The best books in horror fiction that scared me witless and gave me nightmares

Who am I?

The reason why I love horror fiction so much, and the reason why I decided to become a horror writer myself, is that horror is my No.1 genre. Ever since I saw Boris Karloff portraying, so brilliantly, the monster in Universal’s Frankenstein when I was a kid, I became a lifelong horror fan. I love both reading and writing horror fiction. I also enjoy collecting horror films, and review them regularly on my YouTube channel. I have studied the world of horror all my life, and think I have accrued a fairly broad knowledge on the subject. I have published my horror fiction books and my true paranormal books.


I wrote...

Werewolf Nightmare

By Alan Toner,

Book cover of Werewolf Nightmare

What is my book about?

Werewolf Nightmare is a horror portmanteau novella, featuring four werewolf tales, with a framing story about a horror magazine editor who visits the secluded country home of an elderly writer to read four werewolf stories the resident has written, with a view to publication in the magazine. But as the night unfolds, it soon becomes horrifyingly apparent that perhaps there is more truth than fiction in the lycanthropic tales that the elderly gentleman has written...

The books I picked & why

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The Rats

By James Herbert,

Book cover of The Rats

Why this book?

The Rats is not only my No. 1 all-time favourite horror novel, but it is also the novel that inspired me to become a horror writer myself. James Herbert’s debut novel is just an absolute horror masterpiece, telling the terrifying story of a plague of giant mutant rats that terrorise London. Their attacks are swift, deadly, and extremely bloody. No one is safe as the hordes of flesh-eating creatures swarm through houses, cinemas, schools, and other public places. I enjoyed the novel that much that I read it in one day, as I was absolutely gripped by all the gruesome set pieces that Herbert always does so well. So if you enjoy a real good animals-on-the-rampage novel, The Rats is the one I would definitely recommend.

The Rats

By James Herbert,

Why should I read it?

4 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 .…


'Salem's Lot

By Stephen King,

Book cover of 'Salem's Lot

Why this book?

This is my all-time favourite modern-day vampire novel. The reason why I love it so much is that the way King describes the horrific process by which Barlow, the Dracula-type main monster of the story, infests the town of Salem’s Lot with vampirism is so realistic, and so gripping, that it just had me on the edge of my seat right to the very end. In fact, after Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I would rate Salem’s Lot as my second all-time favourite vampire novel. If you love a good, chilling vampire story, I would say get yourself a copy of Salem’s Lot now, because I guarantee you will absolutely love it. Oh, and be prepared for some real scary nightmares!

'Salem's Lot

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked 'Salem's Lot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 BESTSELLER • Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem’s Lot in hopes that exploring the history of the Marsten House, an old mansion long the subject of rumor and speculation, will help him cast out his personal devils and provide inspiration for his new book.

But when two young boys venture into the woods, and only one returns alive, Mears begins to realize that something sinister is at work.

In fact, his hometown is under siege from forces of darkness far beyond his imagination. And only he, with a small group of allies, can hope to contain the evil that…


Psycho

By Robert Bloch,

Book cover of Psycho

Why this book?

This book is an absolute classic, and spawned an equally classic movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The reason why I love Psycho so much is that it brought horror away from the traditional Gothic haunted house and castle settings right into the modern world. And if you add the aspect of mental illness in the chilling form of the Norman Bates character, then you have a horror story that becomes all too real, all too unsettling. We are not dealing with ghoulies and ghosties here, but with a deranged killer harbouring a split personality, whose warped mentality has often been mirrored in real-life crime cases. For example, Bloch based Norman Bates on an actual killer, Ed Gein. Psycho is a novel that every horror fan must read.

Psycho

By Robert Bloch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mary Crane believes she has found shelter from the storm when she checks into the Bates Motel, but the knife-wielding owner, Norman Bates, soon rips her piece of mind to shreds and the nightmare begins.


Dracula

By Bram Stoker,

Book cover of Dracula

Why this book?

Dracula is my all-time favourite vampire novel. There are so many things I love about this book: the epistolary form in which Stoker wrote it; the chilling atmosphere of Dracula’s home country, with its superstitious locals, its crumbling castles, and its howling wolves; the sheer menace Dracula exudes as he travels to England, slaughtering a whole ship’s crew along the way, with a view to spreading his plague of vampirism. Count Dracula is, without, doubt, one of the greatest, most terrifying characters ever created in horror fiction. I revisit this book many times, as I just love it so much. If you love vampire stories, Dracula by Bram Stoker is the top one you should read. An absolute classic of horror literature.

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…


The Haunting of Hill House

By Shirley Jackson,

Book cover of The Haunting of Hill House

Why this book?

This is my all-time favourite haunted house novel. The reason why I love the book so much is that, having always been interested in the paranormal, I like the concept of an occult scholar gathering together a group of ordinary people—all of whom have had some brush with the paranormal at some point in their lives—in this huge, rambling house, whose reputation is very dark and disturbing. I also love the ambiguity surrounding both the main character, Eleanor, and the ghostly atmosphere of Hill House itself. I mean, is Eleanor really the victim of any supernatural force that may be in the house, or is it all only in her mind? An absolute masterpiece of a book.

The Haunting of Hill House

By Shirley Jackson,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked The Haunting of Hill House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part of a new six-volume series of the best in classic horror, selected by Academy Award-winning director of The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro

Filmmaker and longtime horror literature fan Guillermo del Toro serves as the curator for the Penguin Horror series, a new collection of classic tales and poems by masters of the genre. Included here are some of del Toro's favorites, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Ray Russell's short story "Sardonicus," considered by Stephen King to be "perhaps the finest example of the modern Gothic ever written," to Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and stories…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in vampires, rats, and haunted houses?

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

Vampires Explore 191 books about vampires
Rats Explore 13 books about rats
Haunted Houses Explore 50 books about haunted houses

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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