9 Books That Are Way Scarier Than Horror Movies
Read if you dare
Halloween is creeping up, and in the spooky spirit, we’ve rounded up nine books that make scary movies look like child’s play. We’re talking seriously hair-raising stuff, so maybe don’t read these right before bed.
“The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty
The book isn’t too far from the movie, but you’ll get more background information on some of the supporting characters, which makes the whole thing just a little more unsettling—if that’s even possible.
“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe
This one is super short, but super scary. Set in Italy during carnival season, this terrifying tale concerns revenge and being buried alive. Told from the perspective of the murderer, it’s cold and vengeful…and it will make you pray you never piss anyone off as much as the story’s victim did.
“The Alienist” by Caleb Carr
Set in the late 19th century in New York City, The Alienist is thrilling and almost impossible to put down. Concerning a crime reporter’s investigation of a series of gruesome murders with the help of the titular alienist (basically a criminal psychologist), it’s historical and creepy as hell.
“Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy
An epic anti-Western, Blood Meridian is about a teenager’s experience with a horrific group of “scalp hunters” who murdered Native Americans between 1849 and 1850. McCarthy’s prose is aggressively violent, and this book is not for the faint of heart. But if you can get through it, it’ll stick with you.
“Voices in the Night” by Steven Millhauser
These 16 stories from Pulitzer Prize winner Millhauser are the definition of dark. Some are about familiar figures like Buddha, the biblical Samuel and even Rapunzel, while others hit much closer to home, making for a creepy contrast that keeps you off balance just about the whole time.
“In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote
In the aftermath of the 1959 murder of the Clutter family, Capote and Harper Lee traveled to Holcomb, Kansas, to research and write about the crime. Capote’s finished product is a chilling account of a real-life nightmare.
“Don't Look Now” by Daphne du Maurier
The most famous story in Du Maurier’s collection is probably “The Birds” (you know, the basis for Hitchcock’s film of the same name), but Don’t Look Now offers tales much scarier than that—namely one about a couple’s Venice vacation from hell.
“Pet Sematary” by Stephen King
Any number of King’s books deserve a spot on this list, but we’re partial to his 1983 novel about the Creed family, recent Maine transports who encounter endless horrors in their new neighborhood, not limited to freak accidents, murder and more than a few dead animals.
“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James
This gothic novella about two young, possessed children was written in 1898 and it’s just as spooky and horrifying today. Sinister and weird, it blurs the lines between sanity and insanity a little too well.