The best books with plots so mind-bending they are scary

The Books I Picked & Why


By Stephen King

Book cover of It

Why this book?

This book has it all! Terrifying horror. Amazing coming-of-age characters. One of the best villains ever written. Pennywise has been haunting dreams for decades and the recent film adaptations have reinvigorated the interest in this masterclass-worthy horror villain. When a book is this long people will find flaws, but what is undeniable is that the core of this story has inspired generations of horror authors and fans.

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Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell

Book cover of Cloud Atlas

Why this book?

Is Cloud Atlas scary? Not so much. But if you look between the lines at the bigger story being told, the future is bleak and the place we are rocketing toward as a society might just look a little like the horrifying future imagined here by David Mitchell. The merging of genres and the variety of POVs make for an unforgettable read.

I love music and I love interconnected plots. This story unwinds just like an onion. The layers upon layers of this novel are a spectacle to behold.

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More Than This

By Patrick Ness

Book cover of More Than This

Why this book?

A young adult novel that no one would call horror. What makes this scary? The plot will bend your mind like watching The Matrix for the first time. Pick up this book if you want to see how to write scary and easy-to-read science fiction that isn't horror from a world-class author.

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The Road

By Cormac McCarthy

Book cover of The Road

Why this book?

Cormac’s stripped, bleak, and dark writing style is on display stronger than ever here. He uses simple names that are more like descriptors. He doesn’t spend tons of time describing settings or characters. Everything is depressed and sad. Not just in tone, but down to the bones of the word selection. I also like that the novel is short. There is no wasted space on this all-time classic.

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The Hatching, 1

By Ezekiel Boone

Book cover of The Hatching, 1

Why this book?

Maybe the oddball on this list compared to the other mainstream properties. This story has a little technology, biology, and geology mixed together to craft up a creature lurking beneath the surface that is accidentally unleashed by a combination of greed and ignorance.

The other thing I love about The Hatching is the pace. It's breakneck. Ezekiel Boone shuttles you around setting up well-written characters before unleashing sheer chaos and terror on them with a plot that is far more real than the litany of the zombie apocalyptic novels out there.

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