Every year on Stephen King’s birthday, we attempt to convey what an impact his body of work has had on us as readers (moviegoers and TV junkies). From his debut, CARRIE, to his latest novel, THE INSTITUTE, King has held consistently held a spot on our reading list—and there’s still more to come! Straight from the mouths of our own editorial board, here’s just why Stephen King has and will continue to make an impact on our literary lives. Here are our favorite novels written by the King of Horror.
7 Stephen King Novels That Remind Us Why He’s a Master Storyteller
I am a well-documented, huge Stephen King fan and I love so many of his books, but JOYLAND, has a very special place in my heart. It’s a moving coming-of-age story about love and loss that still brings those classic Stephen King chills. College student Devin Jones takes a summer job at the Joyland carnival hoping to heal his broken heart. He befriends his neighbors, a single mother and her terminally ill son, and is immersed in the carny world. But Joyland has its secrets—a haunted ride, the legacy of a brutal murder—and Devin is in for much more than he bargained for.
College student Devin Jones takes a summer job at the Joyland carnival hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart, but he winds up facing the legacy of a murder, the fate of a dying child, and revelations about life that will change his world forever.
There is no denying that THE DARK TOWER series is an epic fantasy saga that deserves recognition for its imagination and atmosphere. THE GUNSLINGER is the first book in THE DARK TOWER series that pulls you into Roland, the gunslinger’s, world bit by bit as he hunts for the man in black. I love this book because I love fantasy, the apocalypse, and, honestly, a good western. King wraps all that into one in this epic and engaging world that is both like and unlike our own. Stephen King is probably most notable for his downright terrifying horror stories, yet this eight-book fantasy series is just as compelling and shows off King’s master storytelling prowess.
For almost a decade, Stephen King fans have been yearning to see this epic series on the big screen, and they’ll finally get their wish with this adaptation, starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. It tells the story of the fallen land of Mid-World, through the eyes of a knight whose primary mission is to save his decaying world by reaching the titular tower that stands at the intersection of time and space. This mix of horror, western, and sci-fi will be a must-see. RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2017
Sure, the movie is a classic, but the book is a different creature altogether, and to me has always felt more cohesive and extensive with its creepiness, suspense, and psychological terror. I’ll admit I wouldn’t let myself read it in the dark for fear that the Overlook’s horrors would magically appear in my room. I love this book for the complexities in all its elements, including Danny’s point of view, the isolated setting, and the ways in which the frights come from natural and supernatural means. King is the master at creating delightful dread.
“THE SHINING tells the story of the Torrence family and their move to the isolated Overlook Hotel after the father, Jack, gets a job as an off-season caretaker. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location becomes completely cut off from civilization and Jack begins to unravel."
When I found out there was a Stephen King novella that revolved around a young girl surviving in the wilderness with the help of her favorite Red Sox player, I honestly thought it was too good to be true. As a die-hard Red Sox fan myself and a huge fan of the claustrophobic atmosphere of the woods, I absolutely adored this novella. Using broadcasts of Red Sox games from her Walkman to ground her in reality as her senses begin to play tricks on her (or do they?), Trisha pulls out all the stops to survive a dark force that may be pursuing her. Narrated by a nine-year-old girl, and staying with her pretty much exclusively the whole time, you really become invested in her survival. It also forces you to discern what’s truly real as hunger and fear make Trisha’s narration more and more unreliable. This is a perfect horror story: a normal person put in an extraordinary circumstance and the power we all have to survive.
Stephen King has written about plenty of small towns infiltrated by evil, but none is as insidiously terrifying as ’SALEM’S LOT. When a writer returns to his hometown, mysterious deaths and disappearances hint that something dark is afoot. With deadly pacing, a modern reimagining of a classic monster, and an opening chapter that you should definitely not read at night, ’SALEM’S LOT is one of King’s earliest and scariest classics.
One of the most ambitious and terrifying novels about the undead ever written, ’SALEM’S LOT explores what would happen if vampires existed in our modern world. When a young man returns to his hometown, he quickly realizes that it’s harboring something dark and evil. Can a small, insular town survive, or is it—and the rest of the country—doomed?
This is one of those rare instances where I fell in love with the movie before the book. I absolutely loved the movie The Green Mile, so when I discovered a torn-up movie tie-in edition being discarded by the library, I snapped it up. I wasn’t sure if the book could live up to the masterful performance by Tom Hanks in the 1999 film, but I started reading, and I wasn’t disappointed. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the story. Set on death row at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary, this is a novel about a prison guard, a man condemned to death, and a miracle. In Stephen King’s masterful prose, the story comes alive, giving an even darker and more fantastical look into E Block and the inmates awaiting their fate.
When asked to choose a favorite Stephen King novel from the vast pantheon of Stephen King novels, I’m instantly taken back to the first novel of his that I ever read. Yes, the first Stephen King novel I ever read was THE STAND, which was gifted to me by my dad on an ancient e-reader that we both shared. Once he told me how many pages the actual book was, it became a challenge, a very scary postapocalyptic challenge that I devoured. “This is the way the world ends” with a superflu that kills 99 percent of the population, leaving the rest of humanity to pick sides in a larger battle between good and evil. THE STAND is a tome of a science fiction book, but at its heart it’s really about people and their fight for humanity when there’s no humanity left.
An apocalyptic classic, Stephen King’s novel is a vision of a world ravaged by plague and caught in a bitter struggle between good and evil. When a patient escapes from a biological testing facility, carrying with him a strain of super-flu that destroys a majority of the population, two surviving leaders emerge. Whoever is chosen will lead—and change—humanity forever.