Books have the ability to terrify unlike any other medium, and the horror genre is one of the largest in fiction with some of the most classic stories in all of literature. Here are what I consider the six best books in horror history, though all choices are, of course, subjective. Given their popularity, many of these have been adapted into TV shows or films, but as ever, it’s always best to read the original.
Here are the six best horror books of all time:
It by Stephen King
It was a hard call among all the work in Stephen King’s vast catalog, but even if The Shining and Carrie and Pet Semetary were finalists, I had to go with It in the end, a book that has stayed with me long after I wanted it to, and not just because of the recent films. King’s depiction of Derry, the cursed town, is stunning, and Pennywise is an all-time horror legend.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Speaking of legends, I know you’re immediately thinking of the Will Smith movie, but this is absolutely one of those times where the book is a thousand percent better. I Am Legendis one of the best vampire stories ever, and its ending, which the film scrapped, is one of the best in the genre, bar none. An absolute must read.
World War Z, by Max Brooks
This is genuinely one of my favorite books ever, regardless of genre, that again, should not be judged by its blockbuster movie adaptation. Perhaps someday Max Brooks’ World War Zwill get the miniseries it deserves, but for now, read the collection of stories that make up the documentation of the end of the world, each more fascinating than the last.
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
Yes, that is Dan Simmons of Hyperionfame, but he’s also an excellent horror writer in addition to science fiction. Simmons’ Carrion Comfort is a seminal vampire story, a massive work of true terror unlike anything else in the genre, and a must read for any horror fan, vampire fan or fan of good literature in general.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
House of Leaves is an experience all its own, and it’s best you know as little as you can about this book before heading into it. It is truly one of the great works of horror fiction, built around the disappearance of two children, and remains a classic to this day.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Here’s the one that started it all, the definitive vampire story of all time by Bram Stoker. It’s the novel that launched a thousand copycats, but there’s only one original, and it still holds up to this day, no matter how many decades have passed since it was written. It may be a tough read for some, but it is absolutely worth it.