Nightmarish Novels

The year’s most well-publicized witching hour is rapidly approaching, and I haven’t yet talked about anything sinister or spooky. Shame on me! So let’s take a moment, if you don’t mind, to talk about scary books.

I love horror novels. They’re one of my absolute favorite things to read, and they’re the reason that my first published novel was a zombie apocalypse story. I love horror movies and scary video games as well, but there’s just something about a creepy book…especially if you’re curled up under a blanket, all alone, in a room that’s lit just well enough for you to read. The imagination runs wild and you start hearing things, feeling things… If it’s a dark and stormy night you might have an outright panic attack. I love that feeling, as funny as it may seem to some people. I love being scared. So what are some of the novels that have given me the maximum amount of shivers?


poltergeist_1024x1024I have to come right out and admit that there was a time when I didn’t actually know that there was a book. I’d seen the movie multiple times and loved it, but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I actually found out that there was a book written by James Kahn, and until the writing of this post I thought the movie was based on the book, but it turns out it’s actually the other way around. The novelization was adapted from the film’s original screenplay and both expands on scenes and adds new ones. Personally I probably love the movie and the book equally, but I also really love some of the added scenes that are in the book. A few of them gave me some good old fashioned chills, and I feel that Kahn expanded on a lot of stuff that made the book feel more adequately fleshed out than the film.


CoralineNo, I’m not joking, and yes, this is a novel that is technically aimed at a younger audience. Neil Gaimen’s tale of the little girl who traverses to another world has a lot of the qualities of a book written for pre-teens, but it’s also exceptionally terrifying. Some of the things that occur in that other world (I don’t want to ruin anything because it is seriously, genuinely an excellent story) are downright horrifying and will give even grown adults nightmares. I’ve personally never been able to look at old-style buttons the same way after reading this novelette. Just trust me on this one, and although the movie is also excellent in its own right, take my advice and read the story first.

Pet Sematary


Oh hell, did I pick another one that had a movie? Is that telling? Never mind, it’s unimportant. The point is that this Stephen King story is just as freaky and terrifying in literary form as it is in visual, maybe even more-so. Some of the more horrifying scenes from the movie are actually made more heart-wrenching and nightmare-inducing by the fact that the novel version really gets into the main character’s head and gets us involved in exactly how he is feeling and reacting. My only complaint? Sometimes King jumps between reality and fantasy (dreams and the like) so often that it’s difficult to keep track of what is or isn’t really happening.

Each of these novels has warranted multiple readings for me, especially during the creepiest time of the year, but they’re far from the only chilling tales I’ve enjoyed, and I’m definitely always open to suggestions, so give me what you’ve got! What are some of your favorite scary stories? What gives you the biggest chill? Which ones gave you nightmares? Please share!

4 thoughts on “Nightmarish Novels

  1. I’ve never seen the movie, but Pet Semetary is still one of my favourite books. Misery is another great one that, again, I haven’t seen the movie, and I’m fine keeping it that way.

    While not technically horror/spooky, Cormac McCarthy probably gives me the most chills. The Road is one of the bleakest and eerie things I’ve ever read, and Blood Meridian made me want to beat my head in with a shovel.

  2. Haven’t seen or read any of these, but I’m sure they’re on my list haha.

    One book that squigged me out was The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates. It’s a blend of small town mystery and supernatural horror. There’s a line about darkness in it that I always recall any time I’m in a dark room or space, and I read it like 3-4 years ago in a cold, dreary tent in Poland. The memoriesss.:

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