I thought this would be a no-brainer for me. I can easily name some scary books. But then I started to make my list and I had a really hard time. Most of the scary books I never read because I saw their movies. So, here is a list of the books I’ve read that scared me and gave me nightmares. I know there are more out there that I need to read, although my husband may not let me. Remember, I have crazy dreams when I read or watch this stuff. What are your favorite scary books to read?
1. It by Stephen King
Genre: Adult Horror
Movie: In 1990 a film based on the book came out with actors John Ritter and Tim Curry. Tim Curry was amazing. His version of the clown just freaked me out. I have nightmares about clowns from this book. “They all float down here.” “Hey Billy, want a balloon?” Too bad the ending was a lame alien-like spider.
Description: The story follows the exploits of seven children as they are terrorized by an eponymous being, which exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. “It” primarily appears in the form of a clown in order to attract its preferred prey of young children. The novel is told through narratives alternating between two time periods, and is largely told in the third-person omniscient mode. It deals with themes which would eventually become King staples: the power of memory, childhood trauma, and the ugliness lurking behind a façade of traditional small-town values.
2. The Taslisman/Black House by Peter Straub and Stephen King
Genre: Adult Horror/Suspense
Talisman Description: On a brisk autumn day, a twelve-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: his father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America–and into another realm.
One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written,The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery. Jack Sawyer, on a desperate quest to save his mother’s life, must search for a prize across an epic landscape of innocents and monsters, of incredible dangers and even more incredible truths. The prize is essential, but the journey means even more. Let the quest begin.
Black House Description: Twenty years ago, a boy named Jack Sawyer travelled to a parallel universe called The Territories to save his mother and her Territories “twinner” from a premature and agonizing death that would have brought cataclysm to the other world. Now Jack is a retired Los Angeles homicide detective living in the nearly nonexistent hamlet of Tamarack, WI. He has no recollection of his adventures in the Territories and was compelled to leave the police force when an odd, happenstance event threatened to awaken those memories.
When a series of gruesome murders occur in western Wisconsin that are reminiscent of those committed several decades earlier by a real-life madman named Albert Fish, the killer is dubbed “The Fisherman” and Jack’s buddy, the local chief of police, begs Jack to help his inexperienced force find him. But is this merely the work of a disturbed individual, or has a mysterious and malignant force been unleashed in this quiet town? What causes Jack’s inexplicable waking dreams, if that is what they are, of robins’ eggs and red feathers? It’s almost as if someone is trying to tell him something. As that message becomes increasingly impossible to ignore, Jack is drawn back to the Territories and to his own hidden past, where he may find the soul-strength to enter a terrifying house at the end of a deserted track of forest, there to encounter the obscene and ferocious evils sheltered within it.
I loved the Talisman. I think I read it at least three times before The Black House came out. I was so excited for part 2 and then I started reading it. I was like a deer caught in the headlights—horrified and unable to move. This was another book my roommate came into my room in the middle of the night to see if I was okay. I never did finish the book. I think I had a few chapters left.
3. The Haunted Mesa by Louis L’ Amour
Genre: Adult Science Fiction Western
Description: The Navajo called them the Anasazi, the “ancient enemy,” and their abandoned cities haunt the canyons and plateaus of the Southwest. For centuries the sudden disappearance of these people baffled historians. Summoned to a dark desert plateau by a desperate letter from an old friend, renowned investigator Mike Raglan is drawn into a world of mystery, violence, and explosive revelations. Crossing a border beyond the laws of man and nature, he will learn of the astonishing world of the Anasazi and discover the most extraordinary frontier ever encountered.
I am not one for the western genre. My grandfather read every book L’Amour put out. I on the other hand, was drawn to this novel because of the Native American storyline. I love reading about them. I must tell you I had nightmares while reading this book. I was so into it that I was dreaming that I was the main character going into their mystery land. It was freaky. My roommate at the time kept walking into my room early in the morning asking me if I was okay. Apparently I had been screaming for a good while.
4. The Amityville Horror by Jan Anson
Genre: Adult Suspense/Horror
Movie: A movie was made from this book in 1977 starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder. So creepy! My sister and I saw this at a friend’s house because we were not allowed to watch it. And for good reason!! There was another movie made in 2005 but I don’t think it was as good as the first one.
Description: The Lutzes moved into their dream home on December 18th, 1975. Four weeks later, they fled in terror. The home was the scene of a mass murder a year before, and the Lutzes claimed paranormal phenomena caused them to fear for their lives and forced them to abandon the home. Touted as a true story.
There has been a lot of controversy over the years as to whether or not this is based on a true story. Some say the Lutz family made it all up. The murders prior to their moving in to the house are true but not necessarily the other-worldly hauntings that went on. This was another of those books that I actually snuck out of my sister’s room to read. It was hidden in her room for a good reason. I had nightmares about the basement we lived in for quite some time.
5. Pitch Green (Dimensions in Death #1) by The Brothers Washburn (Trust me when I say you’ll want to read this in the daylight hours.)
Description: Trona is a small, foul-smelling, mostly insignificant town in California. Besides a booming chemical plant, the only thing that characterizes this dismal town is dirt, sagebrush, and an enormous abandoned mansion.
The mansion is, admittedly, the only notable addition to Trona, but it’s something everyone tries to avoid due to its creepy facade. Everyone except for Camm Smith, who is obsessed with the need to get inside.
Seven years earlier, as Camm herded a pack of little trick-or-treaters past the mansion, her young neighbor, Hugh, disappeared, becoming just one of many children who have vanished from Trona over the years without a trace. Now a senior in high school, Camm is still haunted by the old tragedy and is sure the answer to the mysterious disappearances lies hidden somewhere in the decaying mansion. Joining forces with her best friend, Cal, who also happens to be Hugh’s older brother, Camm naively begins a perilous search for the truth.
As things spiral quickly out of control, and others die, Camm and Cal discover it will take all their combined ingenuity to stay alive. An unseen creature, lurking deep within the bowels of the mansion, seems to have supernatural powers and is now hunting them. Making matters worse, they become entangled with hostile federal agents, who care only about keeping old secrets permanently hidden. Left with only their wit and seemingly ineffective firearms, they know they are running out of time. Unless they can make sense out of the few pieces of the puzzle they manage to unearth, the monster will certainly destroy them, and like so many others before them, they will be gone without a trace.
Honorable Mentions: Stephen King’s The Gunslinger Series has some pretty crazy parts in it. I have not read the last two novels that came out. Orson Scott Card’s The Lost Boys. This novel was scary and sad.