15 Scariest Books Of All Time That Are More Horrifying Than Any Horror Movie

Horror movies are great, but horror books are even greater. Horror books could be far darker than what we have seen in movies.

After all, some of the greatest horror movies are actually the screen adaptation of books. Here are the 15 scariest books that will continue to frighten generations to come.

1. Those Across The River

Those Across the River

Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family’s old estate-the Savoyard Plantation- and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.

It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of Savoyard still stand. Where a longstanding debt of blood has never been forgotten.

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Review: Publishers Weekly

Buehlman packs suspense and secrets into his debut novel, set in the deceptively quiet fictional town of Whitbrow, Ga., just after the Great Depression. When unemployed soldier Frank Nichols inherits a house from his last living relative, he ignores the disjointed note from his deceased aunt warning him away and moves in along with his girlfriend, Dora.

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2. Annihilation: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy)

ANNIHILATION (The Southern Reach Trilogy) 

The Southern Reach Trilogy begins with this Nebula Award-winning novel that “reads as if Verne or Wellsian adventurers exploring a mysterious island had warped through into a Kafkaesque nightmare world” (Kim Stanley Robinson).

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

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Review: The Guardian

In Annihilation, the first part of an imaginatively marketed and beautifully produced trilogy (the other parts are out in May and September), the novelist and publishing entrepreneur Jeff VanderMeer sets out to create a lasting monument to the uncanny by revisiting – without embellishment, and with a pitiless focus on physical and psychological detail – some very old ground. An alien invasion site. Assimilative spores. An unfurling of promiscuous alien biology.

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3. Frankenstein

Frankenstein 1st Edition

The book was nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read. Frankenstein was an instant bestseller on publication in 1818 and has long been regarded as a masterpiece of suspense, a classic of nineteenth-century Romanticism and Gothic horror, and the prototype of the science fiction novel. Though it has spawned countless imitations and adaptations, it remains the most powerful story of its kind.

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Review: The Guardian

Every book that has been written about artificial intelligence since Frankenstein owes something to Mary Shelley. The book allows readers to see events from the monster’s perspective. More than anything else this is a sad book when you think about what would have happened if the monster had not been so alone and if every human had not spurned him in the way they did.

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4. American Psycho 

American Psycho Paperback

The modern classic, the basis of a Broadway musical, and major motion picture from Lion’s Gate Films starring Christian Bale, Chloe Sevigny, Jared Leto, and Reese Witherspoon, and directed by Mary Harron. In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other.

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Review: RollingStone

Its vivid depictions of gruesome murders of women, men, children, and animals preceded wherever it went. Despite the initial uproar, the book has enjoyed an unusual afterlife. At its heart, American Psycho is a caustic satire about materialism and the empty feeling that comes with chasing it. It’s a first-person account of a callous, vain Wall Street yuppie named Patrick Bateman who loves the pop music of the day (Whitney! Huey! Phil!) and has trouble coming to terms with his murderous inclinations.

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5. The Shining

The Shining Mass Market Paperback

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

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Review: IRISH TIMES

Who can ever forget The Shining? Its characters live on. Tormented, alcoholic Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, desperately trying to do the right thing and always failing. And Danny, their five-year-old son, whose telepathy, his “shining”, keeps him suspended between the everyday world and the world of what has happened and what will happen next.

It’s the quality of writing that gives the most pleasure. King creates a complete world, a living nightmare. The hotel, its bricks and mortar saturated with past horrors; the hedge animals, rabbit, dog, lions, waiting to pounce; the old-fashioned fire extinguisher, a coiled snake ready to strike; the sounds of a riotous party echoing through the empty rooms and corridors; the boiler, unstable, dangerous, the pressure gauge “creeping” upwards.

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6. The Ruins

The Ruins

Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror, unlike anything they could ever imagine. Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.

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Review: HORROR NOVEL REVIEWS

Like a lot of horror stories, looked at dispassionately, the events of the book are outrageously unlikely. The prose, so dispassionate, was hypnotizing. The setting – the hill, the burning sun, the noxious vine – all so finely portrayed. The characterizations are spot on. The characters react in ways that are shocking while we read, but in reflection are completely in tune with human nature. They fall apart, just like we would in that situation.

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7. The Haunting Of Hill House 

The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics) Paperback

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Netflix’s ‘Haunting of Hill House’ has transformed a classic book into a modern horror Tale 

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Review: The Guardian

Stephen King, in his history of the horror genre, Danse Macabre, said The Haunting of Hill House is – along with Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw – one of “the only two great novels of the supernatural in the last hundred years”, while Ramsey Campbell called it “the greatest of all haunted house novels, and arguably the greatest novel of the supernatural”.

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8. Coraline

Coraline

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.

But there’s another mother there and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go. Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

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Review: The Guardian

Coraline is a creepy novel that frightened the life out of me. I had to read it in two sittings because I was so utterly spooked. The author, Neil Gaiman, conjured up such amazing pictures in my head. He made it scary in a very succinct manner and still his book tells a fascinating story that is both weird and wonderful at the same time.

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9. It 

It: A Novel Paperback

Stephen King’s terrifying, classic 1 New York Times bestseller, “a landmark in American literature” (Chicago Sun-Times)—about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It.

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Review: The Guardian

In the 30 years since publication, the public’s obsession with It hasn’t really wanted. We’re obsessed because we all have fears. We all have things that scare us, be that the aforementioned clowns and spiders (and really, thanks to Tim Curry for ensuring that an entire generation of children who like to watch horror movie adaptations of their favorite novels will be scarred for life), or things that lurk far deeper in our psyches. This book speaks to everybody. It’s King’s scariest novel, and I doubt that will ever change.

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10. Rebecca

Rebecca Paperback

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten—a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house’s current occupants.

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Review: The Guardian

Rebecca is a very strange book. It’s a melodrama and by no means short on bangs and crashes. There are two sunken ships, a murder, a fire, a costume party, and multiple complex betrayals, and yet it’s starting to realize how much of its drama never actually happens. Rebecca has a disturbingly circular structure, a closed loop like James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. It ends with Manderley in flames, but the first two chapters are also the conclusion.

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11. The Midwich Cuckoos

The Midwich Cuckoos Paperback

In the sleepy English village of Midwich, a mysterious silver object appears and all the inhabitants fall unconscious. A day later the object is gone and everyone awakens unharmed – except that all the women in the village are discovered to be pregnant. The resultant children of Midwich do not belong to their parents: all are blonde, all are golden eyed. They grow up too fast and their minds exhibit frightening abilities that give them control over others and brings them into conflict with the villagers just as a chilling realization dawns on the world outside.

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Review: The Guardian

The book is purportedly about a struggle between aliens and humans – but read attentively, it’s about a struggle between men and women. It’s a story about rape, abortion, childbirth, and motherhood, and it offers quite different viewpoints depending on whether you attend to the narrator or the things the narrator misses. The children may have alien fathers but also, after all, human mothers, and in the narrator’s brusque disregard of that point, there’s a battle going on between text and subtext. The ending of the book – in which Midwich’s resident intellectual Gordon Zellaby turns suicide bomber – is so astoundingly harsh, so abbreviated in its understanding, that it draws attention to the limitations of the man telling the story.

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12. We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin Paperback

Now a major motion picture by Lynne Ramsay, starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly, Lionel Shriver’s resonant story of a mother’s unsettling quest to understand her teenage son’s deadly violence, her own ambivalence toward motherhood, and the explosive link between them reverberates with the haunting power of high hopes shattered by dark realities.

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Review: The Guardian

Books seldom feel as contemporary as this one. Set against the farce of the counting of the votes in the 2000 US presidential elections, We Need To Talk About Kevin tells the story of a high-school massacre, similar to that at Columbine. And it asks the question all America has asked itself: why?

However, it is not the novel’s ostensible subject matter that has made it an underground success in the US. Told through letters from the killer’s mother, Eva, to her absent husband, Franklin, the book explores the trials of maternity and the traumatic impact it can have on a marriage.

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13. Room

Room: A Novel Mass Market Paperback

Held captive for years in a small shed, a woman and her precocious young son finally gain their freedom, and the boy experiences the outside world for the first time.

It was also the inspiration for the major motion picture starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson.

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years.

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Review: The Guardian

Certainly it is Emma Donoghue’s breakout novel, but, seemingly “inspired” by Josef Fritzl’s incarceration of his daughter Elisabeth, and the cases of Natascha Kampusch and Sabine Dardenne, it’s hard not to feel wary: what is such potentially lurid and voyeuristic material doing in the hands of a novelist known for quirky, stylish literary fiction?

It is a brave act for a writer, but happily, one that Donoghue, still only 40 but on her seventh novel, has the talent to pull off. For Room is in many ways what its publisher claims it to be: a novel like no other.

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14. People Who Eat Darkness

People Who Eat Darkness

Lucie Blackman―tall, blond, twenty-one years old―stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000, and disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave.
Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, covered Lucie’s disappearance and followed the massive search for her, the long investigation, and the even longer trial.

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Review: The Guardian

The basic facts are these. In 2000, 21-year-old Lucie Blackman from Sevenoaks went to Tokyo where she found work as a hostess at a club in the Roppongi district. This did not mean prostitution or topless dancing. It meant soaking up the talk – frequently flirtatious, mainly just boring – of drunken businessmen so that they would buy more booze. Her role was precisely defined by the codes of Japanese life but – and this is the first of many instances where uncertainty seeps into what seems rigidly unambiguous – to make more money, hostesses were obliged to see some of their clients beyond the dark safety of the club.

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15. Broken Monsters

Broken Monsters (Reading Group Guide) Paperback

A criminal mastermind creates violent tableaus in abandoned Detroit warehouses in Lauren Beukes’s new genre-bending novel of suspense.
Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit’s standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?

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Review: The Guardian

Set in Detroit, the Louvre for aficionados of ruin-porn, graffiti and hipster art, it opens with the discovery of a body. “The body. The-body-the-body-the-body, she thinks. Words lose their meaning when you repeat them. So do bodies, even in all their variations. Dead is dead. It’s only the hows and the whys that vary.
Never exploitative, never superficial, never uncomplicated: Beukes shows how horror can be the best way to explain our unbelievable reality. She uses the mode like the knife that opens the oyster.

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