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The 50 Scariest Books Of All Time

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How novel, then, that what we consider scary varies from person to person

Some people quiver in fear at the mere suggestion of a ghost

For others, it’s the hulking figure with a knife at the ready that makes them queasy

Horror movies reflect the cultural anxieties of the time and place in which they’re produced, but

That’s not to say that horror literature can’t act as a barometer for our fears,

It’s no secret that horror novels boomed in popularity over the last half of the 20th

That dip in popularity lasted until the housing market collapsed in 2008

Below, I’ve picked out 50 of the scariest books of all time

There’s truly something here to scare the pants off of anyone and everyone

So if you don’t find a particular entry scary, well, thank all the Old Gods and

Recording these strange encounters for posterity, Clarke soon finds himself facing a seductress of great power

Lovecraft, The King in Yellow is a loose assemblage of stories centered around the titular, fictional play

Obviously, no list of the scariest books of all time would be complete without the quintessential dystopian

George Orwell’s classic tale of fascist England — now known as Airstrip One — centers on Winston: a

Nineteen Eighty-Four has become a cultural touchstone in the 70-plus years since its release

Let me preface this by saying that, thanks to a cognate in history and comparative religion, I

Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel draws on his firsthand experiences at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in this brief novel,

When it comes to haunted-house stories, it’s hard to beat this Shirley Jackson classic

The Haunting of Hill House follows a paranormal investigator and his two new assistants into the titular

As the central characters confront strange phenomena, they’re left to wonder whether Hill House is truly

The story here centers on the Rolfes: a family of city-dwellers looking for a peaceful summer getaway

Grady Hendrix characterizes The Auctioneer as “if Cormac McCarthy had written Needful Things,” and he’s right

John Moore ekes out a living on his family farm, located on the outskirts of Harlowe: a

Everyone is happy to help out with the policemen’s charity auctions, including John and his wife

Part true-crime story, part horror novel, and widely believed to be a hoax, The Amityville Horror is

Author Jay Anson and others — including Ed and Lorraine Warren of The Conjuring fame — purported Amityville to

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, this story of one couple’s hellish month inside the

Left with few options, Corrine turns to her estranged parents — millionaire Malcolm Foxworth and his unnamed wife —

What would you do if you found out your close friend was a serial killer? That’s

Rule went on to become one of publishing’s most famous true-crime authors, but it’s her

It was difficult to pick just one Stephen King book for this list

There’s a compelling argument to be made for Pet Sematary on the grounds of its relatability,

Nowadays, superstitious Frank contents himself with rituals that — he believes — protect the island he lives on with

Frank’s rituals often involve killing and mutilating animals, including the wasps of the novel’s title

But when his disturbed older brother, Eric, escapes from a psychiatric hospital and begins to make his

Too bad for them, because Tomie leverages her sex appeal to bring out the worst in others

The French call it “l’appel du vide”: the call of the void

It’s what draws us to the edge of the cliff and tells us to throw ourselves

It’s what told Nicholas’ girlfriend, Nakota, to check out the Funhole in their apartment building’s

And then Nicholas put his hand down the Funhole…and everything changed

The novel imagines that all human mitochondria form a sentient hivemind

This collective, known as Eve, can telepathically push individuals into doing its bidding, all with one singular

The Hot Zone resurged in popularity during the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014, and again as COVID-19

When he comes back to life with the ability to raise others from the dead, he’s

Andrew and Jay had every intention of killing one another when they met

Instead, these two cannibalistic serial killers fell into a perverse Bonnie-and-Clyde relationship of murder and mayhem

As they prey upon victims in New Orleans’ seedy underbelly, Andrew and Jay set their sights on

For nearly 40 years, the tragedy of Chernobyl has kept onlookers scrabbling for answers

Published 60 years after the massacre and offering an unflinching account of the atrocities, The Rape of Nanking

* Note: It’s worth mentioning here that Iris Chang’s research into this deeply disturbing subject matter

I don’t often put warning labels of this kind on the books I recommend, but please

The basis for the 1999 Takashi Miike film of the same name, Ryū Murakami’s Audition follows Aoyama,

But the widower’s new girlfriend has a dark side, and she’s never quite outrun the

This is one of the most polarizing horror novels I’ve ever come across

For those who enjoy it, however, House of Leaves proves to be a book that never quite

Yalo cannot remember committing the crimes he’s accused of

Her personal and professional relationships are beginning to sour

A folk-medicine practitioner warned Amanda about demonic possession, but people don’t really become possessed…do they?

How could anyone possibly expect her to go on teaching after what happened to Manami? On her

Dale could have worked miracles with his ability to raise the dead

They never remember what happened to them, so Dale has managed to brutalize whomever he wants with

She’s his next-door neighbor, and she remembers exactly what Dale did to her and her husband

But how do you accuse someone of an unthinkable crime when he leaves no evidence behind?

Like every other person in her community, Vanja grew up naming the things around her — telling them

He’s moved every piece into place to get her right where he wants her…and he’

She’s everything he’s ever wanted in a lifemate, and he wants nothing more than to

So when Clarice spurns him, Teo has no choice but to show her exactly what she’s

Vanessa will have to tread carefully if she wants to unearth Wonderland’s secrets without riling the

So when Yeong-hye decides to stop eating meat to combat the graphic, bloody visions that haunt her,

It quickly becomes clear, however, that giving up meat won’t be enough to stop her suffering

As Yeong-hye pursues ever more extreme measures to end the disturbances, her close family push back — with

He’s unrelated to Amanda, but that doesn’t stop him from remaining at her side, constantly

Samanta Schweblin’s debut novel is a taut and psychologically terrifying experience

John Langan’s Stoker Award-winning novel follows two men, Abe and Dan, who form a hesitant friendship

They plan a fishing trip to Upstate New York, where a mysterious fishing hole is rumored to

Elsie’s marriage to Rupert was supposed to bring an end to her anguish and make up

In The Hunger, Alma Katsu offers a supernatural explanation for what led to the deaths of 39 people

Another Stoker Award winner, Gwendolyn Kiste’s debut novel spins the tale of a Cleveland neighborhood’s

The girls of Denton Street are changing into something inhuman

Copenhagen police have just discovered a connection between two recent murders — each of which bears a strange

One bears the fingerprints of another victim — a girl who has been dead for a year

With a mysterious killer preying closer and closer to their homes, two detectives enter a deadly game

Catriona Ward’s Shirley Jackson Award-winning sophomore novel gets its first U

The Adder will only spare the faithful, and Eve intends to receive the god’s powerful blessing

Queer victims of abuse often find themselves passed over in discussions about domestic violence, despite its pervasiveness

Carmen Maria Machado’s experimental memoir, In the Dream House, leans on horror tropes as it recounts

A Brooklynite angered by the sprawl of gentrification teams up with one of her neighborhood’s newest

Circumstances beyond her control forced Lena to drop out of college

She doesn’t have to worry about paying for housing or health insurance, and her salary easily

The company’s medical experiments could be total game-changers

As Lena spends more time in town, however, she begins to suspect that all is not as

There, they committed a transgression for which they have never atoned

Taking inspiration from Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows, T

Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places tracks one woman’s excursions into a parallel reality

Kara works for her uncle at his roadside attraction: the Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders,

Sixty years after Milagros’ unsolved murder, locals say she still haunts the south Texas town where she

After he purchases the plantation where Milagros died, Hector, a lapsed curandero, begins teasing out the mystery

Something big is brewing beyond the mortal realm, however, and soon, everyone will know Milagros’ story

Twenty years ago, Jena’s parents and siblings died in a fire

Aided by Rose’s caregiver, Jena dives into the dark history of her family’s property — only

Unable to bear life in their old home any longer, Thiago escapes to a remote cabin, looking

But whatever spirits haunted his Chicago apartment have followed Thiago to Colorado, and now he has nowhere

A chilling horror novel in the vein of Rebecca and Mexican Gothic, The Hacienda follows a blushing

Sure, questions linger about the death of her husband’s first wife

Eli had no reason to suspect that someone had tampered with her drink

Now, she’s trapped in a basement, and she knows no one will ever think to look

Eli’s captor wants something from her, something to do with her bestselling novels

Mario committed unspeakable crimes to afford his daughter’s medical bills

So why not steal from one of the world’s biggest organized crime rings? This job is

As Mario finds himself dragged deeper and deeper into the cartel’s underworld, he finds himself caught

Want more scary books to scare you into sleeping with the light on? Check out these bone-chilling