Poll: Best Horror Novels of All Time

The Monk Matthew Lewis

The Monk by Matthew Lewis

What are the best horror novels of all time? The scariest novels of all time? When it comes to “best” I simply mean the scary stories  and scary books that I enjoyed the most, that unsettled me the most, or that are the most memorable because I can’t forget about them. And by “all time” I just mean “my time,” since I’ve only been around for three decades.

Although some of the good scary books I’ll mention below have some historical, groundbreaking significance in the literary timeline, the historical sense isn’t what I’m most interested in as a reader.

I think it is that memorable quality in the best horror novels that is most important to me. I’ve read a lot of books. I can give you memorable moments from just about anything I have read if you give me a minute. But ask me about a horror novel that has stuck with me and I can probably give you at least ten memorable moments.

Unforgettable, for better or worse.

October is only a few months away and I’ve already started putting together the list of horror books I’ll be reviewing during the unholy month, but I’m always looking for more, so if you have books you’d like to have me read and/or review, please let me know in the comments or you can email me as well.

Here’s my list, in no particular order:

  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • It, also by King
  • The Monk by Matthew Lewis
  • Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
  • At The Mountains of Madness by HP Lovecraft (I’m sneaking this in even though it’s a novella)
  • We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Off Season by Jack Ketchum
  • The Day of the Tryffids by John Windham
  • The Long Walk by Stephen King
  • Lair of The White Worm by Brahm Stoker (I prefer this to Dracula)
  • Koko by Peter Straub
  • About half of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Drive-In by Joe R. Lansdale
  • The Terror by Dan Simmons
  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
  • World War Z by Max Brooks (horror elements–zombies–but a fun, silly story)
  • Let The Right One In by Ebba Segerberg
  • The Navidson Record bits of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  • Books of Blood by Clive Barker (this is short stories but it freaked me out so I’m going to sneak it in)

I’ll come back and add to this as I remember things. There are so many that I am leaving out, I know it. Feel free to add to the list.

Good horror books. I love ‘em.

Josh

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27 thoughts on “Poll: Best Horror Novels of All Time

  1. Josh….you’re forgetting your favorite book once again…. BABY DOLLY! Remember the terror that book reigned down upon your mind?

  2. Short stuff gets my vote every time, as opposed to huge, honkin’ novels. One that I re-read every year is Lovecraft’s “Dunwich Horror,” and there’s a new one on the list this year from Dan Dillard, “The Demon of Walker’s Woods”. Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” gets my vote as well! Good pickin’ there, Josh! King’s shorter stuff, such as “Apt Pupil” and “Breathing Lessons,” also gets my vote. There’s an entire compendium of good, spooky stuff out there from Cemetary Dance Press, “October Dreams,” (808.8 at Cabell Public) that is chock-full of scary stories, poems, and artwork. I highly recommend it!

  3. I’m not much of a horror fan, but the ones I’ve read are the classics like Frankenstein and The Castle of Otranto. Of those, my favorite is definitely Otranto. I liked Frankenstein, but the story was so familiar it wasn’t all that shocking, as I’m sure it was when no one knew it. I’d never heard of Otranto before my Horror and Fantasy class in college, so it was all new to me. I remember thinking it was one of the best assigned books I’d ever read.

  4. I am a big Stephen King fan. I must have read more than 15 novels and short stories and the scariest -for me- is “Pet Sematary”

    Other novels that gave me the chilly willies are:
    The sentinel (Jeffrey Konvitz)
    The Mephisto Waltz (Fred M. Steward)
    The Hellbound Heart (Clive Barker)

  5. I was also freaked out by “Pet Sematary”. I found “The Monk” and “The Castle of Otranto” at the Project Gutenberg website. I’m looking forward to reading them.

  6. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King is my number 1. It and the Stand were scary, but Salem’s Lot left me lying awake in my bed scared at every sound in the house. I was convinced a vampire had come in my room. Also these vampires were the scary ones not these doe eyed wraiths you get these days.

  7. John Ajvide Lindqvist wrote “Let the right one in” not Emma Segerberg. Emma just translated it into English.

  8. Very cool list. Should “open season” be “Off Season”? As stated by others, Pet Sematary kept me up late reading it and even later from the memories. The book “It” still haunts me to do this day. I have three recommendations: The Conqueror Worms, The Rising, and Dead Sea all by Brian Keene. I am not into a lot of good vs evil books, but also check out Sandman Slim – fun, but not very scary. Robopocalypse is also a similar read to WWZ but with robots, very awesome in its own way. Monster island is pretty cool as well. Sorry to ramble. Happy reading!

  9. Are you brave enough to venture into the demonic realms of Seven-X and unravel the mystery that lies beneath it’s charred surface

    This book will shatter you to your core. Dare to read it

  10. Hiya. For the last few years, I’ve been trying to replace a bood that had been stolen from me. I’ll give you the best info on it that I can, but it may not be much.
    The title is “The Animals”. I can’t remember who the author is (sorry) or when it was written. The book is about a guy who meets a girl who turns out to be a warewolf. She turns the guy into a warewolf. I can’t remember the names of the characters (if I heard them, I might).
    My hope is to at least find out who the author is so that I can replace the book. I hope you can help.
    Cheers……. ~Jamie

    • “Animals” by John Skipp and Craig Spector 1993. I think the
      girl’s name is Nora.

        • No problem. Like the list. Have you read “Summer of Night” by Dan Simmons?
          How about any Robert R. Mccammon? He has some great titles ( Swan Song, The Wolf’s Hour )

          • Yes, I’m a huge Dan Simmons fan. His publicity team actually sent me a reissue of Summer of Night. One of the best. Loved Swan Song as well. I have reviews for that and McCammon’s The Five on the blog.

  11. Let us not forget The Shining and Misery from the King himself.

    The Damnation Game and Cabal by Cliver Barker are also fantastic. His other stuff is great too, but it isn’t pure horror.

    • Books of Blood will always be my favorite Barker, but I loved the Damnation Game. And good call on The Shining and Misery. I’d probably put just about everything King wrote pre-Misery on this list.

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