BOOKS: Top 14 Horror Books – List by Ross Jeffery

14) The Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill
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He bought it, in the shape of the dead man’s suit, delivered in a heart-shaped box, because he wanted it: because his fans ate up that kind of story. It was perfect for his collection: the genuine skulls and the bones, the real honest-to-God snuff movie, the occult books and all the rest of the paraphanalia that goes along with his kind of hard/goth rock.

But the rest of his collection doesn’t make the house feel cold. The bones don’t make the dogs bark; the movie doesn’t make Jude feel as if he’s being watched. And none of the artefacts bring a vengeful old ghost with black scribbles over his eyes out of the shadows to chase Jude out of his home, and make him run for his life . . .

13) Haunted – Chuck Palahniuk 
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Haunted is a novel made up of stories: twenty-three of the most horrifying, hilarious, mind-blowing, stomach-churning tales you’ll ever encounter. They are told by the people who have all answered an ad headlined ‘Artists Retreat: Abandon your life for three months’. They are led to believe that here they will leave behind all the distractions of ‘real life’ that are keeping them from creating the masterpiece that is in them. But ‘here’ turns out to be a cavernous and ornate old theatre where they are utterly isolated from the outside world – and where heat and power and, most importantly, food are in increasingly short supply. And the more desperate the circumstances become, the more desperate the stories they tell – and the more devious their machinations to make themselves the hero of the inevitable play/movie/non-fiction blockbuster that will certainly be made from their plight.
 
12) The Island – Peter Benchley 
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Blair Maynard, a divorced journalist in New York City, decides to write a story about the unexplained disappearance of yachts and other small boats in the Caribbean, hoping to debunk theories about the Bermuda Triangle. He has weekend custody of his preteen son Justin, and decides to mix a vacation with work, taking his son along. They fly from Miami to the Turks and Caicos island chain but, while on fishing trip, are captured by a band of pirates. The pirates have, amazingly, remained undetected since the establishment of their pirate enclave by Jean-David Nau, the notorious buccaneer L’Olonnais, in 1671 (in reality, however, L’Olonnais is known to have died four years earlier). The pirates have a constitution of sorts, called the Covenant, and have a cruel but workable society. They raise any children they capture to ensure the survival of the colony, but kill anyone over the age of thirteen. In short order, Justin is virtually brainwashed and groomed to lead the pirate band, much to Maynard’s horror. Maynard tries repeatedly to escape, and finally attracts the attention of the passing United States Coast Guard cutter New Hope. The pirates attack and capture it, but Maynard is able to use a machine gun aboard to kill most of the pirates and to win Justin’s and his own freedom.

11) The Call Of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories – HP Lovecraft
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My somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature…. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings.” The sculpture is the work of Henry Anthony Wilcox, a student at the Rhode Island School of Design who based the work on his delirious dreams of “great Cyclopean cities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror.
10) The Complete Tales and Poems – Edgar Allan Poe

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The perfect gift for the Edgar Allan Poe fan, The Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe is an elegant edition boasting the entire Poe catalog.

The next edition in the Knickerbocker Classic series is The Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, featuring works from the famous gothic American writer. His works span the years from 1827 to his death in 1849. His often macabre and dark works included “The Raven,” “The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “Annabelle Lee.”
For Poe fans worldwide, this stunning gift edition has a full cloth binding, foil blocking on the spine, ribbon marker, and is packaged neatly in an elegant slipcase. The Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe contains every known Poe tale ever written, this deluxe edition boasts the entire Poe catalogue.

9) Jaws – Peter Benchley 

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It was just another day in the life of a small Atlantic resort until the terror from the deep came to prey on unwary holiday makers. The first sign of trouble – a warning of what was to come – took the form of a young woman’s body, or what was left of it, washed up on the long, white stretch of beach . . .

A summer of terror has begun.

Peter Benchley’s Jaws first appeared in 1974. It has sold over twenty million copies around the world, creating a legend that refuses to die – it’s never safe to go back in the water . . .

8) American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis

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Patrick Bateman is twenty-six and works on Wall Street; he is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. Taking us to a head-on collision with America’s greatest dream – and its worst nightmare – American Psycho is a bleak, bitter, black comedy about a world we all recognize but do not wish to confront.

7) IT – Stephen King

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To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

6) The Shining – Stephen King

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Danny is only five years old, but in the words of old Mr Hallorann he is a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, Danny’s visions grow out of control.

As winter closes in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seems to develop a life of its own. It is meant to be empty. So who is the lady in Room 217 and who are the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why do the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?

5) Dracula – Bram Stoker

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When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries in his client’s castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England: a ship runs aground on the shores of Whitby, its crew vanished; beautiful Lucy Westenra slowly succumbs to a mysterious, wasting illness, her blood drained away; and the lunatic Renfield raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘master’. In the ensuing battle of wills between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries – led by the intrepid vampire hunter Abraham van Helsing – Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing into questions of identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

4) The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty

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The terror begins unobtrusively. Noises in the attic. In the child’s room, an odd smell, the displacement of furniture, an icy chill. At first, easy explanations are offered. Then frightening changes begin to appear in eleven-year-old Regan. Medical tests fail to shed any light on her symptoms, but it is as if a different personality has invaded her body.

Father Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest, is called in. Is it possible that a demonic presence has possessed the child? Exorcism seems to be the only answer…

3) Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist 

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Oskar and Eli. In very different ways, they were both victims. Which is why, against the odds, they became friends. And how they came to depend on one another, for life itself. Oskar is a 12-year-old boy living with his mother on a dreary housing estate at the city’s edge. He dreams about his absentee father, gets bullied at school, and wets himself when he’s frightened. Eli is the young girl who moves in next door. She doesn’t go to school and never leaves the flat by day. She is a 200-year-old vampire, forever frozen in childhood, and condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood. John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel is a unique and brilliant fusion of social novel and vampire legend, a deeply moving fable about rejection, friendship and loyalty.

2) Everything’s Eventual – Stephen King

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Nothing is quite as it seems.

Expect the unexpected in this veritable treasure trove of enthralling, witty, dark tales that could only come from the imagination of the greatest storyteller of our time.

In this eerie, enchanting compilation, Stephen King takes readers down a road less travelled (for good reason) in the blockbuster e-book ‘Riding the Bullet’. Terror becomes deja vu all over again when you get ‘That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French’. ‘LT’s Theory of Pets’ will make you stop and think before giving a dog to a loved one. And there are eleven more stories that will keep you awake until dawn

1) Frankenstein – Mary Shelley 

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Frankenstein is the classic gothic horror novel which has thrilled and engrossed readers for two centuries. Written by Mary Shelley, it is a story which she intended would ‘curdle the blood and quicken the beatings of the heart.’ The tale is a superb blend of science fiction, mystery and thriller. Victor Frankenstein driven by the mad dream of creating his own creature, experiments with alchemy and science to build a monster stitched together from dead remains. Once the creature becomes a living breathing articulate entity, it turns on its maker and the novel darkens into tragedy. The reader is very quickly swept along by the force of the elegant prose, the grotesque, surreal imagery, and the multi-layered themes in the novel. Although first published in 1818, Shelley’s masterpiece still maintains a strong grip on the imagination and has been the inspiration for numerous horror movies, television and stage adaptations.

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List by Ross Jeffery

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