The best fictional monsters and the brilliant books they live in

Who am I?

I’m Australian. I live in a country full of monsters. A Bunyip is known to live in the local river. I’ve driven the road where people encounter the Min Min. I’ve lived near where people just go missing from the highway and are never seen again, perhaps taken by aliens or the Kurdaitcha. And what Aussie kid hasn’t eaten a Yowie chocolate (named after the Australian version of Big Foot)? Monster stories play on primal fears of the unknown, but with the safety of knowing they are not real. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, and science-gone-wrong creatures are great in fiction, but I don’t want to meet them in real life.


I wrote...

Muse

By Iris Carden,

Book cover of Muse

What is my book about?

A failing author receives a visit from his imaginary childhood friend, who promises to make all his dreams come true, for an unnamed price. An artist paints a portrait of someone she dreamed about. 

They both find success, and everything is going well for them, until their monstrous benefactor comes to collect her prize. They discover she’s not a friend, or a rescuer, but a predator who wants far more than they’re willing to give.

The books I picked & why

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Dracula

By Bram Stoker,

Book cover of Dracula

Why this book?

Dracula was my introduction to fictional monsters. Vampires in folklore have been around forever, but Stoker was the first to put that folklore into a novel. I know the story’s been retold in movies and almost everyone is familiar with it, but reading it is different. I love how Stoker starts with what should be a normal business trip for Johnathon, takes it from normal to strange, to definitely weird, to frightening, to terrifying. Then he takes it back to weird as he moves the story to England, changes a few things up and then brings up the terror levels again. Stoker was a master at knowing when to build and when to release the tension in the story.

Dracula

By Bram Stoker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The very best story of diablerie which I have read for many years' Arthur Conan Doyle

A masterpiece of the horror genre, Dracula also probes identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire. It begins when Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, and makes horrifying discoveries in his client's castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England - an unmanned ship is wrecked; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck; a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his 'Master' - and a determined group of adversaries…


Frankenstein

By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,

Book cover of Frankenstein

Why this book?

Mary Shelley invented the science fiction genre with this book. When I read it the first time, I felt empathy for the monster, and outrage at his creator. Frankenstein created his “man” and was so horrified at his successful experiment, that he abandoned the creature, which had no idea who or what it was, or how to live its life. Everywhere the creature turned it was rejected and abused on the basis of its appearance, while its creator evaded his responsibility. The scientist was, in many ways, more monstrous than his monster.

Frankenstein

By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World'

'That rare story to pass from literature into myth' The New York Times

Mary Shelley's chilling Gothic tale was conceived when she was only eighteen, living with her lover Percy Shelley on Lake Geneva. The story of Victor Frankenstein who, obsessed with creating life itself, plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, but whose botched creature sets out to destroy his maker, would become the world's most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity. Based on the third…


The Vampire Lestat

By Anne Rice,

Book cover of The Vampire Lestat

Why this book?

I recommend all of Anne Rice’s vampire books. Rice’s vampires are attractive, alluring, but dangerous and deadly. The reader can’t trust what Lestat says, as he will say at one point that he only kills evildoers, or only takes small sips from people and leaves them unharmed. Then he tells stories about his actions which completely contradict what he’s said. There’s something worse than vampires in this book, however. A much older vampire, Marius, has been caring for Those Who Must be Kept. These are precursor vampires, more bloodthirsty and far less civilized than the vampires like Lestat. These creatures have slept for centuries, appearing to be statues, but what sleeps can be woken.

The Vampire Lestat

By Anne Rice,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Vampire Lestat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestselling author - Surrender to fiction's greatest creature of the night - Book II of the Vampire Chronicles

The vampire hero of Anne Rice’s enthralling novel is a creature of the darkest and richest imagination. Once an aristocrat in the heady days of pre-revolutionary France, now a rock star in the demonic, shimmering 1980s, he rushes through the centuries in search of others like him, seeking answers to the mystery of his eternal, terrifying exsitence. His is a mesmerizing story—passionate, complex, and thrilling.

Praise for The Vampire Lestat
 
“Frightening, sensual . . . Anne Rice will…


It

By Stephen King,

Book cover of It

Why this book?

It was my introduction to the deliciously deranged horror fiction of Stephen King. I first read it in my early 20s, when I was living alone for the first time. I would come home after work, and read into the night, then stay awake afraid of shadows. It is the ultimate monster, every nightmare, every insecurity or fear anyone has ever had. Only Stephen King could make a child’s balloon, or a paper boat into nightmare fuel, but they’ll float. “We all float down here.”

It

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This tie-in edition will be available from 16 July

TIE IN TO A NEW MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, IT: CHAPTER 2, ADAPTED FROM KING'S TERRIFYING CLASSIC

27 years later, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back...

Derry, Maine was just an ordinary town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part, a good place to live.

It was a group of children who saw- and felt- what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes…


Through the Woods

By Troy Blackford,

Book cover of Through the Woods

Why this book?

In the spirit of Frankenstein, this is another book about scientists not able to deal with what they have created. A massive, secretive, highly secure, government facility houses five cats. That’s right, cute little kitty cats. Specifically, they’re cute little, genetically-modified, super-psychic kitty cats. One of these enhanced cats is very sweet-natured and does not have a murderous hatred of humans. The others, well, let’s just say if they got out it would be very, very bad.

Through the Woods

By Troy Blackford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ben, fresh out of college, is starting his first week of work at a top secret governmental agency deep in the protected woods in the north of the country. He can only pick up bits and pieces about the fantastical things that go on at 'the Agency,' but he quickly realizes that the team's current assignment might be biting off more than they can chew.

The experiment that his team is assigned to has the potential to go very wrong, though only Ben seems to see it at first. What begins as a mundane procedural testing of some seemingly-ordinary housecats…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in monsters, vampires, and cats?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about monsters, vampires, and cats.

Monsters Explore 102 books about monsters
Vampires Explore 191 books about vampires
Cats Explore 134 books about cats

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Once and Future King, The Lord of the Rings, and The Road if you like this list.