If you fancy scaring yourself silly this Halloween, here’s a list of books that will do the trick. Maybe don’t read these ones if you’re home alone…
Let’s face it, you can’t have a list about scary books and not mention Stephen King. We could have gone with almost his entire back list (like It, recently made into a film, or The Shining with the creepiest hotel ever), but we’ve decided to go with Misery. Almost the entire book takes place inside a bedroom where an injured novelist lies as the prisoner of his number one demented fan – and she isn’t at all happy that he’s killed off her favourite character. Shows why he’s the master of suspense and horror.
So we have our King – and Sophie Hannah is often described as the Queen of Crime. This is emotionally intelligent crime crossed with warped psychology. Did You See Melody? is the story of a woman who stumbles into the wrong hotel room. Except the teenage girl in the room is the most famous murder victim in the country, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder. Or was it really her?
From tales that could happen (but hopefully won’t) to the supernatural, we have The Passage by Justin Cronin. A security breach at a secret US government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Civilisation as we know it crumbles, and two people flee in search of sanctuary. The first in a trilogy, this is a book to make the ordinary world disappear.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is one of the most ingenious thrillers ever written. Ten strangers are invited to an isolated island, and their hosts are mysteriously absent. When one of the parties die, they realise there is a murderer among them. And then one by one they are picked off, their deaths mimicking the awful fates of an ominous nursery rhyme. If you can work out the killer, you’re a genius.
You know what can make a scary book scarier? When you’re inside the mind of someone disturbed. You by Caroline Kepnes is told from the point of view of Joe, who works in a bookshop. It’s there he meets Beck and straight away we know there’s something a little… off about Joe. This is a chilling account of unrelenting, terrifying deceit and the dangers that obsession can bring.
Did you know that The Woman in Black by Susan Hill is the second longest running play in the history of the West End? When Mrs Alice Drablow dies, few attend her funeral. Mr Arthur Kipps, solicitor from London, is there, and will spend the night in Eel Marsh House where the old woman died. But when the high tide pens him in, what he finds – or rather what finds him – is something else entirely. The original ghost story.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver isn’t your traditional horror story. Rather it’s a powerful, gripping and original mediation on evil. Eva didn’t really want to be a mother. And she certainly didn’t want to be the mother of the boy who went on a killing rampage at his school, killing classmates and staff. This book is horrifying, provocative and insightful and all the more terrifying in light of recent events.
Bram Stoker wrote dozens of books, but is most remembered for Dracula, published in 1897. Written as a series of letters, newspaper clippings, diary entries, and ships’ logs, the story begins with lawyer Jonathan Harker journeying to meet Dracula at his remote castle to complete a real estate transaction. Harker soon discovers that he is being held prisoner, and that Dracula has a rather disquieting nocturnal life… A masterpiece of the horror genre.
Did you know Stephen King’s son is also an author? Joe Hill has written a number of books, and his first novel was Heart-Shaped Box. This is the story of a man who collects things of the occult – creepy and weird things. And then he buys a dead man’s suit, delivered in a heart-shaped box. Only this one came with a ghost. Relentlessly scary, showing that sometimes, this kind of talent is definitely inherited.
If you prefer your reading to be more real-life, Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi may be the book for you. This is non fiction, the shocking true story of the Manson murders. In 1969, seven people were found shot, stabbed and bludgeoned to death in LA. How did Manson make his ‘family’ kill for him? What made them keep killing with no trace of remorse? Not matter how much you think you know about this case, this book will still shock you.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris is a near perfect psychological thriller. Many have seen the movie adaption, but the book also sold over five million copies worldwide. A young FBI trainee goes to interview a former psychiatrist with unusual tastes and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the human mind. Meet the ultimate villain of modern fiction.
What are the books that scare you silly? Let us know in the comments.