The best books featuring plagues

Kristal Stittle Author Of Survival Instinct: A Zombie Novel
By Kristal Stittle

Who am I?

I live in sight of an extremely busy highway. On the rare days when I wake up to an empty house, I go look at the cars to confirm that I’m not the last person on Earth. There’s always been this part of me that assumes an unprecedented disaster is coming. The best way to soothe that fear, is to read (and write) books about it. Understanding how people survive, or not, feels like a great way to prepare for the unknown. Plagues are particularly bad, especially those of the biblical sense. Water turning to blood, swarms of insects, prolonged darkness, all of these are lethal under the right circumstances.

I wrote...

Survival Instinct: A Zombie Novel

By Kristal Stittle,

Book cover of Survival Instinct: A Zombie Novel

What is my book about?

On the surface, the city of Leighton is just like any other city: tall buildings, busy streets, and populated by a wide variety of people. It also has rats. These vermin are unlike the average pest, because they are carrying a deadly contagion. Havoc ensues as the devastating virus seeps into the unsuspecting populace, turning friends and family against each other. Atrocities of savage behavior are spreading faster than people can outrun, and the citizens get recklessly desperate. Whether by joining forces, or by standing alone, survival is on everyone’s mind. Unfortunately, not everyone will escape with their life.

The books I picked & why

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The Deep

By Nick Cutter,

Book cover of The Deep

Why this book?

As if a plague of memory loss that eventually makes you forget how to breathe isn’t scary enough, Cutter takes us deep under the ocean, to a lab where something has gone terribly wrong with our potential saviors. This is the most claustrophobic book I’ve ever read. You can feel the crushing weight of the water and the dark just outside the lab’s walls. There’s a wonderful sort of madness to the whole thing, and one scene, in particular, continues to haunt me.


By David Moody,

Book cover of Hater

Why this book?

This is the novel that inspired me to write my own novels. It’s a wild concept, where a percentage of the population is suddenly overcome by hate. They become Haters, with a driving need to kill anyone who’s not a Hater, who they can identify just by seeing their eyes. Moody takes this idea and grounds it in Danny, a man who’s incredibly human and frustrated with his life. I’ve never before read a book about such a normal person in such an insane predicament. Danny’s not a hero, he’s just doing his best.

The Rats

By James Herbert,

Book cover of The Rats

Why this book?

Where there are people, there are rats (except in Alberta, apparently, which I find suspicious). Rats have been known to spread plagues, most famously the Black Death in the 1300s, because of the fleas on their backs. But Herbert made the rats themselves the plague. I’ve always had a fondness for any animal with fur, rats included, but Herbert’s made me look at them twice. This novel is a violent tearing of the dominance humans have over our small neighbors, as well as the flesh of several characters. It makes you think about all the little creatures we unknowingly share our space with, living just out of sight in the trees, and the sewers, and even in the walls of your home. Nothing’s as solid as it seems.

The Ruins

By Scott Smith,

Book cover of The Ruins

Why this book?

Have you ever visited a place with a different language and/or culture, and then gotten in trouble for not knowing the rules? Well, after reading The Ruins you will live in fear of this on every vacation you take, including the short ones to your own garden. In this novel, some tourists step on a vine-covered hill they should have left alone, and that’s it. The locals will kill them if they try to leave. Smith has created a simple horror out of being (seemingly) wrongfully imprisoned. Virulent vines and a weakening grip on reality make you question what your own choices might be. It’ll also have you peering closely at any open wounds, searching for a hint of green.

The Fireman

By Joe Hill,

Book cover of The Fireman

Why this book?

I’ve always heard that burning to death is the worst way to go. Well, Hill decided to set the world on fire with spontaneous combustion brought about by a spore. Despite how awful this would be in reality, Hill brings us a shred of hope, of light. The Fireman is a story about human connection. Sometimes those connections can spell disaster, they can be abused or misunderstood, but they’re also what save us. This book is a flame in the dark.

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