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Old 09-26-2010, 06:41 PM   #1
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Scariest Books Ever Written

I always try to fit in some scary books before Halloween to put me in the fall spirit. Can anyone recommend some great scary books? What are your favorites and why?

Some criteria to follow: Crime thrillers don't count. Ergo, Silence of the Lambs doesn't count (I've seen this listed frequently online).

Some of the books I've enjoyed were Lovecraft's works, The Shining and 'Salem's Lot, Something Wicked This Way Comes, the Amityville Horror and I am Legend by Richard Matheson.

As soon as I catch up on some of my grad school reading I'm going to try and fit in some Algernon Blackwood, whom I've never read but hear good things about.

Obviously I enjoy the supernatural stuff, but psychological stuff like Turn of the Screw are also good.

What other King and Matheson books are good? Your favorite classics? What about newer authors? I've heard amazing things about Joe Hill, your thoughts?
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Old 09-26-2010, 06:45 PM   #2
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Anything by Shirley Jackson - but esp. The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House.
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:10 PM   #3
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MR has a lot of the Lovecraft works here. I saw member, CazMar's recommendation, for "At the Mountains of Madness" by H.P.Lovecraft:
Quote:
On an expedition to Antarctica, Professor William Dyer and his colleagues discover the remains of ancient half-vegetable, half-animal life-forms. The extremely early date in the geological strata is surprising because of the highly-evolved features found in these previously unknown life-forms. Through a series of dark revelations, violent episodes, and misunderstandings, the group learns of Earth's secret history and legacy.
I have probably read it about 20 times and it still fascinates me.
Plus the MR Book Club is Horror this month. You can check out the Vote Thread and see the links to the books and links to member reviews of one of the books.

My all time favorites were already listed by you, "The Shining" and "Salem's Lot".
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:24 PM   #4
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If you can, try to hunt down some of Richard Matheson's short stories. A lot of them were adapted into some of the better classic Twilight Zone episodes and can be very eerie in tone without the slightest bit of gore.

In that vein, Rod Serling also did prose adaptations of his own generally excellent TZ episodes, which you may be able to find cheaply in the used bookstore. Or just borrow a copy of the DVD release and watch away.

And Charles Beaumont, a contemporary of both who also wrote some of the better TZ-original and adapted stories, has one of them up on Project Gutenberg, and has been described by Dean Koontz as an "influence" according to the Wikipedia article, though I don't know if that endorsement will push you towards or farther away from his works.

Both Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, while not horror/suspense writers per se, have written a number of genuinely creepy and frisson-provoking short stories.

One of Bradbury's classic novels which shouldn't be hard to find is Something Wicked This Way Comes. I can't seem to recall or find the title of the story with the horrible thing lurking in the attic, or the one with the thing that ate people's bones but left the rest of them intact, but The October Country is an anthology of his scarier stories that was reprinted in 1999, so you may be able to find it in a library.

Ellison is a decidedly more SFnal writer, so that may not be to your taste, but his creepy classics include I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, and A Boy and His Dog.

If you want e-reader friendly formats, classic Ellison, at least is available DRM-free via Fictionwise and Baen's Webscriptions. Bradbury, unfortunately, has decided not to let his works be released in e-format. Matheson is available in both novels and collections in the Kindle store and likely elsewhere. Beaumont will be another used bookstore/library search, though he's had stuff reprinted within the past couple of decades, which should help a bit.

As for some classic scary tales available via Project Gutenberg et al., Ambrose Bierce has written a couple (An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge being probably the most famous, and another Twilight Zone adaptation), as has English M.R. James (gets adapted for BBC Radio every so often).

And I've always liked Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker, whose non-Dracula works you can find free online at BramStoker.org, and am currently partway through the B&N Classics editions of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyll & Hyde, both of which I find considerably enhanced by the annotations, particularly the stuff relating J&H to the Jack the Ripper frenzy going on at the time.
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:27 PM   #5
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I second Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House I don't scare easily but when reading one specific part in the dark I had to read something totally different before I went to sleep.

I just read Algernon Blackwood's The Damned which I liked, more psychological than outright gory horror.

Duma Key by King is also very good, IMHO better than Under the Dome. You can also try James Herbert, unfortunately only one of his novels is available as ebook.
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Old 09-26-2010, 10:40 PM   #6
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thank you for the suggestions.
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Old 09-26-2010, 11:43 PM   #7
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My favorite King book (though I haven't read them all) is Pet Sematary. My all-time favorite is Matheson's I Am Legend, which you mentioned already. I liked Rosemary's Baby a lot, too, though it's been ages. Ought to revisit that one.
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Old 09-27-2010, 12:07 AM   #8
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Brian Lumley's "Necroscope" series is very good. An unusual take on vampires.
Arthur Machen's "House of Souls" is very good. Lovecraft was a fan..
Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" is a great psychological novel.
William Hjortsberg's "Falling Angel" is a brilliant noir detective/horror novel.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:28 AM   #9
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Shade's Children by Garth Nix. You know that nightmare where you're being chased and you can't find anywhere safe to hide? Imagine that in book form *shudder* Here's an excerpt from the first chapter.

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Old 09-27-2010, 11:36 AM   #10
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The two scariest stories I ever read were both short works by Stephen King. The Mist (in collection Skeleton Crew, though since there's now a movie version you may find a stand-alone book), and The Moving Finger (in collection Nightmares and Dreamscapes).

I still have problems with drains because of The Moving Finger. I make my husband clean all the drains because I'm too chicken to do it. And when there's a really heavy fog, I freak out thinking about The Mist.

For fun creepy stories to get you in the holiday spirit, check out Neil Gaimen's Fragile Things. I'm not a huge Gaimen fan, but his short stories in this collection are really fun. (My husband thought they were scary; I did not.)
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:46 AM   #11
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The only one I can think of would be The Exorcist - I've not seen the film, the book was 'bad' enough; and it was a long time ago - haven't picked it up again.....
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Old 09-27-2010, 12:09 PM   #12
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I recommend any of H.P Lovecraft's compendiums that include my favorite scary story called "The Dreams in the Witch House". As mentioned above, "At the Mountains of Madness" is extremely creepy as well. Stephen King's "It" is up there for me too.
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Old 09-27-2010, 12:35 PM   #13
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I remember Audrey Rose as being quite creepy and that is one that hasn't been mentioned here.
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Old 09-27-2010, 12:37 PM   #14
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The only one I can think of would be The Exorcist - I've not seen the film, the book was 'bad' enough; and it was a long time ago - haven't picked it up again.....
The book was scary, but the you have got to see the movie. Still a classic if you liked to be freaked out!
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Old 09-27-2010, 01:12 PM   #15
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Stephen King's "It" is up there for me too.
It took me 2 tries to finish that book. I've always hated clowns and that book drove home the reason behind my hatred. Evil things!
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