What to read when you're done with Stephen King
Keep Digene and a barf bag handy because these aren’t for a weak stomach
There are only so many times a jump scare can catch you off guard and truly terrify you. As much as we love horror films, even the more mild-mannered ones, the best horror novels manage to rattle us more deeply. Because it’s hard to completely disconnect from reality and the knowledge that what we’re seeing on screen is an act – performed, stage directed and made up with makeup and prosthetics. Once you start imagining how hilarious it must have been to film some of the scenes, there’s no going back to fully enjoying a horror flick as you did before.
That’s where we think the best horror novels have the upper hand. Even though many have been adapted to the visual medium, *cue never-ending debate over which ones live up to the book* the written word allows you to fully immerse into a malevolent world. Books get your imagination spinning to create the movie in our heads instead. What could be more frightening than our own thoughts and limitless imagination?
You may be thinking, why do we even need horror novels when news headlines are enough to fill us with dread?
The best horror novels allow us to be frightened in a controlled manner from the safety of our couches. You know there’s an end in sight. You can skip the pages you don’t want to read, abandon the story altogether or take the complete ride and jump every time you hear a noise outside. Here, we have the option to engage with stories and emotions we want to explore and avoid the ones we don’t want to face.
“Horror gives us an opportunity to play with dark emotions,” said Dr Mathias Clasen, professor and author of Why Horror Seduces Us. “We learn something about the world in terms of morality [and] the darker aspects of existence. And those are all things we can confront in the safety of the movie theatre or the book.”
Master of nightmares Stephen King once wrote, “We make up horrors to help us cope with real ones.” The best horror novels get under your skin. You can feel the tension and fear of the protagonists. You get to address taboo subjects and unspoken realities.
And we know that it isn’t for everyone. Filled with depraved phantoms, haunted houses and supernatural creatures – the best horror novels are meant to make you uncomfortable.
Newbies should prepare themselves to be faced with dark situations and gruesome scenes. These horror novels contain triggering material ranging from animal death to taboos like incest and cannibalism, and of course, violent deaths. These are subject matters that unsettle even the veterans of the horror genre.
If you’ve already made your way through the MVPs of the genre and are looking for similar reads, then look no further. Whether you want to read about demonic possessions like that in The Exorcist, a Dracula style vampire story or a straight-up ghost story, we’ve puzzled out the best horror novels for every persuasion.
We recommend keeping the lights on while reading any one of these and keeping a loved one close by for a hug.