Today I come up with a list of the best history horror books for kids, teens, and adults from history’s most recognized authors.
The horror genre is one of the most acclaimed, both in movies and in books. Over the centuries we have been given great scary books/novels by great authors.
They are not sorted from best to worst or in order of preference. They are simply the best for both critics and audiences.
The best horror books in history
Here is our list of the best horror books of all time, including 57 of the most beautiful and scariest ever written. We have tried to compile a heterogeneous list of books, which can provide useful suggestions to all fans. It ranges from classics like Dracula by Bram Stoker and Tales of Terror Poe at the best novels of Stephen King and Dan Simmons. Horror fans will be able to find good advice both for volumes starring vampires, as well as for psychological horror narratives. The list is numbered for ease of reading, but this is not a ranking! The books are shown in random order.
As you can see, we have included in our list several of the most famous titles, but also some very beautiful but less known horror books in Italy, such as Thomas Ligotti’s The Canticles of a Dead Dreamer and The Girl Next Door by Ketchum. For some authors, in particular for the collections of horror stories, we have included some titles that refer to the Italian editions currently on the market, rather than to other very widespread historical editions.
1. Dracula – Bram Stoker
A classic story of one of the most important icons of terror: Count Dracula. With just over a century (1897), this work was able to elevate the masterpiece, being one of the most idolized of all time.
2. Frankesnstein or the modern Prometheus – Mary Shelley
This book tells the story of Frankenstein, that lifeless body created by his “father”, which bears the same name.
Undoubtedly, this work will captivate you from the first moment you meet the creature.
3. Misery – Stephen King
Stephen King tells the story of a writer who suffers an accident. Upon awakening, he observes that he is in an isolated house that belongs to a strange woman. As the plot progresses, the protagonist will see how the woman’s madness is increasing.
4. Carrie – Stephen King
Carrie is about a deep and distressing story of a little girl who discovers an innate ability to develop superpowers. The interesting thing is the reason why the girl moves: the thirst for revenge. The end will leave you speechless.
5. The Black Cat – Edgar Allan Poe
The famous story of The Black Cat by Allan Poe went down in the history of the genre. His psychological terror reduces you to exhaustion.
On this occasion, the action revolves around one man and his cat, and how the first one ends up desperate because of the other.
6. Turn the Nut – Henry James
In the style of Allan Poe, Henry James creates a fantastical and suffocating story based on supernatural and realistic facts.
7. The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux
Based on real events, the story focuses on the strange figure who terrorized the Paris opera in the early 20th century. And all this simply to get the attention of a vocalist he loved.
9. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
Again, a new story based on real events. On this occasion, in a 12-year-old boy who suffered an exorcism in Washington.
This book is about one of the biggest best sellers in the history of the horror genre.
10. Interview with the Vampire – Anne Rice
First book in the Vampire Chronicles series. This is how a boy turns into a vampire along with a multitude of human and non-human feelings.
11. Animal Cemetery – Stephen King
In Animal Cemetery It tells how a cat dies, comes back to life and melts a demon called “wedigo” who lives in an animal cemetery.
12. Apartment 16 – Adam Nevill
Story that, as you can guess, happens in an apartment. Specifically in the Barrington building in the Kensington neighborhood of London.The facts focus on the visit of a young woman who will claim the inheritance of an aunt whose grandmother has not seen in decades.
13. The Call of Cthulhu – HP Lovecraft
When George Angell dies, his heir discovers his quest: a study of the ancient gods. In one of Lovecraft’s best works, we will see how the protagonist ventures on a worldwide adventure to complete the investigation of his great-uncle, Angell.
14. The Vampire – John William
Story inspired by the style of Lord Byron. It’s a framed classic in the gothic and horror genre. The story tells the story of Aubrey and Ruthven in a fantastic context full of romance.
15. The case of Charles Dexter Ward – HP Lovecraft
On this occasion, Lovecraft tells us the story of Charles Dexter, a man who decides to look for the trace of an ancestor. During the novel you will realize that what you have decided will lead to endless misadventures.
16. Let me in – John Ajvide
Its original plot will captivate you from the first moment. Oksar, a 12-year-old boy, and Eli, a girl-shaped creature, have a great friendship. The problem comes when Eli begins to feed on living things to survive.
17. The glow – Stephen King
Terrifying story of a family moving into a hotel. What will happen there? A series of bloody facts and facts that you will have to check for yourself.
18. The Mask of the Red Death – Edgar Allan Poe
Here, Poe talks about how the plague attacks the fictional town of Prospero and how this population tries to save themselves from such a disease.
The Mask of the Red Death It is a story full of death and misfortune.
19. The House of Hell – Richard Matheson
The story of an expedition that enters and dies in Casa Belasco, a building considered the most dangerous in the world. The plot continues to develop in such a way that new tenants arrive on site.
20. The Ritual – Adam Nevill
In The ritual It is counted when a group of young people get lost in the forest. In it you will find an old cabin.
What’s going on next? I think you can already guess that.
21. Cujo – Stephen King
In Cujo you will learn about the transformation of a dog into a killer after a brain mutation.
Cujo will cause panic in the city he belongs to.
22. The Devil’s Seed – Ira Levin
The story begins with the Woodhouse couple, who decide to move into a building that is allegedly cursed. As a result of this event, they will turn into a series of terrible acts on the couple.
23. Desire – Whitley Strieber
Miariam Blaylock is a beautiful vampire who is turning humans into vampires. The book tells how its decline and subsequent consumption occurs.
24. Cabal – Clive Barker
A novel of pure psychological terror.The plot is about the violent dreams of a man, whose psychologist made him believe they were real. The protagonist, after receiving the news, tries to escape to end up in Midian, a place full of terrible creatures.
25. In the mountains of madness – HP Lovecraft
Lovecraft tells how an expedition arrives in Antarctica and discovers a primitive city. As a result of this moment, a series of strange events and events will begin.
26. The pit and the pendulum – Allan Poe
The master of terror, Edgar Allan Poe, will give you one of the best horror games ever created.
In the form of a tale – as usual – you can see the desperation of a man subjected to torture by the Inquisition.
27. Ivo’s book – Juan Cuadra
Fantastic fact story where a man dreams of being a killer. One day he realizes that the queen of his city, Mab, is the cause of these dreams and that they will not stop until death.
28. The Terror – Dan Simmons
Name referring to a British ship: HMS Terror. On one of their expeditions, their crew sees how they are trapped in the Arctic and can only wait for the thaw and survive as much as they can to escape.
29. Blindly – Josh Malerman
The novel begins by counting the facts in a Russian city, where large numbers of people are known to have died as a result of a series of suicides and murders. The problem spreads around the world without knowing why these outbreaks appear, something that will lead Malorie to protect her children.
30. World War Z – Max Brooks
Zombie story that tells how an epidemic spreads around the world. The story centers on Gerry Lane, a man who must survive the glimpses of an apocalyptic world. The action will take you through several American cities and multiple countries.
31. This – Stephen King
A sinister clown wreaks havoc on the city of Derry, mutilating and killing the children of this small American town. When they know, a group of protagonists decide to go there to investigate these facts.
32. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Irving Washington
The story is set in 1784, near the Dutch colony of Tarrytown (Tarrytown, New York), in an isolated valley called Sleepy Hollow known for its ghost stories and the haunted atmosphere that permeates the imagination of its inhabitants and visitors.
33. The strange case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde – RL Stevenson
Jekyll is a scientist who creates a potion or drink that has the ability to separate the more human part from the more evil side of a person. When Jekyll drinks this concoction he becomes Edward Hyde, a criminal capable of any atrocity.
34. I am legend – Richard Matheson
The book takes place in a post-apocalyptic version of the city of Los Angeles, between 1976 and 1979. The protagonist, Robert Neville, survived a pandemic caused by a biological war that wiped out everyone on Earth.
35. The Shadow of Innsmouth – HP Lovecraft
In the first of five chapters, the narrator describes how the US government took the city of Innsmouth following the denunciation of the events it witnessed. He tells how he discovered the city existed while looking for the cheapest way to get to Arkham.
36. Carmilla – Joseph Sheridan
The protagonist, Laura, recounts how her life goes from ordinary to bewildering and terrifying when Carmilla, a beautiful young woman who turns out to be a vampire, appears.
37. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
The protagonist, Patrick Bateman, is twenty years old and lives in the same American Gardens building, amidst the wealth and sophistication of socialites Manhattan and Wall Street.
38. The Monk – Matthew Lewis
Old Leonila and her niece Antonia, a young woman “who knows nothing of the world”, arrive at the crowded church of the Capuchin monastic order in Madrid.
39. Mr X – Peter Straub
Ned has visions of crimes someone called Mr. X. When he scrolls to the town where his mother is dying, she gives further details about her father, whom she has never known, and decides to find out more about it.
40. The mysteries of Udolfo – Ann Radcliffe
The mysteries of Udolfo is the quintessential gothic novel, full of episodes of physical and psychological terror; remote and crumbling castles; apparently supernatural events; a melancholy and twisted villain; and a persecuted heroine.
41. Complete stories of terror, madness and death – Guy de Maupassant
Stories full of terror, madness and death are proposed to collect all those stories of Maupassant, more than a hundred, which could be thematically defined as mystery, terror, madness or imaginary world.
42. Book Demon – Clive Barker
A medieval demon addresses the reader directly with a sometimes deadly and other seductive tone, it is an unpublished autobiography that was written in the year 1438.
43. Ghosts – Joe Hill
Imogene is young and beautiful. She kisses like an actress and knows absolutely all the films that have been shot. The fact is that she too is dead and is waiting for Alec Sheldon at the Rosebud theater one afternoon in 1945.
44. The color that fell from space – HP Lovecraft
The story is told firsthand by an engineer in charge of a study to build a tank in a remote area called Arkham. There he finds an area of land called “maldito erial” which is different from all and which causes unpleasant sensations.
45. The Golem – Gustav Meyrink
The Golem contains an ancient legend linked to the great Rabbi Loew of Prague (1512 – 1609) and with powerful images evokes the mysteries of the Prague ghetto. The Golem is a clay figure animated by the work of Kabbalah, to defend the Jews, but which easily escapes control and causes catastrophes.
46. The Son of the Beast – Graham Masterton
They are harsh, disturbing, strange, exaggerated and terrifying stories, in which Masterton’s mastery of mixing the various ingredients prevails in an explosive cocktail overflowing with terror and black humor.
47. The werewolf in Paris – Guy Endore
Published in 1933 by American author Guy Endore, we are facing the best story of the myth of the werewolf, one of the great monsters that emerged from ancestral human thought and experience.
48. The King in Yellow – Robert W. Chamberse
A book in general with stories of the most interesting that they all have in common that everyone talks about The Yellow King as a forbidden work that shouldn’t be read
49. Hotel Transylvania – Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
When the young Madelaine de Montalia meets the feeling of Paris in 1740, the courteous Comte de Saint-Germain, they both know they have found true passion. Not even the revelation that Saint-Germain is an immortal vampire will make Madelaine question her feelings.
50. The Dunwich Horror – HP Lovecraft
It is a short story written by HP Lovecraft in 1928 and published by Weird Tales in March 1929. It takes place in the fictional town of Dunwich, Massachusetts. It is considered one of the main works of the Cthulhu Myths.
51. Here Lives the Horror – Jay Anson
Mr. Anson makes us masterfully experience what happened to the unfortunate family during Lutz’s short month lived at 212 Ocean Avenue, creating a forever classic within the haunted house subgenre.
52. The Salem Lot Mystery – Stephen King
Ben Mears had entered Marsten’s house twenty years ago on a child’s wager, and what he later saw still filled his nightmares. Now, as a consecrated writer, Lot has returned to Jerusalem after the death of his wife, a quiet, sleepy city where nothing extraordinary has ever happened.
53. The Country of October – Ray Bradbury
The country of October … where it is always late. The country where the hills are fog and the fog of rivers; where noon passes quickly, where darkness and twilight linger, and midnight doesn’t move.
54. Kingdom of the Zombies – Len Barnhart
Due to a strange virus, the deceased recently arises with an insatiable desire to eat the living. The epidemic spreads around the world and rapidly reaches catastrophic proportions.
55. The portrait of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Basil Hallward is an artist who is very impressed by the aesthetic beauty of a young man named Dorian Gray and begins to admire him. Basilico paints a portrait of the young man. Chatting in Basil’s garden, Dorian meets a friend of Basil’s and begins to be fascinated by Lord Henry’s worldview. Expose a new kind of hedonism.
56. Hell Hole – Adrian Ross
It is considered by fans and specialists to be one of the literary masterpieces of “supernatural terror” (a genre that has given important names such as Hodgson, Machen and Lovecraft).
57. Baron Bagge – Alexander Lernet-Holenia
In the middle of the winter of 1915, south of the Carpathians, a detachment of 120 knights of the Austro-Hungarian army pursued an unattainable enemy beyond its lines.
It is undoubtedly the genre most loved by cinephiles (especially by the really nerdy ones!). Horror is one of the main “categories” of the seventh art, which has its roots at the origin of cinema. A genre that has never known moments of crisis, on the contrary it has generated continuous imitations and variations on the many themes that structure it. More famous movies you can find following this link.