Stories haunt us. They creep into our minds years later to startle us with their relevance and staying power. Scary stories have an even stronger grip on our memories, reaching out from beneath the floorboards and behind the curtains to grab us when we least expect it.
1. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Salem’s Lot might not be the first horror book that comes to mind when you think of Stephen King, but that’s why we put this one on the list. This novel about a small town called Salem’s Lot will hopefully haunt you just as well as any other King thriller you’ve encountered.
2. Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
This vampire novel predates Dracula by 26 years. It establishes very early vampire lore, some of which is no longer in use. For example, vampires seem to only change their names to anagrams of their original names, rearranging the letters to create a new name.
3. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, carries on the family tradition of horror with this story of a musician haunted by a vengeful spirit.
4. The Ruins by Scott Smith
It starts as a trip to Mexico–a vacation. Before long, a day trip has turned into a much more terrifying tour when the characters stumble upon some ruins and an evil like they’ve never seen.
5. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
With all the formalities of a regency era setting, The Woman in Black may seem like a prim and proper book, but it plays with atmosphere in the most eerie way, creating a spin-tingling setting and spinning an epic ghost story.
6. Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Lindqvist doesn’t write a zombie novel. He takes the concept of zombies and forces the reader to explore what it would really mean to have a loved one come back in such a haunting form.