Are you someone who fancies an excellent midnight horror novel to feel the thrill of spookiness or just for the sake of it? Then, we’ve got you covered. Here are the ten scariest books of all time; you can read them tonight or on the following nights.
1. The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray, the most criticized book by Oscar Wilde, is one of the best horror books of all time. Set in Victorian England, the story revolves around Dorian Gray, the ultimate muse of artist Basil Hallward’s paintings. While sitting for his portrait, he listens to the hedonistic opinions of Lord Henry. He begins to wish that his portrait should age instead of himself. And his wish comes true. Soon, he falls in love with Sibyl, an actress, and due to a few turn of events, she kills herself. The death of Sibyl changes Dorian’s life and leads to Dorian experimenting and indulging in bad habits.
On the other hand, Dorian’s portrait keeps ageing and evolving with time. Eighteen years later, James, brother of Sibyl, who is seeking vengeance, meets Dorian. Will James succeed in killing Dorian? Does Dorian change the way of living his life? And most importantly, what happens to Dorian’s portrait?
2. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty’s horror novel gained so much fame and attention that people keep adapting the book into theatre plays and movies. The story revolves around Father Lankester Merrin, who uncovers a statue of demon Pazuzu in an archaeological excavation & Regan MacNeil, a young girl accompanying her mother in Georgetown. Regan soon falls ill, and her psychological behaviour changes turning her into a violent girl. After trying multiple medical treatments, her mother takes her to a priest, Father Damien Karras.
Father Damien Karras, after numerous visits, decides to perform an exorcism. The bishop, however, appoints Father Merrin and asks Father Karras to act as an assistant. Together they perform a very lengthy exorcism. Will they be able to complete the exorcism successfully? Will Regan live? And what happens to the demon?
3. Misery by Stephen King
Stephen King is infamous for his horror novels. Misery remains one of his scariest books of all time to date. The story revolves around the best-selling series featuring Misery Chastain’s author Paul Sheldon. Paul Sheldon completes the finale by killing off the main character, Misery. After writing his next book, a drunk Paul gets into an accident in a snowstorm in Colorado. However, Annie Wilkes, a fan of Misery, saves him, treats him and manipulates Paul, who is currently bedridden. Annie, after reading Misery’s Child, the final book of the series, leaves Paul alone without food, water or medicine for two days. She comes back and manipulates him into writing the next book of Misery’s series and bringing Misery back from the dead.
Paul soon discovers that Annie is a serial killer and throws tantrums to escape her. But Annie keeps torturing Paul into writing the new novel. Will Paul complete the book? Will Annie let Paul live in exchange for the story? And Will Paul ever be able to return to his everyday life?
4. Ring by Koji Suzuki
The ring is a Japanese horror novel series written by Koji Suzuki. The book series has been adapted into many film series. The ring remains one of the scariest horror novels with a dedicated fan base. The story starts with the mysterious death of 4 teenagers. Kazuyuki Asakawa, a reporter, launches his investigation of the deaths. Upon investigation, Asakawa watches a disturbing videotape, through which a man warns that the viewer has only one week to live. Asakawa asks for help from his friend Ryuji Takayama, a psychopath and a rapist. They both soon launch an investigation to follow the events shown in the tape.
All clues lead to Sadaka Yamamura, a woman who disappeared 30 years ago. Asakawa and Ryuji set to learn the reason behind her disappearance. Is Sadaka dead? Will Asakawa and Ryuji manage to beat the curse? And more importantly, Who is Sadaka? And What is the story behind the videotape?
5. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Thomas Harris’ psychological horror novel was adapted into films, series and musicals, making it one of the best horror books of all time. A young FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, is at the center of the story. His head orders Starling and Jack Crawford to draw up psychological profiles of serial killers. Jack asks Starling to create a questionnaire for Hannibal Lecter, a cannibalistic serial killer serving in Maryland mental institution. Jack and Starling need to catch a serial killer and asks Hannibal for clues.
Hannibal, in return for her information, gives Starling clues. Following Lecter’s cryptic clues, Jack and Starling begin hunting for the serial killer. Will Jack and Starling catch the serial killer? Is Lecter trustworthy? And Who is the serial killer?
6. Dracula by Bram Stoker
One of the classic and best horror books of all time is Dracula. The novel has been adapted into many films and series as well. Dracula, as we know him, is a blood-thirsty vampire and perhaps one of the most dangerous of all. The story begins with Jonathan Harker visiting Count Dracula’s castle to help the Count purchase a new house in London. Harker wanders the Count’s castle in the Carpathian Mountains and encounters three vampire women. However, Dracula saves Harker, and soon Harker escapes and goes to a Budapest hospital. Dracula hires a ship to go to England, on which the crew disappear, and only the captain remains alone. Dracula lands in England and soon starts stalking his new prey. Harker, along with his wife Mina, joins the fight against Dracula. Dracula curses Mina for turning into a vampire after her death. The curse can only go when Dracula dies, and he rests on earth from his homeland. Will Harker be able to save Mina? Will Dracula’s death put an end to the curse? And, Is it possible to kill Dracula?
7. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The novel has been described as one of the best horror books of all time and a genuine masterpiece. The story revolves around a young woman, Rosemary Woodhouse. Rosemary moved into Bramford, an apartment in NY, with her husband, Guy. Rosemary thinks of starting a family, but Guy tells her to wait until his acting career is well established. Guy soon lands a lead actor role in a play and tells Rosemary they can finally start a family. Rosemary dreams of intercourse with a vast, inhuman creature with yellow eyes. And soon, she gets pregnant. Eventually, Rosemary falls ill. Is Guy the birth father of Rosemary? Will Rosemary give birth? And, who is Rosemary’s child?
8. The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
The Hellbound Heart is one of the scariest books in gothic horror fiction. The story revolves around Frank Cotton, a selfish criminal indulged in sadistic pleasures. He begins to pursue a puzzle box, which is believed to open a portal to the realm of Cenobites, of unfathomable joy. Frank soon acquires the box and solves the puzzle. The cenobites arrive and warn that Frank cannot turn back once the agreement is made. Frank, however, agrees. The Cenobites take Frank to their realm, where they will subject him to torture forever. Soon, Frank’s brother Rory and his wife Julia arrive at the house Frank disappears. After an unexpected occurrence, the dimension’s portal opens, and Frank comes back to earth with a corpse-like body. Julia soon murders men and feeds them to Frank, which helps Frank regenerate his own. Rory’s friend, Kirsty, accidentally solves the puzzle box and summons the Cenobites. The Cenobites agree to leave her alone if she leads them to Frank. Will Kirsty be able to show the Cenobites to Frank? Will Frank ever return to his original form? What will happen to Kirsty and Frank in the end?
9. Beloved by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s Beloved is one of the scariest books of all time in American Literature. The story revolves around Sethe and her family. Sethe has an 18-year-old daughter Denver with whom she lives at 124 Bluestone Road. Sethe’s sons Howard and Buglar ran away at the age of 13. Paul D, Sethe’s friend, arrives at Sethe’s home and convinces them to go to a carnival and leave the house after many years. After they return from the festival, Sethe finds a young woman called Beloved at her doorstep and takes her in. Denver soon forms a bond with Beloved. Paul D asks Sethe to start a family with him, but Sethe refuses. Soon, Beloved is revealed to be Sethe’s eldest daughter, who was killed years before. Who killed Beloved? Will Sethe’s sons ever come back to her? And How is Beloved still alive?
10. The Shining by Stephen King
The Shining is the best horror book of all time written by Stephen King. The story is set in the Overlook Hotel, a resort in Colorado. Jack Torrance, the hotel’s new caretaker, moves in with his wife Wendy and five-year-old son Danny. Jack becomes an alcoholic, and several events cause his relationship with his family to fall out. Jack and his family are welcomed by the hotel’s chef Dick Hallorann who has psychic abilities to read minds. The family’s presence in the hotel leads to mysterious events. Soon, Jack gets possessed and attacks his wife and his son. Will Jack be able to kill his family? Will Hallorann be able to save Jack and his family? And what is the mystery behind the hotel?
Get cosy blankets, squishy pillows, some tea for the nerves or wine, and grab a seat, because you are going on a haunting ride. Oh! And don’t forget to light some candles; you never know who’s peeping from behind.