The best books that will make you afraid of the dark

Lee Anderson Author Of What Happened at Sisters Creek: A Horror Novel
By Lee Anderson

The Books I Picked & Why


By Stephen King

Book cover of Cujo

Why this book?

Of all the Stephen King books I’ve read (and I’ve read over half) this one connects with me the most because the monster is something typically beloved: the family pet. King has this special talent for making something ordinary and loveable seem terrifying. The rabid Saint Bernard dog of the title serves as a metaphor for the existential assault made on the family of an advertising exec  

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The Wolfen

By Whitley Strieber

Book cover of The Wolfen

Why this book?

This is the first novel I ever read that made me into a lifelong fan of horror fiction. It’s a werewolf story but set in New York City, which no one had ever done before. Not to my knowledge anyway. Here Streib frequently writes from the werewolves’ point of view which makes the book that much more chilling. I admire a book that can take horror tropes and create something fresh and different from them.    

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The Exorcist

By William Peter Blatty

Book cover of The Exorcist

Why this book?

As monumentally terrifying as the film version is, the novel has some moments which easily rival the creepiness and revulsion of its cinematic counterpart. Actually, since reading a book requires extracting the image from the thought (whereas the film does the opposite), this makes The Exorcist novel just about as disturbing of an experience as can be had from reading.  

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The Island of Doctor Moreau

By H.G. Wells

Book cover of The Island of Doctor Moreau

Why this book?

The reader is introduced to a collection of monsters, half-man/half-animal, who are abominations of nature created by the titular Dr. Moreau. He’s a demented scientist who wishes to exert his dominance over nature by perverting it. Wells makes us feel empathy for the monsters who suffer greatly at the hands of their creator. The book eventually makes us question who the true monster is—man or beast? 

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By Bram Stoker

Book cover of Dracula

Why this book?

An unquestionable classic! Stoker’s narrative technique of telling the legendary vampire’s story through the diary and journal entries of its characters creates a realism rarely felt in horror fiction. The reader feels as though they are an investigator learning details of a supernatural phenomenon that can’t be reasonably explained in any other way. It makes for literature gripping enough to spawn decades of imitators. 

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