The best zombie books that stick with you and give you nightmares

Why am I passionate about this?

I have read over 50 zombie novels and watched pretty much every zombie movie available to me. I write horror and a lot doesn’t really scare me anymore. The books I’ve listed are some of the ones that have stuck with me and gave me nightmares. My favorite zombie movies are the Norwegian film Dead Snow, Train to Busan, and REC (so scary as it added religion to the mix). I read a lot of zombie novels as research for my own zombie novels as I want my books to present new ideas that aren’t readily available, or overused.


I wrote...

Zombies Are People Too!

By Stacy Kingsley,

Book cover of Zombies Are People Too!

What is my book about?

The world ends because of a single cockroach. The first zombie has risen and now the survivors are learning what they are willing to do to survive and what they are willing to sacrifice. Valerie must learn to survive the rising zombie hoards. Robert, a divorced father, learns what he is willing to do for his kids. Marcus likes to see blood on the end of his knife. Can humanity survive?

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Monster Island: A Zombie Novel

Stacy Kingsley Why did I love this book?

I recommend this series because it was the first that I read where there were intelligent zombies. I also found it fascinating that this series realized that humans could be the monsters, even in a zombie outbreak. There are a lot of people who continue to get excited at the thought of a zombie outbreak, but I am not excited because I worry that the human monsters will be more frightening. 

By David Wellington, David Wellington,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Monster Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's one month after a global disaster. The most "developed" nations of the world have fallen to the shambling zombie masses. Only a few pockets of humanity survive -- in places rife with high-powered weaponry, such as Somalia. In New York City, the dead walk the streets, driven by an insatiable hunger for all things living. One amongst them is different; though he shares their appetites he has retained his human intelligence. Alone among the mindless zombies, Gary Fleck is an eyewitness to the end of the world -- and perhaps the evil genius behind it all. From the other…


Book cover of Dead City

Stacy Kingsley Why did I love this book?

This book was so dramatic and horrifying, especially as zombies could infect pretty much anything—including animals. It made me think back to the movie The Birds, especially as there are killer birds. If you can’t trust animals and you can trust humans, will there really even be a chance of hope for survival for the survivors?

By Joe McKinney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dead City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A relentless thrill ride. . . Break out the popcorn, you're in for a real treat. --Harry Shannon, author of Dead and Gone

Texas? Toast.

Battered by five cataclysmic hurricanes in three weeks, the Texas Gulf Coast and half of the Lone Star State is reeling from the worst devastation in history. Thousands are dead or dying--but the worst is only beginning. Amid the wreckage, something unimaginable is happening: a deadly virus has broken out, returning the dead to life--with an insatiable hunger for human flesh. . .

The Nightmare Begins

Within hours, the plague has spread all over Texas.…


Book cover of The Rising

Stacy Kingsley Why did I love this book?

The Rising was one of the first zombie books I read after a while and it was interesting. It went beyond what people expected or thought they wanted from zombie novels. It was less Night of the Living Dead and more Day of the Dead with killing, and mutilations, and suspenseful expectations that no one really thought could be met. 

By Brian Keene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The classic that helped start a pop culture phenomenon - back in print and UNCUT!

Since it's 2003 debut, Brian Keene's THE RISING is one of the best-selling zombie novels of all-time. It has been translated into over a dozen languages, inspired the works of other authors and filmmakers, and has become a cultural touchstone for an entire generation of horror fans.

THE RISING is the story of Jim Thurmond, a determined father battling his way across a post-apocalyptic zombie landscape, to find his young son. Accompanied by Martin, a preacher still holding to his faith, and Frankie, a recovering…


Book cover of Patient Zero

Stacy Kingsley Why did I love this book?

I actually read this book after I read another series by Jonathan Maberry, the Pine Deep trilogy. I was haunted by the Pine Deep series and when I picked up Patient Zero I was once again haunted. The fact that zombies could be a genetic mutation or something brought about by science made me wonder about the state of scientific discovery. Is there a moment when we might go too far in genetics that we have frightening combinations like zombie corn or zombie flowers? Not only will nature try to kill us, but animals already have some form of zombie disease. 

By Jonathan Maberry,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Patient Zero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there's either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world. And there's nothing wrong with my skills.' Police officer Joe Ledger, martial arts expert, ex-army, self-confessed brutal warrior is scared. The man he's just killed is the same man he killed a week ago. He never expected to see the man again, definitely not alive, and definitely not as part of the recruitment process for the hyper-secret government agency the Department for Military Sciences. But the DMS are scared too - they have word…


Book cover of Plague Town

Stacy Kingsley Why did I love this book?

I loved that the main character was a kickass female. Ashley is a fabulous character who is more than what people think she is, which is how I often feel. The fun thing is that Ashley is just like everyone else, a woman trying to get through a very rough day. Ashley felt like she could be any of us or all of us. In fact, I hope that I can be Ashley if there is a zombie apocalypse, a strong female who doesn’t let anyone cause me to die (except me). 

By Dana Fredsti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Plague Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ashley was just trying to get through a tough day when the world turned upside down.

A terrifying virus appears, quickly becoming a pandemic that leaves its victims, not dead, but far worse. Attacked by zombies, Ashley discovers that she is a 'Wild-Card' -- immune to the virus -- and she is recruited to fight back and try to control the outbreak.

It's Buffy meets the Walking Dead in a rapid-fire zombie adventure!


You might also like...

Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

Book cover of Returning to Eden

Rebecca Hartt Author Of Rising From Ashes

New book alert!

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in zombies, plagues, and Manhattan?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about zombies, plagues, and Manhattan.

Zombies Explore 131 books about zombies
Plagues Explore 49 books about plagues
Manhattan Explore 128 books about Manhattan