The best horror novels that keep you turning the page

The Books I Picked & Why

The Hellbound Heart

By Clive Barker

Book cover of The Hellbound Heart

Why this book?

As the basis for the film Hellraiser, this is the book that introduced the world to the Hell Priest, “Pinhead”, and the Cenobites. However, the main antagonist of the story is not the demonic creatures, but a cruel and evil man on the search for the ultimate in sadistic, sexual pleasure; a search which he finds a costly mistake. This short novel goes at a break-neck speed from the first page and is full of Barker’s usual blood, gore, and sex approach to horror. Even though those things are not the aspects of horror I find that enjoyable, I still found the story so gripping that I have read through the whole thing in one sitting, and it is one of the few books I’ve re-read many times.

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Heart-Shaped Box

By Joe Hill

Book cover of Heart-Shaped Box

Why this book?

Though Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King, he has never relied on that fact, and it is solely his talent as a writer that has got him success in his career. Heart-Shaped Box, his first published novel, shows that talent on every page. This story of an aging rocker haunted by a vindictive ghost, and the lengths the rock star and his much younger girlfriend will go to in order to rid themselves of the malevolent spirit, quickly draws the reader in and holds you there all the way through. 

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By Stephen King

Book cover of It

Why this book?

One of King’s most famous novels, It is probably my favourite of his works despite being over 1,000 pages long. The story is set in Derry, Maine, and follows a group of seven characters as children in the 1950s, and as adults in the 1980s, as they battle with a monster calling itself Pennywise the Dancing Clown, which can turn itself into whatever its victim most fears. Each of the main characters is fully fleshed out, and their stories are told in such a way that you want to keep reading to find out what happens to them next.

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The Silence of the Lambs

By Thomas Harris

Book cover of The Silence of the Lambs

Why this book?

In my opinion, this is not only Thomas Harris’ best book in his Hannibal Lecter series, but his best book overall. Though made famous in the mainstream by the film adaptation, the book is a wonderful example of psychological horror, with a gripping, fast-moving story told in short chapters that make it almost impossible to put down.

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The Rats

By James Herbert

Book cover of The Rats

Why this book?

They say that in London you are never more than 6ft away from a rat, and if that isn’t horrifying enough, what if those rats began attacking people in droves. That’s the premise of James Herbert’s novel, The Rats. This book is a wonderful example of creature horror, and its short length and fast pace make it a great entry point into Herbert’s work.

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