Best Horror Books to Give You the Chills

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People enjoy scary stories because of the excitement: the adrenaline rush is strong, and nothing makes you feel more peaceful than realizing that you are safe and sound and your fear isn’t real, it was just fiction after all.  The final experience of reading a horror story leads to feeling purified: after the terrible adventure comes tranquility, because it’s all over.  So, if you are a fan of this kind of fiction, consider these five books.

The Shining, by Stephen King (1977)

Stephen King is the ultimate master of horror fiction.  His works include amazing fantasy worlds, accompanied by supernatural forces and paranormal elements.  The Shining is best known for its movie version (directed by Stanley Kubrick, three years after the novel first appeared), but you should honestly try reading the book as King’s writing style will give you chills in a more intense way.  The movie gives you a finished picture, but the images you create in your head can be far scarier.

King guides the reader through the story gradually; he uses explicit language and the upper case to create a bigger and scarier impact.  He makes the reader expect certain things, and then he delivers a different twist.  It is a story about Jack Torrance and his son, Danny, who has the gift of seeing ghosts.  Jack is an alcoholic writer who has decided to accept a position as the caretaker of a hotel that turns out to be haunted.

Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.

You can read it online here.

American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

This is one for readers with tough stomachs.  American Psycho is a story about Patrick Bateman, a yuppie businessman who lives a double life.  He is a serial killer who commits unspeakable crimes: from brutal murders to rape, necrophilia, and cannibalism.  The author describes the crimes with specific details that will make your heart beat faster.  Basically, if you are intrigued by the psychology of sociopaths and psychotics, what makes them act the way they do and motivates them – this could be interesting to you.  The novel is based on actual research into real crimes, as documented in the New York public library.  It is a much more layered story than it seems at first glance.  The implicit question of the novel involves the problem of society’s pressures and what makes one man a psychopath while another one is a normal, healthy individual.  If you liked The Fight Club or perhaps the movie The Machinist, you will definitely enjoy the twisted psychology of this creepy piece.

I had all the characteristics of a human being—flesh, blood, skin, hair—but my depersonalization was so intense, had gone so deep, that my normal ability to feel compassion had been eradicated, the victim of a slow, purposeful erasure. I was simply imitating reality, a rough resemblance of a human being, with only a dim corner of my mind functioning.

You can read it online here.

William Wilson, by Edgar Allan Poe (1839)

If you like classic literature, Poe is the right choice for you.  This collection of short stories (named after one of them) offers you various types of fear, but on a deeper level.  There are no explicit bloody scenes or the horror that characterizes the fiction of the 21st century, but it gives you a different kind of chills.  The horrors of the plague, being buried alive, talking to a dead man, running into your own doppelgänger, a murderer struggling with an unclear conscience – these are just some of the themes of Poe’s stories.

There was much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust.

You can read it online here.

Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre, by H.P. Lovecraft (1926)

Another great collection of short stories!  Lovecraft is well known as a writer of strange horror fiction.  His stories are engaging in the sense that no one before has been quite so interested in cults and mythical creatures, or their relationship with humans.  His themes include esotericism, voodoo, sins that run in the family and are inherited, higher forces that are beyond the understanding of most people . . . Even more peculiar and obscure than Poe, Lovecraft will awaken the fear of the unknown in you, but will also make you a bit more curious.

The geometry of the place was all wrong. One could not be sure that the sea and the ground were horizontal.

You can read it online here.

Nazareth Hill, by Ramsey Campbell (1996)

If you enjoy reading books that seem to play with history, this horror novel is a great choice for you!  It is the story of a teenaged girl who suffers the loss of her mother and doesn’t get along well with her controlling father.  The novel has an element that appears in many horror stories: a haunted house.  But it most certainly isn’t a typical one.  Evil forces are linked to the individual’s perception of his own identity.  The problem of madness is in the focus.  As the title probably suggested to you, there is a connection to the Bible and the battle between good and evil.  The tension of the story is great and well composed, so – not to reveal too much, grab a copy, you won’t be sorry!

Must survive until they take me from this place.

The book isn’t available for online reading, but you can find it on Amazon.

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