sinister cult. Kyle is working against the clock to interview the final few cult members before they mysteriously disappear and uncover the truth about what really occurred to them when they were part of the group. The narrative moves from England to France and then to a desert in the United States, where we discover that the cult spent its final hours attempting to summon something that had long since passed away. The nasty fear draws nearer, and the reporter starts to lose his mind.
The character Sister Katherine, the spooky, enigmatic spiritual leader, will bring back recollections of infamous historical individuals, making this book appealing to those who are interested in cults. The supernatural component heightens the fear.
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
On this list, Paul Tremblay will have a few items to offer. The 2015 Bram Stoker Award for Novel was given to A Head Full of Ghosts.
An adult woman named Merry tells a reporter the peculiar tale of her upbringing at the start of the narrative. When they were young, Merry’s sister Marjorie started to display weird demonic signs. Her recently converted catholic father wanted her exorcism to be recorded, and her parents permitted a TV film crew to capture their daughter’s terrifying metamorphosis. As we watch the family being torn apart and Merry being perplexed and afraid by the mayhem around her, the story jumps back and forth between the past and the present.
This book contains several sequences that are evocative of The Exorcist, and Merry serves as an unreliable narrator who unbalances the reader in a terrifying way. Instead of being a full-on fear fest, A Head Full of Ghosts has the sense of a paranormal mystery.
The Troop by Nick Cutter
This is great for body/gross-out horror fans.
A group of scouts are left trapped on an island in the gory film The Troop when their commander dies from some kind of horrible parasite while attempting to save a stranger who is emaciated, gravely ill, and obscenely HUNGRY. The lads’ struggle for survival reveals the heroism in one and the psychopathy in the other. The story is told in several ways, including through letters and transcripts from one youngster, retellings from other boys, and scenes from an animal facility that might make some readers throw up.
The Troop is a far worse version of Lord of the Flies written by David Cronenberg. Having been forewarned.
The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
The Marriage Pact is a psychological suspense book that also immerses you in the realm of spooky cults, albeit in a more contemporary and realistic manner.
A friend of Alice introduces Jake and Alice, a newlywed couple who appear to be content, to The Pact. The couple unknowingly joins The Pact on a whim without realizing they are essentially joining a cult that was founded to defend the honor of marriage at any costs. Anyone who violates the terms of the Pact will face harsh consequences. Jake and Alice quickly come to the realization that there is no getting out of The Pact and that, in order to survive, they must at least appear to be the ideal marriage.
You’ll have a good idea of the level of suspense to expect from The Marriage Pact if you’ve ever seen the 1997 film The Game. Many readers will find the fear of feeling as though someone is observing and managing our lives from the outside frighteningly familiar.
The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy
The Lewis and Clark voyage is retold in the dystopian novel The Dead Lands as a treacherous journey through a post-apocalyptic American wasteland. A party of survivors is led by Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark out from The Sanctuary and its megalomaniacal master and toward a new hope in the east. They encounter mutants and monsters along the journey, discovering abilities and real capabilities they had no idea they possessed. They may be traveling to a better planet, but will it be much worse?
The Dead Lands kept me turning the pages. What’s not to love about a story filled with adventure, grizzled underdog heroes, changed villains, and enormous albino bats?
Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
A cursed town called Black Spring is the subject of the novella Hex. Even though she is among the living, the witch avoids interacting with the locals. Her lips and eyes are closed, and according to mythology, her stitches must never be undone. She is a well-kept secret among the Black Spring, but the outside world must be kept in the dark about her presence. Black Spring is impenetrable, and outsiders must be expelled. Before a group of young people decide to take a video of the witch and her appearance goes viral, sparking a disastrous chain of events, the locals have obediently followed these unusual laws for generations.
Hex opens with some chilling visuals of that witch, her eyes and lips stitched shut, just turning up at people’s houses at random in the middle of the night. The tale is a terrifying contrast of contemporary evil and a folklore horror. This book will both frighten you and get you thinking.
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Because of the movie, you’ve definitely heard of Annihilation, but you might not be aware that it is the first book in a trilogy known as the Southern Reach Trilogy. 2014 Shirley Jackson Award winner Annihilation also took home the 2015 Nebula Award.
Area X has been a restricted area for thirty years, although eleven expeditions have entered it. The previous team turned on one another, the most recent squad died of cancer after returning, and one team also committed suicide. The twelfth squad of the novel, made up of four women—a biologist, a psychiatrist, an anthropological, and a surveyor—enters Area X. The women are being controlled by the psychologist through hypnotic suggestion, and they are ill-prepared to handle whatever they may find within Area X. They are unsure of their exact location when they entered Area X and whether they will ever be able to depart.
You should read Annihilation even if you’ve already watched the movie. It is an existential horror novel, extremely dissimilar to the movie. You’ll be anxious to read the third book in the trilogy after reading this one because it raises so many intriguing topics.
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
The second book by Paul Tremblay on this list is The Cabin at the End of the World. It received the 2019 Bram Stoker Award for Novel from the Horror Writers Association.
A homosexual couple and their daughter are staying at their lakeside cabin when their weekend is cut short by a scary bunch of people showing up with improvised weapons. The book contains a small cast of characters and an apparent straightforward plot. The aliens demand that a sacrifice must be made in order to prevent the end of the world, which leads to violence. Do they have a point, or are they just crazy?
A typical home invasion fiction is not The Cabin at the End of the World. The adversaries’ enigmatic motives keep you guessing and reading pages late into the night. You shouldn’t miss this book if you enjoy psychological horror with lots of blood and violence.
Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris
Jack and Grace make the ideal couple. Grace is a graceful homemaker and a stunning dinner hostess, while Jack is a dashing attorney who represents mistreated women. To commemorate their engagement, Jack presents Grace a new puppy, lavish trips abroad, a stunning home, and—most importantly—a place in their house for Grace’s sister, who is disabled. The fact that Jack is a raging psychopath is not a spoiler. It is made clear to the reader right away. What the outside world sees as a perfect marriage is actually a prison and a form of hell that Grace must somehow escape. Jack is a very vile and terrible antagonist, and the author is skilled at building suspense. This book serves as a terrifying reminder that we really have no idea what goes on in our neighbors’ homes or behind closed doors.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Father was the one who raised Carolyn and her siblings. After killing and enslaving their parents, their father adopted them. Father is an enigmatic and divine-like character who has taught his offspring the mysteries of the cosmos but has also punished them horribly. Father is now missing, so Carolyn enlists the aid of her buddy Steve in her search for him.
What a novel, wow! Because the plot of this book is so complex and unlike anything else out there, it is challenging to summarize it. However, the novel manages to be both deeply frightening and violent at moments, as well as fast-paced and hilarious. The Library at Mount Char is for you if you like your horror with a dash of imagination and moments of pure laughter.
So there you have them. 10 books I think are scary. Like, scary scary. Scary enough to dethrone The King. What do you think of this list? Do you have any books to add? Let me know in the comments below.