≡ Menu

What’s The Scariest Book You’ve Ever Read?

October marches on,

I’ve been rereading books that scared me in the past. Some of them still give me the willies. Some have lost their edge for me, for now at least.

From Stephen King it was It and Pet Sematary. 

It still has plenty of scary moments–it still holds up for me on almost every level. But it didn’t have the same effect on me as when I was a child. Part of that is probably that when I was a child, I identified so strongly with the terrified, desperate kids in the book, kids who couldn’t get the adults to listen to them.

Pet Sematary is still a perfect horror novel to me. I don’t think that will ever change. 

I reread Summer Of Night by Dan Simmons, which, if you liked It, I’d highly recommend. It isn’t as frightening as it used to be, but it’s still unnerving.

I’ve been rereading HP Lovecraft. The Rats In The Walls still freaks me out.

I just read Gaiman’s Sandman volumes that feature The Corinthian. Still as awful as I remembered. It’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about it.

At this point, if you asked me what the scariest book I’ve ever read was, I wouldn’t have a good answer. I can think of scenes that will always rattle me. I can think of characters that I never want to meet on the page again.

Time to stop babbling. Reader, do you know what the scariest book you’ve ever read is? Do you think it will change for you as you age?


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael LaRocca October 8, 2013, 4:23 pm

    Pet Sematary, without a doubt. You’re making me think I oughta go to the library and dig it up again.

  • Bryan October 8, 2013, 4:24 pm

    Without a doubt, the spookiest thing I ever read was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Much creepier than any modern horror I’ve ever seen. Remember the scenes of horse-drawn carriages galloping through mountain passes of eastern Europe while wolves howl in the distance still raises hair on my neck.

    • Josh Hanagarne October 8, 2013, 5:30 pm

      Have you read Lair Of The White Worm? Also by Stoker. So, so bizarre.

  • Moira October 9, 2013, 4:52 am

    OMG Pet Sematary – I’m not going to sleep tonight.

  • Jen Dee October 9, 2013, 6:39 am

    IT, without a doubt.

  • Gustavo October 9, 2013, 7:11 am

    Felt freaked out and disgusted by Hellraiser.

  • Sharon Kosch October 9, 2013, 7:12 am

    Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. The only King book I’ve read and it totally freaked me out at the end. If it had been a movie I would have screamed. Recently read Night Film by Marisha Pessl and that really creeped me out when I got to the middle.

    • Josh Hanagarne October 9, 2013, 11:36 am

      I have Night Film on hold right now. Can’t wait.

  • Vic Nunez October 9, 2013, 8:39 am

    I don’t read a lot of horror, I scare easy.

    When I was in the Navy, we always kept a lending library for the crew and officers. On my first submarine, the George Bancroft, I read the Thomas Harris novel “Red Dragon.” The horrifying thing was that the night before an we left port, I had dropped off film for developing at a kiosk that sent film elsewhere for developing. Adding to the dread, we had a set of sliding glass doors just exactly like the ones the killer used to enter the homes.

    On the second boat, the Tennessee, I got a copy of Stephen King’s “Skeleton Crew” and the novella “The Mist” scared me pretty well, lost some sleep over that one, trapped in my little bunk.

  • Anne Holman October 9, 2013, 9:18 am

    Was it Danny Glick in Salem’s Lot that was in the window?

  • Heather October 9, 2013, 11:13 am

    I will admit that King’s It was scary for me as a teenager, right up there with Salem’s Lot (line that stuck with me the most–“There was a light on up there.”).

    There’s a short story in the Cemetery Dance Publishers’ “October Dreams” anthology that scares the bejesus out of me. Its name escapes me just now, but it is truly terrifying. Welcome back, Josh, and y Vive Dia De Los Muertes!

    • Josh Hanagarne October 9, 2013, 11:35 am

      What was the story about? I want to find it.

  • Michelle October 10, 2013, 9:02 am

    The book that creeped me out the most after reading it, so for lasting effect, was Misery. It was definitely one of those books that I didn’t want to keep reading but couldn’t put it down.

    • Jack M October 11, 2013, 5:37 am

      I would have to agree with Misery. Terrifying to be held hostage by a crazy person who holds all the power.

  • Drew K October 10, 2013, 11:14 am

    House of Leaves is the scariest book that I’ve ever read.

    I think that I burned out whatever receptors in my brain could get scared of horror in my early teenage years with The Stand and It.

    But then, in my mid-twenties House of Leaves was a revelation. At certain points while reading this novel, it felt like a nightmare. The hallways, the pits, the centaur, the feeling of never quite knowing exactly why things are playing out in the way that they are. All of it builds up to a pervasive feeling of dread.

    Maybe I just like long, overwraught novels, because another book that frightened me to some degree was Infinite Jest, with it’s unclear ending, realistic horror elements, and never quite knowing why things happen.

    • Dawn October 12, 2013, 3:24 pm

      The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Oh-whee creepy! And much of the fright factor was the psychological suspense as the “house” becomes ever more powerful over Eleanor. The 1960’s movie based on the book, “The Haunting” is one of the scariest movies I have seen. It is an old black and white movie without blood and gore and still quite frightening.

  • Naomi October 12, 2013, 6:48 pm

    Ballantine Books published anthologies of ‘Tales from the Cthulhu Mythos’ in the ’70s, featuring really gruesome covers. Thankfully I’ve blocked many of the details, but the stories that still stick are the things in the trees that suck your brains out, and the horror in an old church bell-tower, freed when a storm causes a blackout…

  • Melody Tolson October 12, 2013, 7:09 pm

    Maybe “scary” isn’t quite the right word but I read Nicholson Baker’s short story Subsoil nearly 20 years ago and it still creeps me out when I think about it. It takes a powerful writer to make potatoes so unsettling.

  • Boris Bachmann October 13, 2013, 7:12 pm

    I read Richard Matheson’s “Hell House” recently. Very, very good – would have been very scary when I was younger. “Re-read” Salem’s Lot recently (via CD) – also very very good.

    Something Wicked This Way Comes still gives me the willies…

  • Wendy October 17, 2013, 11:30 am

    I liked the story in King’s Full Dark No Stars about the woman who realizes she was married to a serial killer. that was good!