13 Most Terrifying Books of All Time

October 31 2014

Animals resurrected, cannibalism, things that go bump in the night. Are you scared yet?

Evil children, science experiments gone awry, a thirst for blood. Shall we go on?

You won’t be getting a good night’s sleep after reading any of these 13 terrifying tales, but if you, like us, enjoy the rapid heartbeat of pure and utter terror, you will surely delight in this list!

Or, if paranormal is more to your liking check out this list from XoXo

Pet Sematary
by Stephen King

This is probably the most frightening novel Stephen King has ever written. When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son and now an idyllic home. As a family, they've got it all...right down to the friendly cat. But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth, more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful.The Creeds are going to learn that sometimes dead is better.

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Pet Sematary
Stephen King

This is probably the most frightening novel Stephen King has ever written. When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son and now an idyllic home. As a family, they've got it all...right down to the friendly cat. But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth, more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful.The Creeds are going to learn that sometimes dead is better.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

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The Island of Doctor Moreau
by H. G. Wells

In The Island of Dr. Moreau a shipwrecked gentleman named Edward Prendick, stranded on a Pacific island lorded over by the notorious Dr. Moreau, confronts dark secrets, strange creatures, and a reason to run for his life.

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The Island of Doctor Moreau
H. G. Wells

In The Island of Dr. Moreau a shipwrecked gentleman named Edward Prendick, stranded on a Pacific island lorded over by the notorious Dr. Moreau, confronts dark secrets, strange creatures, and a reason to run for his life.

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The Cask of Amontillado
by Edgar Allan Poe

Revenge turns deadly when the narrator, Montressor, buries his friend, Fortunato, alive as the result of a perceived insult. “The Cask of Amontillado” is remarkably chilling as it conveys murder from the perpetrator's perspective.

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The Cask of Amontillado
Edgar Allan Poe

Revenge turns deadly when the narrator, Montressor, buries his friend, Fortunato, alive as the result of a perceived insult. “The Cask of Amontillado” is remarkably chilling as it conveys murder from the perpetrator's perspective.

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MENTIONED IN:

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A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Idealistic young scientist Henry Jekyll struggles to unlock the secrets of the soul. Testing chemicals in his lab, he drinks a mixture he hopes will isolate—and eliminate—human evil. Instead it unleashes the dark forces within him, transforming him into the hideous and murderous Mr. Hyde.

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson

Idealistic young scientist Henry Jekyll struggles to unlock the secrets of the soul. Testing chemicals in his lab, he drinks a mixture he hopes will isolate—and eliminate—human evil. Instead it unleashes the dark forces within him, transforming him into the hideous and murderous Mr. Hyde.

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MENTIONED IN:

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The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James

One of literature's most gripping ghost stories depicts the sinister transformation of 2 innocent children into flagrant liars and hypocrites. Elegantly told tale of unspoken horror and psychological terror creates what few stories in literature have been able to do -- a complete feeling of dread and uncertainty.

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The Turn of the Screw
Henry James

One of literature's most gripping ghost stories depicts the sinister transformation of 2 innocent children into flagrant liars and hypocrites. Elegantly told tale of unspoken horror and psychological terror creates what few stories in literature have been able to do -- a complete feeling of dread and uncertainty.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

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Close
The Exorcist
by William Peter Blatty

A desperate mother and two priests fight to free the soul of a little girl from a powerful supernatural entity of sheerest malevolence and evil. An extraordinary classic work of faith and of dark paranormal suspense that is widely considered the most terrifying novel ever written, Blatty's masterpiece of unrelenting chills was the basis for the acclaimed Academy Award-nominated motion picture directed by William Friedkin and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller and Max Von Sydow.

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The Exorcist
William Peter Blatty

A desperate mother and two priests fight to free the soul of a little girl from a powerful supernatural entity of sheerest malevolence and evil. An extraordinary classic work of faith and of dark paranormal suspense that is widely considered the most terrifying novel ever written, Blatty's masterpiece of unrelenting chills was the basis for the acclaimed Academy Award-nominated motion picture directed by William Friedkin and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller and Max Von Sydow.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

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Close
Something Wicked This Way Comes
by Ray Bradbury

The show is about to begin.The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ray Bradbury

The show is about to begin.The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

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Close
Silence of the Lambs
by Thomas Harris

To understand the machinations of serial killer "Buffalo Bill," FBI trainee Clarice Starling is assigned the task of interviewing criminally insane Dr. Hannibal Lecter for insight. A former psychiatrist with unusual tastes and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind, Dr. Lecter is formidable twisted mind that Clarice must decode to solve to the case.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Silence of the Lambs
Thomas Harris

To understand the machinations of serial killer "Buffalo Bill," FBI trainee Clarice Starling is assigned the task of interviewing criminally insane Dr. Hannibal Lecter for insight. A former psychiatrist with unusual tastes and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind, Dr. Lecter is formidable twisted mind that Clarice must decode to solve to the case.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

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Close
Hell House
by Richard Matheson

Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch, a wealthy magazine and newpaper publisher, starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death. Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townfolks refer to it as the Hell House.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Hell House
Richard Matheson

Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch, a wealthy magazine and newpaper publisher, starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death. Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townfolks refer to it as the Hell House.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

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Close
Rosemary's Baby
by Ira Levin

Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor husband Guy move into an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and mostly elderly residents. Neighbors Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome the Woodhouses to the building, and despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband takes a special shine to them. Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant, and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare. As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to suspect that the Castavets' circle is not what it seems...

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo
Rosemary's Baby
Ira Levin

Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor husband Guy move into an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and mostly elderly residents. Neighbors Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome the Woodhouses to the building, and despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband takes a special shine to them. Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant, and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare. As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to suspect that the Castavets' circle is not what it seems...

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

MENTIONED IN:

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A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

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Close
Dracula
by Bram Stoker

During a business visit to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count's transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula's grim fortress, but a friend's strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Dracula
Bram Stoker

During a business visit to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count's transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula's grim fortress, but a friend's strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close
House of Leaves
by Mark Z. Danielewski

A young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Indiebound logo
House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski

A young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

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