I have just finished reading The Shining by Stephen King and needless to say, I’ll be sleeping with a torch next to my bed for at least a week. I keep trying to push Jack’s story to the back of my mind but all I end up with is his horrific tale and King’s remarkable portrayal that leaves you terrified and wanting for more, at the same time. I have wondered many times if I will ever find good horror books to read if I am done with all the Stephen King Novels? Stephen King, with 52 novels and over 200 short stories to his credit has a way of penetrating the human psyche and taking you to a world of horror and the supernatural, making it seem absolutely believable that such a world exists, and that you are now, a part of it. He’s easily one of the most successful horror authors of all time and is the first name that pops up whenever you think of contemporary horror fiction. However, if you’ve been looking to read someone else in the same genre with an equal quantity of chills and spookiness, but can’t decide where to start, we’ve got you covered!
Here’s our list of horror books to read if you love reading Stephen King:
1. The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
First published in 1959, Jackson’s book is till date considered as one of the best literary ghost stories published during the 20th century and is a work that will incite unnerving terror in you, owing to the use of superb prose in exploring the complex relationships between the characters. The book follows a group of four people who inhabit the ‘Hill House’ as a scientific experiment, hoping to find evidence of the paranormal. However, as time progresses, they find themselves at the mercy of the forces in the house who have different plans for them, especially a woman called ‘Eleanor’. King himself recommended this as one of the only great supernatural novels written in the last 100 years and if that doesn’t tempt you to pick this up, I don’t know what will!
2. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
As viperous as Gone Girl, Flynn’s debut novel showcases how women, both subtly and savagely, treat (and often mistreat) each other. You’re taken into the world of Camille Preaker, a newspaper journalist who returns to her hometown in order to report on a series of brutal murders, and in the process, comes across startling revelations that will threaten everything she knows. In a world stereotyping women as the damsel-in-distress, innocent victims, Flynn’s characters are a breath of fresh air and she is a master storyteller when it comes to characters that seem raw and real. There is no one who does dark, terrifying and twisted horror better than her, so if you’re looking for a strong female protagonist with a twisted past, unafraid of what is coming, this might just be the book you’ve been looking for.
3. A Head Full Of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Tremblay’s book, as told in parts, from the perspective of 8 years old and an adult Merry, follows the story of her sister Marjorie as she displays signs of mental illness, with symptoms bordering on the supernatural. The events lead up to Marjorie’s exorcism and the family agrees to have it filmed for reality television, desperate and strapped for cash. A Head Full Of Ghosts is a mind-bending tale of psychological horror, raising questions about the very nature of evil and is the kind of book that will have you waiting with bated breath at what is going to happen next. As per an interview, it ‘scared the living hell’ out of Stephen King and you know a book is worth it if it managed to scare the master of horror himself. All in all, this book will puzzle you, scare you but most of all, stay with you.
4. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Pronounced Nosferatu, the book is Hill’s third in the genre of horror fiction and follows a woman trying to save her son from the clutches of a vicious, supernatural killer who has set his eyes on him. Charles Manx is a man who likes to take children for rides in his Rolls Royce, transporting them to a terrifying world of amusements he calls ‘Christmasland’ where he erases much of their empathy and emotional stability, transforming them into gleeful monsters. As spooky as it seems, Joe Hill is successful in telling a story which is both scary and beautiful, and unexpectedly even touching. It comes as no surprise that he is a master storyteller since he is Stephen King’s own son but you’ll agree with me in saying that Hill deserves to be a class of his own. Read it all the way to the end, you will not regret it.
5. Little Heaven by Nick Cutter
Reminiscent of Stephen King’s It, Cutter’s Little Heaven is a tale of terror and redemption which follows a trio, hired to look for a young woman’s nephew who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico settlement called Little Heaven. Things begin to turn ominous soon and whether they will survive, you’ll have to find for yourself. The story seems like a homage to King’s work and is extraordinary in the way it is both unnerving and creatively stimulating at the same time. Across the genre of horror fiction, Little Heaven is still a deeply cherished book and I’m sure if you pick it up once, you’ll keep coming back for more.
6. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Malerman’s debut novel, Bird Box, is the kind of book that will have you racing to the final page in an attempt to unravel its mystery. Set in a post-apocalyptic age, it follows a woman who must guide herself and her children to safety in the face of a potential threat from an unseen adversary. Something is following them all the while but is it a man, an animal, or a monster, she does not know. One wrong choice and they will die.
Reading the book will feel like accepting a dare to walk into a strange place, eyes closed, with no idea who, or what might be reaching out to make contact, in coherence with the mood that Malerman attempts to create. It will chill you to your core and yet, at the same time have you gnawing at what is to come next.
Grab your nearest copy of the book, this one will be worth the sleepless night.
(In the never-ending pool that is horror fiction, these were just some of the ones that caught our eye and stayed with us long after we’d put the book down.
If there are any other books that gave you sleepless nights, let us know in the comments!)
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Author: Seep Agarwal
I am a full-time biology student and a part-time spoken word poet, currently based in Delhi. When I’m not learning molecular biology, I like to perform poems that talk about the chaos and calm, all at once and things I hope for. I have a special inclination towards starting poems mid-sentence and asking more questions than I have answers and can be seen performing often, in and around Delhi. I also like to surround myself with more books than I can possibly read and believe words can heal our deepest insecurities if we allow them to.