12 Famous Horror Books

As it is Halloween, I am dedicating this week’s blog post to a Halloween related theme – 12 famous horror books from the last 250 years. (Well literary works would be more accurate). The Horror genre encompasses all forms of fiction that ‘causes feelings of fear, dread, and shock.’

The following 12 books are presented in chronological order:

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (1764) – This trendsetting book is widely accepted to be the world’s first gothic novel. It became an instant bestseller. The story is about the lord of a castle and his family.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818) – Mary Shelley started writing this iconic work when she was only 18-years-old. Frankenstein was published when she was 20. We all know the story – Victor Frankenstein creates a hideous, cognizant creature in a scientific experiment. Click here to read my review.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe (1845) – The Raven is Poe’s most famous poem. It tells the story of a talking raven’s visit to a distraught lover. The poem made the master of mystery and the macabre a celebrity.

Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) – Dracula sees Dracula trying to move from Transylvania to England to find new blood and to spread the undead curse. This gothic horror novel defined the modern form of the vampire.


Tales of Men and Ghosts by Edith Wharton (1910) – Edith Wharton was a versatile Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. Although horror was not her usual genre, she did write ghost stories, including this eerie and fantastic compilation, consisting of 10 tales.

A Thin Ghost and Others by M.R. James (1919) – The author had published 2 collections of ghost stories prior to writing this highly acclaimed compilation. James redefined the form of the ghost story by utilising contemporary settings.

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft (1928) – First published in a pulp magazine, this short story is about the weakness of the human mind when faced by extra-terrestrial powers. Lovecraft is arguably the greatest horror writer ever.

The October Country by Ray Bradbury (1955) – This collection of 19 macabre short stories includes The Skeleton – a tale about a man convinced his own skeleton is out to ruin him. Bradbury is best known for his dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451.


Song of Kali by Dan Simmons (1985) – Set in Calcutta, the story follows an American who discovers the macabre and horrifying activities of a cult that worships Kali. The Song of Kali won the 1986 World Fantasy Award.

IT by Stephen King (1986) – IT was the best-selling book in the U.S. in 1986. The story is about 7 children, who are persecuted by a being, which takes on various guises, more often than not that of a clown.

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk (2005) – This innovative book comprises 23 short stories, most of which are preceded by a free verse poem. Its author has stated that his shocking and controversial creation illustrates our battle for credibility. Click here to read my review.

The Secret of Crickley by James Herbert (2006) – This supernatural thriller, written by bestselling British writer James Herbert, is set in a children’s home, which is flooded. The children who do not escape come back as ghosts to seek revenge.

Honourable Mention: Necropolis by Guy Portman (2014) – This satirical black comedy is about a psychopath who works for the burials and cemeteries department in his local council. Its many memorable scenes include a public sector Halloween party. (Amazon link).


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  • Very topical Guy. Although horror is not my preferred genre, it is nevertheless very popular and some of the titles are familiar because they have been adapted into films. Enjoy your Halloween weekend. 🙂

  • Haven’t read much horror. Haunted sure is shocking but good, 1 of Palahniuk’s best. Good review of Frankenstein by the way. Don’t think I’d like it. The Necropolis Halloween party scene was funny. Never read IT but saw movie.

    • Haunted is the most shocking book that I’ve ever read. I agree it is one of Palahniuk’s best, though I haven’t read all his books. I saw the film of IT when I was in my early teens. It was pretty good, no pun intended. I own the book but it is so long I’ve been putting off reading it. Have a good Halloween weekend Trina.

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