When you know the monsters can’t reach you, it’s sometimes enjoyable to be terrified.
Stephen King would not be one of the world’s best-selling novelists, killer doll Chucky would not have a new TV series, and we would not be on our 12th “Halloween” film if that were not the case.
Horror is a therapeutic genre, allowing us to explore our darkest worries and traumas, relive our worst dreams, and rid ourselves of the nagging dread that may otherwise consume our minds. Plus, it’s more enjoyable and less expensive than treatment.
So grab a warm blanket, a cup of cider, and one of these 12 novels, and prepare to have your life wrecked in the best possible manner.
- Rumaan Alam ‘Leave the World Behind.’
Alam’s newest literary horror masterwork is more terrifying for what it doesn’t reveal than for what it does (though what it does show is plenty scary). Over a long weekend, a comfortable middle-class family is vacationing at a rural rental property when the home’s owners show up at the door, stating there has been an emergency and the city is completely blacked out.
- ‘Wounds: Six Tales from the Edge of Hell’ is a collection of six short stories set on the edge of hell. Nathan Ballingrud contributed to this article.
We expect horror aficionados to read and revisit “The Butcher’s Table,” the collection’s core piece, for years to come. The pirate ship Butcher’s Table brings a group of Satanists into the “Dark Water” for the “Feast of the Cannibal Priest” and “a wedding on the outskirts of Hell.” Then it’s a love story,” Captain Toussaint explains. The courageous crew dines in a dead angel’s skull after a difficult trip trailed by carrion angels.
- Laird Barron’s ‘Occultation’
The horror tale is a diverse genre that may be used to achieve a variety of goals, but its primary goal is to terrify the reader. Barron also writes terrifying stories. The novella “–30–,” the highlight of his second collection of short stories, delivers the eerie with both claws.
- Mark Z. Danielewski’s ‘House of Leaves
When you’re reading “House of Leaves,” there’s a page when you have to fight visceral goosebumps. Then they keep coming until you’re up at 3 a.m., unable to put this addictive maze of a novel down. The concept is that a blind man dies and leaves behind a stack of papers that describe a “Blair Witch Project”-style film about a family who moves into a house that is bigger on the inside than it is on the exterior.
- Stephen King’s ‘Misery’
As a young child, We were one of King’s Constant Readers, much before We should have been, and always on the down low, much to my mother’s chagrin. We were reading “Misery” as a teen messed me up, even though We were acclimated to the horror he presented on the page. The story of best-selling romance author Paul Sheldon’s snowy car crash and the chilling psychological terror that unfolds under the “care” of his super-fan Annie Wilkes.
- Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City”
This actual story of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and the murderer who stalked the grounds could not have been made up in Hollywood’s wildest imaginations. The narrative is portrayed from the perspectives of two men: Daniel Burnham, the fair’s famed architect, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, the cold-blooded, blue-eyed serial killer commonly recognized as America’s first urban serial killer.
- Thomas Ligotti’s ‘Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe’
In this collection of short stories, Penguin Classics lays out a huge bowl of delights for horror aficionados. If you prefer your worldview to be deeply, unsettlingly strange, and you’ve only seen LigottWe via the lens of Rust Cohle on “True Detective,” you might want to take a chance. If you don’t have anything planned for Halloween, this would be a great book to snuggle up with and keep warm.
- Alex Michaelides’ ‘The Silent Patient
This is the book for you if you enjoy psychological thrillers with a mind-bending twist. The film “The Silent Patient” is about a lady who appears to have it all as a recognized painter in a loving relationship. Then her husband returns home one day, and she shoots him five times in the face. And he doesn’t say anything else for the rest of his life. The story is portrayed from the perspective of the psychotherapist who is attempting to help her.
- Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s ‘From Hell’
In pop culture, Jack the Ripper has been done to death if you’ll excuse the expression. Alan Moore (“Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta”), the wild-haired occultist and crazy man of comics, has a darker, more mind-bending take on the Victorian-era serial murderer than anybody else. This graphic novel is not for the faint of heart.
- Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray
As a gay man, I’m well-versed in the art of defying aging. But it doesn’t mean We have a painting deteriorating in my attic, becoming older and uglier in my place, in an attempt to delay nature’s natural course. Meet Dorian Gray, who has a photograph like this. This chilling tale contains everything you might desire for Halloween: fancy clothing, parties, homoeroticism, and a lot of treachery.
- ‘Mexican Gothic,’ says the author. Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Silvia Moreno-Garcia)
Anxiety-inducing novels should have their own category. You’ll feel as frantic as heroine Noem to rescue her cousin Catalina out of a secluded home in the Mexican countryside when you read “Mexican Gothic.” Everything is perplexing, and you won’t get the complete picture until it’s too late since Noem is discovering everything for the first time, just like the reader.
- Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Haunting of Hill House’
Dr. Montague invites four guests to stay at Hill House for the summer in the hopes of uncovering supernatural proof. Suicides and odd incidents have occurred in the past at the residence. Jackson is a virtuoso at making the reader’s imagination work for him. Her simple and exquisite words about a house that could be haunted are unsettling, and We alternated between holding my breath and turning the pages quickly.