Ranking the best horror books to read for Halloween

Ranking+the+best+horror+books+to+read+for+Halloween

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Amanda M. Castro, Managing Editor

During Halloween-time, who wouldn’t want to cuddle up by the fire with a pumpkin spice latte – or whatever other caffeinated, fall drink you prefer – a knitted blanket and a terrifying book? For years, horror books have been part of the literary culture, but they seem to be especially popular during Halloween. Perhaps people know how rewarding it is to relax with a horror story, feel the adrenaline rush, then close the book and not be able to get a wink of sleep. Here is a list of the best horror books of all time to supplement you on your hair-raising trip.

10. “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman
Some may associate the title with the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film “Coraline” by the name, and the association would be correct. The novella by Neil Gaiman for young readers was released in 2002. The novel tells the story of Coraline Jones, who discovers inside her new home a portal to a parallel, dark ‘Other World’ in which she wishes to stay; however, she must fight the evil ‘Other Mother’ who lives there to protect the safety of her real-life family. In the end, she has to free the spirits of three dead children and embark on a creepy, crawly and chilling journey to wander back to normality.

In addition to being adapted into an animated stop-motion feature film, a comic book, an off-Broadway musical, and a video game, a recently illustrated version of “Coraline” is available for purchase on Amazon and is available to stream on multiple platforms.

9. “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis
The modern classic was the foundation of a Broadway musical, and a movie from Lionsgate Films that stars Christian Bale, Chloe Sevigny, Jared Leto, and Reese Witherspoon, and is directed by Mary Harron. This novel was published in 1991 by Bret Easton Ellis. The story is told from the perspective of Patrick Bateman, a serial killer and Manhattan investment banker. Bateman’s fall into insanity and madness, his detailed recount of the gruesome murders, which he appears to enjoy, and his exaltation of an insipid industrial society all go hand-in-hand. Ellis’ book is darkly comedic, with 80’s music references cleverly woven into his writing, laced with even more dark comedy, as well as hideous disturbances. Ellis does a great job of capturing the madness and insanity of violence and brutality in modern times as well as olden. This book? One of the greats.

The book is available to purchase on Amazon, and the movie is available on a selection of streaming platforms.

8. “Baby Teeth” by Zoje Stage
Baby Teeth playwright Zoje Stage’s debut novel is a charmingly spine-chilling story that pushes the limits of a dysfunctional family into vantablack territory. The story is set in Pittsburg, PA and revolves around Suzette Jensen, her husband Alex, and Hanna, their mute seven-year-old daughter. Suzette is concerned for Hanna’s mutism and strongly believes that it’s the effect of what she thinks is bad parenting; however, it is something deeper and darker than that. Hanna’s father may be blind to the problems Suzette is facing with their daughter, but she doesn’t have the desire to kill him; it’s Mommy she wants.

The book is seriously psychological. It’s creepy and scary, so read at your own risk. You can pick up a physical copy of “Baby Teeth” at Target and a digital copy on Google Books with a free sample available to read prior to purchase.

7. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
Published in 1818, this novel became a Halloween staple. It tells the tale of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who – in an unorthodox experimental experiment – creates a wise creature. This, however, is not the ideal specimen he imagines it would be, but rather a grotesque being that Victor and society in general reject. Through murder and terror, Frankenstein finds its vengeance.

Shelley began writing the story when she was 18; when she was 20, the first edition was published anonymously in London. Her name first appeared in the second edition published in Paris in 1821.

The book is available to purchase or rent on Amazon.

6. “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson
This 1959 gothic horror novel by Shirley Jackson focuses on fear rather than horror in order to invoke emotion in the reader, using intricate associations between the unexplained incidents in the house and the psyches of the characters. Dr. Montague decides that it is time science proved the presence of the supernatural and that the place to prove it is in Hill House, a mansion with a justly haunted past. Only the most comprehensive science and unquestionable proof can exist to make sense of his experiment. The only prudent way to uncover the mystery of the haunting is to, obviously, stay the night at the mansion. I mean, who wouldn’t want to?

“Hill House” has been turned into two films and a play, as well as adapted into a Netflix series, and becoming a finalist for the National Book Award. It’s been considered one of the best literary ghost stories written during the 20th century.

You can purchase the book from Amazon.

5. “IT” by Stephen King
The story follows seven children as they are terrorized by an evil force that uses its victims’ fears to mask itself while chasing its prey. The omnipresent ‘It’ tends to primarily prey on young children in the form of ‘Pennywise the Dancing Clown.’ The book, released in 1986, is told through narratives that vary between two times and is primarily told in third-person omniscient. “IT” deals with many themes such as the strength of memory, the impact of childhood trauma as it reverberates into adulthood. As well as through shared confidence and sacrifice: overcoming evil.

The movie features “Stranger Things” actor Finn Wolfhard and Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård who portrays ‘It’ is available to stream on multiple platforms, and the book is available for purchase on Amazon.

4. “The Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris
“The Silence of the Lambs” is a psychological suspense story first published in 1988. It’s the sequel to “Red Dragon,” Harris’s 1981 novel. Both novels feature Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the cannibalistic serial killer who was pitted against FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling. Jonathan Demme’s film adaptation was released to widespread critical acclaim and box office success in 1991. The serial killer Buffalo Bill is no less dangerous and emerges from the book unscathed, needing a powerful disposition in comparison to the movie.

The book is available on Amazon.

3. “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver
Want another book about family dysfunction? Take a look at this novel published in 2003. The story is told in the form of letters Kevin’s mother writes after the series of horrific murders Kevin commits in his high school. As a child, Kevin exhibits classic signs of psychopathy and exhibits little or no love for his family but reserves a unique kind of loathing for Eve. After reading Robin Hood, the only thing Kevin has any genuine interest in is archery. The ending of the novel leaves Kevin’s motivations for his massacres and murders open-ended, but it’s what makes the story great.

In 2011, the novel was adapted into a film starring actors Ezra Miller, Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly.

The book is available for purchase on the Barnes and Noble website. The movie can be streamed on multiple platforms.

2. “The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty
If you have not yet read the book, the title may seem familiar as the wildly popular film adaptations of the book were released. “The Exorcist” is a 1971 horror novel that follows eleven-year-old Regan MacNeil’s demonic possession, the daughter of a successful actress, and the two priests who try to exorcise the devil within MacNeil. The novel was inspired by a case of demonic possession and exorcism in 1949 that Blatty read about as a university student.

You can view the Roland Doe documentary on YouTube, stream the first “The Exorcist” film on multiple platforms, and purchase the book’s 40th-anniversary edition on Amazon.

1. “Pet Sematary” by Stephen King
This 1983 book is amazing, though I know that I will never be able to read it again. This book managed to give me all kinds of heebie-jeebies because it was so remarkably written. Stephen King has always been the kind of author to tap into his fears in order to write his most frightening stories. According to King, the plot of this book was the one that scared him the most.

“Pet Sematary” follows Luis and Rachel Creed, who relocate their family from Chicago to rural Maine. Along with their two children, the couple moves into a house with a burial ground in the woods near their home; however, this burial ground isn’t just any burial ground, it’s one where anybody or anything buried there can come back to life.

Chilling, I know.

The 30th-anniversary edition of the book can be purchased on Amazon, and the most recent adaptation of the movie can be streamed on Amazon Prime.