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The Scariest Horror Books of All Time  

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List Rules Scary / horror novels or other freaky works of fiction

The greatest horror books of all time are books that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up just from the rustle of turning the pages. These scary horror novels are books you don't want to read at night (or by yourself) because they're just a little too scary. Many of these scary books have been turned into the scariest movies ever made, while others are too frightening to be imagined in real life.

From Stephen King classics like "The Shining" and "It" to classic stories like Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", these scary horror novels are known for their fright factor and smart writing that makes you believe the horrific events in the books are really possible.

What are the best horror novels? What is the scariest horror book? This list of the best horror novels is here to help you find a good scare on the written page. If you don't see your favorite horror book on the list of great scary novels, make sure to add it so other people can get the same fright you did.

If you're still looking for a good scare after peeking at this greatest horror books list, check out the scarefests in the best found footage films for a good scare, or see what new horror novels you can add to your collection.

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list ordered by
1
It is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Stephen King
It is a 1986 horror novel by American author Stephen King. The story follows the exploits of seven children as they are terrorized by the eponymous being, which exploits the fears and phobias of ...more
2
The Shining is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Stephen King
The Shining is a horror novel by American author Stephen King. Published in 1977, it is King's third published novel and first hardback bestseller, and the success of the book firmly established ...more
3
Stories and Poems of Edgar All... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
4
'Salem's Lot is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Stephen King
'Salem's Lot is a 1975 horror fiction novel written by the American author Stephen King. It was his second published novel. The story involves a writer named Ben Mears who returns to the town ...more
5
Pet Sematary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Stephen King
Pet Sematary is a 1983 horror novel by Stephen King, nominated for a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1984, and adapted into a 1989 film of the same name. In November 2013, PS Publishing ...more
6
Dracula is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Bram Stoker
Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move from ...more
7
The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
William Peter Blatty
The Exorcist is a 1971 novel by American writer William Peter Blatty. The book details the demonic possession of twelve-year-old Regan MacNeil, the daughter of a famous actress, and the Jesuit ...more
8
Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Mary Shelley
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley about the young student of science Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature ...more
9
The Stand is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Stephen King
The Stand is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel by American author Stephen King. It expands upon the scenario of his earlier short story, "Night Surf". The novel was originally ...more
10
Rosemary's Baby is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Ira Levin
Rosemary's Baby is a 1967 best-selling horror novel by Ira Levin, his second published book. It sold over 4 million copies "making it the top bestselling horror novel of the 1960s."
11
Ghost Story is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Peter Straub
Ghost Story is a horror novel written by Peter Straub. It was published on January 1, 1979 by Coward, McCann and Geoghegan. The book was adapted into a film by the same name in 1981. The novel ...more
12
The Silence of the Lambs is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Thomas Harris
The Silence of the Lambs is a novel by Thomas Harris. First published in 1988, it is the sequel to Harris' 1981 novel Red Dragon. Both novels feature the cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal ...more
13
Phantoms is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Dean Koontz
Phantoms is a novel written by best-selling author Dean Koontz, first published in 1983. The story is a version of the now-debunked urban legend involving a village mysteriously vanishing at ...more
14
Night Shift is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Stephen King
Night Shift is the first collection of short stories by Stephen King, first published in 1978. In 1980, Night Shift received the Balrog Award for Best Collection, and in 1979 it was nominated as ...more
15
Something Wicked This Way Come... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes is a 1962 fantasy novel by Ray Bradbury. It is about 13-year-old best friends, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, and their nightmarish experience with a ...more
16
Misery is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Stephen King
Misery is a psychological horror novel by Stephen King. The novel was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1988, and was later made into a Hollywood film and an off-Broadway ...more
17
Needful Things is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Stephen King
Needful Things is a 1991 horror novel by American author Stephen King. It is the first novel King wrote after his rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol. According to the cover, it is "The ...more
18
The Dunwich Horror and Others is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft
The Dunwich Horror and Others is a collection of fantasy, horror and Science fiction short stories by American author H. P. Lovecraft. It was originally published in 1963 by Arkham House in an ...more
19
I Am Legend is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Richard Matheson
I Am Legend is a 1954 horror fiction novel by American writer Richard Matheson. It was influential in the development of the zombie genre and in popularizing the concept of a worldwide ...more
20
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Robert Bloch
Psycho is a suspense novel by Robert Bloch, inspired by a bizarre murder case in Wisconsin, though not directly based on it. The story was adapted into Alfred Hitchcock's seminal 1960 film of ...more
21
The Call of Cthulhu and Other ... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories is Penguin Classics' first omnibus edition of works by seminal 20th-century American author H. P. Lovecraft. It was released in October 1999 and is ...more
22
The Haunting of Hill House is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Shirley Jackson
The Haunting of Hill House is a 1959 novel by author Shirley Jackson. Finalist for the National Book Award and considered one of the best literary ghost stories published during the twentieth ...more
23
The Amityville Horror is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
Jay Anson
The Amityville Horror: A True Story is a book by Jay Anson, published in September 1977. It is also the basis of a series of films released between 1979 and 2013. The book is claimed to be based ...more
24
At the Mountains of Madness is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft
At the Mountains of Madness is a novella by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, written in February/March 1931 and rejected that year by Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright on the grounds of its ...more
25
The complete works of Edgar Al... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time