October 1, 2011

23 Great Horror Novels to Kick Off Halloween

October has arrived, and with it—the desire to curl up with a ghostly tale, or maybe something with vampires, or better yet, zombies!  I know I’m not the only one, so I thought I would compile a list of some of the best picks for Halloween reading—the kind that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, and keeps you up at night. So if you’re looking for something scary to read this season, or if you've been too busy to even notice that September just blew by, maybe this list will give you some spine-tingling inspiration!

Oh, and don’t be surprised that there aren’t any novels by Stephen King on the list. I know, he’s the King of Scary--I've lost precious sleep because of his books--but he would probably take over a majority of the list, so I thought I would make room for other authors.  

So here you go, 23 books that will curdle your blood (or something slightly less sinister).

1.  The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. 

2.  The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

In order to stop one killer, Clarice must inquire into the mind of another killer. 

3.  Ghost Story by Peter Straub

A 1979 classic, Ghost Story is about four men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. 

4.  Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula has been told and retold many times in many different ways, but sometimes it's nice to go back to the original. 

5.  The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

The novel that inspired the movie that many believe is the scariest movie of all time. If you scare easily, this isn't the book for you. 

6.  The Collector by John Fowles

Hailed as the first modern psychological thriller. The Collector is a story of obsessive love - the story of a lonely clerk who collects butterflies and of the beautiful young art student who is his ultimate quarry.

7.  Books of Blood by Clive Barker

A collection of imaginative and dark short horror stories and novellas. Have you ever heard of The Midnight Meat Train? You can find that one here.

8. The Cipher by Kathe Kojame 

When Nicholas and Nakota discover a black hole in his apartment building storage closet, The two set out to see what happens when they drop various items into the hole. Well, those various items come back, just not the same as they left. 

9.  Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Published in 1967, Rosemary's Baby was one of the first contemporary horror novels to become a national bestseller.

10. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth...but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville's blood.

11. Hell House by Richard Matheson

If you're a fan of haunted houses, welcome to "the Mount Everest of Haunted Houses."  When a dying millionaire starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to spend time in the haunted mansion, known as Hell House, in order to establish the facts of life after death.

12. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

The Lutz family moves into their dream home on suburban Long Island, fully aware that just one year earlier Ronald DeFeo had murdered his parents, brothers, and sisters in the house.  The deal was just too good to pass up. 28 days later, the family fled the house in terror. 

13.  The Ruins by Scott Smith

 The Ruins follows a group of four young American tourists vacationing in Cancun and chronicles the horrors they uncover when they help another tourist search for his wayward brother among isolated Mayan ruins. 

14. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

The only thing better than a post-apocalyptic world? One swarming with zombies.

15. The best of H.P. Lovecraft

If you haven't read anything by H.P. Lovecraft, this collection of horror stories is a good place to start.

16.  Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvistv

Set in 1983, Let Me In begins with the discovery of the body of a teenage boy, emptied of blood. This vampire tale is no Twilight.

17.  Rise Again: A Zombie Thriller by Ben Tripp

Sheriff Danielle Adelman, a troubled war veteran, thinks she has all the problems she can handle after her kid sister runs away from home. That is, until a disease-stricken horde of panicked refugees fleeing the fall of Los Angeles swarms her small mountain community.  *Braaaains*

18.  Psycho by Robert Bloch

 This classic was inspired by the real-life story of Ed Gein, a psychotic and notorious serial killer.  It's not a long book--less than 200 pages--but it is disturbing, to say the least.

19. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Following the death of her daughter, Mary dreamt of her child coming back to life. Many critics believe it was her inspiration for Frankenstein -- one of the most iconic horror novels of all time. 

20). The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

This classic novel has become synonymous with split-personality disorder.  But it's also an exploration of human nature.

21.  Haunted (Halloween 2001) by Tamara Thorne

Its violent, sordid past is what draws bestselling author David Masters to the infamous Victorian mansion called Baudey House. Its shrouded history of madness and murder is just the inspiration he needs to write his ultimate masterpiece of horror. But what awaits at Baudey House, is more terrifying than any legend.

22. Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess

Pontypool isn't your average, conventional zombie book. Yes, a virus terrorizes the earth, causing its inhabitants to strike out on murderous rampages. But you don't have to be bitten to contract this virus because it's transmitted through the English language. 

23.  Ring by Koji Suzuki

A mysterious videotape warns that the viewer will die in one week unless a certain, unspecified act is performed.  Asakawa, a hardworking journalist, is intrigued by his niece's inexplicable death and attempts to solve the tape's mystery before it's too late.

Stay tuned for Part II, the Young Adult list of great novels to kick off Halloween.