Favorite Horror Novel

It’s Halloween.

Of course, that means I want to know about your favorite horror novel.

Past or present.

Not the best horror novel —

This isn’t precisely about quality.

It’s about the ones you love. The ones you re-read.

The ones that scare the unholy ghost right out of your skin.

Start recommending.

(For the record, while I don’t know that it’ll count as my favorite, I’m finally reading Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill and that’s got a bonafide creepy vibe going for it. Really spooky stuff. You also can’t go wrong by reading, uhh, anything by Robert McCammon. But start with Swan Song, since we’re talking.)


  • Not strictly horror but Red Dragon is easily the scariest book I’ve ever read. It made me check the windows. And while technically a thriller I suppose…it’s completely about the bad times. It’s pretty deliberate in the ways it creeps you out.

    Also putting in a vote for The Shining and The Road (THAT SCENE in the cellar!)

  • IT has been mentioned many times, so I’ll go with my next favorite:

    SHADOWLAND by Peter Straub. Does not get nearly as much attention as GHOST STORY, but is far more frightening, in my opinion.

  • Magic the Gathering: The Quest for Karn and The Thran surprisingly double as being pretty good horror stories as well as fantasies/adventures. I reread them not because they’re the best horror stories, although I do like how the plot is presented, but because of their strangeness. You’ll fall in love yet be horrified by the awesome monstrosities that is the Phyrexian race, and as I think I’ve stated before in your “Books that have touched your heart” post, the reader is kept in the dark whether the Phyrexians are truly walking horrors—- or perhaps something more than we humans can ever be.

    Fantastically disturbing, don’t read them on a full stomach.

  • Not a novel, but a short story. Part of a collection of horror-esque stories by Chuck Palahniuk, Haunted. The infamous ‘Guts’ short story.
    It’s the stuff of legends in the Pacific Northwest for it’s ability to make people pass out when Chuck reads it out loud. As of last count according to no lesser source the wikipedia, it has been responsible for 68 people dropping to the floor.
    I was lucky enough to be in the audience for one of those readings. While I didn’t personally pass out, five people in the audience did and I was closer than I care to admit.

  • Rosemadder, Stephen King.
    The movie Rose Red by SK scared the bejesus out of me and led me to read The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer – which makes for awesome spine-chill-stuff when you combine the two.

  • The one that’s stayed with me always was The Shining. The first true horror novel I read, at the age of 12 or 13 I think. I was too scared to read any other King novels until I was 18. Now its driven me to start writing horror work of my own.

  • MISERY by Stephen King. Never has a story of captivity and torture been so horrifying…except NIGHT, but I figured you meant fictional horror novels.

    Also quite fond of HORNS by Joe Hill and TICK TOCK by Dean Koontz.

  • I read “Heart- Shaped Box” but I found “20th Century Ghosts” much more creepy. The aspire story is a real killer. Forgoing quality a it, I ADORE “John Dies At the End”. It’s funny and gross but it delivers some incredibly creepy moments that kept me up at night. “The Road” isn’t really horror, I guess, but it’s the scariest book I’ve ever read.

  • One particular scene from “The Mote in God’s Eye,” by Niven and Pournelle, gave me a very vivid nightmare that I remember more than 30 years later. The astronauts are moving from one ship to another, and realize at one point that one of the space suits contains not a person, but the very creatures they are trying to escape. It terrified me at the time.

  • HOUSE OF STAIRS by William Sleator is one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read. Mostly because of the ending. It’s not really horror but it sure messed with me when I read it.

  • I read Amityville Horror when I was really young, finished it in one night actually, cold feet under the blankets as the sun began to peak over the horizon.
    It scared the heck out of me.
    Then, much later, the movies provided some good laughs.
    Salem’s lot, scared me even more.
    Steven King is the master of planting ideas/situations in your head the occur to you endlessly for the rest of your life…or so it seems thus far.
    I figure when my daughter’s old enough I’ll suggest she never invite anyone in that’s knocking at her bedroom window… for so many reasons!
    I haven’t read a few mentioned above, I’ll be looking forward to them, thanks all!

  • I’d have to say Pet Semetary. Truly horrifying in so many ways; none of them requiring the supernatural bent of the story.

    As far as Robert McCammon goes, his books inspired me to write. I thought, if this guy can get published, so can I.

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