vote on everything
Watchworthy
6.6k voters

The Scariest Horror Books of All Time

Updated August 28, 2020 82.2k votes 6.6k voters 244.7k views186 items

List RulesScary / 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. Even recent horror novels like NOS4A2 or Birdbox captured the terrified hearts of the public enough to become shows and movies.

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.

Photo:
...more
    0
  • 1
    Pet Sematary is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    1,974
    551

    Pet Sematary

    Stephen King

    First Published1983-11-14

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Suspense, Horror Film, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Pet Sematary is a 1983 horror novel by Stephen King, nominated for a World Fantasy Award for... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 2
    'Salem's Lot is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    1,948
    529

    'Salem's Lot

    Stephen King

    First Published1975-09-05

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Gothic fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    'Salem's Lot is a 1975 horror fiction novel written by the American author Stephen King. It... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 3
    It is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    2,645
    767

    It

    Stephen King

    First Published1986-09-15

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    It is a 1986 horror novel by American author Stephen King. The story follows the exploits of... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 4
    The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    1,642
    278

    The Exorcist

    William Peter Blatty

    First Published1971

    SubjectsDemonic possession, Exorcism

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Fiction, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Exorcist is a 1971 novel by American writer William Peter Blatty. The book details the... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 5
    The Silence of the Lambs is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    1,209
    294

    First Published1988

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Suspense, Horror Film, Mystery, Thriller

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Silence of the Lambs is a novel by Thomas Harris. First published in 1988, it is the... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 6
    The Shining is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    2,334
    819

    The Shining

    Stephen King

    First Published1977-01

    SubjectsAdventure, Family

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Horror Film, Fiction, Gothic fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Shining is a horror novel by American author Stephen King. Published in 1977, it is King's... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 7
    Stories and Poems of Edgar All is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    amazon buy button
  • 0
  • 8
    The Haunting of Hill House is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    1,007
    219

    First Published1959

    SubjectsLiterary, Ghost, Horror Film, Haunted house, Gothic fiction

    Genres (Book)Horror Film, Fiction, Gothic fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Haunting of Hill House is a 1959 novel by author Shirley Jackson. Finalist for the... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 9
    The complete works of Edgar Al is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    amazon buy button
  • 0
  • 10
    Misery is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    1,177
    385

    Misery

    Stephen King

    First Published1987-06-08

    SubjectsSuspense

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Psychological thriller, Horror Film, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Misery is a psychological horror novel by Stephen King. The novel was nominated for the World... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 11
    The Stand is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    1,552
    594

    The Stand

    Stephen King

    First Published1978

    SubjectsResearch

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Children's literature, Horror Film, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Stand is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel by American author Stephen King. It... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 12
    Something Wicked This Way Come is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time

    First Published1962

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Soft science fiction, Horror Film, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Something Wicked This Way Comes is a 1962 fantasy novel by Ray Bradbury. It is about... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 13
    Night Shift is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    935
    333

    Night Shift

    Stephen King

    First Published1978-02

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Horror Film, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Night Shift is the first collection of short stories by Stephen King, first published in 1978.... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 14
    Psycho is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    685
    225

    Psycho

    Robert Bloch

    First Published1959

    SubjectsPopular literature, Horror Film

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Horror Film, Thriller, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Psycho is a suspense novel by Robert Bloch, inspired by a bizarre murder case in Wisconsin,... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 15
    Rosemary's Baby is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    956
    351

    First Published1967-03-12

    SubjectsDeal with the Devil

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Rosemary's Baby is a 1967 best-selling horror novel by Ira Levin, his second published book.... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 16
    The Amityville Horror is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    788
    289

    First Published1977-09-13

    SubjectsPhilosophy, Hauntings, New Age, Ghost, Amityville

    Genres (Book)Suspense, Horror Film, Mystery, Fiction, Inspirational

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Amityville Horror: A True Story is a book by Jay Anson, published in September 1977. It is... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 17
    Hell House is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    555
    163

    Hell House

    Richard Matheson

    First Published1971

    SubjectsClassics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Hell House is a novel by American novelist Richard Matheson, published in 1971.amazon buy button
  • 0
  • 18
    Dracula is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    1,533
    657

    Dracula

    Bram Stoker

    First Published1897-05-27

    SubjectsLiterary, Ghost, 19th century, Vampire, British Cuisine

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Mystery, Fiction, Epistolary novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 19
    Carrie is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    805
    262

    Carrie

    Stephen King

    First Published1974-04-05

    SubjectsClassics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Suspense, Horror Film, Mystery, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Carrie is an American epistolary novel and author Stephen King's first published novel,... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 20
    Skeleton Crew is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    631
    207

    Skeleton Crew

    Stephen King

    First Published1985-06-21

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Horror Film, Fiction, Short story

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Skeleton Crew is the second collection of short fiction by Stephen King, published by Putnam... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 21
    Needful Things is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    810
    317

    Needful Things

    Stephen King

    First Published1991-10

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Needful Things is a 1991 horror novel by American author Stephen King. It is the first novel... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 22
    The Dunwich Horror and Others is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    889
    321

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Fiction, Short story, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Dunwich Horror and Others is a collection of fantasy, horror and Science fiction short... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 23
    The Call of Cthulhu and Other  is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time

    First Published1999-10-01

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Short story, Science Fiction, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories is Penguin Classics' first omnibus edition of... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 24
    At the Mountains of Madness is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    654
    254

    First Published1936

    SubjectsSupernatural, Antarctica

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Lost World, Horror Film, Mystery, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    At the Mountains of Madness is a novella by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, written in... moreamazon buy button
  • 0
  • 25
    Ghost Story is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
    875
    368

    Ghost Story

    Peter Straub

    SubjectsErotica

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Fiction

    Ghost Story is a horror novel written by Peter Straub. It was published on January 1, 1979 by... moreamazon buy button
BooksFilmEntertainmentLiteratureHorrorHorror BookspollBest MoviesGraveyard Shift