Fantastic Scary Books List

I *love* a good scary story. Having grown up on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Alvin Schwartz) and Alfred Hitchcock’s’ Mystery Magazine, I came to learn that stories with a twist at the end are the kind that really grab my attention. I tend to like psychological horror instead of blood and guts horror (you will never catch me at a Saw movie). I truly appreciate the books that turn a concept upside down and then put that idea in a corner of my brain to take root going forward.

scary picEvery October I put out feelers for scary stories (and no, the U.S. tax code does not belong on the list.) I’ll list a few of mine, but I also invite you to add your favorite scary stories in the comment section so that we can all enjoy.

Johnny Got His Gun – Dalton Trumbo – a young man is wounded in war. He loses all limbs, his sight and his ability to speak. The book takes place in a military hospital. This is one of those books that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Dracula – Bram Stoker – I can’t tell you how much I hate vampires, but this book transcends people who sparkle in sunlight. Well written, atmospheric. Not only a scary book, but a great lesson in pacing and building action.

Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane – the movie is great, the book is even better.

Any of the Hannibal Lecter series- Thomas Harris – unimaginable which makes it that much creepier when the author turns it into reality.

Unwind – Neal Shusterman – Chapter 13! Chapter 13! You will *never* stop thinking about this book.

We Need To talk About Kevin – Lorelei King – every mother’s worst nightmare comes true in this book. Riveting and emotionally exhausting.

Okay your turn, in honor of the spookiest month of the year, what are some of the scariest books you’ve ever read?


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

14 thoughts on “Fantastic Scary Books List

  1. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It’s beautifully creepy. Though, I would caution anyone thinking about it to not pick it up unless you have the time. It is a pretty big time commitment.

  2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. She could terrify without gore and without throwing the story in your face. She let it creep up behind you.

  3. Thank you for the list. I never read horror, though I thought of starting it soon. These books will be the first I guess, which I shall read to quench the horror reading thirst in me.

  4. If you like psychological horror, then you should definitely read Company of Liars by Karen Maitland–it’s the Decameron and Canterbury Tales meets the Bad Seed. It takes place in 14th century England during the plague and is one of those stories that haunts you for weeks later.

  5. Pingback: Friday Fun – Favorite Scary Read | Live to Write – Write to Live

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