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A lot of people get in the autumn spirit with scary-movie marathons, but I much prefer the slow, unspooling terror of a good horror novel. I’ve got 12 terrifying books that are scarier than any horror movie I’ve seen, so people like me can enjoy their spooky falls just as much as the movie buffs.
Now, in the interests of full disclosure, you should know that I am not the kind of person who thinks that horror movies and books should only be read in the fall. Anytime is a good time to get spooked by a great story, so you should return to this list and others like it whenever you’re in the mood, not just during the so-called horror-movie season.
Don’t get me wrong, horror movies are great and all, but even the longer ones don’t have time to build up a sense of true dread, in my opinion. The ones that do — I’m thinking here of Get Out, The Shining, and Alien, for example — are the exceptions that prove the rule. By contrast, horror novels have hours upon hours to develop their characters and ramp up the suspense, which means you’re practically shaking as you turn those climactic final pages.
1.’Zombie‘ by Joyce Carol OatesBuy it from Amazon
Joyce Carol Oates’ 1995 novel isn’t like other horror titles, but that doesn’t stop it from being scary enough to keep you up at night. The story here centers on the narrator, who details, in stream-of-consciousness style, how he plans to create the perfect sex slave.
2.’House of Leaves‘ by Mark Z. DanielewskiBuy it from Amazon
Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves has a reputation for being a novel that’s both difficult and terrifying. Trust me when I say that this book — which reads a lot like a book within a book — lives up to the hype.
3.’The Haunting of Hill House‘ by Shirley JacksonBuy it from Amazon
Reading Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, you might get the sense that you’ve seen it all before. Centering on a group of four people who assemble to investigate a possibly haunted house, this is the book that launched 1,000 horror tropes.