Watchworthy

The Scariest Novels of All Time

List Rules
Vote up your favorite scary novels, horror and otherwise.

What are the scariest novels of all time? Not surprisingly, a lot of the books listed here are from the horror genre, but there are other, just as terrifying books to read as well. Can anyone argue that Cormac McCarthy's The Road wasn't terrifying in its own way? Exactly. We're all scared by different things and subjects, and our reading choices reflect this quite often. So vote for the scariest books you've ever read (or really want to read) and vote down any you didn't like. And please, definitely add any scary novels that might be missing from the list!

Some of the scariest novels of all time involve monsters. After all, readers have been obsessed with the supernatural for hundreds of years. There is a reason that Bram Stoker's Dracula consistently winds up at or near the top of lists like this one. Ghosts also make for frightening novels: Hell House, anyone? If you haven't read it, make sure you do so - but not at night. And not if you are alone. Ever. It is without a doubt deserving of a place among the greatest horror books of all time.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the books on this list of scary novels were made into excellent horror movies. Some also have heavy elements of science fiction - I Am Legend is a great example, though nearly all of Richard Matheson's novels and stories would certainly qualify for a place on this list. Some of the best science fiction authors wrote some seriously creepy stuff.

And yes, no list of anything involving the scariest books of all time would be complete without a hefty dose of Stephen King. King is a master. In doubt? Check out this list of the greatest all-time Stephen King works. It's impressive.
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  • It
    1
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    Stephen King
    • First Published: 1986-09-15
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Horror Film
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Pet Sematary
    2
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    Stephen King
    • First Published: 1983-11-14
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Suspense, Horror Film, Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Exorcist
    3
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    William Peter Blatty
    • First Published: 1971
    • Subjects: Demonic possession, Exorcism
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Fiction, Science Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • 'Salem's Lot
    4
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    Stephen King
    • First Published: 1975-09-05
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Gothic fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Shining
    5
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    Stephen King
    • First Published: 1977-01
    • Subjects: Adventure, Family
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Horror Film, Fiction, Gothic fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Misery
    6
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    Stephen King
    • First Published: 1987-06-08
    • Subjects: Suspense
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Psychological thriller, Horror Film, Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Silence of the Lambs
    7
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    • First Published: 1988
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Suspense, Horror Film, Mystery, Thriller
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Stand
    8
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    Stephen King
    • First Published: 1978
    • Subjects: Research
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Children's literature, Horror Film, Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
    • Carrie
      10
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      Stephen King
      • First Published: 1974-04-05
      • Subjects: Classics
      • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Suspense, Horror Film, Mystery, Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
      • First Published: 1962
      • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Soft science fiction, Horror Film, Fantasy
      • Original Language: English Language
    • Night Shift
      12
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      Stephen King
      • First Published: 1978-02
      • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Horror Film, Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • Dracula
      13
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      Bram Stoker
      • First Published: 1897-05-27
      • Subjects: Literary, Ghost, 19th century, Vampire, British Cuisine
      • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Mystery, Fiction, Epistolary novel
      • Original Language: English Language
    • The Haunting of Hill House
      14
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      • First Published: 1959
      • Subjects: Literary, Ghost, Horror Film, Haunted house, Gothic fiction
      • Genres (Book): Horror Film, Fiction, Gothic fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • The Amityville Horror
      15
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      • First Published: 1977-09-13
      • Subjects: Philosophy, Hauntings, New Age, Ghost, Amityville
      • Genres (Book): Suspense, Horror Film, Mystery, Fiction, Inspirational
      • Original Language: English Language
    • Rosemary's Baby
      16
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      • First Published: 1967-03-12
      • Subjects: Deal with the Devil
      • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Horror Film
      • Original Language: English Language
    • Helter Skelter
      17
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      Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry
      • First Published: 1974
      • Subjects: Serial killer, Espionage, California, Charles Manson, Murder
      • Genres (Book): Crime Fiction, Mathematics, Science, True crime
    • Needful Things
      18
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      Stephen King
      • First Published: 1991-10
      • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • Jaws
      19
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      Peter Benchley
      • Subjects: Great white shark
      • Genres (Book): Novel
      • Original Language: English Language
    • Watchers
      20
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      Dean Koontz
      • First Published: 1987-02
      • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Suspense, Children's literature, Horror Film, Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • Psycho
      21
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      Robert Bloch
      • First Published: 1959
      • Subjects: Popular literature, Horror Film
      • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Horror Film, Thriller, Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • I Am Legend
      22
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      Richard Matheson
      • First Published: 1954
      • Subjects: Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Horror tales, American, Horror Film, Vampire
      • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Dystopia, Horror Film, Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
      23
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      • First Published: 1820
      • Subjects: Old Dutch Burying Ground
      • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • The War of the Worlds
      24
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      • First Published: 1898
      • Subjects: Literary, Education, Motorcycles, Performing arts, Adult
      • Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction, Scientific romance, Science Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • Frankenstein
      25
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      Mary Shelley
      • First Published: 1818-01-01
      • Subjects: Science, Love
      • Genres (Book): Romance novel, Speculative fiction, Suspense, Horror Film, Romanticism
      • Original Language: English Language