The very best horror masterpieces (from a horror writer)

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by scary movies, creature features, and books that tell tales of the strange and supernatural. Years later, my own books explored those things that scare us, from monsters of the deep and the ways we die to the mythology of blood. Research for those books led me into realms that explained why we fear the things we do. Many of those fears are found in horror novels, which provide an endless source of fright, release, and entertainment within their haunting pages. I can’t think of any other genre of writing that takes its readers on such a joyously terrifying ride.

I wrote...


By HP Newquist,

Book cover of Behemoth

What is my book about?

A mysterious car crash results in the death of three boys in a small rural town. Later that night, people in the town begin disappearing. One at a time. Something monstrous has been released. 

Rumors spread, and townspeople claim there are rational explanations. But the seemingly normal village has a haunted past: missing children, an abandoned church, and whispers about a strange creature in the woods. The one person who finds an explanation discovers that he may be the next to disappear. And that is when truly unspeakable things start to happen . . .

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Shining

HP Newquist Why did I love this book?

Of all the horror novels I’ve read, which number in the hundreds, “The Shining” stands first among them. It’s hard to write a horror novel that has both great characters and a great plot, and King succeeded in doing both.

I don’t think there’s a moment in the entire book where he eases up on the tension, and impending horror lurks on every page. Of particular note, Chapter 36–“The Elevator”–may be the finest chapter of horror ever written. It’s a perfect example of the moment you find out the monsters in your head might be real.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Before Doctor Sleep, there was The Shining, a classic of modern American horror from the undisputed master, Stephen King.

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around…

Book cover of Tender Is the Flesh

HP Newquist Why did I love this book?

There isn’t another horror novel written in the past ten years that scratched at my brain as much as this one. Baztericca’s brilliance lies in her writing a story that no one else has thought of before. The subject matter–humans have run out of animals to eat–seems like an obvious one.

What is striking about the book is that it is told in an almost clinical fashion, observing horror with a detachment that is precise and unemotional. The plot follows one man through the routines of his life, but it’s the world in which he exists that haunts you. By the time I finished, it was easy to imagine the world of “Tender Is The Flesh” becoming all too real.

By Agustina Bazterrica, Sarah Moses (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Tender Is the Flesh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It all happened so quickly. First, animals became infected with the virus and their meat became poisonous. Then governments initiated the Transition. Now, 'special meat' - human meat - is legal.

Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans - only no one calls them that. He works with numbers, consignments, processing. One day, he's given a gift to seal a deal: a specimen of the finest quality. He leaves her in his barn, tied up, a problem to be disposed of later.

But she haunts Marcos. Her trembling body, and watchful gaze, seem to understand. And soon, he becomes…

Book cover of The Shadow over Innsmouth

HP Newquist Why did I love this book?

No writer creates a compelling sense of dread better than H.P. Lovecraft. His stories instantly immerse you in whatever world he’s conjuring, and I think his writing reached its peak in this book.

His narrator descends into a creepy world of “others” whom he senses want to harm him (in his personal life, Lovecraft was notoriously disdainful of “others”). I was willingly dragged along with Lovecraft’s desperate narrator as he raced through town, hotel rooms, and ultimately into a terrifying gathering of the townspeople.

Nearly a century after its publication, I consider it to be one of the most timeless and striking pieces of horror ever created. 

By H P Lovecraft,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Shadow over Innsmouth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the winter of 1927-28 officials of the Federal government made a strange and secret investigation of certain conditions in the ancient Massachusetts seaport of Innsmouth. The public first learned of it in February, when a vast series of raids and arrests occurred, followed by the deliberate burning and dynamiting-under suitable precautions-of an enormous number of crumbling, worm-eaten, and supposedly empty houses along the abandoned waterfront.

Book cover of Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

HP Newquist Why did I love this book?

Sometimes, you have to get your horror in small bites. When I have a limited amount of time to read (like waiting in an airport), I go straight to the original horror master, Edgar Allan Poe. No one else compresses so many terrifying emotions into so few pages. Fear, dread, loathing, anxiety, unease, and panic are something I expect–and am rewarded with–every time I read Poe.

I started reading his work in grade school, and when I found this collection in college, it became one of my prized possessions. There’s a familiarity in Poe’s tales that I have with very few other authors. I still keep this on my bookshelf for short reads like Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, and The Pit And The Pendulum.

By Edgar Allan Poe,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This single volume brings together all of Poe's stories and poems, and illuminates the diverse and multifaceted genius of one of the greatest and most influential figures in American literary history.

Book cover of Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

HP Newquist Why did I love this book?

When I first read Cormac McCarthy, I was awestruck by the brutal beauty of the way he used language. His way with words is almost enough to make you look past the truly horrendous things he describes in this book . . . all while telling what appears to be a simple “tale of the Old West.”

I have never read a singularly more elegantly written book, yet I’ve never read anything as mind-numbingly horrific. This book is so intense and complex that it is considered the only Cormac McCarthy book that can never be made into a movie. (He also wrote All The Pretty Horses, The Road, and No Country For Old Men.)

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

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By Rebecca Hartt,

Book cover of Returning to Eden

Rebecca Hartt Author Of Rising From Ashes

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Why am I passionate about this?

Author Idealistic Storyteller Teacher Mother Seeker

Rebecca's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Looking for clean romantic suspense with spiritual undertones?

Look no further than the Acts of Valor series by Rebecca Hartt. With thousands of reviews and 4.7-5.0 stars per book, this 6-book series is a must-read for readers searching for memorable, well-told stories by an award-winning author.

A dead man stands on her doorstep.

When the Navy wrote off her MIA husband as dead, Eden came to terms with being a widow. But now, her Navy SEAL husband is staring her in the face. Eden knows she should be over-the-moon, but she isn’t.

Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has no recollection of their fractured marriage, no memory of Eden nor her fourteen-year-old daughter. Still, he feels a connection to both.

Unfit for active duty and assigned to therapy, Jonah knows he has work to do and relies on God, who sustained him during captivity, to heal his mind, body, and hopefully his family.

But as the memories lurking in his wife's haunted eyes and behind his daughter's uncertain smile begin to return to him, Jonah makes another discovery. There is treachery in the highest ranks of his Team, treachery that not only threatens him but places his new-found family in its crosshairs.

Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

What is this book about?

Presumed Dead, Navy SEAL Returns Without Memory of His Ordeal in the Christian Romantic Suspense, Returning to Eden, by Rebecca Hartt

-- Present Day, Virginia Beach, Virginia --

A dead man stands at Eden Mills' door.

Declared MIA a year prior, the Navy wrote him off as dead. Now, Eden's husband, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has returned after three years to disrupt her tranquility. Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, he has no recollection of their marriage or their fourteen-year-old step-daughter. Still, Eden accepts her obligation to nurse Jonah back to health while secretly longing to regain her freedom, despite the…

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