The most recommended horror books

Who picked these books? Meet our 1,041 experts.

1,041 authors created a book list connected to horror, and here are their favorite horror books.
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Book cover of Wicked Mortals

Sylvia Shults Author Of Spirits of Christmas: The Dark Side of the Holidays

From my list on nonfiction books that read like a novel.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sylvia Shults is a librarian by day, a ghost hunter by night, and the “hostess with the mostest ghosties” of the Lights Out podcast. During her twenty-plus-year career in libraries, she has managed to smuggle enough words out in her pockets to put together several books of her own, including 44 Years in Darkness, Fractured Spirits: Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital, and Spirits of Christmas. She sits in dark, spooky places so you don't have to, and shares her experiences of her brushes with the other side of the Veil.

Sylvia's book list on nonfiction books that read like a novel

Sylvia Shults Why did Sylvia love this book?

The Lore series, based on the World of Lore podcast, is a wonderful collection of the strange, bizarre, and creepy. This particular book focuses on people who gained fame through their disturbing hobbies and unpleasant predilections: serial killers, criminals, psychopaths, and other associated weirdos. I've always been drawn to collections like these, and this is one of the best. Check out the others in the series too.

By Aaron Mahnke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A chilling, lavishly illustrated who's-who of the most despicable people ever to walk the earth, featuring both rare and best-loved stories from the hit podcast Lore, now an online streaming series.

Here are the incredible true stories of some of the mortals who achieved notoriety in history and folklore through horrible means. Monsters of this sort - serial killers, desperate criminals, and socially mobile people with a much darker double-life - are, in fact, quite real . . . including H. H. Holmes, the infamous Chicago serial killer; William Brodie, the Edinburgh criminal mastermind who inspired The Strange Case of…

Book cover of The Shadow Fabric

Miranda Kate Author Of Dead Lake

From my list on horror and feeding your horror habit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who writes across genres, but everything has a dark edge. As a reader, I want to be able to relate, engage, and connect in some way to the characters and story, but as I come from an abusive childhood, that means they can’t be light and fluffy; there has to be something off-kilter and warped because that reflects how my life has been. In my own writing, I try to do the same and create something that is emotive and real while still allowing the reader to escape. I originate from Surrey, in the south of England, but I have lived in the Netherlands since 2002.

Miranda's book list on horror and feeding your horror habit

Miranda Kate Why did Miranda love this book?

As an indie author, I’m always interested in what other fellow authors are writing, so when I befriended Mark Cassell, I wanted to read his work. The Shadow Fabric made me a fan of his writing, and now I read everything he publishes.

With this book, Mark has established what he calls the Shadow Fabric Mythos, which means he’s written more novellas and short stories along the same theme: an ethereal darkness that takes over people, sucking the life out of them and giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘getting stitched’.

Again we have paranormal darkness, which I enjoy as a reader. And with Mark’s writing, he gives a chilly and yet urgent feel to it. You know what is coming, but you can’t look away. My kind of horror.

By Mark Cassell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Shadow Fabric as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Leo remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder, and the Shadow Fabric – a malevolent force that controls the darkness – takes the body and vanishes with it.

Determined to get answers, Leo has no idea where to turn. Revelations come in the most unlikely places, and secrets of witchcraft and ancient artefacts unfold. In particular, a device used in the 17th century to extract evil from witches proves key to his discoveries. With these truths long hidden from humankind,…

Book cover of The Canterville Ghost

Lauren Owen Author Of Small Angels

From my list on books to read in a haunted house.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in ghosts is partly due to growing up in York, which is one of the most haunted cities in the UK. In that city, I think that pretty much every pub has its own ghost, and if you’re unlucky (or lucky) enough, you stand a good chance of spotting long-dead Roman soldiers, plague victims, or ghostly dogs as you walk the streets. This atmosphere has seeped into my fiction; I have written two novels of the supernatural and am currently working on a third. I’ve also made a study of the grim and gothic in fiction; my Ph.D. thesis was largely about vampires (especially Dracula) but also strayed into other monsters and uncanny stories over the past two centuries. 

Lauren's book list on books to read in a haunted house

Lauren Owen Why did Lauren love this book?

Oscar Wilde gave us a genuinely chilling gothic tale in The Picture of Dorian Gray, but in this short story, the supernatural is a source of fun.

The Otis family, pleasant, sensible, and up-to-date Americans, move into a haunted English manor and immediately antagonize Sir Simon de Canterville, the house’s resident spectre. Sir Simon has a theatrical flair for haunting, pulling out all the stops to terrify his victims into gibbering wrecks, but it’s all wasted on the Otis family, who are hilariously unbothered by the spookiness.

If you’re staying in a haunted house, I highly recommend channeling your inner Otis.

By Oscar Wilde,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Canterville Ghost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Despite warnings from Lord Canterville that their new home is haunted and that several family have fled form it in the middle of the night the Otis family chooses to go forward with their relocation. Almost immediately the Otis Family discovers that the stories are true and that their house is haunted by the ghost of Sir Simon. It is Sir Simon's intent not to share the house with anyone, but the Otis family is not like previous families that Sir Simon has scared off in the past. Narrated by the ghost himself, this Gothic ghost story takes the reader…

Book cover of Red Rabbit

Amanda Desiree Author Of In the Shadow of the Skull

From Amanda's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Lifelong reader Horror fan Classic movie lover

Amanda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Amanda Desiree Why did Amanda love this book?

This book’s description sounds like the setup of a joke: two cowboys, a widow, a witch hunter, an outlaw, a ghost, and a very peculiar child travel the 19th-century American frontier seeking to find and destroy an infamous witch. What results is no punchline but an exciting and often amusing mixture of the supernatural, historical fiction, thriller, and magical realism.

The short chapters, brisk prose, and unsettling twists kept me turning the pages. I appreciated the fundamental decency and loyalty of the simply drawn characters and rooted for them all to make it through their journey unscathed, even as that likelihood diminished with each new stop.

This book is a delightful example of a rollicking adventure story.

By Alex Grecian,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sadie Grace is wanted for witchcraft, dead (or alive). And every hired gun in Kansas is out to collect the bounty on her head, including bona fide witch hunter Old Tom and his mysterious, mute ward, Rabbit.

On the road to Burden County, they're joined by two vagabond cowboys with a strong sense of adventure - but no sense of purpose - and a recently widowed schoolteacher with nothing left to lose. As their posse grows, so too does the danger.

Racing along the drought-stricken plains in a stolen red stagecoach, they encounter monsters more wicked than witches lurking along…

Book cover of My Heart Is a Chainsaw

Nicole M. Wolverton Author Of A Misfortune of Lake Monsters

From my list on YA books to launch you into the autumn spooky season.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Pushcart-nominated writer of (mostly) young adult and adult horror and suspense. I primarily write about the fear of isolated and sparsely populated places, which makes sense: I grew up in the rural hinterlands of northeast Pennsylvania, steeped in dark cornfields, eerie quiet, and weird characters. I now live in the Philadelphia area with my husband and rescue dog in a creaky, century-old house, giving myself agita about the creepy crawlspace in the basement. I’m the author of two novels: A Misfortune of Lake Monsters (YA horror, July 2024) and The Trajectory of Dreams (adult psychological suspense, 2013).

Nicole's book list on YA books to launch you into the autumn spooky season

Nicole M. Wolverton Why did Nicole love this book?

As a major fan of horror films generally, I could not say no to this book. Although some may argue that this is not a YA novel and doesn’t belong on this list, I say hogwash.

Graduating high school senior Jade, half Native American, is obsessed with slasher movies as a way to deal with the horrors of her everyday life: small town, questionable reputation, alcoholic dad, being Other, seeing her town fall for the charms of the mucky-mucks developing waterfront land on her town’s reportedly cursed lake, etc.

This book is super voicey, with a lovely use of language (and a barrage of horror movie references, which was so fun for me), with central commentary on post-colonialism, gentrification, and trauma. Also, without giving away the ending, I can say that it was truly bonkers slasher delightfulness!

Tuck this book into a waterproof bag, and row out to the middle…

By Stephen Graham Jones,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Heart Is a Chainsaw as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Jordan Peele of horror fiction turns his eye to classic slasher films: Jade is one class away from graduating high-school, but that's one class she keeps failing local history. Dragged down by her past, her father and being an outsider, she's composing her epic essay series to save her high-school diploma.

Jade's topic? The unifying theory of slasher films. In her rapidly gentrifying rural lake town, Jade sees the pattern in recent events that only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror cinema could have prepared her for. And with the arrival of the Final Girl, Letha Mondragon, she's convinced an…

Book cover of The Revenant of Thraxton Hall

Sean Gibson Author Of The Camelot Shadow: A Novel

From my list on mix magic and mystery with history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I made the mistake of reading Dracula as an eight-year-old (thanks, Mom and Dad, for paying attention to what I brought home from school book fairs). Beyond disrupting my sleep pattern, there were two significant consequences to this decision: 1) I became enthralled with the intersection of historical detail, mystery, and magic, an enchantment that continues to this day; and 2) I ultimately majored in English literature, with a concentration in Victorian literature. To my professors’ chagrin, I put that education to use in concocting my own historically-based magical mysteries (sorry, Dr. Steinitz). But hey—I’ve always got good recommendations in this milieu.

Sean's book list on mix magic and mystery with history

Sean Gibson Why did Sean love this book?

While Sherlock Holmes famously debunked anything that had even a vague whiff of the supernatural (looking at you, Hound of the Baskervilles), the same can’t be said for his creator. Entwistle offers a brilliantly imaginative take on what might have happened if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde teamed up to solve mysteries in a world where the supernatural was very, very real. Atmospheric touches ranging from fog-shrouded, gaslit streets to mysterious moors are the perfect complement to witty dialogue, and Entwistle manages to weave in a fair bit of historical detail despite the rip-roaring pace of the story. 

By Vaughn Entwistle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Revenant of Thraxton Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle read like a volatile cocktail of Sherlock Holmes-meets-the-X-Files with a dash of steam punk and a whiff of London fog. Conan Doyle assumes the mantle of his fictional consulting detective and recruits a redoubtable Watson in the Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, who brings to the sleuthing duo a razor-keen mind, an effervescent wit, and an outrageous sense of fashion. Together, two of the greatest minds in Victorian England solve bizarre murders, unravel diabolical plots and unearth long-buried mysteries—each with a paranormal twist.“My murder will take place in a darkened séance room—shot twice…

Book cover of Kaiki: Uncanny Tales From Japan, Vol. 1 Tales Of Old Edo

Andi Brooks Author Of Ghostly Tales of Japan

From my list on Japanese yurei and yokai.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Anglo-Irish writer who has lived in Japan for eighteen years. During that time, my interest in the Japanese supernatural has deepened to the point where it is now the main focus of my writing. In my free time, I enjoy traveling around Japan collecting local ghost stories and folk tales. This, along with my extensive reading of both fiction and non-fiction on the topic, has provided a rich source of inspiration for my writing. I am also a keen observer of people, daily life, and the environment in which I live, which helps me to colour and add realism to my stories. 

Andi's book list on Japanese yurei and yokai

Andi Brooks Why did Andi love this book?

This is the first in a three-volume set which I regard as one book. All are a total joy as they offer the reader the chance to read stories mostly not previously available in English. Having read the available famous stories of yurei and yokai to death, I felt like a little kid at Christmas when presented with the whole set (actually at Christmas!). Because the stories were written in many styles from the 1700s to the 2000s, and cover the whole range of Japanese ghost stories, I got a genuine insight into how tales of the Japanese supernatural have developed through the centuries and how the past influences the present. It was also interesting to see how contemporary events, such as World War II, influenced the stories. Just writing this makes me want to dive back into the stories.

By Higashi Masao (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Japan has a long history of weird and supernatural literature, but it has been introduced into English only haphazardly until now. The first volume of a 3-volume anthology covering over two centuries of kaiki literature, including both short stories and manga, from Ueda Akinari's "Ugetsu Monogatari" of 1776 to Kyogoku Natsuhiko's modern interpretations of popular tales. Selected and with commentary by Higashi Masao, a recognized researcher and author in the field, the series systemizes and introduces the scope of the field and helps establish it as a genre of its own. This first volume presents a variety of work focusing…

Book cover of Crowfall

Sinéad O'Hart Author Of The Starspun Web

From my list on middle grade to sweep you into another world.

Why am I passionate about this?

All my books (I hope!) sweep the reader into another world – it’s one of my favourite themes in the books I love to read, as well as write. When I was about seven, I first read some of the books which would shape my life, including Elidor by Alan Garner and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l’Engle, which brought me right out of my own life and into worlds as varied as the frightening interstellar realm of Camazotz and the battlefields of Elidor. I’ve been trying to capture that sense of ‘being swept away’ in my own work ever since.

Sinéad's book list on middle grade to sweep you into another world

Sinéad O'Hart Why did Sinéad love this book?

All of Vashti Hardy’s books are brilliant, but I recommend Crowfall because Hardy creates an incredibly immersive world – the island of Ironhold – and characters including a mechanical sea monster, a pet robot, and a very brave boy named Orin. When Orin discovers his island is under threat, and ends up being put to sea in a rickety boat, how can he save his family and home? An unforgettable adventure.

By Vashti Hardy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crowfall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A rip-roaring, island-hopping adventure - and unforgettable
ecological fable - from the award-winning author of Wildspark
and Brightstorm.
'Hardy has drunk from the same cup as Philip Reeve and Philip

Ironhold is an orderly place where "industry brings prosperity",
and where nature is pushed aside for progress. But when Orin Crowfall,
a lowly servant boy, learns that the island itself
is in grave danger, that knowledge makes him a target of
powerful forces.
He narrowly escapes on a small boat, but then faces a fight
for survival with his robot friend, Cody, in the stormy ocean,…

Book cover of Mexican Gothic

D.L. (Destiny) Soria Author Of Thief Liar Lady

From my list on fantasy by Latine authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a half-Mexican author who grew up in a tiny Alabama town, where I spent my summers playing with sticks in the woods and exploring such distinguished careers as Forest Bandit, Wayward Orphan, and Woodland Fairy Princess. After college, I ran away to New Zealand for seven months and only pretended to be a character from Lord of the Rings on special occasions. Nowadays, I live and work in South Carolina with my clingy (and, unfortunately, non-magical) cat. 

D.L.'s book list on fantasy by Latine authors

D.L. (Destiny) Soria Why did D.L. love this book?

I’ve always loved a good Gothic novel, but Moreno-Garcia raised the bar with this book.

Part mystery, part romance, part haunted house story—this novel runs the gamut from eerie to enchanting. The menacing secrets of High Place, set against the backdrop of glamorous 1950s Mexico, drew me into an intriguing plot that was as captivating as it was frightening. 

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The award-winning author of Gods of Jade and Shadow (one of the 100 best fantasy novels of all time, TIME magazine) returns with a mesmerising feminist Gothic fantasy, in which a glamorous young socialite discovers the haunting secrets of a beautiful old mansion in 1950s Mexico.

He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemi. You have to save me.

When glamorous socialite Noemi Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it's clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but…