Spooking myself has always been a hobby of mine. I've watched a lot of horror movies all my life but nothing scares me more than a well-written horror novel. And no, I'm not talking about books dealing with vampires who court teenage girls. I'm talking about the really heavy stuff, those books which can make your spine tingle after reading just a few pages. I've compiled a short list of the top ten scariest horror novels I've read and here they are in descending order:
10. The Wolfen by Whitley Strieber
I've always thought werewolves are the least horrifying ones among the supernatural monsters but this book quickly changed my opinion. Strieber's "The Wolfen" really took its toll on me and it made me stay up till the wee hours of the morning. I highly recommend this not just to werewolf fans but to fans of horror novels in general.
9. Nightmare House by Douglas Clegg
This book defines real terror. I literally jumped out of my seat in certain parts of this novel even if I still haven't reached its halfway point! It will really make you think that there's some figment of truth to the fictional Harrow House described in the book. This is truly a masterpiece by Clegg and for me, even if its just a prequel, it remains to be his best work.
8. Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry
Epic in scope and cleverly plotted, Maberry's "Ghost Road Blues" took me by surprise. I've bought a second-hand copy of this book from my friend and he told me that it will scare me witless. At first, I was a bit underwhelmed, but as the tension builds and the dead bodies pile up, I began fearing for my own life. I actually got attached with several characters here. This book is definitely scary in more ways than one.
7. Books of Blood by Clive Barker
If you like your horror novel gruesome and gory, then Clive Barker's "Books of Blood" is right up your alley. A hefty collection composed of several volumes, these stories will haunt your imagination and may even play tricks on your mind. This is not for the faint of heart, and I really mean it when I say that.
6. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Nothing is scarier than a horror book based on a true story. This classic tale of demonic possession (and the movie which made a household name out of Linda Blair) is still revered as the scariest novel of all time. After reading it several times, I felt that the horror actually wore down. It's still terrifying, yes, but it's certainly not the scariest novel ever.
5. Misery by Stephen King
I could've put Stephen King's "The Stand" or "The Shining" here, but I find those books a tad overrated. In my opinion, "Misery" is still the best representation of the widely-acclaimed Master of Horror at the top of his form. It's claustrophobia at its finest. I always picture Annie Wilkes creeping beside me as I lie awake on my bed reading this book. I won't recommend this to people who love travelling alone during the winter season. If you've read "Misery" already, you know the reason why.
4. John Dies at the End by David Wong
Ahhh, I can't sing enough praises for this severely underrated novel by David Wong. Well, everyone I know loved it and I only find it underrated because it's not as popular as other best-sellers. This book takes horror to a whole different level. It's genuinely terrifying. The fact that it's also filled with moments of dark humor makes it even more special.
3. Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice
I'm not the type of person who questions my own faith, but Anne Rice made me think a lot about it with what she has written here. In terms of controversy, it's like the horror version of "The Da Vinci Code" with the added bonus of demons and vampires. I heard that this book has been banned in highly religious schools around the world, and after reading it, I know the reason why. For people who take religion seriously, this book can even be mortifying.
2. The Amulet by Michael McDowell
I'll be the first to admit that this isn't as scary as the other books in this list. So why did I put it so high up in my ranking? Well, this is the book that made me a fan of the horror genre in general. It is superbly written and the premise was nothing short of excellent. For a while there, I thought the cursed amulet will make its way into my home and wreak havoc among us too. That's how strangely riveting this novel is.
1. Infected by Scott Sigler
This book makes Clive Barker's gory works look amateurish. It is a tale so realistically described that you can't help but feel squeamish while reading it. I managed to finish it in two sittings. I only put it down because my eyes got tired and not because I got bored. This is one satisfying read and horror fans should grab a copy while it's still in stock.