What is the greatest horror novel?
Renee questionnaire horror
Hannibal Lechter trilogy…
The Shining or The Exorcist
There’s another thread where the Exorcist seems to win hands-down. On that thread I said I could not read the book because I had the misfortune of seeing the movie (well part of it.) I ran from the theater and can’t even look at stills. That is one book I’m going to have to judge without reading it.
My sister had to leave it on the front step, she couldn’t keep it in the house after a few chapters.
Lori I find that to be completely rational behavior 🙂
I read it so many years ago that all I can remember is that I was terrified out of my mind. 😱
The castle of otranto
I think you’re the only person I know who read this book. 😆
It’s not so much horror as it is Gothic Fiction. Still good!!!
I keep meaning to read this just because of Northanger Abbey
The Shining or It or Frankenstein
The Stand. Horrific but human. Long live the King!
The Stand is my favorite book, but I don’t categorize it as horror. To me it is the classic battle of good v. evil and the overall fight for humanity in a devastated world. ❤️
The Shining or It.
The Stranger Beside Me, the true crime story by Ann Rule about Ted Bundy. The truth is way scarier than fiction.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Dracula. I didn’t finish it only because it was creepy on a primordial level and it played upon my personal fears of what lurks in the dark. But I respect it.
I’ve been interested in reading this book but then somehow got the idea it was super gory. Is this true? Would love to hear from someone who has read it. Thanks.
Anne I guess thatt depends what you find too gory. Gimme a movie or another book example of what’s too gory.
Juli hmmmm, well I don’t usually read horror/gore much so not sure of an example. I had thought it was just a really good mystery. I wouldn’t like descriptive details of a gross murder for instance. I’m reading The Alienist, but the description of the murder-I couldn’t read it.
Anne there’s some descriptions but I personally don’t think of it gory.
Love this book
It was more super creepy and demonic than gory.
Fran Ok. Thank you. Don’t like demonic.
Anne the protagonist is a demonic type of person, evil incarnate
Fran I’m still intrigued
Anne it was a bizarre story, but I liked reading it.
Red Dragon, to me because of the believability!! EEeeeekkkkk!!!
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
I keep saying I’m going to read this then I forget.
I’ve forgotten about this one!
Off to find! I keep forgetting it too.
Is this the same Shirley Jackson who wrote the short story The Lottery?
Heather TY. I know I should have Googled. Getting lazy. 😉
Hand Carved Coffins by Truman Capote – it is based on a true story.
Oh — new one. I will check that out.
Non-fiction Helter Skelter
The truth is what made it so terrifying. I fully agree!
I could not put Helter Skelter down. I started it on a weekend and did nothing but read until the end.
Sue i only read it because I heard my dad tell the babysitter i was not allowed. Id guess i was about 11yrs old. Taught me a lesson!
Amy I read it when I was 13 and even though I had already read a bunch of Stephen King and whatnot by that point, this book scared the math out of me.
King’s Pet Cemetery
Creeped me out, for sure.
I re-read Pet Sematary last autumn. Liked it even more than the first time I read it. Creepy for sure. The Shining, and Cujo also creeped me out.
It is great to be creeped out! Loved those too!
The Shining or The Haunting of Hill House
Daphne du Maurier Rebecca
I’d have to go with “Dracula” also. What’s always astounded me is how much I love that book and yet can’t read anything else by Bram Stoker. I just can’t make heads or tails of “The Jewel of the Seven Stars” or any other of his work.
Novel – The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson) is the one that creeped me out the most. Frankenstein probably is the one that’s stood the test of time the longest.
HoHH is widely considered the best haunted house novel of all time. It is my choice for scariest book ever.
Kinda freaky scary, The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar is about the tragedy of mental illness- not in the horror genre!
My journal. 😂 😂 Just kidding. 😁
The Hideaway – Dean Koontz
The Shining was terrifying; Beam Stoker’s Dracula is good!
Edit: Beam Stoker- sorry!
For me, The Shining. Before I read that, I thought In Cold Blood was pretty awful.
I just thought of another – The Hot Zone.
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Parts of Salem’s Lot I had to read a paragraph at a time because it scared me so much at the time. I need to read it again.
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris!
Dee I just bought it at a used book sale to re-read it. I want to see if it will scare me as much as it did the first time.
House of Leaves is my favorite!
Which author? Thanks!
Mark Z Daneilewski
“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson.
Just downloaded this audiobook!
Ghost Story, by Peter Straub
I lived alone when I read the Exorcist. I’d read it at night before I went to sleep. Very scary.
I just stayed up all night with all the lights on until it was finished, then I had breakfast! Put the going to bed off until that night! Great book.
You are my hero, honey. Not only could I never read it, there was a period of time when I couldn’t even be in the house when the movie was on tv even if the TV was off!
WOW. I could not read it. I saw PART of the move and actually ran out of the theater? Alone? At Night? I don’t think I would survive it.
In Cold Blood
House on Haunted Hill.
blocking Kaye for her inability to assess appropriateness.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is considered by many to be one of the greatest in the genre. I like Danse Macabre by Stephen King because I got about a zillion excellent recommendations from it! It isn’t a Horror book but it’s got some great stuff in it!
House of leaves Mark Danielewskii
Silence of the Lambs stayed with me awhile,
Read this while at the beach, oldest daughter wanted to read it too, so we tore the book in two,me back half, her front… Then the middle daughter wanted to read it… Before it was over with, we were chasing pages in the ocean…But we all read it …
N0S4ATU by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son) scared me like no other.
Heart-Shaped Box is also a good one by Hill.
That was a great book.
Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon
That is his best book. I love that ending. The other is very good to.
YES! This was a gooood one!
Little red riding hood
The Haunting of Hill House
Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Salem’s Lot by King stands out as does The Shining
I don’t think any book has ever scared me the way Ghost Story by Peter Straub did.
I agree. The movie, while good, doesn’t do the book justice.
I just re-read this about a month ago after not having read it in at least 25 years, probably scared me more now.
Heather I was *just* thinking that I should read it again! I read it when I was 16 or 17 and I slept with my Grandma from the whole second half until about a week after, ha! I’m 51 now so I think I’ll grab it next week at the library because I honestly don’t remember a lot about it, just the way it made me feel. Same with the movie, I barely remember it, but I can see the actress that played – Alice? – and I know that I like that actress but that’s about all.
Annie it’s the setting, Peter Straub is a master of making the setting just hellaciously spot-on creepy.
Straub is a little more subtle than Stephen King, and that makes his books much scarier to me.
Annie I never read that!
Misery for me
The Witching Hour
Absolutely loved. witching Hour!
Jilly Anne Rice 🙂 Loved ii, love her!
I loved The Terror by Dan Simmons
Is this the same as the TV series on AMC?
Added to my WTR shelf, thanks! 😀
Lori It is. I always read horror in the month of October and this was fantastic.
Jamie Thank you. I only saw 2 episodes. Gotta read this one.
I watched one episode. The book was so much better (as always) 🙂
It is on my TBR Iist-
The Exorcist ! Yikes
Silence of the Lambs for me
For off the charts fear factors, it is The Exorcist. For good literature in horror genre, it is Dracula
The Passage trilogy scarred me.
Short story by Shirley Jackson: Something Wicked This Way Comes
I think that was Ray Bradbury
Denise I do love Shirley Jackson though. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a fave of mine.
Michelle , that is another fave!
Dracula! Scared me to death!
The Keep was pretty good
Quick question…Isn’t there a difference between horror and thrillers? Some of these seem more like thrillers than true horror? Or am I being pedantic?
I don’t think you are- I agree, there is a difference between horror and a thriller. Although each can contain instances of either one; does that make sense? I feel the story is predominantly one or the other.
I found this helpful: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/differences-crime-novel-mystery-novel-thriller-novel
“It” with “The Exorcist ” a close second.
A great one for sure. Never really considered King a horror writer, or at least I think the category is too narrow for all that he does. But “It” definitely fits the bill.
Thomas Tryon? (adding to my goodreads)
For me, the greatest one is different from my favorite one. It is one which planted a very creepy and very horrible thought in my brain, one thought that whenever it occurs, I get all shuddery and shivery all over again. It is “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley.
Audiobook is amazing!!!!
I, personally, like Dracula/
50 Shades of Gray?😉
Also, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Dracula. Followed by most of Stephen King and Dean Koontz books.
Everything by Poe. Poe is the master of creepiness….
Movie was filmed at my hospital. Boston City. Loved seeing Michael Douglas.
Alien (I know it’s sci-fi, but it’s also horrible, lol….)
If by greatest you mean the best as opposed to the scariest then I’m going to toss in The Turn of the Screw.
The omen,The Chalk Girl and last but not least the book lost boy lost girl by Peter Straub
The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde – Creepy!!! 😱
My choice! Terrifying, isn’t it?
Dallas spine tingling
Pet Sematary, creepy!
The Exorcist scared me so much when I was young. I was alone in the house and I was so scared so I read it all night long to the end because I figured I would be better by the end! Had a horrible book hangover the next day. My eyes hurt! I was exhausted and unable to function! So involved! Jayne
Pet Cemetery or It, can’t decide.
Amityville Horror…. I read that when I was around 16 years old…. scared the crud out of me. As an adult… Misery. I don’t even like to think about it.
Bird Box or The Troop
Ooo they both look good, added to my wtr shelf, thanks!
Annie staaahhp! I literally just joined Goodreads and now I’ve got so many I wanna read! Think we may have to start our own book club!
Loved The Bird Box. Sure hopes he writes the sequel soon@
‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. Scared me silly.
Salems Lot. I read it all night. I wanted to close the window because the wind was whistling but I couldn’t because the vampires appeared in the windows. I wanted to turn all the lights in the apartment on but I couldn’t put my feet on the floor because I was sure something would grab them. I finished just as my roomate walked in the door from a night shift. I swore I’d never read another Stephen King book, but that didn’t last long.lol.
You too LOL
The window thing x infinity! Because all you need to do is see your own reflection to give your imagination and blood pressure a good goosing lol.
same for me wanted to put up black curtains and crosses
The Other by Thomas Tryon and Children of the Corn by Stephen King
Mr. Mercedes was pure evil
That trilogy is amazing.
Ghost Story by Peter Straub…such evil,, I was scared but that was when I was young and innocent.
For fiction, I would say The Shining, Salem’s Lot and The Exorcist. For non-fiction, it would have to be Helter Skelter.
Certainly not the greatest horror novel but has anyone read They Thirst by Robert Mccammon Read twice and was equally scary on both readings.
I love Robert McCammon!!
The Book of Revelation. Not to tick off anyone, I just find it horrifying.
For a change, try “Ammie, Come Home” by Barbara Michaels. Scared me so bad when I was a youngster I couldn’t sleep.
I loved all of her books!
Thanks, I’ve been trying to remember her!
My personal favorite is Night Film by Marisha Pessl. Of all time, probably Dracula
Night Film is amazing!
Huh never heard of this one
Oh I loved Night Film! I personally wouldn’t consider it horror, though it did have some terrifying elements. But nonetheless, it was a fantastic read!
Brooke what would you consider it?
Rachel I consider it more thriller than horror
Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz was really good.
Horror is my favorite genre. So….Haunting of Hill House is the greatest horror novel ever written. Then you have favs like Ghost Story, The Shining, It, Salems Lot, The Elementals, The Exorcist. Dracula is an outstanding seminal work. Recent standouts include Heart-shaped Box, Nos4ratu, Headful of Ghosts, and the superb House of Leaves. I am sure that I am missing a few.
I love horror too! Huge Stephen King fan, along with ghost and haunted house stories. They’re my favorites. I have too much trouble with serial killer stuff…too real!
Good well thought out reply.
Kathy any recommendations on ghost and haunted house stories? I’ve read haunting of hill house and Stephen king books….
Erika Adams Hell House Richard Matheson, Headful of Ghosts Paul Tremblay, Heart-shaped Box, Joe Hill
Erika you said you read Stephen King books, but you might also want to try Peter Straub. Especially Ghost Story. that was a scary one, if I remember. For Stephen King, anything is good. Dolores Claiborne stands out for me. The Dead zone.
Kathy ghost story is superb
Eliza I loved Heart Shaped Box! Thanks for the recommendations!
Kathy thanks for the recommendations! I’m currently reading Salem’s Lot. I think I will try Ghost Story next.
Eliza Yes! It was creepy.
The Shining. Read it when it first came out, then watched the movie. BIG mistake. Nothing comes close in terms of sheer terror.
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Let Cemetery totally freaked me out! We had friends who had a similar dog and I could barely stand to be comfortable in the same room with it
Salems Lot…so scary!
Or Fifty Shades of Grey. 😁
King says he believes Pet Semetery is the scariest thing he’s written. I super enjoyed it but didn’t find it either his scariest or his best-written. But who cares? This is splitting hairs. I love King’s early works. Since he left horror for fantasy, time travel, detective, etc., I’ve been bored with him.
Of the ones I’ve read…The Exorcist.
The Bird Box, Penpal, or Horrorstor.
The Haunting of Hill House.
In Cold Blood. . .
The Silence of the Lambs
The U.S. ebook edition is sale-priced at $2.99 today, for anyone who hadn’t read it.
Any true crime book horror of horror
Choose one of Clive Barker
When I was 18, I moved into an apartment with a high school friend. Her sister gave us a copy of The Boston Strangler. She wanted us to learn the dangers of letting strangers into your home when you’re alone. I read the book, but my roommate didn’t. It scared me so much that to this day I won’t open the door to a stranger. Probably the most frightening book I ever read, and the story was real.
That was a scary time in Boston. 😰
Diane I can only imagine.
The Hills Have Eyes, or the Exorcist!
Secret Life of Souls by Jack Ketchum
Weaveworld – Clive Barker. Freaking amazing!
Yes love this one but I don’t really think of it as horror.
Eliza true, probably more fantasy, but it really creeped me out in many spots.
Devil In the White City
That was a really good book!!
Wouldn’t characterize this as a “horror novel.”
That’s my next book to read.
It, in my opinion.
Silence of the Lamb
I feel like everyone is saying their “favorite” horror novel. What is your criteria for “greatest?”
Well written. Cohesive scary story w real and supernatural elements. Complicated characters. People in peril.
How important is historical significance? For instance, I would put Bram Stoker’s Dracula on the list because it was one of the first true horror novels and it basically “codified” vampires in a way that is still being followed. Plus I liked it. But is it as well written as “Silence of the Lambs?” Probably not.
I asked for greatest because in my opinion some of the great novels are in the horror genre Well thought out plotting. Characters that engage. Build up to climax. Can anyone forget the dreaded build up to Jack Torrence going completely mad in The Shining? To use one but not the only example of unforgettable characters or plot lines in a horror novel. And maybe someone’s favorite is the one they consider the greatest. This whole concept of The Great American Read has been a good way to reach out to others who love to read
By Sunny’s definition then, the greatest really is The Haunting of Hill House. Many, many writers and scholars agree on this including S King. That’s why there’s a Shirley Jackson award now.
John For the time, I think Stoker did an outstanding job of writing. Modern novels are free to make use of more graphic material without pulling punches that in earlier times would have caused Victorian ladies to retire to their fainting couches. I don’t think Silence of the Lambs could have been written at all back then.
The Lair by Frank Herbert.
It. Stephen King
Dracula, Bram Stoker
This is one of my favorite love stories.
I like anything vampire lol
Don’t know if it was great, but I loved Interview with a Vampire. Perhaps Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was the greatest.
is the new Heredity movie based on a novel?
Not sure about this. I saw it and was disappointed. It was creative, but too slow-paced and lacking in any sympathetic characters, I thought. Good acting, tho.
Frankenstein,, Mary Shelly
Ghost Story by Peter Straub.
Just bought it, haven’t started it.
Debbie Be prepared to sleep with the lights on!😁
Stephen King’s books….
Almost anything by Stephen King. The Shining and It stand out in my mind. Dan Simmons’ Summer of Night is another good one.
King never wrote a book I didn’t like.
Dean Koontz has put out some scary stuff to
Christine, Stephan King
Loved Dan Simmons’ A Winter Haunting. Such a great book!
Again, the Bible.
Not my kind of book sorry can’t help
Dracula and The Shining
The Shining! My favorite horror book ever!
Reading it now and loving it!
Really? I found that book profoundly sad, because I equate it to someone who is living with a disability looking for acceptance and love… And not finding either.
It shook me, because I grew up with the Boris Karloff movie version, which really was not faithful to the book, imho.
Kathy Yes, it is sad.
Silence of the lambs.
I tried to read Hannibal, and could not get past the first 1-2 chapters.
Agreed he went back to the well one too many times .
I found The Stand and Salem’s Lot to be particularly frightening. It takes a lot to scare me. I watch scary movies alone at home. I love them, but usually they are meh.
Pet Cemetery, by Stephen King- love most of his “early” books but the ending of this book Freaked me out so much that I had to turn on all the lights in the house and make sure that my curtains were closed tight never ever have I been that scared by ending of a book 😱
The Shining and Ghost Story, also Dan Simmons, my favorite is The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James.American Gods was really good as well. For short stories, Edith Wharton has an anthology of really good literary ghostly tales…loved them!
Great ideas – I love short horror stories
Sandi these by Wharton are my favorites
Shelley I’ll look her up- thanks for the recommendation
Sandi you’re welcome
Pet Sematary is hands down the most disturbing book I’ve ever read. And I went back and reread and it remained just as terrifying and disturbing. Not sure why I put myself through it more than once. King is the master. I haven’t read it in years, but that is one book you do NOT forget, as much as you want to. Exhumations are BAD. Really, really bad.
To this day the ending gets me goosebumps and scary as the narrator is sitting there writing about what had just happened and he feels a hand on the back of his shoulder that just freaks me out back in his young son coming back is some kind of demon possessed thing and him having to kill it, Stephen King at his finest horror writing
I never considered The Stand a horror story as much as a cautionary tale. Salems Lot is another good Stephen King horror story
Salem’s Lot is my number three for horror, behind Pet Sematary and The Shining.
I have read most of SK two and even three times, Pet Sematary remains the only one of his I never reread. Too creepy.
Also, The Shining. Room 217. Need I say more?
Nope. I got it!
Marathon Man if you dread the dentist. 🙄
Anything by Stephen King