Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
I love reading scary books, and I’m clearly not alone in that. What makes horror so attractive? People who study children’s literature say that scaring ourselves is a way to process what’s truly scary in life. It’s non-threatening because it’s not real. That makes sense because I definitely prefer my horror on the fantastic side.
When I thought about my favorite scary reads, I had trouble naming one particular book from these authors. So, by author:
- Stephen King. Having just watched Stranger Things, I loved how much that series evoked the old Stephen King books and movies. I grew up on 70s King, so my favorites are still The Stand, Firestarter, The Dead Zone, and Salem’s Lot. Scariest reads: It and Christine (for me personally). The Gunslinger is a cool book but most of his newer books lack something for me.
- J.K. Rowling. All the Harry Potter books. These are children’s books that are truly wondrous and terrifying at the same time. And I love how she ages each one. I wish I’d grown up with these books. And her Cormorant Strike mysteries are great Halloween reads, too.
- Shirley Jackson. Her books are truly chilling, especially We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
- Ray Bradbury. More science fiction than horror, maybe, but all of his books are amazing. Something Wicked this Way Comes is one of the creepiest books I’ve read.
- Neil Gaiman. The more of his books I read, the more I like him. Try Coraline or The Ocean at the End of the Lane or The Graveyard Book.
- Patricia Briggs. Because urban fantasy IS horror by a different name, but there isn’t a lot of really good urban fantasy out there. Briggs is one of my favorites, especially her Mercy Thompson series. Start with Moon Called.
And then a few single-book recommendations:
- Slade House by David Mitchell. He’s not a horror writer although I recommend everything he’s written. This book is really, really creepy.
- The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. Parts of this book are really disturbing but the whole thing is worth a read.
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. A more intellectual, thoughtful take on the apocalypse.
- A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. More sad than creepy, but beautiful.
- The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Like Station Eleven, more intellectual horror. Folktales come to life. I loved this book.
Those are my Halloween horror recommendations! What are yours?
Great choices from King! He’s one of my favorite authors and I’ve been reading his stuff for a long time now.
As for his scariest book, it comes down to two. One is Cujo, which stands out because it’s the first complete King book I read back in the day. I listened to it on CD a few summers ago and it still unnerves me. Next up is Pet Semetary. And not for the horror of things coming back to life. What really struck me from the book is a sequence where the son is killed. King made it so vivid in my mind’s eye that when I saw the movie, it just didn’t come close to being as good.
I agree, Pet Semetary was one of the scariest – King was always great at taking something we all saw every day (like pets and cars) and making them terrifying. I read that one a long time ago though.
Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury are great choices for Halloween. So far they haven’t disappointed!
I need to read more by Shirley Jackson, her work is so haunting. Thanks for commenting!
Great Top Ten! We Have Always Lived In The Castle, also made my list! It’s one of my favorites. I would LOVE to start reading more by Shirley Jackson, I just haven’t picked up anymore of her books…
My Top Ten Tuesday!
I want to read more by Jackson too! The Haunting of Hill House is also very good and a perfect Halloween read.
Hi! Scary books freak me out! I do enjoy some Ray Bradbury every once in a while 🙂
Some excellent books! I need to read Shirley Jackson and have been meaning to for years…
I’d like to also throw in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. Definitely no masterpiece, but some good, fun light horror/paranormal stories. The last few don’t quite match up to the first though 😦