The best animal attack novels

Why am I passionate about this?

Hello. I write make-believe. My stories are scary and gross. Some think I’m like that. I assure you I’m not. The truth is I don’t write most of the stuff—Logan does. Logan lives in a cage in my basement. Sometimes he has different names like Henry, Owen, or Finn. I even had one named Lincoln, just like the president. Good fit since Lincoln also had a beard and died due to unfortunate circumstances. Logan’s a cool name like that superhero who claws his enemies to death. Claws would be handy, though I bet they are a real pain to clean. The whip ensures Logan writes stories you’ll enjoy.


I wrote...

When the Devil Climbs

By Drake Vaughn,

Book cover of When the Devil Climbs

What is my book about?

In California’s rural central valley, Russ Grote works with other ex-convicts hanging billboards. With his parole ending, he’s scheduled to travel to Oklahoma to reunite with his teenage son who he hasn’t seen in years. This plan is interrupted as feral pigs attack the crew, forcing them to take refuge atop a remote billboard. The pigs appear to be infected with a mysterious virus, spitting neon-green drool, and refusing to leave. As the hours pass and help fails to arrive, the brutish ex-convicts grow desperate, willing to do anything to survive. Russ has spent years trying to escape his vicious past but revisiting it may be his only hope. Even if he survives, he fears who he might become when the devil climbs.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Jaws

Drake Vaughn Why did I love this book?

Known mostly from the popular Steven Spielberg film of the same name, the novel Jaws is likewise a classic that shouldn’t be missed. As animal attack stories go, it’d be hard to find a creature more terrifying than a great white shark. Described in thrilling and intense detail, Jaws pulls the reader in like a torn bag of chum. Although what really separates Jaws from the other garden-variety animal attack stories are the corrupt human characters whose negligence cause the shark menace to grow worse. Take the venal mayor whose mafia ties prevent him from closing the beaches. Or the love affair that complicates the protagonists’ journey. Jaws shows the only thing worse than a monster in the sea are the ones staring back in the mirror.     

By Peter Benchley,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Jaws as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter Benchley's Jaws first appeared in 1974. As well as Steven Spielberg's film adaptation, the novel has sold over twenty million copies around the world, creating a legend that refuses to die.

It's never safe to go back in the water . . .

It was just another day in the life of a small Atlantic resort until the terror from the deep came to prey on unwary holiday makers. The first sign of trouble - a warning of what was to come - took the form of a young woman's body, or what was left of it, washed up…


Book cover of The Rats

Drake Vaughn Why did I love this book?

What if rats went from carrying diseases to being a plague themselves? This is the premise Herbert explores in his seminal animal attack novel. The only thing worse than one monster is thousands of them attacking all at once. Herbert’s vivid descriptions of the rats and their attacks mirror the cold and vicious setting of the East London suburbs. Poverty and neglect provide the perfect breeding ground for these man-eating rats. Herbert uniquely focuses upon English society’s underbelly—vagrants, alcoholics, and other undesirables—as the victims, allowing proper society to turn a blind eye to the growing rat threat. Part horror novel and part social critique, The Rats broke every rule to horror fiction up to that point and cemented animal attack stories as a classic horror trope.

By James Herbert,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Rats as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A special fortieth anniversary edition of The Rats, the classic, bestselling horror novel that launched James Herbert's career.

With a foreword by Neil Gaiman, author of Norse Mythology.

It was only when the bones of the first devoured victims were discovered that the true nature and power of these swarming black creatures with their razor sharp teeth and the taste for human blood began to be realized by a panic-stricken city. For millions of years man and rats had been natural enemies. But now for the first time - suddenly, shockingly, horribly - the balance of power had shifted .…


Book cover of Cujo

Drake Vaughn Why did I love this book?

No horror list would be complete without a Stephen King entry, and of all his animal attack stories Cujo still reigns supreme. Set in small-town Maine, King unmasks the rotten underbelly of an archetypical American town. In classic King fashion, a childhood dream is turned into a nightmare when a friendly Saint Bernard dog, Cujo, is bitten by a rabid bat and transforms into a vicious monster. The story revolves around a broken family still reeling from the mother’s affair. When the father disappears to deal with a corporate scandal, the family is further threatened as Cujo traps the mother and her son inside a hot car. Both physical and phycological threats drive the heart of this intense book. A gruesome gut punch, King delivers an unforgettable page-turning horror.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Cujo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller, Cujo “hits the jugular” (The New York Times) with the story of a friendly Saint Bernard that is bitten by a bat. Get ready to meet the most hideous menace ever to terrorize the town of Castle Rock, Maine.

Outside a peaceful town in central Maine, a monster is waiting. Cujo is a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard, the best friend Brett Camber has ever had. One day, Cujo chases a rabbit into a cave inhabited by sick bats and emerges as something new altogether.

Meanwhile, Vic and Donna Trenton, and their young son Tad, move…


Book cover of Jurassic Park

Drake Vaughn Why did I love this book?

Twisting childhood dreams into nightmares is a typical horror trope, yet none do it with such caliber as Crichton’s Jurassic Park. Imagine a child’s joy visiting a theme park filled with their favorite dinosaurs…and their terror as these creatures escape to wreak havoc. Blending horror with a pop novel style, Jurassic Park treads the line between cultural critique and commerciality with ease. The characters lack the serious pathos of the other stories on this list, but they certainly aren’t boring. This rapid-paced tale is impossible to put down as the tension builds with dinosaur-chomping action. As a critique of modern science, such as DNA and cloning, the novel explores moral and ethical challenges of our era. But again, the real draw are the towering cold-blooded lizards.

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Jurassic Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Crichton's most compulsive novel' Sunday Telegraph
'Crichton's dinosaurs are genuinely frightening' Chicago Sun-Times
'Breathtaking adventure. . . a book that is as hard to put down as it is to forget' Time Out

-------------------------------

The international bestseller that inspired the Jurassic Park film franchise.

On a remote jungle island, genetic engineers have created a dinosaur game park.

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now one of mankind's most thrilling fantasies has come true and the first dinosaurs that the Earth has seen in the time of man emerge.

But, as always, there is a…


Book cover of Slugs

Drake Vaughn Why did I love this book?

Some animal attack stories are terrifying, some are social critiques, and some are just plain gross-out ridiculous fun. Slugs by Shaun Hutson is the latter—a trashy pulp novel filled with a roller-coaster of shock entertainment. As an animal to fear, slugs aren’t really that scary, but boy are they gross. Hutson delivers on this premise through shocking scenes of descriptive gore. If popped eyeballs and ripped flesh are your thing, Slugs delivers in troves. Do not take anything in this book seriously—the plot is absurd, the characters shallow, and the sex stuff sounds like it was written by a middle-school virgin, however, it’s impossible to put down. There’s no social commentary or character growth, only pulpy escapist fantasy. And sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

By Shaun Hutson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slugs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One hot summer, a new breed of slugs begins to multiply with terrifying consequences for the townsfolk of Merton. The author also wrote "Assassin", "Death Day" and "Spawn".


You might also like...

Evil Alice and the Borzoi

By DK Coutant,

Book cover of Evil Alice and the Borzoi

DK Coutant Author Of Evil Alice and the Borzoi

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Professor Cross Cultural Psychologist Dog Lover Traveler Reader

DK's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Cleo Cooper, a cross-cultural psychology professor, is living the dream on the Big Island of Hawaii. With ocean-dipping weekends, she enjoys her dog, her job, and her boyfriend Ben - until the day she’s on a research vessel and a dead body is caught in the dragline.

The police determine it is murder and set their sights on a gentle former student, Kai. It doesn’t take much urging from Kai’s auntie for Cleo to investigate. But Ben grows distant, and Cleo’s dog grows ill. A couple of accidental deaths later, and someone makes an attempt on her life.

What happened to Cleo’s life in paradise? Can she discover the true killer? Can she stop the killer before the killer stops her?

Evil Alice and the Borzoi

By DK Coutant,

What is this book about?

Paradise is shaken when the body of a young woman is dragged onto a university research vessel during a class outing in Hilo Bay. Cleo Cooper is shaken when she finds her favorite student is on the hook for the murder. Danger lurks on land and sea as Cleo and her friends are enticed to search for the true killer. In between paddling, swimming, and arguing with her boyfriend, Cleo discovers all is not what it seems on the Big Island of Hawaii. But will she figure out the truth before she becomes the next victim?


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in genetic engineering, rats, and sharks?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about genetic engineering, rats, and sharks.

Genetic Engineering Explore 51 books about genetic engineering
Rats Explore 16 books about rats
Sharks Explore 21 books about sharks