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Horror movies are on every Halloween fan’s to-do list during the month of October. It’s fun to have a reason for a re-watch.
But it’s also an excellent time to dig into some delicious horror novels that will make the hairs on your arms stand on end. Curl up with these spooky book picks, and let your imagination do the scaring.
1) The Shining
King is known as the master of horror for a reason. While he has a massive library to choose from, The Shining is perhaps one of his most frightening novels no matter how many times you reread its pages. If you’ve only seen the Stanley Kubrick film, the book differs quite a bit, especially with its climactic ending.
The source material for the Swedish film of the same name, Let the Right One In is technically a vampire story, but not quite like any other you’ve ever read. The fragile connection between the loneliness of the two main characters sets the stage for a tale that is equal parts moving and terrifying.
Price: $16.90 (regularly $19)
Bret Easton Ellis’ story about a Wall Street mogul driven to murder by his own boredom is stomach-turning, even by today’s standards. If you can handle the emotionless dialogue of protagonist Patrick Bateman as he spirals downward into his killing spree, you’ll be amazed at Ellis’ ability to portray such a vivid character.
Price: $10.87 (regularly $16)
If you’ve never read anything about the origins of Cthulhu, Lovecraft’s tale is necessary reading for horror buffs. If you already have, his lesser-known stories are worth the read. This collection is a steal either way, but if you have a Kindle device, you can score seven books for less than a buck.
Price: $13.49 (regularly $15)
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and its sequels are fondly remembered by adults today thanks to the illustrations by Stephen Cammell, which should not have been in a book read by children under any circumstances due to how scary they were. If you’ve never seen the book, we bet it’ll make you feel uneasy to page through even today.
Mark Z. Danielewski’s debut novel was lauded after its release in 2000 as one of the most innovative books of the time. While it’s a challenge to read because of the formatting and jumping between two different narratives, House of Leaves is every bit as compelling today as it was when it first debuted.
Price: $19.80 (regularly $22)
7) The Exorcist
Despite everyone knowing what the story is about, The Exorcist still remains truly chilling both in written and film form. Author William Peter Blatty’s writing room was rumored to be strangely cold when he worked on the book, according to accounts from his wife at the time. This edition of the novel has been polished and rewritten by Blatty, and even includes a new character.
Books of Blood put Clive Barker on the map when it was released in 1984. A series of short stories, Barker’s effort drew Stephen King’s attention, who called him “the future of horror.” If you’re drawn to the visceral, this compilation belongs in your collection.
Price: $15.86 (regularly $20)
Billed as a true story when it was originally released, the tale of the haunted Long Island house incited a media frenzy. Author Jay Ansen wrote the book based on interviews given by the Lutz family, who lived in the house, but the family later sued several magazines, two clairvoyants who examined the house, and a writer working on an account of the haunting. To this day no one knows the truth, but one thing is sure: It’s an incredibly gripping novel.
Price: $7.19 (regularly $9)
Most classic horror tales often get glossed over because people already know the story. Even so, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is elegant and richly told, using the tale of Victor Frankenstein and his creation as an instrument to ask the reader a bigger question about who the real villain is—and what humans are truly capable of.
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Colette Bennett is a writer/editor who specializes in web culture, skincare, and all things geek. Her work has appeared on CNN, HLN, Engadget, Kotaku, Colourlovers, and Continue Magazine. She also writes horror and sci-fi fiction for Corona Books and is at work on her second novel.