Stephen King’s Castle Rock Books: How Scary Are They?

Shefali Lohia
July 26 2018
Share Stephen King’s Castle Rock Books: How Scary Are They?

For some readers, Stephen King books can be an emotional roller coaster.

On the one hand, there are many of us (especially me!) who would prefer not to have nightmares about rabid dogs and murdering sociopaths. The solution? Avoid nightmare-inducing novels.

BUT, then there’s Stephen King—a super popular author who just keeps writing amazing stuff that people just keep recommending. So, what does one do? One gives in.

With the release of Hulu’s Castle Rock—a show that pulls from the many different Stephen King novels and stories set in this one particular, terrible little town—I thought it might be helpful to write (my) definitive list of books set in Castle Rock, from least scary to most. This one is for all my fellow scaredy- cats out there.

This post was originally published on GetLiterary.com.


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The Body
by Stephen King

1960, Castle Rock: Twelve-year-old Gordie Lachance and his three friends set out on a quest for notoriety to find the body of a missing boy along the local railroad tracks. During the course of their journey, the group comes to terms with death and the harsh truths of growing up. This coming-of-age story isn’t as horrifying as some other King stories—but it’s weighted with darkness and despair. Read the novella, and then check out Rob Reiner’s 1986 adaptation Stand by Me, starring baby-face versions of Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, and Kiefer Sutherland.

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The Body
Stephen King

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Bag of Bones
by Stephen King

Bag of Bones follows forty-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan, who suffers from severe writer’s block caused by his inability to move past the death of his wife four years earlier. In an attempt to confront his fears and go forward, Mike returns to the family vacation home he’s been avoiding—and faces the ghostly mysteries that come with a trip to Castle Rock. Definitely suspenseful and dark, though not as gruesome as it could be.

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Bag of Bones
Stephen King

Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine From #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King, a powerful tale of grief, of love's enduring bonds, and the haunting secrets of the past.Set in the Maine territory King has made mythic, Bag of Bones recounts the plight of forty-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan, who is unable to stop grieving following the sudden death of his wife Jo, and who can no longer bear to face the blank screen of his computer. Now his nights are plagued by vivid nightmares, all set at the Maine summerhouse he calls Sara Laughs. Despite these dreams, or perhaps because of them, Mike returns to the lakeside getaway. There he finds his beloved Yankee town held in the grip of a powerful millionaire, Max Devore, who will do anything to take his three-year-old granddaughter away from her widowed young mother. As Mike is drawn into their struggle, as he falls in love with both mother and child, he is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of ghostly visitations, ever-escalating nightmares, and the sudden recovery of his writing ability. What are the forces that have been unleashed here—and what do they want of Mike Noonan? First published in 1998, Bag of Bones was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. It was lauded at its publication as “hands down, Stephen King’s most narratively subversive fiction” (Entertainment Weekly) and his “most ambitious novel” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

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Stephen King’s Castle Rock Books: How Scary Are They?

By Shefali Lohia | July 26, 2018

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Lisey's Story
by Stephen King

We meet Lisey Landon two years after the death of her novelist husband, Scott. The story cuts back and forth between the present and her husband’s life—which reveals a history of mental illness in his family, which ultimately consumed all its members. Oh, and there’s a creepy stalker thrown into the mix. Lisey’s Story is a lot closer to Stephen King’s particular brand of fright, and was a little too scary for me as a result. You’ve been warned!

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Lisey's Story
Stephen King

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The Dark Half
by Stephen King

Fun Fact: Stephen King was inspired to write this book during the 1980s after he was “outed” as the pseudonymous author Richard Bachman—his darker, more cynical alter-ego.

Thad Beaumont is a critically acclaimed but obscure writer who has found international bestselling stardom penning crime novels under the name George Stark. When it becomes public that Thad actually is George Stark, Thad stages a mock burial of the pseudonym. But, because this is a Stephen King novel, Stark seemingly comes back to life and goes on a killing spree—leaving Thad to figure out what the hell is actually going on. This is classic Stephen King horror with a decent amount of gore and ickiness. Check out Timothy Hutton playing both Thad Beaumont and George Stark in the 1993 adaptation.

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The Dark Half
Stephen King

Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine A “wondrously frightening” (Publishers Weekly) tale of terror and #1 national bestseller about a writer’s pseudonym that comes alive and destroys everyone on the path that leads to the man who created him.Thad Beaumont is a writer, and for a dozen years he has secretly published violent bestsellers under the name of George Stark. But Thad is a healthier and happier man now, the father of infant twins, and starting to write as himself again. He no longer needs George Stark and so, with nationwide publicity, the pseudonym is retired. But George Stark won’t go willingly. And now Thad would like to say he is innocent. He’d like to say he has nothing to do with the twisted imagination that produced his bestselling novels. He’d like to say he has nothing to do with the series of monstrous murders that keep coming closer to his home. But how can Thad deny the ultimate embodiment of evil that goes by the name he gave it—and signs its crimes with Thad’s bloody fingerprints? The Dark Half is “a chiller” (The New York Times Book Review), so real and fascinating that you’ll find yourself squirming in Stephen King’s heart-stopping, blood-curdling grip—and loving every minute of it.

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MENTIONED IN:

Stephen King’s Castle Rock Books: How Scary Are They?

By Shefali Lohia | July 26, 2018

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Cujo
by Stephen King

Cujo is the friendly neighborhood dog—a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard and the best friend Brett Camber has ever had. One day Cujo chases a rabbit into a cave, where he’s bitten by a rabid bat. What emerges is a monster. Cujo soon goes on a killing spree all over Castle Rock before eventually trapping Donna Trenton and her young son, Tad, in their car, leading to a horrific tale of surviving from moment to moment.

This one is a really terrifying story that will make your skin crawl and will probably stick with you long after you finish the novel. Which is why it’s the scariest book on this list!  We're guessing that Stephen King's dog Molly (aka the Thing of Evil) isn't as hardcore as Cujo.

Top off this read with a screening of the 1983 film and brace yourself.

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Cujo
Stephen King

Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine The #1 national bestseller for Stephen King’s rabid fans, Cujo “hits the jugular” (The New York Times) with the story of a friendly Saint Bernard that is bitten by a sick bat. Get ready to meet the most hideous menace ever to savage the flesh and devour the mind.Outside a peaceful town in central Maine, a monster is waiting. Cujo is a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard, the best friend Brett Camber has ever had. One day, Cujo chases a rabbit into a cave inhabited by sick bats and emerges as something new altogether. Meanwhile, Vic and Donna Trenton, and their young son Tad, move to Maine. They are seeking peace and quiet, but life in this small town is not what it seems. As Tad tries to fend off the terror that comes to him at night from his bedroom closet, and as Vic and Donna face their own nightmare of a marriage on the rocks, there is no way they can know that a monster, infinitely sinister, waits in the daylight. What happens to Cujo, how he becomes a horrifying vortex inescapably drawing in all the people around him, makes for one of the most heart-stopping novels Stephen King has ever written. “A genuine page-turner that grabs you and holds you and won’t let go” (Chattanooga Times), Cujo will forever change how you view man’s best friend.

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MENTIONED IN:

Stephen King’s Castle Rock Books: How Scary Are They?

By Shefali Lohia | July 26, 2018

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