50 Bone-Chilling Scariest Books To Read That Will Keep You Up All Night


Scariest Books To Read If You Love Horror Stories

Looking for the scariest books to read that will fill your mind with nightmarish visions and keep you up all night? Here is a list of our favorite horror stories and scariest books of all time that every fan of horror absolutely must read. 

50 Scariest Books To Read

A haunted house. A rotting zombie. A vampire stalker. A maniacal serial killer. A shadow demon hiding in the darkness. A witch dancing in the woods with the Devil. And a vengeful ghost standing behind you. 

From creepy folk tales to modern day horror stories with mind-bending twist endings, I love all things horror. And if you are a fan of horror like me, then you will absolutely love these books listed below. Just make sure you don’t read these scariest books of all time right before bedtime.

Here is my list of the most terrifying books ever –

1. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (1971)

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty – Scariest Books To Read

While most of us have seen and loved one of the best horror movies of all time, The Exorcist (1973), only true horror fans have read the 1971 novel of the same name by American author William Peter Blatty. 

We are starting the list with this renowned title as this is one of the best horror books of all time. First published in 1971, William Peter Blatty The Exorcist is a classic horror novel that deals with demonic possession and an ensuing exorcism. 

Inspired by a real case of demonic possession and exorcism that took place in 1949, the story follows the possession of a young girl named Regan, and the desperate efforts of her mother and two priests to save her from the evil spirit that has taken hold of her. 

With a gripping and terrifying plot, Blatty’s novel has become a cultural phenomenon, inspiring numerous adaptations in various media, including a critically acclaimed film of the same name. 

Known for its unflinching depiction of demonic possession and the battle between good and evil, The Exorcist remains a landmark work in the horror genre. There is absolutely no doubt that this is one of the scariest books to read ever.

2. The Shining by Stephen King (1977)

The Shining by Stephen King – scary books for adults

No list of scariest novels of all time can ever be complete without the “King” of horror – Stephen King. This 1977 horror novel is the third published novel written by King which turned out to be a bestseller and made him one of the most prolific horror writers. 

Stephen King’s The Shining is a seminal horror novel that tells the story of Jack Torrance, a struggling writer who takes a job as the winter caretaker at the remote Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Accompanied by his wife and young son, Jack hopes the isolation will provide him the peace and quiet needs to write. 

However, as the winter drags on, the family begins to experience increasingly eerie and terrifying events, including ghostly apparitions, vivid nightmares, and Jack’s descent into madness. The novel is renowned for its masterful storytelling, unforgettable characters, and unrelenting suspense. 

It has been adapted into several films and television series, with the 1980 version being directed by Stanley Kubrick. The book and the movies solidified its place as a classic of the horror genre and cementing King’s status as one of the most influential authors of our time.

Related: 9 Chillingly True Ghost Stories From Friends And Family That Confirmed My Belief in Ghosts

Looking for more scary books to read at night? Keep reading….

3. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

scariest books to read - Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
Dracula by Bram Stoker – Scariest Books To Read

How can we have a list of the scariest books of all time and not mention the lord of the vampires – Count Dracula. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a Gothic horror novel first published in 1897. 

In our search for the best scary books of all time, let us visit the mysterious land of Transylvania. The story follows a young solicitor named Jonathan Harker, who travels to Transylvania to help a wealthy nobleman, Count Dracula, purchase an estate in England. However, as Harker spends more time in Dracula’s castle, he realizes that his host is not what he seems and is in fact a bloodthirsty vampire. 

The novel then follows the efforts of a group of characters, including Harker’s fiancée Mina and the vampire hunter Van Helsing, as they attempt to stop Dracula from spreading his curse across England. 

Dracula is a groundbreaking work in the horror genre, and its influence can be seen in countless vampire-themed movies, TV shows, and books. It remains a timeless and terrifying classic, beloved by horror fans around the world. This is surely one of the scariest books to read…EVER!

4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

scariest books to read - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – scary books for adults

Quick trivia: While most of us tend to believe that “Frankenstein” is the name of the monster, it is, in fact, the name of the scientist who created the creature. The doctor was named Victor Frankenstein, while the monster named himself as Frankenstein’s “Adam”, like the first man according to the Bible.

Now that we have cleared that out, Frankenstein is one of the best horror novels of all time that has scared and excited generations of readers over the decades with its unique concept of reanimating the dead. Frankenstein by English author Mary Shelley is a Gothic horror novel first published in 1818. 

The story follows a young scientist named Victor Frankenstein, who becomes obsessed with creating life from dead matter. He succeeds in his experiment, but is horrified by the grotesque monster he has brought to life. The monster, rejected by his creator and society at large, seeks revenge and ultimately causes Victor’s downfall. 

Frankenstein is considered a pioneer in the horror genre, and is renowned for its exploration of themes such as scientific ambition, isolation, morality, mortality, revenge and the consequences of playing God

It has been adapted multiple times into films, plays, and other media, and its influence can be seen in modern horror stories and science fiction. Shelley’s haunting tale continues to captivate and terrify readers nearly two centuries after its initial publication.

5. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

scariest books to read - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – Scariest Books To Read

Mike Flanagan’s loose television adaptation of the novel in 2018 made The Haunting of Hill House a highly popular and widely acclaimed horror franchise. However, the original novel is without a doubt one of the scariest books to read with a certain gothic flavor.

Regarded as the “one of the best literary ghost stories published in the 20th century”, The Haunting of Hill House is a psychological horror novel written by Shirley Jackson, first published in 1959. The story follows four people who come to stay at Hill House, a mansion known for its dark history and rumored to be haunted. 

The main character, Eleanor Vance, has a troubled past and becomes increasingly affected by the strange occurrences in the house. The other guests, Dr. John Montague, Theodora, and Luke Sanderson, also experience eerie events, leading them to question their own sanity.

Jackson’s masterful use of suspense and tension builds throughout the novel, creating a haunting and unsettling atmosphere. The characters’ interactions with the supernatural elements of Hill House become increasingly terrifying, ultimately leading to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

The Haunting of Hill House has been regarded as a classic of horror literature, influencing generations of writers and filmmakers. It is a deeply unsettling and thought-provoking exploration of the human psyche, and a must-read for fans of the horror genre. Undoubtedly, it’s a scariest novels of all time!

6. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

scariest books to read - The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – scariest books of all time

This is one of my favorite scariest books to read. The Turn of the Screw is a classic horror novella by Henry James, published in 1898. The story revolves around a young governess who is hired to care for two orphaned children, Miles and Flora, in a country estate in Essex, England. 

However, she soon becomes convinced that the children are being haunted by the ghosts of the previous governess and a valet, both of whom died mysteriously. The governess becomes increasingly obsessed with protecting the children from the malevolent spirits, but the question remains whether the ghosts are real or just a figment of her imagination. 

James employs a hauntingly ambiguous narrative that leaves readers wondering about the true nature of the ghosts and the sanity of the governess. The Turn of the Screw is widely regarded as a masterpiece of psychological horror and a groundbreaking work in the genre.  

The horror novella has been adapted several times into a Broadway play, an opera, movies and miniseries. That’s because this is one of the scariest books of all time. 

Related: What Keeps Me Alive At Night – Scary Story

7. Pet Sematary by Stephen King (1983)

scariest books to read - Pet Sematary by Stephen King (1983)
Pet Sematary by Stephen King – scariest books of all time

Long live the King! And we are back with another Stephen King classic that will be on anyone’s list of scariest books to read. With two film adaptations in 1989 and 2019, King’s 1983 horror novel takes a dark look at what love, family and grief can make us do and what dabbling with forces we don’t truly understand can lead to. 

Nominated for the 1984 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, Stephen King’s Pet Sematary tells the story of a family that deals with loss and grief and the consequences of questioning the will of nature. 

The story follows Dr. Louis Creed, who moves with his family to a small town in Maine to take up a job as a physician. They discover a pet cemetery in the woods behind their house, where local children bury their pets. 

However, when their beloved cat is killed, Louis discovers a deeper, darker secret about the cemetery that allows the dead to come back to life. But with every resurrection, something evil is also brought back, leading to disastrous consequences for the Creed family. 

Pet Sematary is a gripping tale of grief, loss, and the supernatural, exploring the themes of death and resurrection in King’s characteristic style. It is considered one of his most chilling and disturbing works because this is one of the best horror books of all time. 

8. Ghost Story by Peter Straub (1979)

scariest books to read - Ghost Story by Peter Straub (1979)
Ghost Story by Peter Stra – best horror novels of all time

A national bestseller, American author Peter Straub’s 1979 horror novel Ghost Story was reviewed as “one of the finest horror novels of the late 20th century” by Stephen King. The story is set in the fictional town of Milburn, New York, where four elderly men gather to share ghost stories. 

However, when they start experiencing terrifying supernatural events, they realize that the stories they told may have summoned a vengeful spirit from their past. The novel weaves together multiple storylines and perspectives, including those of the four men and their families, creating a complex and chilling tale of guilt, loss, and the power of the supernatural. 

Ghost Story is considered one of the greatest horror novels of the 20th century, known for its intricate plotting, psychological depth, and spine-tingling scares. This is without a shadow of doubt one of the best horror novels of all time.

Want more scary books to read after dark? Here we go…..

9. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1977)

scariest books to read - The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1977)
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson – scariest books to read

Ah yes, The Amityville Horror. Unless you have been sleeping in an abandoned, haunted castle for the past 50 years, you’re probably aware of The Amityville Horror whether through movies, documentaries, online videos or the original horror book by American writer Jay Anson.

Based on the supposed true events experienced by George and Kathy Lutz, The Amityville Horror is a non-fiction horror book published in 1977. The book tells the allegedly true story of the Lutz family, who moved into a large house in Amityville, New York, with their three children. 

The family claims to have been terrorized by malevolent supernatural forces that seemed to be connected to the house’s violent history, including a mass murder committed by the infamous Ronald Joseph DeFeo Jr. in 1974, the previous occupant of the house. 

The book recounts the family’s experiences with haunting phenomena such as moving furniture, foul odors, and ghostly apparitions. The story of the Lutz family’s ordeal has become a cultural phenomenon, spawning numerous adaptations in film and television. 

Despite its controversial reputation and disputed veracity, The Amityville Horror remains one of the most well-known and iconic horror books of all time. It has captured the imaginations of readers with its terrifying depictions of a haunted house and its inhabitants who are trapped inside. Any horror fan knows that this book is absolutely one of the scariest books to read.

10. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)

scariest books to read - House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – best horror books of all time

House of Leaves is a postmodern horror novel by Mark Z. Danielewski, published in 2000. The novel is presented as a series of interlocking narratives, including a manuscript about a documentary film that doesn’t exist, the footnotes of a blind man who finds the manuscript, and the story of the family who is the subject of the film. 

The novel centers around a house that is bigger on the inside than the outside, and the strange and terrifying events that unfold within it. The book is known for its unconventional layout, including multiple fonts, colors, and typography styles, as well as for its use of footnotes, which often have footnotes of their own. 

House of Leaves is a challenging and mind-bending work that plays with the conventions of the horror genre while exploring themes of loss, madness, and the nature of reality. It is considered a modern classic of horror fiction.

Related: 100+ Scariest Two Sentence Horror Stories That’ll Scare The Living Daylights Out Of You

11. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (1983)

scariest books to read - The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (1983)
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill – scariest novels of all time

From English author Susan Hill, this 1983 gothic horror novel is certainly one of the scariest books to read that you must add to your personal library. It is about a mysterious, supernatural force that haunts a small town on the north east coast of England. This is undoubtedly one of the scariest novels of all time.

The story is set in the early 20th century and follows Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor who is sent to a remote coastal town to settle the affairs of a deceased client. However, when he arrives, he discovers that the town is haunted by a malevolent spirit – a woman in black – who seems to be seeking revenge for a past wrong. 

As Kipps delves deeper into the town’s dark history, he becomes increasingly entangled in the woman’s vengeful schemes, and his own life is put in grave danger. 

Hill’s writing is atmospheric and chilling, evoking the eerie landscape and oppressive atmosphere of the town. The Woman in Black is a timeless and classic ghost story that has been adapted into numerous films, plays, and other media, including a 2012 film adaption featuring Daniel Radcliffe. It remains a beloved and spine-tingling tale of horror to this day. 

12. The Demonologist by Gerald Brittle (1980)

scariest books to read - The Demonologist by Gerald Brittle (1980)
The Demonologist by Gerald Brittle – best horror books of all time

Thanks to James Wan’s The Conjuring universe, most of us have become familiar with real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Author Gerald Brittle’s 1980 non-fiction horror book “The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren” puts the spotlight on the unbelievable career of the renowned husband-wife duo and makes us realize how real these horror stories can actually be. 

Filled with photographs of phenomena, The Demonologist by Gerald Brittle follows the real-life experiences of the Warrens. The book documents the couple’s investigations of various hauntings, possessions, and exorcisms they encountered throughout their career. The Warrens were widely known for their involvement in high-profile cases such as the Amityville Horror, the Annabelle doll, and the Enfield Poltergeist.

The book not only chronicles the couple’s cases but also delves into their personal lives and their deep Catholic faith, which they believed was a crucial part of their work. Through their cases, the Warrens explore the darker side of the supernatural and offer insights into the methods they used to combat demonic forces.

The Demonologist is a chilling read that blurs the line between fact and fiction, providing readers with a glimpse into the paranormal world and the Warrens’ approach to dealing with it. 

Brittle’s engaging writing style and attention to detail make this book a must-read for fans of true crime and horror. This book is truly unputdownable as it is one of the best horror books of all time. 

13. Hell House by Richard Matheson (1971)

scariest books to read - Hell House by Richard Matheson (1971)
Hell House by Richard Matheson – best horror novels of all time

Among the scariest books to read, this is also my favorite one! Crafted by renowned science fiction and horror author Richard Matheson, Hell House is one of the most terrifying books you can ever read. This horror novel follows a team of four investigators who are hired to explore and document the paranormal activity inside Belasco House, also known as “Hell House.” 

The house was the site of numerous grisly murders and mysterious deaths, and it is believed to be haunted by the vengeful spirits of its former occupants. The team includes a physicist, a spiritualist, a mental medium, and the only survivor of a previous investigation. 

As they begin to explore the house, they are confronted by a series of terrifying phenomena, including apparitions, violent poltergeist activity, and even possession.

As the investigation progresses, the team members become increasingly isolated and vulnerable, and their own dark pasts begin to surface. With the stakes rising and their sanity at risk, they must confront the malevolent forces of Hell House and attempt to survive its horrors.

Matheson’s expert pacing and skillful use of psychological terror make Hell House a classic in the horror genre, and a must-read for fans of haunted house stories as it is among the best horror novels of all time.

14. The Ritual by Adam Nevill (2011) 

scariest books to read - The Ritual by Adam Nevill (2011) 
The Ritual by Adam Nevill – best horror novels of all time

Winner of the August Derleth Award in 2012 for Best Horror Novel, The Ritual is hands down one of the best horror novels of all time to read. The creepy and intensely scary book deals with friendship, isolation and fear in a mysterious forest.  

Adam Nevill’s 2011 horror novel The Ritual follows a group of four friends who embark on a hiking trip in the Scandinavian wilderness. However, when they take a shortcut through a dense forest, they stumble upon an ancient and terrifying presence, and their trip takes a horrifying turn.

As the group becomes increasingly lost and disoriented, they begin to experience bizarre and frightening occurrences, including strange symbols etched into trees, mysterious totems, and the unnerving feeling of being watched.

As tensions rise and the group’s sanity begins to fracture, they must confront their deepest fears and fight for their survival against the malevolent entity that has taken hold of the forest.

Nevill’s writing creates a haunting atmosphere that immerses readers in the terror of the wilderness, and his skillful use of tension and suspense make The Ritual a chilling and unforgettable horror novel. 

The book was adapted into a successful horror film in 2017, cementing its status as a modern horror classic. This is one of the scariest books to read that you can find.

15. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (2013)

scariest books to read - NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (2013)
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – Scariest Books To Read

Pronounced Nosferatu, this 2013 book is the third novel written by author Joe Hill, son of horror maestro Stephen King. The horror novel tells the story of a mother desperate to protect her son from a supernatural force.

NOS4A2 follows the story of a young woman named Victoria McQueen, who discovers she has a unique ability to find lost things by riding her bike over a mysterious bridge. However, when she crosses paths with the sinister Charlie Manx, who kidnaps children and takes them to a place called Christmasland, Victoria’s life is forever changed.

As the story unfolds, readers are taken on a terrifying journey through the dark world of Charlie Manx and his twisted plans for the children he has taken. Victoria, now a mother herself, must confront her past and face off against Charlie Manx in a battle to save her own son and put an end to his evil ways.

With its chilling atmosphere, complex characters, and thrilling plot, NOS4A2 is a gripping read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Joe Hill’s masterful storytelling and expert use of horror elements make this novel a standout in the genre, and a must-read for fans of Stephen King and horror stories.

There are many more scary books to read and add to your collection. Read on….

16. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz (1981)

scariest books to read - Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz (1981)
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz – Scariest Books To Read

Regardless of your age, this is the scariest anthology horror book you can get your hands on. Consisting of a collection of eerie and spooky stories for both children and adults, the horror stories are written by Alvin Schwartz and the spooky illustrations are by Stephen Gammell.

The stories in the book are based on folklore and urban legends, and range from spooky ghost stories to gruesome tales of supernatural revenge. Some of the most memorable stories include “The Big Toe,” “Harold,” and “The Red Spot.”

The book is aimed primarily at children and young adults and is known for its eerie illustrations and spine-chilling tales. The book’s illustrations are particularly unsettling, featuring grotesque and unsettling imagery that adds to the overall sense of dread and unease.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has become a classic in the horror genre, and its popularity has only grown over the years. The book has inspired a series of sequels and adaptations, including a film adaptation in 2019, which brought the creepy tales to a whole new generation of horror fans. This is one of the best horror books of all time for children.

17. Tomie by Junji Ito (1987)

scariest books to read - Tomie by Junji Ito (1987)
Tomie by Junji Ito – most terrifying books

From the mind of the legendary Japanese horror manga artist Junji Ito, Tomie is a horror manga series that has been adapted into multiple movies, an anthology series for television and another series for a streaming platform. This clearly speaks for the quality of Tomie as a top-rated horror manga (Japanese graphic novels) series.

Written and illustrated by Junji Ito, the series centers around the titular character, Tomie, a beautiful and seductive girl who possesses a supernatural power to make men fall in love with her and drive them to madness.

The series is told in a non-linear fashion, with each chapter featuring a different incarnation of Tomie, who is constantly being killed and reborn in increasingly grotesque and horrifying ways. The stories explore themes of obsession, jealousy, and the destructive power of beauty.

Throughout the series, Tomie manipulates and destroys the lives of those around her, and her very existence seems to be a curse on anyone who becomes involved with her. As the series progresses, the violence and horror escalate, with Tomie becoming increasingly monstrous and grotesque with each incarnation.

Ito’s unique art style, which blends body horror and surrealism, perfectly complements the nightmarish world of Tomie. The series has become a cult classic in the horror genre. But be warned – Tomie is not for the faint of heart, only for fans of extreme horror. No doubt, it is a must-read.

18. The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft (1928)

scariest books to read - The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft (1928)
The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft – best horror books of all time

How can any list of scariest books to read be complete without some Lovecraftian horror. Written by renowned American author H. P. Lovecraft in 1926, the story about the fictional cosmic entity the Cthulhu was first published in 1928. The story is part of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, a shared fictional universe featuring a pantheon of ancient and malevolent deities.

The story follows the investigation of the mysterious death of an artist named Johansen, who died shortly after encountering a bizarre, monstrous creature in the Pacific Ocean. The protagonist of the story, Francis Thurston, uncovers a sinister cult devoted to the worship of the creature, known as Cthulhu (pronounced kuh-thoo-loo).

As Thurston delves deeper into the cult’s activities, he uncovers a vast and terrifying conspiracy involving ancient gods and eldritch horrors from beyond the stars. The Call of Cthulhu is a seminal work of horror fiction and a cornerstone of Lovecraft’s mythos. 

The story is known for its vivid imagery and haunting atmosphere, as well as its exploration of themes such as madness, the supernatural, and the fragility of human sanity in the face of cosmic horror. This is truly a classic among all the scariest novels of all time.

Related: 13 True Scary Stories Reddit Users Share That’ll Keep You Up All Night

19. The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood (1910)

scariest books to read - The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood (1910)
The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood – Scariest Books To Read

The Wendigo is a horror novella written by English novelist Algernon Blackwood, regarded as one of the most prolific horror authors in the history of the genre. The story follows a group of hunters on a winter expedition in the Canadian wilderness, who become terrorized by a malevolent spirit known as the Wendigo.

As the group journeys deeper into the wilderness, they begin to experience strange and unsettling occurrences, including the inexplicable disappearance of one of their companions and the appearance of strange tracks in the snow. Soon, they realize that they are being stalked by a powerful and ancient entity that is said to devour the flesh and soul of its victims.

The novella is renowned for its vivid descriptions of the Canadian wilderness and its evocative portrayal of the supernatural. The Wendigo explores themes of the unknown, as well as the power of nature and the terror of the unseen.

Blackwood’s writing style is both haunting and atmospheric, creating a sense of unease and foreboding that lingers long after the story is finished. The book remains a classic of the horror genre and is considered one of Blackwood’s greatest works.

Looking for more suggestions for scary books for adults? Here are some more scary books to read….

20. The Fisherman by John Langan (2016)

scariest books to read - The Fisherman by John Langan (2016)
The Fisherman by John Langan – scary books for adults

Winner of the prestigious Bram Stoker Award in 2016, this horror novel is written by  American author John Langan. Published in 2016, The Fisherman tells the story of two grieving men, Abe and Dan, who find solace in fishing. They learn of a mysterious and dangerous fishing spot in upstate New York and become obsessed with exploring it.

As they venture deeper into the woods, they uncover a dark and ancient evil that has been dormant for centuries. They soon realize that their curiosity may have dire consequences as they become entangled in a sinister plot involving the underworld and supernatural beings.

The story is told in a nonlinear fashion, with flashbacks and multiple narrators, adding to the sense of foreboding and unease. The book skillfully weaves together horror, mythology, and folklore, creating a unique and chilling reading experience.

Langan’s writing style is descriptive and atmospheric, drawing the reader into the dark and foreboding world of the novel. The characters are well-developed, and their relationships and motivations are explored in depth. The Fisherman is a haunting and thought-provoking novel that will linger in your mind long after the final page.

21. The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)

scariest books to read - The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)
The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe – Scariest Books To Read

While not technically a novel, this famous horror short story by one of my all time favorite authors Edgar Allan Poe is an absolute must read for any horror fan. First published in 1843, The Black Cat has all the elements to become one of the scariest books to read, which is elevated further by Poe’s skilful writing style.

The Black Cat is a haunting and unsettling tale of psychological horror that has captivated readers for over a century. The story is narrated by an unnamed protagonist who becomes increasingly disturbed and unstable after he begins mistreating his beloved black cat, Pluto. 

As the story progresses, the protagonist’s behavior becomes more erratic and violent, culminating in a horrifying act of murder. However, the narrator’s guilt and paranoia are amplified when a second black cat appears in his life, seemingly tormenting him and driving him further into madness.

Poe’s writing style is highly atmospheric and suspenseful, immersing the reader in the narrator’s spiraling mental state. The story explores themes of guilt, conscience, and the destructive power of addiction.

The Black Cat is notable for its use of symbolism, particularly in the form of the black cat, which represents the narrator’s guilt and moral decay. The story has been adapted numerous times in film and television, and remains a classic of the horror genre.

22. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (1962)

scariest books to read - Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (1962)
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – scariest books of all time

A perfect blend of horror and dark fantasy, Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes will give you nightmares for several nights after you have completed reading it. Bradbury’s mesmerizing and masterful writing style makes this horror fantasy novel a classic and a must read for any horror fan. 

The story takes place in a small town in Illinois, where two boys, Jim and Will, become fascinated by the arrival of a traveling carnival that promises to fulfill their wildest dreams. However, as they explore the carnival and its mysterious attractions, they discover that the carnival’s leader, Mr. Dark, has sinister intentions and is capable of granting wishes at a terrible cost. 

The boys, along with Will’s father, Charles, must confront their deepest fears and face off against Mr. Dark and his minions in order to save the town from their nefarious plans.

Bradbury’s writing style is lyrical and poetic, evoking a sense of wonder and magic in the carnival’s attractions, as well as a sense of dread and foreboding in its darker aspects. The novel explores themes of aging, mortality, and the power of temptation.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is considered a classic of the horror and fantasy genres, and has been adapted into several films and television series. It remains a beloved and influential work of fiction, celebrated for its vivid imagery, memorable characters, and haunting themes as it is one of the scariest novels of all time.

23. The October Country by Ray Bradbury (1955)

scariest books to read - The October Country by Ray Bradbury (1955)
The October Country by Ray Bradbury – most terrifying books

Since we are talking about Ray Bradbury’s greatest works, I have to add The October Country to this list of scariest books to read. It is a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury, first published in 1955. 

The October Country includes nineteen spooky tales of terror and all the stories are set in an eerie and unsettling version of small-town America, where supernatural events and macabre occurrences are commonplace. 

The short stories explore themes of death, love, loneliness, and the darker aspects of human nature. Bradbury’s writing style is evocative and poetic, imbuing even the most gruesome or surreal stories with a sense of beauty and wonder. 

The October Country is considered a classic of the horror and fantasy genres, and has inspired countless writers and filmmakers with its unique blend of horror, humor, and humanity.

Related: Phantasmata – Scary Story

24. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (1980)

scariest books to read - The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (1980)
The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule – Scariest Books To Read

From ghosts and supernatural beings to real-life monsters who look and behave just like you and me, this list of best scary books of all time will keep you up for nights as we move into true crime territory. 

The scariest monsters are the ones who walk beside us. At least that’s what Ann Rule’s autobiographical true crime book The Stranger Beside will make you feel.

First published in 1980, the book tells the story of Ted Bundy, the infamous real-life American serial killer who murdered at least 30 young women in the 1970s. The book focuses on Ann Rule’s personal relationship with Bundy before he was identified as the killer. 

Rule and Bundy had worked together at a crisis hotline, and Rule was initially a staunch defender of Bundy’s innocence. However, as the evidence against Bundy began to mount, Rule began to suspect that her friend may have been involved in the murders.

The book offers a unique perspective on Bundy’s crimes, as Rule was one of the few people who knew him well before his true nature was revealed. Rule’s insights into Bundy’s personality, behavior, and modus operandi provide a chilling glimpse into the mind of a serial killer. The book is both a gripping true crime account and a poignant exploration of the devastating impact of violence on the lives of victims and their families.

The Stranger Beside Me is considered a landmark work of true crime literature, and has been adapted into several films and television series. It remains a haunting and powerful testament to the dangers of evil lurking in the most unexpected places.

25. It by Stephen King (1986)

scariest books to read - It by Stephen King (1986)
It by Stephen King -most terrifying books

Saving the best for the last, I guess. And we are back to the King of horror – Stephen King for our final entry in our list of scariest books you can ever read. Made popular by the 1990 miniseries and the 2017 film, the novel covers two distinct time periods as it tells the story of “IT”, an ancient evil entity that preys on children.

The story takes place in the small town of Derry, Maine, where a group of friends known as the “Losers Club” must confront an evil, trans-dimensional entity that takes the form of a clown named Pennywise.

The novel alternates between the past and the present, as the Losers Club first encounters Pennywise as children. Later they reunite as adults to finally defeat the monster once and for all. Along the way, they must face their deepest fears and confront the traumas of their past.

King’s writing style is immersive and character-driven, with a vivid depiction of small-town life and the power of childhood imagination. The novel explores themes of friendship, trauma, and the cyclical nature of evil.

“It” is considered one of King’s most iconic and influential works, and has been adapted into several film and television adaptations. The novel’s depiction of Pennywise the Clown has become an enduring pop culture icon, and the book remains a terrifying and unforgettable journey into the heart of darkness.

25 More best scary books of all time

Want more scary books for adults? Here are 25 more most terrifying books of all time that deserve special mention, but in no particular order:

  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
  • Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
  • Misery by Stephen King
  • The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
  • The Omen by David Seltzer
  • American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
  • World War Z by Max Brooks
  • The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose by Thomas B. Allen
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
  • The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
  • House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Birds by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Collector by John Fowles
  • The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
  • The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel
  • The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe

These are just a few examples of some of the most popular and best scary books of all time, with many others also worthy of consideration. 

Now, since we are already talking about horror and scary stuff, do you know what is even scarier and disturbing than ghosts? Toxic, abusive people. Yes, abusive people are even more dangerous than ghosts can ever be.

If you have ever been in an abusive relationship, you know exactly what I mean. When love becomes toxic, and the person you love and trust turns on you and has only one goal: to destroy you, what happens then?

In situations like this, it’s crucial to know how to protect yourself from such toxic people and relationships and how to build the right sort of boundaries.

Toxic Love Disorder

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Toxic Love Disorder, our latest creation is out now on Amazon that talks in detail about everything related to abuse and abusive relationships. It’s the perfect handbook for anyone who is struggling to get out of a toxic and manipulative relationship. And not just them, it’s a goldmine of information for anyone who is interested to know more about abuse, manipulation and scary relationships.

Love sure is intoxicating and how! Order your now copy now and open the doors to empowerment!

Related: 16 Signs You Are Being Visited By A Spirit Or Ghost

Do you love horror stories?

It was a quiet and peaceful night, and Sarah had just settled into bed. As she was about to close her eyes, she heard a soft knock on her bedroom window. At first, she thought it was just a tree branch tapping against the glass, but then she heard it again.

Her heart racing, she got out of bed and cautiously approached the window. As she drew closer, she noticed a figure standing outside, shrouded in darkness. She couldn’t make out who or what it was, but she felt a chill run down her spine.

Sarah’s first instinct was to call the police, but she hesitated. What if it was someone in need of help? The figure slowly moved and knocked again, louder and more aggressive. Sarah couldn’t ignore it any longer.

Her hands trembled as she moved in closer to open the window. But that’s when she realized it. The figure…it was not standing outside the window. It was simply a reflection of the figure on the glass pane illuminated by the silver moonlight. The shadowy figure was standing inside, in her bedroom… right behind her. 

As Sarah slowly turned around she could finally see the face… It was her. Only distorted and a lot more sinister. The shadowy figure leaped at Sarah, its eyes gleaming with malevolence. Sarah tried to scream, but a hand clamped over her mouth, silencing her. She was trapped, alone in the dark with her doppelganger that had come knocking from the other side to take her place.

Oooh….. Are you scared yet?

There’s something about horror stories and books that pull you in. We wonder if this could happen to us and live the terrifying experience through the protagonist of the book. Scary stories are fun to read and even to write. 

It makes us feel scared yet safe at the same time. It can be even more fun when you scare someone else by telling some creepy ghost stories. But why? Why do we love to read the most terrifying books of all time?

Related: 16 Signs Your House Is Haunted And What To Do About It

Why we read scary stories

People have told horror stories since the beginning of time. From folklores that passed down through generations to horror movies with gut-wrenching visual effects. But regardless of how amazing horror movies have become with technology, nothing has been able to replace the charm of reading a scary book. 

When you have the scariest books to read, you can experience fear in a safe and controlled environment. Fear is an emotion that helps us to react quickly in dangerous situations, and experiencing it in a controlled setting can be a thrilling and exhilarating experience. This is especially true for those who lead otherwise safe and predictable lives and are seeking a new type of experience.

Horror stories also allow us to explore our own fears and anxieties in a non-threatening way. By exposing ourselves to scary situations in a fictional context, we can confront and overcome our own fears and anxieties in real life. 

A recent 2020 study revealed that horror entertainment allows individuals to have risk-free, low-cost experience with fear and associated negative emotions. Readers of horror books tend to respond to the story “with negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, dread, and disgust without being in actual danger.”

Scary stories can also be a form of catharsis, helping us to release pent-up emotions and stress. Watching a horror movie or reading a scary book can provide a release of built-up tension, leaving us feeling more relaxed and relieved afterward.

But most of all, scary stories are simply fun and entertaining. They can provide an escape from reality and a chance to experience something completely different from our everyday lives.

Regardless of why you may love reading the best horror novels of all time, these books offer a safe way for us to experience thrill, excitement, catharsis, and entertainment at the same time.

Horror stories are timeless

Scary books have a timeless appeal that continues to captivate readers of all ages. Whether it’s the psychological terror of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” or the supernatural horrors of Stephen King’s “The Shining,” these stories have the power to unsettle and thrill in equal measure. 

They take readers on a journey into the unknown, confronting their deepest fears and exploring the darkest corners of the human psyche. For those who love a good scare, the scariest books to read are a must-read, offering a unique and unforgettable experience that will stay with them long after the final page has been turned.

As the list shared above is not exhaustive, there are tons of other scary books for adults out there that you can read, enjoy and get scared.

Just remember to keep the lights on tonight. 


Did you enjoy reading our list of the best horror books of all time? Which ones are the most terrifying books according to you? Drop a comment below!

Related: Are Ghosts Real? Here’s What Science Has To Say

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