Literature can be a moving, beautiful artistic experience. Skilled writers can bring us face to face with scenarios and emotions we might never encounter in real life, expanding our understanding of both the universe and our fellow man.
It can also scare the living daylights out of us. Horror novels don’t always get the respect they deserve; just because something is scary doesn’t mean it’s not “literary” or well-crafted art, but if the core purpose of a story is perceived to be “making you soil yourself in fear” for some reason that story won’t get much respect. Of course, a story can be terrifying without necessarily being great art. If your goal is to be so terrified of a book that you put it in the freezer and book a hotel room for a few days, here are 15 books that might not necessarily be the best horror novels, but are certainly the scariest.
TOP 15 BEST HORROR BOOKS
01. House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
02. Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin
03. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
04. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
05. We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
06. Night Film, by Marisha Pessl
07. Ring, by Kōji Suzuki
08. Penpal, by Dathan Auerbach
09. Carrion Comfort, by Dan Simmons
10. Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
11. The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum
Horror often pivots on the corruption or warping of societal norms and rules; once you feel like you can’t rely on the natural social order, literally anything is possible.
Ketchum’s disturbing novel about the unimaginable abuse suffered by two sisters when they are forced to live with their mentally unstable aunt and her three savage sons is based on real events, but it’s the central theme of an adult giving official sanction to the atrocities that makes this story so utterly horrifying.