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Read if you dare: 10 of the best (and most terrifying) horror books

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Megan Murray and Harriet Hall
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Hide under the duvet with one of these bone-chilling page-turners. We give you 10 of the scariest horror books to read at Halloween.

What’s better for scaring yourself silly at Halloween, terrifying books or horror films?

While we suspect most of you reading this would immediately say ‘films, of course!’ we think we can change your mind. Because, while films can present you with images that might take a few days to remove from your mind (especially The Nun, that’s been hailed as having the scariest trailer ever), books present you with something even more terrifying: your own imagination.

The power of the written word is not simply the author’s syntax but how you interpret it, how you conjure it in your mind and this, friends, is how books can incite real terror – we are forced to paint our own picture.

So forget carving pumpkins or Halloween-themed events, dip your toe into literary horror and try out these terrifying tomes for 31 October.

From M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts to Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney and of course, several entries from the great Stephen King, we doubt you’ll be able to sleep after reading all of these. 

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

Scariest horror books for Halloween

Set in a dystopian future, this post-apocalyptic zombie horror drama follows the breakdown of society after much of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection. The story sees a scientist and a teacher commence a journey of survival with a ‘special’ young girl named Melanie.

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

Scariest horror books for Halloween

A gothic and deeply unsettling read, The Loney was voted Amazon's book of the year 2016 and has been praised by 'king of horror', Stephen King.The story is of two brothers in an old house in suburbia.

The House on Cold Hill by Peter James

Scariest horror books for Halloween

A classic-style ghost story, in which a couple and their 12-year-old daughter move to the countryside - only to find that they're not alone in their new home. 

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin  

Scariest horror books for Halloween

The final instalment of bestselling vampire horror, The Passage Trilogy, The City of Mirrors brings the series to an epic - and bloody - climax.

It by Stephen King

Scariest horror books for Halloween

The book that will change your view of clowns forever, 1986 It sees a group of children dubbed 'The Losers' who are terrorised by a being that is able to disguise itself while hunting them. Most frequently appearing in the guise of a clown in order to target young children, It will haunt your dreams for years to come - in the way that only King's writing can.

Slade House by David Mitchell

Scariest horror books for Halloween

Starting in 1979 and finishing during Halloween 2015, Slade tells of an ominous 'guest' who is summoned, every October to Slade House. Who they are or why they have come will keep you turning pages until you reach the end - and, in perfect horror style, the answers involve the attic.

Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Scariest horror books for Halloween

The Gunslinger is the first instalment of King’s Dark Tower series. Haunting loner, Roland of Gilead toes the line between good and bad, in a world that bears a striking (and concerning) resemblance to our own. 

Hideaway by Dean Koontz

Scariest horror books for Halloween

After Hatch Harrison is resuscitated, he fears he may have brought back a bad spirit from the afterlife - and when people who have wronged his family begin to die randomly and violently, he begins to question his own role. 

The Fireman by Joe Hill  

Scariest horror books for Halloween

This is what it looks like when the world begins to spontaneously combust. But the Fireman and his band of unlikely heroes will not let it go easy. Brings new meaning to ashes to ashes.

Watchers by Dean Koontz

Scariest horror books for Halloween

When two mutant creatures traumatise four people, they come together and embark on a deadly hunt, leading one another to the extremes of evil.

Images: Courtesy of publishers/ Priscilla du Preez

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