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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We challenge you to read one of these bone-chilling books this Halloween, although you might not be able to sleep with the light off for a while… 

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

You might think films are the obvious answer, but sometimes there’s nothing scarier than an overactive imagination – and these somewhat disturbing books are like fuel for the fire.

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 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

    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

    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, and… well, and that’s all we’re going to tell you. Enjoy.

  • The House on Cold Hill by Peter James

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

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

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Megan Murray and Harriet Hall

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