The best gateway books into the horror genre

Who am I?

I’ve been ensconced in horror since childhood—from the Monster Double Feature to Creepy and Tomb of Dracula. I’m part of the Monster Squad; I’m what goes bump in the night. I live for the scare. My love for all things spooky started young, growing up with Bradbury and Matheson, before graduating to King, Koontz, and Straub. I continued to absorb horror wherever I could: books, films, and comics, drinking it in as quickly as it came out. Eventually, I found that I’d absorbed so many stories, I had one or two of my own to contributeso I began writing short stories and novels to terrorize the genre myself!


I wrote...

Book cover of Threshold

What is my book about?

After the death of her grandmother, Cate inherits an antique mirror. The frame is detailed, ageless. The glass unmarred. Impeccable. Cate can't put her finger on it, but there's something wrong with the way her reflection looks back at her.

Cate assumes the mirror has a storied history, but it doesn't seem to have any history at all. Previous owners have all disappeared, leaving Cate to piece together its mysterious origin. At first, this didn't seem like a problem, but Cate's life is twisting in unusual ways since taking ownership of the artifact. Plagued by nightmares and haunted by her own reflection, she can hardly close her eyes. Perhaps it is exhaustion. Perhaps it is something else entirely.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Fifty Year Sword

Andy Lockwood Why did I love this book?

Danielewski is as much an artist as he is a storyteller. The Fifty Year Sword is a work of literal—and literary—art. The story is brief, haunting, and beautifully told. The book is a labor of love beyond words on the page. The art accents the story, propelling it forward and assisting the tension that grows as the unread pages dwindle. It is neither grotesque, nor leave-the-lights-on scary, but it is fantastically memorable and shocking, making it a wonderful introduction to the fun-filled intensity the genre offers. For all its simplicity, it’s an unforgettable read, worth picking up for repeat visits to admire the way story and art meld into this single binding. It’s an every-October treat for me that sets the mood for Spooky Season.

By Mark Z. Danielewski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fifty Year Sword as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this story set in East Texas, a local seamstress named Chintana finds herself responsible for five orphans who are not only captivated by a storyteller’s tale of vengeance but by the long black box he sets before them. As midnight approaches, the box is opened, a fateful dare is made, and the children as well as Chintana come face to face with the consequences of a malice retold and now foretold.

The blank pages in this book are a deliberate design element. 


Book cover of The Girl With All the Gifts

Andy Lockwood Why did I love this book?

Zombie stories are timeless, but in need of new ideas to keep them lively. The Girl with All the Gifts is as unique and fun as zombie stories come while still a proto-typical zombie story. A world overrun by zombies? Check. A military presence fighting for the survival of mankind? Check. A secret that could save humanity or tear apart the group—dooming them all? Check. A plot twist that no other zombie story has attempted? You bet. Carey balances slow-burn tension with fast-paced action, creating a dystopian roller coaster of a story. Fully fleshed-out characters replace common two-dimensional zombie fodder making you care about characters trapped in a world rife with death—and undeath—without being overtly gory and inaccessible to all readers.

By M.R. Carey,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Girl With All the Gifts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'ORIGINAL, THRILLING AND POWERFUL' - Guardian
'HAUNTING, HEARTHBREAKING' - Vogue
The phenomenal million-copy bestseller that is also a BAFTA Award-nominated movie

NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the…


Book cover of Horrorstör

Andy Lockwood Why did I love this book?

Grady Hendrix crafts a unique worldnot only in this story, but for the pantheon of horrors he has built throughout his novels. Set amidst the winding paths of ORSK (an IKEA-like store), the reader is introduced to strange happenings already in progress. As the store itself changes and incidents become more sinister and paranormal, so does the presentation of the book itself. Designed to parody an IKEA catalog, illustrations of ORSK products become more menacing as the story progresses, inviting the reader to progress deeper into a world of danger and terror. Hendrix has a way of crafting “real” peoplepeople you know in your own life. Normal people terrorized by abnormal circumstances, reacting the way any of us might when facing supernatural horrors.

By Grady Hendrix,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's a classic old-fashioned haunted house story - set in a big box Swedish furniture superstore. Designed like a retail catalogue, Horrorstor offers a creepy read with mass appeal-perfect for Halloween tables! Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Bracken glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofabeds-clearly, someone or something is up to no good. To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk-til-dawn shift-and they encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature…


Book cover of I Am Legend

Andy Lockwood Why did I love this book?

Matheson has a way with words that few have been able to replicate since. This novelpossibly his most famous workcombines light reading with heavy subtext interwoven into the story. It’s the kind of tale that makes you pause on the final page, reflecting on the message of the storyonly to have it hit you harder every time you’re reminded of it, as more meaning builds upon previous thoughts. Matheson’s writing is beautiful, purposeful, and accessible, but the scenes he creates with those words are fraught with danger and dread. He is able to craft perfect monsters in the least suspecting waysprobably why his works are so notoriously timeless and worth revisiting.

By Richard Matheson,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked I Am Legend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An acclaimed SF novel about vampires. The last man on earth is not alone ...Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth ...but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville's blood. By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn. How long can one man survive like this?


Book cover of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Andy Lockwood Why did I love this book?

What horror list would be complete without this infamous selection? Is there a more accessible horror collection? The Treasury collects all three Scary Stories books, preventing anyone from missing out on any of Schwarz’s memorable retellings of classic folklore and urban legend. These are the stories told around the campfires and slumber parties of youth. The stories still traded by adults when conversation turns to ghost stories. Though simply worded and easy to read, these are the stories that come to mind late at night when you’re all alone. Every horror enthusiast knows a creepy story or two, and at least one of them is from this collection. It’s a perfect anthology for anyone who wants a 5-minute chiller, or a good turn-of-the-century ghost story.

By Alvin Schwartz, Brett Helquist (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a classic collection of chillingly scary tales, in which Alvin Schwartz offers up some of the most alarming tales of horror, dark revenge, and supernatural events of all time, complemented in this paperback edition by spine-tingling illustrations by renowned artist Brett Helquist. Walking corpses, dancing bones, knife-wielding madmen, and narrow escapes from death-they're all here in this chilling collection of ghost stories. Make sure you read these books with the light ON!


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Book cover of One Giant Leap

Ben Gartner Author Of The Eye of Ra

New book alert!

Who am I?

I love to read a good action-adventure story. I’ve also written a few. And I know that no matter how high the stakes, if there’s no heart in the characters then there’s very little engagement to make it any more memorable than a temporary thrill. I love thrills, but the stories that stick with you after the excitement of the moment is over, those are the true gems. Besides the fun of reading that type of book, maybe you even learn something about yourself or the world and come out a wee bit wiser than when you went in. And isn’t that a fantastic use of our imaginative powers?!

Ben's book list on new action-packed middle grade with heart

What is my book about?

I’m pretty sure I’m about to die in space. And I just turned twelve and a half.

Blast off with the four winners of the StellarKid Project on a trip to the International Space Station and then to the Gateway outpost orbiting the Moon! It’s a dream come true until space junk collides with the ISS, turning their epic trip into a nightmare of survival. Alone aboard the Aether starship, the kids have to work as a team to save the adults before the ISS is destroyed. Suit up, cadet, and launch into adventure with One Giant Leap!

By Ben Gartner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Giant Leap as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

I’m pretty sure I’m about to die in space. And I just turned twelve and a half.

Blast off with the four winners of the StellarKid Project on a trip to the International Space Station and then to the Gateway outpost orbiting the Moon! It’s a dream come true until space junk collides with the ISS, turning their epic trip into a nightmare of survival. Alone aboard the Aether starship, the kids have to work as a team to save the adults before the ISS is destroyed. Suit up, cadet, and launch into adventure with One Giant Leap!

Praise for…


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