(This is also posted on my mommy-blog on the Houston Chronicle but I’m posting it here too because I’m too busy watching The Omen to write a real post here today.)
I know. It’s been too long between posts but I’ve been busy and I’m about to bribe you with small tokens so you’ll forgive me. One of those tokens is a picture of me in the bathtub. You’re welcome. But all the good parts covered in blood. Sorry.
A few days ago Neil Gaiman wrote a post entreating people to begin a tradition of giving away a scary book at Halloween. I love this. I’ve built an entire dollhouse filled with hundreds of tiny hat-tips to the horror books and films that made life in small town Texas seem (just for a moment) a little more dark and exciting and open to the chaotic terror of not knowing what might be lurking in abandoned houses and echoing wells.
When I was little I feasted on Ruth Chew books. Sadly, they’re all out of print now but I’ve rummaged through back rooms of used book shops and library sales to piece together a small collection to pass on to Hailey. I couldn’t imagine my childhood without these small assurances from Ruth Chew that there was something magical out there if I looked hard enough, and I wanted Hailey to know that thrill as well.
This year Hailey was finally old enough to appreciate Ruth Chew. Ironically, at the same time she was being discovered by a new reader, Ruth Chew died, her books out of print and her work mostly forgotten.
But I haven’t forgotten.
I cut my teeth on Ruth Chew and by third grade I was reading Stephen King. In fourth I was devouring Poe and by seventh grade I discovered Lovecraft and Bradbury. Ruth Chew started me on a journey that gave me the gift of wonder. It was a journey that took me to dark and terrible places and which served me well, as it taught me the best way to appreciate the light. It’s a gift I can’t repay, but one which I can pass on. I can pass on great books to others and listen with pride as Hailey reads her own battered copy of Coraline to herself under her covers.
Last month I stayed at the Stanley Hotel and was photographed in Stephen King’s room, in the same bathtub that inspired the horrific corpse-in-the-bathtub scene from The Shining. For a brief second I was part of the story and while most people would find this whole thing macabre and vaguely wrong I loved it. It is, without exception, one of my favorite pictures of all time.
In honor of All-Hallows Read I’m giving away a few horror books here. All you have to do is tell me what your favorite scary book or story is in the comments section. I’ll randomly select a few people to win book gift certificates that you can use to buy your own scary book or that you can pass on to a friend.
Happy Halloween, y’all. Go read.
594 thoughts on “All Hallow’s Read”
Read comments below or add one.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting always scares the bejesus out of me.
Oh wait…you mean a “real” scary book with blood and guts and gore and scary people with knives and screaming and suffering?
Yeah, then I understood it correctly.
It’s all about Stephen King. I will never forget reading the opening of “It” with the scary ass clown in bed late at night as a kid and seriously sleeping in my parents book for like a month after. I had to stop reading it and didn’t pick it up to finish it until a couple years later. Yay, the end is lame, but for the most part, King is the master.
Yeah, I meant “parent’s room”.
Scary Stories to tell in the Dark!!!
“Going Rogue”… it scared the crud out of me. :S
I heart Neil Gaiman and all his books, but the scariest book for me is my collection of Poe’s short stories. I especially find The Tell-Tale Heart to be the scariest story in there.
And I cut my pre-teen teeth on Christopher Pike books, which kept me up very late many nights and had me sleeping with a nightlight well into my teens.
The Shining. Hands down.
–>I read it multiple times when I was a teenager and had to skip paragraphs which was the equivalent of shutting my eyes watching a scary movie for Stephen King’s The Dark Half.
That makes me so sad. Ruth Chew = witch-penning perfection.
(On the other hand, I’m thrilled to think of Hailey experiencing Ruth Chew, finally, after all these years of knowing it was her density.
Without question, it is Bradbury’s short story “All Summer in a Day”. I think we read it in the 3rd grade. It isn’t your typical horror story, but it still breaks my heart when I read it and reminds me of the cruel beauty that is childhood. Even more topical in today’s world of bullying.
You can read the 4 pg. story for free here:
I fell in love with Stephen King some time last year, after reading Christine. How scary is that? You buy a car, and suddenly it kills everyone. Yeah, not really my type of car.
The Shining will always be a favorite of mine, and I am eternally jealous that you got to stay in that hotel!
Scary books have got to be my favorite by far, better than funny ones, or love stories. I love that some authors have the ability to terrify people, just by their words. That is an amazing ability.
OK- Horror is not my genre or choice as an adult*, but as a kid my favorite scary book was “The Doll House Murders” by Betty Ren Wright. I didn’t sleep for weeks, so, like a logical kid, I re-read it, like, 5 times.
*because if I read it I end up in closets with butcher knives to ward of whatever is coming after me, but it turns out nothing is really after me and I’m the girl in the closet with the butcher knife explaining why she does not need to be institutionalized.
As far as suspense scary goes-I think The Shining is probably the best of all time. I was once reading it on a bus, in broad daylight, surrounded by my friends, and I was still terrified.
I’m currently re-reading The Stand, though, and that one is more of a mind-screw. Mainly because of how realistic a lot of it seems.
The Exorcist. Without a doubt the scariest book my mom should have never let me read. “let Jesus f*ck you” – really?? Still scares the heck out of me.
King’s “Pet Sematary.” Scariest novel ever. Period.
My favorite scary story? It’s a no-brainer: Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu”.
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”
Bradbury’s “The Small Assassin” – holy shit that’s one evil baby. Chucky is a frickin’ muppet compared to him. Aaaaand now my peacefully sleeping toddler is going to be in my nightmares and I’ll be sleepwalking through the house going “hey baby… lookie, shiny, pretty scalpel!”
oh wow, I keep searching for more Ruth Chew books and I can’t find them all…I loved her books…
I absolutely love how Stephen King can scare me and allow me to scare myself but what started it all for me was Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn. I bought it at the book fair when i was in second grade and it was the first scary book I ever read and it’s still one of my favorites.
There are waaaayyy too many for me to mention just one. When I was a kid (sick little mind that I had) I was into Clive Barker and some of the gory stuff but as I have matured (still sick in the head) i’m more of a psychological thriller kinda Dude.
What a great idea though to spread the scary love on Halloween!
I grew up with Roald Dahl books. Not sure if they technically classify as “scary” books, but they always make me think of Halloween. For actually scary, I’m another Stephen King fan.
Oh, yeah. Can’t forget Pet Sematary!
I completely agree with Brewgasm. That book was one of my favorites, definitely one of the scariest things I’ve read.
Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is *by far* my favorite horror book. It is exceptional. “in the dark….at night….three miles from the nearest town…where no one can hear you……scream.”
I actually got to take a Horror Literature class in college with a brilliant professor. Best. Class. Ever.
Also, I’ve heard Glen Beck’s books are some scary ass shit.
It’s hard to top The Shining. Silence of the Lambs scared me primarily because the serial killer targeted fat girls because the extra fabric gave him room to make darts in his ladydress, so, yeah, that keeps me up at night. Yardage. My kids loved Lemony Snicket, Edward Gore, the real Grimm, cookbooks encouraging the creation of ooky things and in general tales of tortured children. I’m not going to think too hard about that.
My youngest just turned 5. Her request of a book this year is: Dick and Jane and Vampires. I kid you not. I can’t buy her one right now so we went to the library where they thought I was a horrible mother instead of an AWESOME Mom whose preschooler can freaking READ. It’s hilarious and adorable. I highly suggest it.
For MYSELF? Favorite spooky story was a short story from Stephen King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes. It’s called “You know they got a hell of a band.” I don’t know why it makes me so happy to envision being trapped in a neverending rock concert with deceased musicians, but it does. I totally have to find that story again…
My Favorite scary book by far was Jerusalems Lot by Stephen King. That book taught me what REAL Vampires are about and not the sparkle-y dickish ones that run around splashing glitter make-up on their victims. It was quickly followed by The Shinning, and Pet Semetary.
IT by Stephen King has and will always be my favorite scary novel. I don’t scare easily. But this book reminded on how scared I was as a child of even the silliest of things (who wasn’t afraid to go in their cellar?) Pennywise is the ideal Villain. He can be whatever scares you most. There is love between Pennywise and I.
I love your bathtub picture (in fact I am jealous of it- I want to go to that hotel). I am slowly taking my children under my wing….we worked a haunted hayride this weekend. Watching my youngest decked out in blood playing dead…..such a proud mom moment for me.
Haha! I have to agree with Elizabeth.
Though “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret”, freaked me out as well. (But only because of the whole “belted sanitary napkins” issue…)
I… Uh… Books don’t scare me. But they did when I was a kid. And this is going to sound ridiculously stupid, but the scariest books I’d ever read when I was a teen were the cheerleader series in the Fear Street novels by R.L. Stine.
Fantabulously awesome haunted doll house.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
The stories alone were frightening, but it was the illustrations scared the living daylights out of me. I almost want to google it, but…I think it will still scare the sh!t out of me.
A story that left an impression on me in elementary school- so much so that I tracked it down as an adult and bought a copy used for nostalgic reasons- On All Hallow’s Eve by Grace Chetwin- I try to read it every year around Halloween 🙂
Oh, I loved Dollhouse Murders too. I think I need to read that again. It’s been about 25 years.
It’s not your traditional scary story, but the short story “The Babysitter” by Robert Coover remains in my mind as the scariest story I have ever read.
I don’t normally do “scary” because I like to sleep and my imagination goes into overdrive. However, I had to read Dracula in college and it’s probably quite tame to the likes of Stephen King but it scares the crap out of me.
My personal faves are always Poe. Specifically “Tell Tale Heart.” I just read it to my kids, and if I have done my job as a parent, they’re scarred forever.
Killer photo!! Scary freaks the bejesus out of me. It makes my heart pump faster than a coked up gerbil running on a wheel. So as for a scary story – I’ve got nothing. Oh wait! I do have one. The Monster at the End of This Book, Starring Lovable Furry Old Grover by Jon Stone. That is as scary as I can get. One of my all time favorites as a kid.
Gerald’s Game. I usually find myself laughing at (or I hope with) Stephen King and this was the only one that shook me.
The scariest I ever read was the Exorcist, but I always love a good Stephen King scare-fest too!
My son is a scaredy cat right now, and books that veer into spooky give him nightmares. And so I am biding my time until I can get him reading the really fun stuff. I mean he can’t even get through the 2nd Harry Potter book, the basilisk is just too… basilisky. I’m chalking it up to his very overactive imagination. I mean, I could make him read them, but then I’d be stuck w/ a kid in my bed for the next year and um, no. Besides, the whole point is it’s supposed to be fun for HIM, right?
So we’re sticking with the books that turn to the silly and funny – like the Louis Sachar’s “Wayside School” books or “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.” I love my son to pieces but if he reads another “Pokemon” book out loud to me, I’m going to put knitting needles through my ears.
First – you rock.
Second – as a teen, I stayed up far too late one night reading Pet Semetary. You may remember the poor cat – ungainly, lumbering, foul-smelling creature back from the dead. At about 3 AM, my cat – overweight, ungainly, foul-smelling creature – jumped onto my chest. The book went way, the cat went the other. It’s a wonder I didn’t wake anyone with the shrieking.
Cannot even count the number of times I read “The Witches’ Buttons” — loved that book (second only to “No Flying in the House.” I remember reading somewhere that there are a number of out of print books lately that have gone back into print based on the surge in requests for them through online vendors… hmmmmm…..
my favorite all time favorite scary book is the stand by stephen king. not your typical screamer, but plenty scary enough when you think about it. you’re awesome, love the bathtub pic. very artsy, and much better than anything sears could have come up with.
Pet Cemetary. I’ve never been able to look at my cats the same. Someday, they WILL kill me in my sleep.
Silence of the Lambs, I read it after I saw the movie and it scared me to death. And don’t make fun of me, but Dean Koontz’s Intensity. For some reason I had to put the book down while I was reading it b/c it scared the shit out of me (not literally thank God!)
Um….nothing says scary better than Fucking Evil Clowns In Storm Drains……..Stephen King’s ‘IT’.
Seriously, The Amityville Horror was the scariest book I’ve ever read. It is a thousand times more scary than the movie.
I’m a big ol’ pussy when it comes to anything scary but Orwell’s 1984 scared the piss out of me. Literally. I had to read it sitting on the floor in the bathroom with the door closed and all the lights on.
Without a doubt, for the last 25 years, my favorite book has been a tie between Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and Stephen King’s The Stand. Stephen King was the voice of my youth and my adult years, like a member of my family, he helped to nurture my love of reading, picking up where Judy Blume left off. Winning would be awesome, but not as awesome as having the giveaway to begin with and helping to nurture someone’s love of books! Thanks and kudos 🙂
Whenever I think of my absolute favorite reads while growing up I think of Stephen King’s Insomnia. I think I was in 7th grade when I read it. I dont remember all of the details in most of the books I’ve read but that book is still so crisp in my mind. I think it’s time to go read it again.
And I forgot to mention that scary books are kept in the freezer overnight. It paralyzes the zombies in the book so that they can’t come to life and eat your brains while you sleep. This would never happen during the day. Only at night. So that’s why you put them in the freezer.
The only book I’ve ever read that truly scared me was James Patterson’s Kiss The Girls and that one freaked me the fuck out. I live in the part of North Carolina that Patterson set the book in and he is scarily accurate in his description of the locations. In fact, I could take you to almost every single location he described in the book (except for the non-existent dorms he added to Duke). I worked as a nanny in a neighborhood that featured prominently in the book. And, the coup de grace was when I made the mistake of reading it at night while my husband was working. At the time we lived in a 750 sq ft apartment and that book scared me so badly that I was carrying my gun from room to room with me. Hell, I even had to check behind the shower curtain to make sure the bad guy wasn’t hiding there. I don’t know for certain that this is my favorite book but it is the one that made the biggest impression.
Stephen King’s It was the scariest book I’ve ever read… The only thing worse than a child eating clown who lives in the sewer would be a child eating clown who teams up with a ventriloquist dummy. I was thinking something like this: http://tinyurl.com/2378tkw, but then I saw this image under it on Google: http://tinyurl.com/22ogn9p, and I may not be able to sleep for a week now. Thanks Winona Ryder.
I”m such a wimp! Nancy Drew was all I was allowed to read, and her little suspenses were enough to keep me chewing my lips for days 🙂
I worked at a camp for disabled kids, and so they needed one counselor to stay up at night to help any kids that might need us. It was my turn, and I stayed up all night reading Lord of the Flies. Freaked me the fuck out. There were children moaning. One of them had a seizure while I was on duty. And there were mice everywhere. Totally Lord of the Flies.
The 1st time I remember being scared reading was reading Dead Zone by Stephen King. I also remember saying to myself…oh this is not so bad. So I decided to read IT. Then I stopped reading King because he scared me so much.
While I hate horror movies, I used to love books in the genre. R.L. Stein, Stephen King, some others I can’t remember anymore…
But my favorite, of all time, has to be Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. By far the creepiest story I’ve ever read.
I’m high on muscle relaxers, so my wit is broken. My earnest comment will have to suffice.
Like you I started reading Stephen King very early (Thanks grandpa!) and Christine will always live in my head as the book that scared me the most. Love it.
You know, I had no idea who Ruth Chew was until I clicked on the link and said “Oh! THAT Ruth Chew.” And yes, because I am a freak who still has every book she owned as a child, there are at least two Chew books sitting on my shelves right now (Witch’s Broom and Witch in the House) and probably a couple more, misfiled (oh, the horror!) over the years. Hidden Cave looks very familiar as does Wednesday Witch. So, thank you, La Bloggess, for sharing with us Ruth Chew: I’m both saddened by her death and surprised that she was still alive. Because everything from when you were 8 seems like a million years ago, no?
As for horror books.. King definitely has the knack, but it’s pretty hard to top Poe. Homeboy had a seriously f-upped imagination (and I mean that in the nicest way).
I can’t remember what made me take the leap into horror – but it was probably Edgar Allen Poe. I remember sitting in the school library figuring out what horror books I should check out next.
Rather than walk down Scary Memory Lane though – I’ll tout my favorite Southern Gothic Horror writer: Cherie Priest. http://www.cheriepriest.com/order-the-book/ She’s got the ability to get in your psyche like Poe did. Amazing woman. 🙂
My favorite was probably not the scariest, but I attribute my love to a fascination with boarding schools– Down a Dark Hall, Lois Duncan
I liked the books Stephen King wrote under the name Richard Bachman. I guess they are more creepy than scary.
I just recently found Witch’s Broom in my parent’s attic. I never knew there was a whole bunch of these books. I feel so cheated. I also feel like my battered hard-back copy of Witch’s Broom is a treasure now! I loved Stephen King from an early age also.
However-The Haunting of Hill House is probably my pick. Shirley Jackson is queen of creepy.
When I was 12 I loooooooooooooved The Dollhouse Murders, by Betty Ren Wright. It scared the crap out of me. I had a very sheltered childhood 🙂
The scariest thing I’ve read in a long time was the divorce decree I got in the mail that gave my wife 1/2 of my 401(k).
I still shudder when I think of it.
Does it have to be *scary* scary? I mean, I read Stephen King and all that, but although he’s definitely a suspense master, he’s very go-for-the-throat-y, and that’s just not the kind of delicious, creeping horror I like. The scariest King I ever read was a short story called “Survivor Type” (it’s in Skeleton Crew), but just because it was masterful doesn’t mean I liked it… (I should say, though, that I do like his vampire short stories; there are some in several of his collections.)
I do love anything by Lovecraft or Bradbury, though, so I hope those count. Both of those are glorious, and Ray Bradbury is a Halloween tradition. In fact, over the last week, I have given away three copies of “The Halloween Tree” to people who had never read the novel (gasp! horrors!). I’m having to order another bunch from Amazon for other people now… and to make sure I still have one left for myself…
The Tommyknockers. Because my brother’s name is Tommy. And he’s terrifying.
Okay, so I just really need to say I would like to be your friend and live in a grown-up version of your awesome dollhouse. Like, gah – there’s a dragon and a secret room and an underground library? Whee!
As for my favorite scary stories/books, growing up I loved John Bellairs (and the books that Brad Strickland either completed for him or just wrote in the style of). So creepy and awesome. Now, my favorite scary book is definitely Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son). He’s got a cool comic too, called Locke & Key.
When I was a kid I too read Stephen King. I devoured his books, laughing off most of the ‘horror’ parts because they weren’t scary. Til Pet Sematary.
I have vivid memories of lying awake in my room scared out of my mind thinking that a cat was going to crawl through the window of my room (main level bungalow) and come eat me. Two in the morning found me still awake, scared shitless, unable to put the book down.
And we didn’t even own a cat. Or a dog. Or a goldfish.
Even as an adult that book has stayed with me.
it’s the reason why I DON’T own a cat. Still.
The Shining. About 4 times I read until the bathtub scene when I would put the book away terrified. I finally figured out that I could just skip that part and keep reading. I know. Stupid. Anyway, after I read the whole book I went back and could read that scene. I still prefer showers even though Psycho tried to ruin that for me. What is it with horror writers/filmmakers? Don’t they want us to be clean?
Without a doubt, I have to say that the scariest book I ever read was “It” by Stephen King. I am quite desensitized to all things horror and don’t find a lot scary but Pennywise still haunts me every so often. Probably because I read it as a child in the 6th Grade.
The Haunting of Hill House. Shirley was the master. Though the Shining still makes me wince. My grandmother used to be a caretaker at summer businesses and I’d go stay with her during winter vacations. There is nothing more sad then a normally public building that is silent and empty.
I remember reading Dracula and wondering if the people who were “dancing around, naked to the waist” were naked on the top or bottom half. I’m still not sure.
Favourite? “The Little Black Bag” by Cyril M. Kornbluth. I tried searching for it on Amazon to see if it’s still in print, but they wanted to sell me a handbag. Amazon are a bunch of douche canoes.
I remember being about 12 or 13 andI had been reading a Stephen King book (don’t remember which one) that my brother gave me to read.After putting the lights out to go to sleep, I shouted on my dad cause I was petrified that there was a monster in the boiler cupboard that was slightly open. My dad took the book of me and banned me from reading horror again. I still don’t read horror.
Although I once bought a very disturbing book for something to read about a man who ends up with dead babies feeding of him, I have no recollection of what it is called just that it was VERY VERY disturbing.
I too was a rabid Poe fan, and still am–every once in a while one just has to read “The Cask of Amontillado.” I don’t know they don’t immediately come to mind as fitting the genre, but I always found both “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and “Heart of Darkness” horrifying in their way. In more recent years, “The Secret History” and “Devil in the White City” had me staying up late to read with the lights on, and staying up later not sleeping with the lights off.
I have started many King books and the few that I have ended up hidden under a stack of pillows somewhere deep in an overstuff closet. Way tooo scary for this fraidy cat.
I read “IT” as an adult and had to sleep with the lights on. I still don’t like being anywhere near storm drains.
It’s all about The Shining for me. The books I find scariest always seem to be about buildings that are sort of malevolently alive, so The Shining is like my uber-terror book. Also? I’m deathly allergic to wasps, so there’s like X-TREEM BONUS TERRORZ in there just for me. Thanks, Stephen King.
I LOVE Stephen King (as do, it appears, the majority of your readers). Because of The Stand and Children of The Corn I now get the shivers any time I pass a corn field. Also, the thought of small children staring at me scares the everlovingcrap out of me.
It’s already been mentioned on here a few times but as a kid my favorite scary Halloween read was always the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” series. I was an obsessive reader and re-read them every year in elementary school and when I got to high school they weren’t in the library so my ritual ended.
I saw one at a garage sale a while back and had to buy it if only for the nostalgic value. Now I’m tempted to find the other two…
Does anyone else remember the story about a girl who has a spider lay eggs in her cheek? And it gets bigger and bigger and she thinks it’s just a pimple until one day she wakes up to baby spiders crawling all over her face?! I’m POSITIVE that was out of one of those books. Still think about it ever Halloween to this day! *shudder*
I’m in love with Ray Bradbury. He’s got quite a few spooky books, the most well known probably being Something Wicked This Way Comes. My favourite by him, though, is From The Dust Returned, about a family of Halloween-like monsters and their adopted human son, Timothy. It’s so good!
Penelope Truck is giving away books today on her blog too! (and lamenting the books she loved as a kid don’t appeal to her sons, so be happy you’ve a daughter to pass along to). Awesomesauce for the rss reader today.
I am terrified of scary books. But it appears from the dollhouse that Narnia and Hogwarts counts as scary, so possibly I am not as wimpy as I thought. But probably I am.
The Dollhouse Murders! I’m so glad others loved the book as much as me. (And it would still scare the pants off of me at 31.) I’m sure I have it somewhere……
I also loved “A Secret Window” and “Wait till Helen Comes” and some others that I can’t think of the titles…..
When i was little, Goosebumps were all the rage. I loved those books, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read them all. My love of those turned into Stephen King and Anne Rice and later, books based on the reasons people are afraid like Culture of Fear. This probably wasn’t good for my generalized anxiety disorder, but I still love it. Because of these books, I found art and I don’t know what I’d do without that in my life.
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson scared the daylights out of me. I refused to go into the basement for months after reading it. Hands down the scariest thing I have read.
Pet Cemetary or Needful Things were the first two titles to come to mind.
Your post reminded me of THE PUMPKIN SMASHER. A book I’ve been trying to find for YEARS AND YEARS, but for some reason couldn’t remember the name of (just the cover art) until I read your post. I just looked it up on Amazon. It’s THERE, but it’s like $53 or something (from sketchy “other sellers), so maybe some other time, but thanks for bringing the memories. I LOVED THIS BOOK when I was a kid.
A little later I was all into Christopher Pike. Oh, and Trixie Belden? Loved that bitch.
Stephen King all the way. The Shining is a classic that just can’t be topped. Although, this book http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Room-Other-Scary-Stories/dp/0064440907/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1288036823&sr=1-2
was my favorite as a child.
Gerald’s Game. I read it when I was a teen and wasn’t that impressed. I picked it up again last year (15 yrs later) and it scared me so much I gave it to the Goodwill!
Yay, someone else mentioned Lois Duncan! Down a Dark Hall and Summer of Fear were two of my favorites.
And I have to vote with the masses and say Stephen King, specifically The Shining, although The Stand still gives me the creeps.
Becca V – I am totally with you. I read Intensity several years ago and had to walk away from it at times because it was just so freaking INTENSE!! Maybe it was just because that word was on the cover! I love all of Dean Koontz books, especially the Odd Thomas series, which isn’t really scary but is still very good!
When I was in 7th grade I read Stephen King’s Cujo. In retrospect it really isn’t that scary of a book but at the time I was afraid of two things that really brought the horror of that book home for me: big dogs and being stuck in a car with my mom for any length of time. I still shudder when I think of that book.
*Love this*. I looooooove Frankenstein. I think Mary Shelley is amazing and that book is awesome.
I’m a total wimp when it comes to scary stuff, though. I fully believe in the Joey Tribiani (Friends) technique where you hide the scary book in the freezer so it can’t get you.
I may or may not have had to do that with a certain Harry Potter book at one point. Like I said: wimp.
My favorite Halloween tale isn’t the scariest, perhaps, but it is the best– “A Night in the Lonesome October” by Roger Zelazny. It covers Cthulu to Dracula, Jack the Ripper to Sherlock Holmes, and blends horror and humor very well. I read it every October, one day at a time, because every chapter is a day in the month of October, leading up to Halloween. When I was younger, every October my dad would read one chapter a day aloud during the month of October (and only one chapter, no matter how much my sisters and I argued that October 12 with it’s whole one paragraph was just not fair.) With all three of us out on our own now, Dad took last year to record audio files reading each chapter (doing the fun voices and accents like he did when we were little) so this year, I get to listen to it again.
It’s out of print now, so reading it involves the usual hunt through used book stores or exorbitant prices charged by Amazon Marketplace dealers, but if you happen to stumble across it in a used book store, it’s definitely worth the read, especially for die-hard fans of the horror genre, who should recognize most of Zelazny’s homages.
When I was growing up it was “Scary Stories to Read in the Dark.” Those short stories, illustrated by gorey line drawings, kept me up many nights in a row.
Now it’s a toss-up between “Pet Sematary” and “Red Dragon”.
I never read scary books when I was little. My imagination always made me invent what happened next when I stopped reading, a lot of which was better (read “scarier”) than what happened in the book. So I got to them late. One of my favorites was The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding. It didn’t scare me, but it definitely made me wonder if there was something lurking in the dark.
I LOVED Ruth Chew books when I was a kid! I must now seek out a collection to share with my niece.
Okay, maybe I’ll be the only one who read it this way, but The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly was my favourite scary read. Not because it was all that terror-inducing, but because it’s the kind of book I wish was around when I was younger; the kind of book that would have simultaneously scared me and pulled me deeper; the kind of book where you really go beyond sympathy for the main character. It definitely kept me up all night long – flipping pages, not flipping on lights. It scared my memories of being a little kid.
I worked at a bookstore in college and I remember taking home this cover-stripped anthology of horror classics that became a favorite of min for years. I don’t know where that book ended up and I’m sure it’s out of print, but I’d like to try and track it down.
I can’t specify a single scary book but I can give a few (in no particular order):
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Stand by Stephen King
Trinity’s Child by William Prochnau
World War Z by Max Brooks
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K, Dick
The illustrations in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark scared the crap out of me as a youth. As a teen I devoured the Christopher Pike novels, but mostly for the steamy bits. Now The Stand is one of my favorite books (although I agree with meghann – it’s more of a mind-screw).
Also, note to self: Stay at the Stanley Hotel before you die. Or after. Whatever.
I think I scared myself silly when I was a kid, so all the scary books I can think of are YA or kids’ books.
Two that stick out are “The Witches of Worm” (which has a creeeeeepy photo of the titular cat in the middle) and “Chain Letter” by Christopher Pike (which still gives me nightmares).
In elementary school, it was The Ghost of Opalina by Peggy Bacon. Great story. Later, it was It, by Stephen King. The gdamn clown!!!!!!!! I hate clowns and that book really preyed on that elemental fear. Terrible ending but right up until the last few pages, it scared the crap out of me. He has so many, though. Pet Semetary, Carrie and Jerusalem’s Lot were also very scary to the younger me. Clive Barker has some excellent moments also. The Books of Blood had some really creepy short stories. And Ghost Story by Peter Straub also scared the bejeezus out of me. I love horror books.
Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” is one of the most unsettling things I’ve ever read. She was just amazing. I’ve never read anything written by her without coming away in slackjawed awe.
Everyone who’s posted so far is right about Stephen King. He’s so consistantly engaging and scary. I had a Lit professor who liked to pooh-pooh “That King Man,” and if eye-daggers could kill, he’d be so very dead right now. I did take a hit on one of his tests by refusing to define popular fiction as works that are written primarily to make money. Gods, I hated that professor.
Also, I’m not sure if it ‘counts’ as horror, but Koushun Takami’s “Battle Royale” is amazing.
Oh, and Poppy Z. Brite. “Drawing Blood.” Love!
Steven King’s “It.” Here’s why that book was horrific: that orgy scene between the kids.
WHO THINKS OF THAT KIND OF STUFF?
To this day, I’m scarred.
Goosebumps was a big one; it made me freak out when I would walk up the stairs late at night…I always felt like something was following me. Roald Dahl had a collection of scary stories that are truly creepy. Like spine tingles creepy. This may be lame, but when I was in fourth grade I read “Interview with a Vampire” by Anne Rice for the first time. That shit was scary. I don’t care whether the vampires were supposed to be sexy or not…that is not really 4th grade fair. I was a strange child.
The first paperback I ever read was Stephen King’s “It” when I was, like, 8. That started an obsession with cheap horror novels and Stephen King, although not so much his more recent books because they’re just not as good.
“The Shining” is probably one of my favorites. That place totally scares me. Also, “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski; it’s not really SCARY but it creeped me the eff out. I’ve also started reading Clive Barker’s stories and whoa, they’re all sorts of messed up.
It’s not a book I’ve read, but one my husband read. And it’s my favourite because he was reading it one time while I was driving us home from a camping trip. It was so disgusting and grotesque that my husband passed out. Yes, as he was reading. And I got pissed off at him because I thought he was just trying to ignore me as I talked to him about something that was actually really important to me. The bastard.
Forget the book title, but it was Stephen King, and a movie was made out of it (where what’s his name gets hobbled in bed). Anyone? Anyone??
October Country by Ray Bradbury has some of THE creepiest stories in it, bar none (though i have to agree with Skip about The Small Assassin, as well – though that, along with The Veldt, was in The Illustrated Man). still, much as I love Illustrated Man, did anyone go around sucking the skeletons out of anyone else under the guise of being a doctor? no. October Country it is. i did a book report on that in the 8th grade. my teacher never quite looked the same way at me after that.
I started on Stephen King books and then found Poe and have always had a soft spot for dark books. I did, most recently and may I say ashamedly, found Richard Matheson, the author of I Am Legend. I of course started to read that after the Will Smith movie came out to know where the movie went wrong. I was not disappointed. But back to the book, I loved it! I couldn’t stop reading it. If I read it alone (which I had to do with my hubby deployed and kiddos asleep) I got creeped out. I just LOVED it! I feel the same with Stephen King books. He inspired me to write my own for a time while I was in high school. I am sad to say I’ve never heard of Ruth Chew but I will find her works and get reading!
When I was about 8 I read the short story “All Summer in a Day ,” by Ray Bradbury. where a little girl who lives on Venus is going through a nervous break down because of the lack of sun. When the sun comes does come out (for 2 hours once every 7 years) the kids lock her in a closet and she misses it. Living in southern Arizona this was horrifying. For years I thought it had to be part of a larger book so when I found it again as an adult and found out it wasn’t, I was disturbed all over again.
oh, man….right now i’m reading The Strain by Guillermo Del Toron and Chuck Hogan. It’s the first book in a planned trilogy and the second book just recently came out. It is truly an antidote to all those girly feely feely vamps that have been on our radar lately. It’s great to read late at night. Crazy, creepy, vampires loose in New York City!
Hmmmm The Omen. Maybe I’ll rent that for Sunday night.
My favorite book is “The Shining” I was twelve and reading it several days before Halloween,I turned on the tv and it WAS ON, Jack Nicholson to this day scares the bejeebers out of me!He scares me most when he tries to do light comedy but, that’s another subject!
Choose Your Own Adventure Books, because I knew I would totally fuck them up somehow and end up at the bottom of a ravine by my second choice.
The Amityville Horror will always live on to be the scariest books I’ve read.
Damn, now I’ve got to find a copy an read it again..
The Stand. Loved it! Also, King’s recent, Under The Dome. Both very scary to me for the same reason: you could put the book down, look around, and be SURE the environment of the story was there, all around you, real as life and twice as huge! And how creepy is it to think of your whole town, with its exact boundries, being enclosed in an impenetrable dome?? Yike! (And for The Stand, of *course* I’d be one of the people who survived the super flu or whatever it was 😉 )
Ghost Story by Peter Straub. I don’t remember why it scared me, but I didn’t sleep easily for several days after (it was a one-night read. No, I didn’t skip any of it. I’ve never read anything by Stephen King that I found scary.
I loved Ruth Chew. Second Hand Magic was my favorite.
You know what book actually freaked me out? “The Egypt Game”. The part at the end when it gets all real and creepy? *shivers*
as a kid, I read everything I could get my hands on by Christopher Pike, and RL Stine. And the chick (dude?) who wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer. I still love a good mystery, and I can’t find enough new authors to keep me satisfied. God there were so many great books as a kid. I remember going to the bookstore with any $ I had saved up. It was like the best thing that ever happened to me when I was little. We never got to go (lived in BFE Kansas) so when we did, I could spend hours in there.
I read one Stephen King kid as a book, the one about werewolves, and it had PICTURES. Which gave me nightmares that still recur to this day. Eek. Very vivid. Mary, I think the book you are referring to might be Misery? I haven’t read it, but I love the crap out of that movie.
And that brings me to True Blood. Which I am so hooked on. I am going to read the books now.
I devoured everything by Christopher Pike, including all of his adult novels, when I was in elementary school. The Season of Passage was one of the eeriest books I’d ever read, and now that I’m thinking about it, I am gonna go find a copy on Amazon so I can read it as an adult! 🙂
Stephen King’s “The Stand” and “Tommyknockers” in a tie for me.
I read Flowers In The Attic after being told by my mother that there was absolutely no way I was allowed to get it out from the library. It was quite good, as an 11 year old, though I haven’t read it since then.
I have always been a bigger fan of scary short stories on the internet than those in actual books, I think the shortness allows them to be more scary, because there isn’t that feeling of “Oh no way this can be real, nobody experiences true terror and then writes 300 pages about it”, whereas the ones that masquerade themselves as true online are sometimes very convincing.
I think it would be too difficult to name off the best scary books I have read, but really the ones I like the most are ones where it isn’t THE THINGS that are scary, but the way in which the people around the character react to them. Anything that deals with the worst parts of human nature, really, is more convincing to me than any “ghost story” could ever be.
Also, that’s a kick ass doll house.
The book that still freaks the ever-lovin’ sh!t out of me is SK’s “It”, but the reason why it freaks me out is mainly because of my older, a$$hole brother (love him to death, but Gawd he was an a$$ back then!) Anyway, I was about 11 when I began reading “It”, which means my bro was around 13 or 14. We went to visit my dad in another state and his housekeeper had made me this wind up musical clown that sat in a swing and rocked to some lullabye. A bit young for me, but hey, it was free, she was nice, whatever. In the middle of the night, my brother snuck into my room, carefully took the clown out of its swing and crawled to my bedside. Then he hunkered down on the floor and slooooowwwwwllllly scootched the clown up until it was nose to nose with my sleeping self. Then he started calling my name in a freaky a$$ed voice…. “Jenny….Jenny……. Pennywise wants to play with youuuuuuuuu…….” I woke up nose to nose with a frickin’ clown and my first thought was “HOLY FRACKIN’ SH!T, HE CAME OUT OF THE BOOK!!!!” Of course, I screamed, my brother started cackling with laughter, and my dad beat the sh!t out of both of us for waking him up. Yep, them’s good times in Redneckville.
Ooh ooh, me!! My first favorite scary story was Jane Eyre. I know, what? But hear me out. I read it in the 5th grade, and I was still fresh and impressionable enough to be terrified at who or what might be that horrifying thing in the attic! Was it a vampire? A ghost? Oh, (spoiler alert) it’s an INSANE WIFE KEPT LOCKED UP!! Terrifying!
Many people don’t find the Brontes that scary anymore, but I think it’s because we, as a culture, are too jaded and overexposed. Only my 5th grader self could have appreciated that horror. My 30 year old self is now only terrified by Jane’s unfaltering submission to the variety of imperious bastards in that book. If Charlotte Bronte were alive today, I would take her to see the movie Secretary, and I would share my popcorn.
Ender’s Game or 1984. I know they aren’t by any means the typical “OMG SO SCARY” books, but think about it. 1984 is about a world where there’s no freedom and no hope, and they let rodents eat you alive if you dare to have an original thought. And Ender’s Game is about making small children kill people during wartime.
I think that’s pretty fucking scary, especially since I can definitely see either of those things happening in this world.
I have to say, I’m not sure I’ve ever been truly scared by a book (movies are an entirely different story!). But I am a loyal fan of Stephen King. The Shining is one of my favorites (besides On Writing, but that’s not a scary story…). And reading Carrie before I got my first period was pretty terrifying…”Plug it up! Plug it up!” *shudder*
I decided a few years ago that every Halloween I wanted to read a “scary” book. I read Dracula the first or second year and I was surprised how much it scared me! It is a creepy book. It is a horror classic for a good reason!
First of all I love Stephen King books. All of them, and the short stories, and the books written under pseudonyms. But I have to say one of the creepiest, scariest, most amazing books I’ve read is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Deanielewski. It is brilliant. I highly recommend it to you and anyone who loves scary reads.
I have some old ass ghetto copy of “Irish Ghost Stories” that I have no idea where I got. I love it.
omg remember Fear Street and Christopher Pike? That shit ruled my world. However it also convinced me to tell my 4th grade class that I was a secret witch. That was a difficult year.
I used to read Stephen King when I was a kid, but I can’t really do scary anymore because I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and freaking myself right out. Note- after I finished Salem’s Lot, I made my little brothers (who are twins) sleep on either side of me. I figured whichever way the vampires were coming, they’d find a tasty little treat to distract them while I got away. The scariest thing I’ve read recently is Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt series (very good vampire stuff). And the only Stephen King I can read these days is the Dark Tower series because it isn’t as scary as it is pure awesomeness that I must relive every few years.
Also, I am not submitting myself for your drawing because, like I said, I’m a wuss, just felt compelled to add my two cents anyway.
Happy to see Gerald’s Game scared a few others. I read it on vacation with my first husband…..in the fall….at a lake in MN. Creepy! (My ex husband…..not the vacation.)
I think my favourite horror story would have to be The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe. The manner in which Montressor treats Fortunato chills me to the bone. I can’t imagine trying to deal with someone who was being so upfrontedly kind but in actuality was leading you to your doom. And the way he kills Fortunato as well is something that continually terrifies me. To be chained to wall, and then locked away without air, left to suffocate and die all alone, where no one would hear you scream is something I find incredibly terrifying. So yeah. The Cask of Amontillado is definitely my favourite horror story, as it continually scares me, every time I read it.
I’m not sure if I’m even allowed to participate since I’m not from the US but I really want to tell you the story, chance to win a book or not.
My favorite scary book of all time is by R.L. Stine “Welcome to Dead House”. It’s not my favorite because I haven’t read better (almost all the scary and horror books I read, were better) or because I was scared. I wasn’t.
I was in love. This book changed my life, changed everything I was and made me the person I am today.
You see, to understand this, you need to know that I grew up HATING books. I just hated reading. I loved stories, I loved *writing* them but I hated reading. To this day I blame Astrid Lindgren for it and her stupid, boring, freaking happy-world. It was a book by her that I was taught reading with and it was utterly boring. Being forced to read this by my parents, I started to despise books. There was nothing to bring me into reading anything by free will.
When I was ten my parents went on vacation with me. Before this, we went shopping and I visited a bookstore. Not being a book lover, I was pretty bored. Wandering around I somehow got to the section with the scary childrens books. The Goosebumps titles just captured my eyes. Something made me stop and look at them and be… fascinated.
So I bought one, Welcome to Dead House, and read it in one rush.
Afterwards I bought every scary book I could get my hands on, hell I started buying and reading all kinds of books like my life depended on it.
That book made me a reader, a booklover, a book junkie, the girl with the book. I’m not happy without books. I buy so many that I often don’t have money at the end of the month for food.
So, if you’re asking me for my favorite scary book, this is it. I love it with all my heart because it changed my life and I’m eternally greatful. Without it I’d never have read all the stories I love so much, that helped me to become the person I am.
Who would have thought I’d get so cheesy over a bad scary children’s book? Oh well…
Poe’s The Cask of Amontadillo, or possibly The Tell-Tale Heart. That shit freaks me out more than monsters or weird psychic phenomena or even serial killers.
I love Ruth Chew! And you are the first person I’ve run across that has heard of her, too. I have a copy of The Witch’s Buttons I can’t wait to read with my daughter and have been hoping to expand my collection. My elementary library had many of her books and I read them all. I credit her with my love of witch stories. I had not heard of her passing–so sad.
I used to devour any book I could find about serial killers when I was a teenager. Just the thought that there were real people who were so mentally unbalanced and could wreck such carnage on another human just disturbed me but I could not stop reading about them!
That dollhouse is a masterpiece!
There was a book in the back of my fourth grade classroom called “The Green Ribbon.” Do you know it? I’m going to tell you about it either way. A young boy named Alfred met a young girl named Jenny who always wore a green ribbon around her neck, but refused to tell Alfred why. Years passed, and Jenny and Alfred fell in love and got married. On their wedding night, Alfred begged her to tell him why she always wore the green ribbon, but again she refused. More years passed, and Jenny became a very old woman. She beckoned Alfred to her deathbed and told him that she was ready to reveal her secret. She asked him to untie the green ribbon and with trembling fingers, he obeyed.
And Jenny’s head fell off.
HER MOTHERFUCKING HEAD FELL OFF!!!
Still not over it.
Holy shit, Mairead! I remember that book! It freaked me the hell out.
You guys? Best comments ever.
Also forgot to mention Richard Peck’s Blossom Culp books. (I think there were two). They weren’t traditional scary, but they had some mystical factors. Plus, I loved it that she wasn’t your standard book heroine. She was a definite misfit, and there wasn’t really a happily ever after but she didn’t seem to care.
The Celery Stalks at Midnight: vampire bunnies and the goggies who loves them.
Truly awesome mock-scary books for kids.
“It” is pretty much the scariest book ever. I slept with my television on up until my mid-twenties because of that damn book. I hate clowns. The only way that book could have been scarier was if it had included the other two things that scare the bejeesus out of me: mayonnaise and Robin Williams.
I’ve pretty much always been a scaredy-cat. I loved reading goosebumps when I was little…haha that’s terrible. I’ve grown up a tiny bit so now I’m not so scared of scary stories. I love the scary book gift giving idea. I’m actually going to look for Mrs. Chew’s books now and a few of the others mentioned in the comments. :}
I can’t stop commenting on everyone’s comments.
@Mary: That sounds like Misery.
@j: I read Flowers In The Attic when I was like 10-11. I have no idea where I got it. I probably just took it off the bookshelf in the kitchen. That was a messed up book. Stephen King seemed normal after that. Of course, when i was about 14 I had to read the rest of the books in the series.
I don’t think I read any Ruth Chew and the more I read these comments, the more pissed off it’s making me that they are out of print. I’ll have to see if the library has them.
DEFINITELY House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. That book sticks with me and I think every person I know now owns a copy because I gift it for any and all occasions. Not your traditional horror literature, but it makes you feel like you’re going completely crazy as the narrator descends into madness himself. Highly recommend it!
I love the idea of a horror-book-giving tradition – I’m going to go pick up a few books and get it started amongst my friends and family!
When I was a child Rold Dahls THE WITCHES scared the bejesus out of me. We read it in school and I cried.
As an “adult” (and I use that term loosely) I’m obsessed with “The Fall of the House of Usher” in Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. Most of the stories in there are great but that one is an orgy of Poe stories and I love it!
I’d have to say The White Plague, by Frank Herbert, which was amazingly plausible and therefore infinitely frightening. Also I have shelves and shelves of King, i’ve read everything by him and am probably most freaked by the novella The Langoliers.
The Shining is one of those rare movies that does justice to its book – so that was a big one, too.
Poe’s Cask of Amontillado was always a favorite. I also came across a book called Really, Really, Really, Really Weird Stories that was the most bizarre book I’ve ever read. They weren’t shitting, the short stories were progressively weirder and weirder and freaked my shit out. Seriously. Cannot find any other way to describe the book as Really, Really, Really, Really Weird. Really.
I’ve read a lot of scary books, but my favorite is probably It. The movie is f***ing terrifying, and I refuse to watch it again, but the book is fantastic — more for the intense friendship than the scares, though. I read it as a teen and I remember thinking that I wanted friends that close *so bad*.
Oddly enough, though, when I asked myself what the scariest book I could think of, off the top of my head, was… The Yellow Wallpaper. Something about the idea of that poor trapped woman scrabbling around and around and around the room is just disturbing.
Rosemary’s Baby. It might not have zombies or monsters or whatever, but the idea that people you think are normal could actually be in some freaky cult that is going to brainwash your husband and impregnate you with the devil’s baby totally weirds me out. I mean, what the hell? Most things don’t scare me, but this book totally messed with my mind. And made me afraid of my elderly neighbors.
Scariest? Probably Pet Semetary. It was my first novel by Stephen King and I chose to read it late at night after my parents went to bed and let’s just say that I still get nervous about being stabbed in the ankles by somebody hiding under my bed late at night. Sometimes they hide in the shower too, though I have gotten to the point where I don’t need to keep the shower curtain open at all times. Or maybe I’m just telling myself that because I now have see-through shower doors.
I love Northanger Abbey too – scary AND well-mannered.
Nothing used to scare me as a child, I loved the darkness of books like The Witches and The Chronicles of Narnia and such. THEN I read Night Shift by Stephen King – specifically Children of the Corn – and I stopped cold turkey. As an adult, however, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis scared me so bad I had to remove it from my house…. and I didn’t even come close to finishing it. scary Scary SCARY.
I love this idea, though. I am going to go pick up several copies of Clive Barker’s The Thief of Everything from used book stores and hand them out to the best dressed trick-or-treaters on Sunday.
A scary book for me was Piers Anthony’s “Shade of the Tree” – I picked it up when I was a young adult (having read his light fantasy “Xanth” series)…. and haven’t been able to read it again as all I remember was how much it scared me. So I can’t even remember if it was a scary story for real or if it was my imagination 😀
Gonna have to go with One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Fish are fucking scary. They flop around and they’re all slimy and stuff. Plus what’s with the fact that they just stare straight ahead and don’t sleep ever? Creeeeeepers!
Ooh just thought of another one: The Storyteller – adaptations of the Jim Henson series. Oh my Dawkins, I read them as an adult and I can’t wait to freak the crap out of my kid when he’s old enough not to pee the bed. Serious shit: the boy who went out into the world to learn FEAR, people getting boiled alive, a hedgehog man, incestuous kings marrying their daughters, beating slaves with ‘the contradiction stick’ (we all need one of those, right?)… ahhh, good family fun.
Oh, by far The Pendulum by Poe. He’s a genius!
Oh sure, all you guys have your scary stories. Me? I am a full-fleged wimp. Not a chance!!!
I had to sleep with the light on after finishing Gerald’s Game. The degloving… **SHUDDER**
I was born and live in Florida, so it stands to reason my paternal grandmother lived in a condo. I thought all grandmothers lived in condos, or drank Old Milwaukee with a salted rim like my mother’s mother did.
My father died when I was six, and with my mom having three kids, one a baby, needless to say books where where you’d find me.
Staying at my paternal grandma’s condo for the weekend was like, the penultimate for me during that time; in-ground pool, unlocked rooftop access, shiffleboard for hours by myself, right on the Bay with a private dock, you name it. But in the evenings, after tv dinners and Cronkite on the floor console color tv, sometimes I’d get to wandering around the lobby playing Eloise the spy.
(It didn’t hurt that the condo manager (who I never saw, btw) had an always locked office with the name “Mr. Bigg” on the door.)
It was during an early evening ramble about the place that I found out THERE WAS A READING LIBRARY in the building. No shit… darkly paneled, dimly lit by reading lamps set next to deep dark leather club chairs and covered in wall-to-wall, to ceiling-to-floor, BOOKSHELVES. Oh what I’d give today to search out those decade’s of books on those shelves, donated by residents passing through on their way to the Eternal. Alas the building was slated for remodel before the recession, and like so much here, was abandoned and never finished; it still sits, massive and boarded and shuttered behind signs declaring “Coming Soon! One, two and three bedroom condo’s!”
One night when I was but nine years old, and fairly recently into my forays within, I found “The Amityville Horror”. Though my mother did not believe in censoring my reading material, this I knew from tv program censorship -there was NO WAY I’d have been allowed to read this had she been there. BUT SHE WASN’T. I was all alone at my gramma’s, and she none the wiser.
I started to read it there in the library but fairly quickly I looked up and found myself alone, at night, in that lovely dark, now VERY FUCKING CREEPY, library and went upstairs.
Two hours later at bedtime, my nails chewed to the quick, eyes starting from my head, perched on the edge of an armchair, I was hooked. My grandmother looked over from her programs at me and said something like “Heaven’s, child, what are you reading!?”
“Um, nothing gramma,” I mumbled, petrified to my very core by the shennanigans going on at the the DeFeo house, “I’m just at the exciting part.”
Exciting all right. So then I was hooked on horror, all the way through my twenties and Ann Rice haha.
Stephanie Myer who?
Now in college,I read for pleasure less often, mostly David Sedaris or something easily put down or picked up. But I did read Under the Dome recently by King, and it took a weekend and then some of my life, but for that journey, time stood still and I wasn’t a mom, or a middle aged, or broke. I was just enthralled by the horror of it all 🙂
Great to know you are mi compadre.
Ohhhh, great post! Anything to do with books and I’m in!
The first scary book I read was when I was about 8 and it was one I got at a flea market! It was called “The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House” and I think part of the reason it scared the crap out of me was the cover had a bird on it…and I have a major bird phobia.
I snuck “Carrie” by Stephen King out of my grandparent’s basement when I was 12 – I wasn’t normally allowed scary movies or books (or “Forever” by Judy Blume!) but my parents knew I took books from their library as well as any others – I think they just gave up! Anyway, I read “Carrie” and to this day I cannot watch that movie on TV and am terrified to read the book again.
Scariest non-fiction – Hunting Humans by Elliott Leyton, read for a sociology class first year uni. All about serial killers. Not fun.
I’ve just discovered your blog so I hope you have lots of cool topics like this! I loved reading other folks’ comments and I’ve even jotted some titles down in my notebook of books to look for at the library!
The Amityville Horror gets me everytime….and yes, sadly, it’s not real. Oh well. Still scares the crap out of me!
I love love love reading… So a scary story shouldn’t be hard to think of… Except for the fact that I don’t scare easily… Stephen King books are always nice and creepy…
……although since WordPress keeps naming my blog as their lastest theme, I might write them a SCARY letter! Laurie aka hibernationnow.wordpress.com
Hands down the scariest book I’ve read in a long time is Mo Hayder’s “Ritual”.
There are so many things I find terrifying about it – mostly that it probably happens. It’s a dark unnerving story about ‘ritual’ mutilation and drugs and all sorts of darkness all wrapped up in a detective story?
I know it seems like an odd combination but it works…
“Say Cheese and Die” by RL Stine scared me so much that I fell in a pool while I was reading it. No kidding. I was also afraid of cameras for months after I read that.
I don’t read usually read scary books.
I had nightmares after reading Coraline (which my five year old loves) and I read it at the tender age of 22.
My imagination is too wild and vivid and full of thoughts of serial killers, demonic children crawling out of wells, freaky mothers with button eyes, and hook hands hanging off the side of cars.
I think I’ll start with the Ruth Chew books. Maybe… I’ll overcome my fears. But I’m still scared.
i read Salem’s lot when i was in the 6th grade and have been a follower of S. King ever since…he is such a capable author..some of his stories haunt me…Quitters Inc. anyone remember that one? where they cut off his wifes finger because he smokes a cigarette while stuck in a traffic jam? and they put his kids in those electrified boxes like lab animals?????? i dont know which collection of short stories that one was in, but there were several in that book, Grey Matter….eeek!
that being said i have not, nor do i think i will ever read “it”. I have not nor will i ever think i could visit Maine. I too live in Texas and i think if i heard anyone speak the way King has phonetically written his creepy ass conversations over the years i would lose.my.shit.
Not the scariest but the ones that will always stick with me are the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. I loved reading them as a grade school kid. They didn’t necessarily scare me as much as interest me. I’ll always remember the story about the girl who had a spider lay eggs in her cheek and then one day all the babies exploded out of her cheek. Loved it! It was also the first place I’d ever had read about a poltergeist! It was hard to scare me because I was watching Nightmare on Elm Street in kindergarten thanks to my brothers.
I’m not sure I have a favorite, but The Shining scared the crap out of me. When I was about 50 pages from the end — reading in the living room all alone — I had to go down and finish the book sitting in the corner of my husband’s workshop, where he was tinkering on something. Never had to resort to needing another human around for comfort before or since.
Other faves: Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and of course her short story The Lottery. Salem’s Lot. The Stand.
A trilogy you may want to introduce to Hailey: Witch Water, The Witch Returns, and The Witch Herself by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I read them to my older son when he was about 8 and we both loved them. Creepy and scary, especially because they are set in a perfectly normal family and a perfectly normal small town (not in TX, tho).
Little Women…short people scare me.
Love Stephen King’s books…probably the Shining. I love scary books. I want to be so f@#^ing scared that I an afraid to go to bed.
“The Pit and the Pendulum” is my all time favorite horror story. I effing love Poe.
“The Turn of the Screw” rocks as well. I love the whole is there or isn’t there a ghost thing. I prefer scary that doesn’t come right out and tell you what the scary is.
I used to be a huge King fan, and still am, but haven’t read anything by him in maybe 10 years…His earlier stuff is far better than the more recent stuff…
Crap. She wrote several other books about that witch and family and town, too; I got them mixed up. The trilogy is actually The Witch’s Sister, Witch Water, and The Witch Herself. Sheesh.
OMG. The scariest book I ever read for real, was AMERICAN PSYCHO, by Brett Easton Ellis. It seriously was the sickest book ever, and I literally had to take a break and hide it from myself because it freaked me out so much. There was definitely a reason this was not allowed on the shelves at bookstores. I remember that I had to hunt it down and finally found it in a little offbeat shop — they had to get it from the back stock room and it was wrapped in brown kraft paper – like porno magazines. Freaking sick. I still have nightmares about it. Also,love Stephen King and read everything he ‘s written, but in the The NIGHT SHIFT (a collection of short stories by Stephen King), there was this one story called NIGHT SURF, and it ruined me. Since I read that scray shit about 25 years ago, I have never been able to swim at night in water over my head. Skinnydipping at night?? OUT of the QUESTION.
Seriously, I found “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy to be the scariest, most sustained nightmare scenario ever. Could not put it down. Amazing.
The scariest book I ever read was Go Ask Alice when I was 12 or 13. It has stayed with me for 30 years – the image of Alice in the closet, scratching away the bugs from her arms. The thought of that still gives me the heebs.
The Telltale Heart scares the bejeesus out of me.
Oh man. I can’t lie, scary stories are usually too much for me and my wildly overactive imagination. I think the last time I read a properly scary book was fifth grade, and it was a book of ghost stories. One of which terrified me so much that I slept with a light on for the next month or two. It was something about a kid who moved into a house and the shadows killed him and his family…I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it. It was SCARRING.
Because of that terrible experience I’ve avoided anything that can be remotely considered frightening. Buuut I did like Shutter Island, even though it isn’t actually a horror story or anything. Psychological thriller, sort of?
Whatever. I’m a pansy.
Oh, there are so many scary books out there! I love “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James (the 1st “grown up” book I read and loved) and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. Of course, if gore is your thing, there’s always the works of Edward Lee. Pick any one and you will be creeped out of your mind!
“The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” scared the crap out of me. Then again, I was a disturbed child! Wendy
Amityville Horror…to this day I can’t see two red lights together with out thinking of that stup pig named Jodi.
Who names a pig Jodi.
Did I make that part up?
As ridiculous as the movie was, the stuff Stephen King put in my head while I was reading “It” kept my middle-school self from finishing it. To this day, I have not finished that book. It’s the only one of his that I haven’t.
Going Rogue by Sarah Palin. Utterly terrifying.
My favorite Scary Book is probably Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. While not neccesarily a classical horror story (there are no ghosts or goblins, the only monsters are human) It is very disturbing and more then a little scary. Accentuated by the fact that alot of it is disturbingly plausible.
My parents are from Roswell, NM and whenever we visited for vacation, I had a couple of cousins who would insist on telling the story of La Llorona. That shit kept me up all night, scared that she was going to grab me through the window.
That story still freaks me out…
I meant to actually add in “The tell-tale Lilac Bush.” I’m from West Virginia and it is a terrifying story that launched a collection of ghost stories based in West Virginia. During Halloween, our teachers would crowd us into the ancient, creaking auditorium and read us stories from the collection with the lights out. For a girl who was scared of Scooby Doo, I’m surprised I wasn’t scarred for life. They’re actually my happiest memories of school.
When I was a kid I read this book called “The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural” and it scared the bejeezus out of me. I have never forgotten one of the chapters, titled 11:59 about some sort of ghost train, with a conductor who is on some sort of crazy hell-ride trying to escape his own death. Yes, this is a children’s book – A Newberry Honor’s winner at that! Anyway, I’m amazed that the book stuck with me for this long but I loved it! Fun, southern, creep-tastick folklore at its best!
I LOVE ALL BOOKS EVER. (Well, I fucking hate Twatlight but other than that!!!!!!) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET ME HAVE A GIFT CERTIFICATE FOR BOOKS, I LITERALLY SPENT $112 ON BOOKS YESTERDAY AND NO, I WILL NOT TURN OFF THE CAPS LOCK AND YES, I KNOW I’M NOT EVEN TECHNICALLY ENTERING THE CONTEST PROPERLY BUT THAT IS HOW MUCH I LOVE BOOKS. I WILL BREAK (internet, Bloggess-style) RULES FOR BOOKS!
DID I MENTION PLEASE?!?!??!?!?!?! DID I MENTION CAPS LOCK?!?!?!? DID I MENTION…”?!?!?!?!?!?!”
Am I crazy or have I already seen this photo of you? Dear Lord, I hope that my one psychic power is seeing future photographs on blogs. Although next month is going to be great for Chuck and Coco.
Pet Cemetery totally freaked me out as a kid. As an adult, Turning Angel by Greg Isles was creepy and a total page turner.
Roald Dahl’s “adult” short stories. What’s left unsaid in the books, yet revealed by the reader’s imagination is, by far, the scariest thing.
But if you’re not going to count my all caps comment as an entry, I will also be a Lit nerd and say for good spooky, I gotta go Poe and the Fall of the House of Usher or the Cask of Amontillado (NO WAY I spelled that properly) and oh, what’s the one about the cat buried in the wall? AND OH NATHANIEL HAWTHORN! The Birthmark, and the one about the woman who’s a poisonous plant lady.
Reading King in third grade, eh? I read Carrie when it was first published – I was in high school at the time. Scared the bejesus out of me! My first scary books were the original Grimms tales, which I started reading in 2nd or 3rd grade. Those were really bloody. Then I read everything by Poe, then Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. After Carrie, I read every King novel I could find, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention, my paramour for 7+ years was a published horror writer (Mark A Clements).
So, my all time favorite? The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.
BTW – I’ve never heard of Ruth Chew, but I’m going to find some of her books now. Thanks!
You won’t even notice my comment, since it’s buried so deep, but I just had to share, anyway.
I was one of the weird kids who checked out all the “strange but true” books in the school library, and read them over and over. I never heard of Ruth Chew before, but I’m sure I’ll love her books, as soon as I find them.
I remember when I first discovered Stephen King through The Dead Zone. Once I started reading, I couldn’t sleep until I finished it. It was amazing. When I nearly died 4 years ago (true story) I was reminded of this book, and felt compelled to read it again. Unfortunately, I don’t have Johnny’s “gift.” Fortunately, I also don’t have a brain tumor, so I guess I’m okay with that.
When I was a kid I loved the book “The Dollhouse Murders” by Betty Wren Wright. I was scared the whole way through, but after that book, all I could read were fantasy, science fiction or horror stories. If there was no magic in life, then what was the point? 🙂
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker sent chills up my ninth grade spine. I even found a used copy of it back in May and I still haven’t been able to bring myself to read it.
Since reading Clive Barker, though, I have gained a bigger appreciation for less scary, scary stuff; for example, the Tales from the Darkside television series…
You hooked me – I never enter giveaways – ever. But it’s about books!! Scary books!
I’d have to say that Salem’s Lot scared the crap out of me as a teenager – while babysitting. I quickly learned it’s not a good idea to babysit a child who walked in her sleep while reading a scary book about vampires….
OMG Mairead! That story about the Green Ribbon? I had a record (yes record. Or vinyl, whatever!!!) that had the story on it. You think it’s scary if you read it? Try HEARING it in the creepiest voices you ever heard.
“Take that ribbon off! I’m tired of looking at it.”
“You’d be sorry if I did. So I won’t”
After her head falls off:
“I told you you’d be sorry . . . . . (fading away)”
When I was little, the story of the Headless Horseman scared me more than anything ever could again. Dude on a horse, with a sword, chasing you through the night… and he’s got no head!! There was a dark, twisty little road that was a shortcut to my grandparents’ house that I was convinced was the actual Sleepy Hollow from the book. Couldn’t be told otherwise. As soon as I realized my father was turning the car down that road I was out of my seatbelt and in the front seat with my parents, trying to squeeze down under their legs in a ‘duck & cover’ position to protect my head. My mother says I almost caused them to drive off the road on more than one occasion by flinging myself over the front seat with such force.
As I got a little older, a series of ‘Urban Legend’ books in the school library made me pratically weep with fear. The guy sitting in the dark, patting his dog’s heads as he listens to a radio report about an escaped psycho killer in the neighborhood… and then he hears his dog scratching at the front door and remembers that he forgot to let him back in for the night! The girl and her boyfriend who have to spend the night in an abandoned house because they think they see a large, dark form lurking in the tall weeds between them and their car. The girl clutches her boyfriend’s hand throughout the night to reassure herself that he’s by her side. She wakes up in the morning stll clutching his hand… just his hand! My god, these stories terrorized me!
Favorite grown-up scary story would be “The Haunting of Hill House” just for the quiet, subtle imagery. When Nell is thinking about the housekeeper who spends her days working in a kitchen full of doors leading to numerous hallways and thinks to herself that she couldn’t work in there, never knowing what door might be swinging quietly open behind her… chilling!
Sorry for the long-winded comment, but that question brought back a lot of good, spooky memories! 🙂
There’s A Monster At The End Of This Book starring Grover.
Finding my Dad’s copy of “The Story of O” behind his bed when I was 12.
Oh, what? You wanted a scary book, not a scary story ABOUT a book.
Oh, sorry. That’s all I’ve got.
How sad that Ruth Chew books are out of print. Although I read a sick amount of Nancy Drew books in my youth, my uncle moved me on to 1984, Animal Farm, The Jungle (Upton Sinclair) got my 8th grade imagination whirling. I don’t think they are supposed to be horror, but I was horrified!
stupig is a compound.
World War Z. Also, Coraline. And Stephen King’s Bag of Bones. I think it got overlooked a little because it wasn’t his usual ‘thing’, but it scared the crap out of me.
This isn’t very literary of me, I suppose, but it’s the truth:
Stephen King’s “It” created a crippling fear of clowns in me that has not abated to this DAY.
My favourite scary book is from my childhood it’s John Bellairs’ “The House with a Clock in it’s Walls” – I read it for the first time when I was in grade 2 and even now, 20 years later it still gives me the same chill down my spine and goosebumps
Ok-I’m still thinking about this and had to go find the story. It’s a bit different than the green ribbon version (I just KNEW it was a black velvet ribbon)-I found the short story (poem?) here:
I’m going to vote for the Dave McKean illustrated version of Bradbury’s The Homecoming. It’s not scary, not really, but it’s one of my favourite stories to read at Halloween (or any time, really, but Halloween especially) and McKean’s illustrations are, as always, phenomenal. Absolutely one of my favourite books.
When I was little I loved this book called Trick or Treat. I read it weekly, its falling apart but I still have it.
Sadly, I just realized that while that is 95% of what I read when I was a kid now I rarely read fiction books, and when I do its usually something funny, not something scary. I am definitely going to have to go to the library this weekend and find something good.
Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber. So, so good. I own 7 copies. It seems like something Jenny might read.
I know it’s lame but Fahrenheit 451. books were the only things besides my horse that has kept me relatively stable while struggling with my bipolar and the death of most of my support system during my teenage years so the idea of a world without them is terrifying
I read IT by Stephen King when I was 10 and it scared the pants off me. Then I read it again at 14 and wondered what I’d been worried about.
Hands down, the story that scared me the most as a kid was “The Tell Tale Heart” as many others have mentioned. But in my young adult life, what my American Lit professor used to call “the scariest hair in all American Literature”, is a short story called “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. Go read it. Trust me. You won’t sleep tonight, I guarantee.
Needful Things. (Stephen King, of course) Its the things people will do to each other for greed, jealousy, or fear that truly scare the shit out of me.
Pet Cemetery by Stephen King. I literally peed my pants but it was worth it!
The Scariest Book I ever read was Ferdinand The Bull. I was terrified for that poor animal, imagine, someone could have stabbed him. Ghosts, goblins and gremlins- no fear of any of those.
ANYTHING Stephen King! I have been reading him since college ( a long, long, long time ago)…but the one that scared me silly was PET CEMETERY…I was reading in broad daylight when someone knocked on the door–I screamed and the book went flying! And the last line…”Darling it said.” was CREEPY!!!
Scariest book: The Exorcist.
Favorite scary book: The Fog by James Herbert. I read it simultaneously with my BFF when we were maybe 13. Herbert occasionally describes the insanity-making fog as a plasma, which made us insane with laughter. Imagine the perverse mileage you can get out of the word “plasma” as a 13 year-old.
I have 2, both by Stephen King: The Tommyknockers and It
When I was a kid, I loved James Howe’s books: Bunnicula, Howliday Inn, The Celery Stalks at Midnight and Nighty-Nightmare, especially. Now, Neil Gaiman’s output of The Sandman, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, etc., are pretty fulfilling in the nail-biting-causing, goosebump-creating part of my literary diet.
I loved Ruth Chew as a kid, too, and recently found a beat up copy of “Magic in the Park” for my 9 year old daughter. She loved it. My scary authors are Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury, and zombie books (from “Pet Sematary” to “World War Z”).
Oh, also, Animal Farm, 1984, and War of the Worlds? HORRIFYING. O_O
Lord Voldemort? TERRIBLE.
The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cremation of Sam McGee? POSSIBLE CAUSES OF HEART PALPITATIONS.
Dude, I really can’t pick just one. Not fair.
Red Rose by Stephen King was it for me.
“There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury… sad and chilling all at the same time.
“Psycho” by Robert Bloch, it still scares me to go to weird seedy motels… you never know what the hell you might find.
One book that did scare me was Misery by Stephen King, as we know how Annie is so obbessive with Paul. The way King writes about her in the book…not only did the man get me angry at her (a sign that tells me that I like the book a lot) but she scared me everytime she suddenly get upset as I felt that she would hack off another part of Paul.
The Masque of the Red Death and the Tell Tale Heart. I read them in 5th grade when one of the neighbors said I could read any of her books since she knew I loved to read. Scary stuff! She must have known she was giving me nightmares…
Stephen King–IT. Freaky, freaky, freaky.
my imagination is not my friend, so i tend to avoid scary things. they’ll haunt me for years. (every time i drive in the dark, i half expect freddy’s claws to come up thru the seat. i’m pathetic.)
but, i have to say that your house is the coolest thing i think i’ve ever seen. bravo!
Even though I know I am echoing everyone else’s comments, I loved Poe. I was exposed to him (um, not literally, because he’s dead. Also, not literally because I was a little girl and that would be awkward and wrong) when I was 9. The Cask of Amontillado scared the snot out of me. It took my breath away. It was the first book to “take me away” and I have not been able to put books, especially macabre ones, since.
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier creeps me way out.
I still have flashbacks to Gerald’s Game. Stephen King says he wrote it, but some suspect his wife. If it was written by him, that man has crawled way way deep inside the feminine part of his brain.
There is a story in Stephen King’s Night Shift that scared the crap out of me. I read it again and again, it was called The Mangler.
I think it scared me precisely because the lead in was so very much a matter of chance and that made it just terrifying.
The Stand scared the bejesus out of me. I was given a copy for Christmas a few years back and didn’t speak to my family for 2 days until it was done. The scene with Larry in the pitch black Lincoln Tunnel made me sleep with the lights on. At 21 years old.
When I was a teenager it was Christopher Pike. Now it’s The Stand by Stephen King and Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Those suckers were TERRIFYING. The Cask of Amontillado and The Raven by Poe, The Watcher by Dean Koontz, and Swan Song by Robert McCammon.
When I was about six, I read a horror comic about this giant orange Sasquatch-like creature that lived in the closet of an old abandoned house. Whenever people stayed there, this creature would emerge and scare them to death. It scared me so much that I had to sleep with my closet door closed till after I graduated high school and left home.
Almost all of the 70’s-early 80’s Stephen King, but The Shining is definitely my favorite. I remember reading it, all day every day, during Spring Break in junior high–my Mom ended up yelling at me for spending the whole week on the couch with my nose in “that damned book.”
December by Phil Rickman. OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG
Ooh, I’m totally wrong. The book that scared the bejesus out of me was “Stranger With My Face” by Lois Duncan. Some girl astrally projects her soul out of her body and her long-lost twin, that she didn’t know existed, astrally projects and takes over her body and her life! I spent my teen years afraid that a particularly vivid dream might accidentally pull me out of my body…which then led to me reading Illusions by Richard Bach to know how to handle that crap if it in fact happens.
Basically, all I remember is to keep track of the silver cord because its way important.
Bag of Bones w/o a doubt. When ever I read it, I have no doubt it could really happen.
A true story called ‘Grave’s End’ about a haunted house. Scared the hell out of me. Good book. Also another true story called ‘Don’t Call Them Ghosts’ about a family who ‘adopts’ some children ghosts who live in their house..not scary, but creepy and sort of sad, but a good read as well.
The last book that REALLY scared me was by Lois Duncan, “Down A Dark Hall.” I was probably about 8 or 9 years old. “The House that Jack Built” by Graham Masterson was a little creepy, though.
Honestly?? Nancy Drew and The Secret Staircase! Also, to all those that said Stephen King, I agree…I had to stop reading because of the nightmares. “It” was the worst.
There are so many good scary books! I read about a 150 books a year. The one that scared me so much I had to sleep with the lights on was Hell House by Richard Matheson. I loved IT by Stephen King, So Cold The River by Michael Koryta and Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I could go on, but I won’t.
i started reading steven king when i was in six grade and i fell in love. his stories never fail to terrify and thrill me.
I love the idea of giving out books on Halloween. Unfortunately my tiny budget and the throngs of kidlings in my neighborhood make this un-do-able.
My favorite scary book? That’s a tough one. I didn’t start reading scary things until I was an adult and a college friend handed me a worn copy of Steven King’s Needful Things… So, as a cop-out, I’m going to go with my first. Don’t we all always remember our first? And this one didn’t leave me wanting for more while he snored through the last half of Seinfeld.
I’m going with ‘Incredible Tales’ by Saki. Many are disturbing, but “The Interlopers” scared the crap out of me as a kid.
It by Steven King
Holy Crap. Couldn’t sleep for like a year
Pretty much every Stephen King book I’ve ever read scares the bejesus out of me. But “It” definitely takes the cake. I read it in high school and carries the 1000+ page book around until I finished it. Maybe that’s why I still check the closets at night for monsters?
The Stand, hands-down. Does that make it The Handstand?
Grown Ups: Misery, The Shining
Kids: Coraline, Lily’s Ghosts, Graveyard Book, anything by Mary Downing Hahn
I hate horror now–but in high school I loved it. My scariest book was “The Other,” by Thomas Tryon. Also saw the movie, which also scared me. But I can’t do horror anymore, especially scary books. What I see in my head is way scarier than anything I can see onscreen.
I just read Cronin’s The Passage and it’s, hands down, the scariest, thrilliest book i’ve ever read. It. Was. Awesome.
I used to devour books on urban legends. One of my favourites, which I still tell to my little cousins, was called “The Liver,” in which a wife, desperate to feed and appease her abusive husband, is forced to steal a dead lady’s liver and cook it for him… the husband of course, dies a tragic death when he is haunted by the ghost. I think it was the combination of accidental revenge, food and cannibalism that made me like it so much.
Others… Shirley Jackson’s short story the Lottery. 1984 freaked me right out. The Tell-Tale Heart never scared me exactly, but it is one of my favourites. … you know what? I haven’t read a horror story in a while.I’m borrowing your comments section to go get some books.
‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’. The pictures still haunt me to this day. I remember reading it to my little sister, flipping the page, only to see a decrepit womans face with spiders erupting from it. Screaming, I threw that book across the room. Really, the scariest kids book ever.
Love “The Graveyard Book” by Gaiman
and “A Shadow in the Wind” or “The Angel’s Game” by Zafon
i love halloween 🙂
Favorite scary book….I think it would have to be collected short stories of Edger Allen Poe. Telltale heart in particular….it’s anxiety manifested in a spooky book!
I started reading Stephen King at an early age, too. I love just about everything he’s written and I’ve read a fair amount of other scary authors, but I would have to pick The Shining as my favorite. I always have such a perfect picture in my mind when I read it.
I LOVE the idea of giving a scary book for Halloween. Thanks for passing it along!
Jenny, this is an amazing idea. We love collecting candy on Halloween, but after the actual day it goes into Lock, Shock, and Barrel’s bag to give Sandy Claws something to eat (aka, my cookie jar) and gets forgotten.
I read Stonewords by Pam Conrad over and over, much like it sounds Hailey does with Coraline, and Bunnicula by James Howe was another favourite. Sadly I didn’t become much of a reader until later in life and I had all but forgotten about those books until you brought up Ruth Chew. Thanks for reminding me to pass it down, lady.
Also, we went to the Ren Faire on Saturday, and there was a sign that said Hill Country, and I though of you, wondering if you had secretly moved to the Ren Faire and were keeping it from us. ….I actually don’t know where Hill County is, and I’m pretty sure that Plantersville is nowhere near it.
Oh wow! “What the Witch Left” was one of my favorite books when I was younger. I think it might be at my parents house. I should definitely go find it…
Before I read the comments here, I was going to say that even “scary” books don’t usually scare me, but you guys have jogged my memory.
I agree with all the Ray Bradbury comments — The Small Assassin was terrifying, and All Summer In A Day was heartbreaking. I’ve really liked a lot of the other books/stories mentioned here but didn’t really find them scary. Scariness is definitely in the eye of the beholder.
I thought A Wrinkle In Time was very scary when I read it as a child (but not when I reread it a few years ago before giving it to my niece).
I’m embarrassed to admit I was scared by this short story, but in my defense, I was about 12-13 at the time. The story was written in the form of a note saying that the copy of the book that you’re reading is special, because a) you have this note instead of the short story that appears in this space in every other copy of this book and b) the author has been watching to see who would pick up that copy, and now that you have, he’s followed you home and is going to kill you.
I’m going crazy trying to remember the title of a Poe story that scared me for the wrong reasons. The story involves a cat, but it isn’t “The Black Cat”. It starts with a man dropping something small off the roof of a building; the object strikes and kills a kitten, and the rest of the story is about the mother cat’s revenge. You’re supposed to be scared for the man, but I was horrified about what happened to the kitten and pretty much identified with the cat.
I would never have survived high school without Steven King. And Phil Collins. Hard to believe I would put them in the same category….I remember being obsessed with the Salem Witch Trials in jr. high. I read everything our pathetic little library had on it – and I didn’t even turn out to be pagan. Buddhist, yes, Pagan, no.
I’m not much of a scary-book person (although I read a LOT of Stephen King novels when I was in junior high – in retrospect, no wonder I didn’t have many friends), but I was just reminiscing the other day about reading Susan Cooper’s “The Dark Is Rising” series, which is horror-ish, right? Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is another favorite from childhood.
I read a little Ruth Chew – I won “The Secret Tree-House” when I mastered my multiplication speed test in 3rd grade.
“The Amityville Horror” and “Carrie” (both were my brother’s books) scared me, because I could believe they were true.
I read “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier after seeing the Alfred Hitchcock movie. Perhaps more suspenseful than scary.
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Still gives me the creeps.
I also started with Christopher Pike books and his token adult novel “Season of Passage” is probably my favorite.
Unquestionably one of the scariest books I’ve ever read was Roald Dahl’s collected short stories for adults. I had to get for of my copy after reading it; I couldn’t sleep in the same house. All I’m saying is, don’t be fooled by Matilda and give Hailey a copy of these. Brrrr.
Dude. I can’t believe no one has mentioned House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. Scared the shit out of me. Every creaking noise my apartment makes freaks me out.
Stephen King is the top of this list!!! Lisey’s Story scared the bejesus out of me… probably b/c I read it at 1am. And I agree with the 3rd commenter as well…. MORE Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has haunted me since the day I read it back in elementary school. I STILL remember most of those stories… and they still scare me.
As a child, the scariest book for me was NC Ghost Stories full of local lore that I completely believed. The Maco Light in particular because my great aunt had seen it. The pictures were what really creeped me out though.
Oh just found a site with all the stories online. Pretty lame now, but very scary for a 5 year old.
Scariest thing I’ve read lately are all these comments! Guys, I have to take the recycling out to the curb tonight. Stop giving me the willies. Damn!
Helter Skelter. Read it in high school and I’m still scarred by it.
And I totally agree with the reader who said “what to expect when you’re expecting”. I felt like I was in the middle of some sick joke like, “I know, she’s not messed up enough by the hormones that are currently shrivelling her brain, let’s really F her up… I know! there’s this book…”
First, I vote w/ your daughter, the dollhouse is genius! Second, I loved that bathtub shot the first time you shared, so it is still ‘full of the awesome’ as they say on the web these days! & third, I think one (among the many many I have read, I am a horror junkie) of the scariest books I have ever read is ‘Salems Lot. I actually don’t re~read it anymore.Fourth, I love the idea of giving a scary book for Halloween!
I think it’s the only one of Chew’s I ever read, but I LOVED “What The Witch Left.” I read it a million times and I think I still have a copy. I sure hope I do.
Your dollhouse makes me squee endlessly in utter delight. I have a thing for dollhouses and the fantasy genre with a little dash of love for the macabre (though I can’t read or watch too much horror; I scare too easily) so that was just…incredible.
My stepfather, who ended up committing suicide, put me onto Stephen King. Read most of his books by the seventh grade, so I graduated to films. Halloween, Friday 13th, April Fools Day, Exorcist, The Omen, Happy Birthday to Me, My Bloody Valentine …. all of the great 80’s schlock horrors. It was fucking awesome. My favourite was Hellraiser …. remember Pinhead? “And to think ….. I hesitated.”
Then I grew up and became a junkie and created my *own* horror, so didn’t need to read/watch anymore. Now I am clean and have children and I’m a soccer mum. But underneath my middle-class exterior I’m still a hardcore motherfucker, much like my twelve-year old self.
RUTH CHEW – hot damn, I knew there was a reason I like you so much! I keep meaning to buy the books for my six year old daughter and had no idea they were out of print. How can that be? Am going to have to go dig in my parents’ attic now for my old copies.
I still haven’t been able to watch The Shining all the way through, so maybe I scare easy…BUT, ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ by Joe Hill (yes, Stephen King’s son, and he’s so good without nepotism!) was scary and smart and scary. And scary. And I read it like 3 years ago and I’m still scared.
Did I mention it was scary?
I’m so sad to hear that Ruth Chew’s books are out of print! _What the Witch Left_ was my favorite book for a long time, and several of her other ones stuck with me as well. I had no idea she was still publishing books into the ’90s, though – I need to check them out ASAP.
I love scary stories and Stephen King’s The Stand holds a special place in my twisted heart. My first boyfriend had just moved out of state and I figured it would help pass the time while keeping me sane (I was 15). However, as I started to read about the sickness, I started to get sick myself. When my fever peaked at 104, the doctor confirmed I was sick … with mono. I thought that was really funny at the time, like it was sort of a last kiss goodbye from the boyfriend. I loved the book, and went on to read many, many more from the King of Horror!
Favorite scary book: The Heart of A Witch by Judith Hawkes. I read it when I was 19 or 20, and to this day I assume every small New England town is secretly being kept alive by a colony of benevolent witches. It was such a beautiful, haunting story, and I read it at the right time in my life for it to make the most impact on me.
I’ll pick two and both are Stephen King’s: The Stand and Salem’s Lot.
P.S. – I didn’t comment on your Twitter Post, but I would really take that as a positive compliment.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman… scariest book I’ve ever read, ever. Something about it got to me like no other horror book has done before, possibly childhood nightmares remembered? Anyway, I think it’s perfect.
Oh! Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, wrote Heart Shaped Box, and it was FANTASTIC!!
I bought it, then passed it on, and they passed it on, and they passed it on, and it made it’s way across the US and Canada and is still being passed on today
He’s been mentioned time and again but Stephen King was my first real foray into horror novels. prior to him it was all Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. And then came The Tommy Knocker’s. that book scared the bejebus outta my 12 yr old self and kicked Sweet Valley’s ass. I was hooked. since then I’ve tried to keep my prospects open and read pretty much everything that can catch my interest. I currently have about 50 books on my bucket list and its growing since reading this post. Happy Hallows readindeed.
Sorry, horror’s not my cup of tea (or is that ‘cup of blood’?). I sit in the movie theatre with my eyes tight shut as soon as the scary music starts. The ‘horrorest’ book I can deal with is Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.
I believe that I discovered Washington Irving when i was only ten years old. I fell in love with Sleepy Hollow and read it over and over again, along with Rip Van Winkle. I’m not sure what scared me more: the eerie feeling that crawls up my spine when the whispered light of the moon rises just right on a clear night sky (even to this day), or the fact that my mother was incapable of reading the material I had fell in love with during my late childhood.
What I also found sentimental about these reads is that it built something much more than an impressive reading level, often misunderstood by my peers as a youth, but it gave me a hunger, not only to read, but to write, create works of art only visible in the human mind. This birthed love of literature inspired me to become a writer, at the age of 12, and paved the road for me to finish writing my first novel at the age of 18.
I could never read anything that didn’t have horses in it. That’s why I’ll never be a success. Every book I write has horses in it.
“Pet Semetary” – Scariest book ever. I was afraid to turn the page!
If you are always disappointed in the Sears Portrait Studio, then you are DEFINITELY in luck this year!
Do the stories of Comanche Indian raids on the Texas Hill Country settlers count? Cause my dad used to read those to me as bedtime stories. Every time I’m near Fredericksburg, I’m not entirely sure that I won’t be kidnapped by Indians. I’m sure that’s terribly politically incorrect, but that was my childhood.
I traumatized myself as a young child by reading scary books and stories. There’s something about reading a book. It just becomes part of you. I’ve now graduated to true crime books. They contain some scary stuff.
You are totally going to think I am a pussy or something… wait, not a pussy… a silly goose? A dorkess? Yes, a dorkess. maybe? No, THE Dorkess. That’s it!
OK, anyway… the book that scared the begebus out of me when I was little was The Little Mermaid. Dude, I mean dudess, SERIOUSLY!!!!
The thought of being all happy with a crazy ol’ sea god pop and then becoming human and getting legs and then putting bro’s before ho’s and getting all human stupid and then turning into sea foam creeped me the fudge-on-a-toast out!
Mastering The Art of French Cooking by Julia Childs
In it, that crazy b*tch encourages people to cook and eat bone marrow, y’all.
Oops. I mean, JULIA CHILD.
One was the Boogyman from King’s Nightshift. I read the entire book in one night. The cover had a diecut of a hand with eyes looking out from it. I remember vividly the fading light in my bedroom and feeling the eyeball cutouts under my fingertips as I held the book. Just knowing they were eyeballs was creepy enough.
I am now 47. I also have a closet door that creeps open every frickin’ night. And as I walk by on my way to bed I have to close it every frickin’ night. I avoid looking into the darkness through the opening though. If I saw anything, say, shining in there, or if I heard WHISPERING I would lose it.
Another science fiction story, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream has stayed with me all of these years. Why did I read worse stuff when I was young than I do now?
I LOVED Ruth Chew! Can we petition to get them printed again?
I love me some scary books and zombie flicks, but The Witches, by Roald Dahl, scared the daylights out of me when I read it at age seven, and it still makes me vaguely uncomfortable. After I read it, I suspiciously checked women’s hands and feet for signs of witchiness for months and months.
Gosh! Where to start? Probably the first scary story that terrified me was Salem’s Lot- totally got me hooked on King. I loved Pet Cemetery and slept with the lights on for weeks.
I think the one that scared me the most was The Road by Cormac McCarthy- it’s written absolutely beautifully (like a work of art kind of beautiful) but left me in abject terror! I had a panic attack reading it and finally had to stop and put it down about half way through (right after they got out of the basement- for those of you who’ve read it!). I’ve never *not* finished a book because it was too scary and this was the closest I came. It ended up haunting me for weeks and I finally picked it up again and read it backwards. It was the only way I could get though it.
For kids- my older son loved Lemony Snicket “A Series of Unfortunate Events”- also really well written and extremely clever. They are great books to read to your kids. My younger son is at the age where he can read on his own but still loves to have stories read to him- we’re going to dig out the Snickets!
The Cask of Amontillado by Poe. Scary, fucked-up shit. And there is brick everywhere in Boston. **Shudder**
The Time Machine by HG Wells has always scared me. For some reason I am really really afraid of morlocks.
I think I started off with Christopher Pike, who had excellent material for the vamp lovers (how I loathe Twilight and all its fans). I sunk my teeth into Stephen King and found his endings always annoyed me (except for a very limited few) when I was in 6th and 7th grade, so I migrated to John Saul. His book, The Homing still has images that haunt me, but my ultimate favorites are The Black Cat by Poe, and above all else, my required reading every Halloween is Tam o’ Shanter, by Robert Burns.
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi, truth is scarier than fiction.
My first introduction to the horror/suspense genre was a book by Stephen Laws called Ghost Train – the first time i experienced a book which incorporated real history, geography, and recent world news events with an imaginative and well written horror premise. Scared the piss out of a 14 year old with a vivid imagination!
Salem’s Lot is so underappreciated. Think vampires are blah? These ones are old school and freakin’ scary! I’d also say true crime books are terrifying, like Zodiac or Helter Skelter. It’s like watching 20/20 or Dateline, but being able to stick it in the freezer (like Joey did on Friends).
The Power of Three by Laura Lippman is also scary in a Dateline kind of way.
And there was also this story I read when I was a kid about this man who marries this beautiful woman who never takes this ribbon around her neck off. They grow old together and she never takes the damn thing off, until one day, she asks HIM to do it and when he does, her head rolls off. WTF? That was a kid’s book in the ’90s!
Anything by James Kunstler, but especially The Long Emergency. Now there’s some scary shit.
“Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King scared the pants off of me. I think it has to be one of the most frightening vampire novels ever written. I’ll add it “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman – it’s so charming and atmospheric. I loved every word.
I’d have to go with Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot”. I got the willies whenever I went down wooden staircases into basements, or looked at steak knives for YEARS.
“The Shining” would be a close second…I slept with the lights on for days after I read “The Shining” all the way through in one night.
I was going to say you weren’t weird, but maybe we both are really screwed up. I joined the Parapsychological Association when I was 10, just to get their reading list. My favorite book for years was “Poltergeists: the Hauntings and the Haunted” – real ghost stories like the Bell Witch.
I didn’t want to be anything normal when I was a kid – I wanted to be either the witch, Angelique, on “Dark Shadows”, Cat Woman (Julie Newmar) or Emma Peel (Diana Rigg on “The Avengers”). I think we could have totally hung out – if I weren’t way older than you.
And I’m babbling…again.
Someone said it, but I agree. Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart creeps me out. But in a good way. Kinda.
Also, anything Gaiman because that man is twisted. Especially his so-called “kids” books. Wolves in the Wall? Nightmares for weeks. Sick and twisted, man. Sick and twisted. LOVE IT!
Caitlin R. Kiernan’s novel Threshold. I’d read the usual, Lovecraft, King, Barker, etc., but that was the first CRK novel I ever read, and it spooked me something silly, which had never happened before. And seriously — any author who can make freaking trilobytes scary deserves my respect. Much like her description of the basement in The Red Tree gave me claustrophobic nightmares that still flare up now and then.
Awesome! I’d LOVE a pic like this of myself! I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I read The Stand three times. I’ve been putting scary bits on my blog all month. Halloween rocks.
My all time scary book isn’t really a scary book so much as it is a f*#ked up book with a lot of violence and random shit. Most people have never heard of the book or the author but he has such a way of capturing you with his twisted mind. My all time favorite scary book is Bentley Little’s Dominion. Its filled with Greek mythology, violence, sex, wine, and twisted humor. Warning it is only recommended for the demented as well as anything else he’s written. But I cherish each and every short story or book of his I own. It was such a comfort to me the day my brother handed me his copy of the book knowing we could actually bond about how we’re both so freaking strange. I dare you to make it through the first 5 pages of the book without having to set it down purely out of wtf did I really just read that correctly. Yes you did, its that wrongly awesome.
Almost forgot: All you who are looking for Ruth Chew titles and other out-of-print books, meet my favorite used book network: http://abebooks.com.
Damn, we are soul sisters. It’s all about the King, Poe and Bradbury. In junior high I wrote the last paragraph of The Mask of the Red Death in calligraphy, burned the edges and pinned it to my wall. Stephen King is a father figure to me. (LOVE him. and his EW column.) And Bradbury, oh Bradbury. The Illustrated Man was my favorite. I’ve never heard of Ruth Chew. I will have to look her up.
The Green Ribbon. I first read this when I was in Kindergarten. I was at an advanced reading level, and this is written at a second grade reading level.
The story scarred me. For life.
22 years later and I still cannot read a scary book or watch a scary movie without a constant feeling of anxiety about what will happen next. I never expected Jenny’s fucking head to fall off. I imagined a scar on her neck. Or birthmark. I HAD NIGHTMARES ABOUT THIS STORY!
It is especially creepy when told by this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3PIkV2anqk
I gave my niece a copy of Cherise the Niece and My brother threw a FIT!!!!! It’s about a little girl that “possibly” kills her parents then systematically “probably” kills each one of her aunts as she is sent to live with them. I “personally” thought it was funny in a look-that-lady-died-when-she-was-stabbed-by-the-Christmas-tree-star kind of way. I tried again with the other niece when I gave her a copy of Twilight because it is (pretty much) uber clean. Bigger fit. Next time I am just going to give them each a deer rifle. (Baby brother is an avid hunter and takes them hunting every year.) Apparently killing in books is BAD but killing in real life is pretty okay.
By far the scariest book I have ever read is “Monsters You’ve Never Heard Of” that I picked up when I was twelve or so. The story of a monkey woman that digs her nails into someone’s back to suck the life out of them kept me away from dark bedrooms for weeks and has stuck with me for over a decade!
How do you pick just ONE scary book? Seems like an exercise in futility. How about authors? Definitely pleural. I absolutely adore Stephen King, and Poe, John Saul, Anne Rice’s vampire books, and Thomas Harris. I know there are more, but I’m tired and a bit brain fried. I can’t wait until my munchkins are old enough to consent to being read a “chapter book.” You are so lucky to have a daughter that old who will read and enjoy those books with you.
firstly i love the idea of giving book. I am buy a book for everyone in my family at Christmas. I usually by my brother a book for his birthday as well (the books I buy him are usually the only books her reads. he’s a video game person)
But on to the question if they still have those little cards that they keep in books at the library then my name would be all over this series at my elementary school. Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3 More Tales to Chill Your Bones. I was and still am a petulant child. If I am forced to do something I feel it is a chore and instantly resist it. That is until I happened upon Schwartz’s books. At the time they scarred the hell out of me. The illustrations are what did it. I remember reading as much as my 7 and 8 year old self could before the sun went down. I checked them out of the library over and over. I could quote the stories and poems word for word. For once reading wasn’t something to dread as it felt in class it was thrilling. It has lead to me having 6 bookshelves full of books.
I am so fond of the books that I sought them out last year again and bought them. While the chills that I felt all those years ago are gone. I still remember reading them cover to cover over and over again. In fact I think I will pull them off the shelf and read them through again tonight.
…And I couldn’t remember the name of my favourite childhood collection of short stories, but Comics Alliance apparently reads my mind: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2010/10/25/scary-stories-to-tell-in-the-dark-art/
Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories to tell in the Dark,” illustrated by Stephen Gammell is where I heard the story of The Liver. I need to buy and reread this book now.
I read “Amityville Horror” as an 11 year old at my family’s isolated summer cabin deep in the woods of Northern Michigan. Terrifying.
Rebecca by du Maurier. Delightfully creepy and so well-written.
scary books were the hallmark of my childhood. From the age of 8 when i discovered Goosebumps i proceeded to read any potentially scary story i could get my hands on. I think i began to scare my mother with my preoccupation with the horror genre. By the time I was 13 I was reading Poe and loving every minute of it. I have to say though the only story to actually give me nightmares was Stephen Kings It. Combine a lifelong aversion of clowns, pennywise, and a fever and you get me awake at 2am freaking out because I’m afraid of the psychotic clowns in my dreams. Now I fear clowns in all their forms and have to resist the urge to throw things at them. Thank you Stephen King for contributing to my Coulrophobia, it couldn’t be something smooth and cool like a fear of ninjas….no…it had to be clowns.
I remember learning about character development and style reading Stephen King, especially his short stories and shorter novels. The Running Man was scary stuff. Earlier than that was The Witch of Blackbird Pond (by Elizabeth George Spear), and I recall a little chapter book about some kids–the hero was a girl–who discovered an old house full of magic and a bad guy. I wish I could remember more, maybe one of the kids was living there, but I think an adult who understood that witches were real enlisted their help in fighting some evil power.
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub….
Well, I’ll pretty much read anything and everything under the sun – my room is covered in random piles of books – but scary stories are my favourite. I absolutely loved Interview With The Vampire, and to this day I have nightmares about a Clockwork Orange. All time best? Definitely Coraline. I read it when I was six or seven, and the rest of my childhood was scarred by the button-eyes.
My favorite scary stories when I was a kid were the ones written by John Bellairs – someone tell me you remember them: The House with a Clock in its Walls; or The Curse of the Blue Figurine; The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborne; or The Letter, The Witch and The Ring? Those were the best books of my childhood, and definitely shaped my taste for horror media.
for me ‘Coraline’ is quite a scary book, possibly because of all that sewing buttons onto your eyes…
There are various other scary books, but I was most scared by the ‘Ringwraiths’ in ‘Lord of the Rings’ – which for me are described in a way that really makes me shudder.
Poe’s The Mask of the Red Death. I love it and shudder at the end each time I read it.
I started reading Stephen King when I was maybe 8. At 14 Pet Semetary came out and I read it in about 2 days. Didn’t sleep well for weeks after and started eyeing our neighbor’s farm suspiciously, as it seemed perfect for an old Indian burial ground…
“The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty.
Most awesome and scary story ever lol!
I loved Stephen King’s “1408”. Even though it’s so short, the feel of it is so ridiculously scary. That talking phone bit still makes me retch with fear just thinking about it. I think the scariest part about it is that the “monster” isn’t something you can easily define – to me, it’s scarier when the evil thing doesn’t have a real reason. Like, when you find out that “oh, this ghost was supposed to get married but her lover was killed so she shot herself and now she haunts people”, well that’s great and all, but I find it lessens the scare factor. As soon as you put a label on it, you shove it in this neat little box of why and how, it’s not as scary. I loved in “1408” that there wasn’t a reason, it was just… “This place is evil”. That’s it. You don’t know why it’s after you and that makes it so much scarier.
M.R. James’ short stories have some of the most spine tingling moments of terrifying brilliance ever, I re-read my collection every Christmas. That’s the best thing about this time of year, all of the darkness making you think what might be lurking in it!
The sheer amount of comments you get is daunting. But still I decided to tell you I just stumbled upon your blog via The Feminist Breeder and I already adore you. For realz ^_^ Also, I love it when you share links and send me on an INTERESTING journey down the rabbit hole.
Scariest book was The Shining at 14. I had to read it in the mornings so I didn’t dream about it at night ;c)
AMAZING dollhouse. You are so creative and talented. You inspire me.
I was also reading Stephen King at an early age – I was 7 or 8 – and he is the one and only author whose books I purchase before reading them. My absolute favorite book is “IT” (of course, with a few exceptions, they are all wonderful). I was wondering if you had a favorite King story? What is your absolute favorite book?
love your posts. thank you.
The bible. And I am not kidding.
STEPHEN KING! so, I’ve decided that he’s not really a horror writer per say…I mean…yes, he writes about clowns in the sewers, and buried space ships that make you smart, and children ALWAYS die in his books. but he’s a GD GOOD writer too. like, I’d read his writing if it weren’t twisted and misshapen (maybe…I did enjoy ‘on writing’ ) have you read the dark tower series? *dies* amazing, breathtaking, not scary. Um, but my *other* favourite of his was scary to me…’cause I had to close my eyes when it came to the medical descriptions…The Stand. I want to cuddle with it. What a good, I mean scary, book! (and your doll house! AMAZING!)
In the Lake of the Woods.
For Dave #117-Ghost story did it for me too and here’s why. There’s a scene where some guy is alone in a morgue, standing among sheet-covered corpses, one of which is a baby. The The guy looks away, looks back, and the sheet covering the baby has been moved so that you can now see the top of the baby’s head…to this day that image creeps me out in ways I don’t like to admit. Also, I had to stop reading Stephen King because I knew I’d need therapy if I read “IT”
I read Peter Straub’s “Ghost Story” when I was around 11-12. (Thanks, Daddy, for letting me hook it out of your bathroom reading material!) I don’t know if it was my age, or my particular susceptibility to ghost stories (we lived, at the time, in a truly, frighteningly haunted house) but that book? Terrified me. I don’t think I slept for a couple of days, and I know I didn’t sleep without a light on in the room for years. I still have the paperback.,.the covers are off and it’s held together with rubber bands!
Pet Sematary (Stephen King) also scared me to bits & pieces. I started reading King when I was like 10-11 (thanks again, Daddy!) with Carrie…but Gage getting knocked out of his sneakers by an Orinco truck? Still sticks with me…as does the grating voice of the protagonist’s wife, “Hello, Darling” at the end. *shudder* (Zombies scare the pee out of me. Sometimes literally!)
I think I started scary-story reading with Fear Street (R.L. Stein) and Christopher Peck. Oh! And Those “Scary Stories I, II, III” books. I loved those in early elementary school.
I could only read Stephen King books when my mom wasn’t around though, because even having the books in the house scared her.
I LOVE this post and the comments. Because dollhouses are just the best thing ever. Yours is fabulous, please post more pictures! I am getting my first dollhouse at forty-something and sculpting fairies and creatures for the conservatory…which will not be that conservative when I’m finished with it. I wish I could see the Dragon picture, but for some reason, I didn’t see it. 🙁
Anyway, the comments about “Are You There God” and “Flowers in the Attic” are spot on…they were scare-tastic. I was a big Bradbury fan due to the use of symbolism and foreshadowing in books such as Farenheit 451. Loved Preston’s Hot Zone which freaked me out but now I am afraid of monkey biscuits.
I remember reading a series of books about a young orphan girl and VooDoo in New Orleans but for the life of me, can’t remember the titles. Can anyone help? They were creepy and great and I am old.
Misery. I was in 8th grade when I read it and we lived on a secluded farm. Every time I heard a noise or thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye I was sure it was Annie Wilkes coming to get me. TERRIFYING.
After watching “Killer Clowns from Outer Space”, this book put me in permanent fear of clowns. And sewers. And leafs. And air.
Don’t judge me ,clowns be scary yo.
Your childhood reminds me so much of my own… at least in the way in which you progressed through books. I started with my father’s John Saul books at an early age, moved on to V.C. Andrews, Dean Koontz, and Mary Higgins Clark, and finally got stuck on Stephen King.
So of course, my favorite book is It (and good to see I’m not the only one!). I bought a paperback copy from the supermarket to read on a cruise I went on with my family when I was 13. I have since re-read it so many times that whole sections of the book have fallen out.
In college, I discovered Barbara Kingsolver, and moved away from the horror genre. I miss it, but I haven’t been able to find anyone I enjoy as much as King.
OMG!!!! I LOVE RUTH CHEW!! I have been on an endless search at the half price bookstores in my area to find her books too! I loved all the adventures that she made possible!
I, like you apparently, started reading Stephen King early. Grade school early. Early enough that I was *fairly convinced* that diabolical clowns lived in my sewer. I stayed up late one night to read It, only to hear something whacking my closet door. From the INSIDE. Sure, it turned out to be our obese house cat, but it was a near thing. I was SURE it was an evil clown. And she *always* meowed. Except for that time. But favorite scary book? Stephen King’s Desperation or possibly Salem’s Lot. I REFUSE to sleep with either book anywhere near me, to this day, you know, in case something better left inside gets OUT. Happy Hallow-read! 🙂
I’m not much for horror… I read V.C. Andrews and Mary Higgins Clark growing up but Stephen King absolutely terrified me and forced me to sleep with the lights on. But I absolutely love The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and basically any sci-fi… that counts as scary right?
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson!!!!!!! It’s the creepy sort of scary.
Well, as an adult, I LOVE true crime novels. I’m fascinated by the minds of serial killers. I also like forensics, so I’d recommend Dead Men Do Tell Tales.
As a kid, the Amityville Horror scared me to DEATH. Seriously. I kept having to put it down to keep from hyperventilating. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I ever finished it.
Movie wise, the Exocist and Rosemary’s Baby can still scare me.
Scary books + my overactive imagination = bad recipe.
Mine is for sure going to be Stephen King’s It…. Or Pet Cemetery….. Pennywise may take the over the possessed toddler though….
Perfume by Süskind was absolutely terrifying. His prose is perfect.
The Dollhouse Murders was my favorite..I went throughn multiple copies of that book,which concerned my mother to no end. I need to find one of my old, beaten up copies and give it a read again!!
“It” made me REALLY hate clowns. “Cujo” made me afraid of St. Bernards, and “Thinner” made me fear gypsy curses (and they are REAL, people). But my scariest is “Red Dragon”. Oh holy shit, Red Dragon made me stop putting my address on the film processing envelopes and constantly screen my yard for poisoned food for my dog. And I purposely became unattractive to dissuade serial killers. Yes, I grew the gobbler under my chin and gained the weight and got dark circles under my eyes because of YOU, THomas Harris.
I’m kind of a whimp with really scary stuff, but I did enjoy “Thinner” by Stephen King. Some of the smutty “romance” books I have read are really scary…’cause no one REALLY acts like that and it scares me that young girls may expect that in their love lives!
Kubricks’ The Shining. I watch it every Halloween and every time it still freaks me out…
I used to love R.L. Stine when I was younger, and the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. Now my favorite horror author is probably John Saul.
I am a huge fan of horror stories, especially ghost stories. My favorite ghost story is Stephen King’s Bag of Bones. It is the only story I have ever read that made me gasp out loud. I also shook with fear almost the whole time it took to read it. Every time I re-read it it scares me just as much as the first time.
(P.S. I am a new reader to your blog, and I am addicted to the archives. Hours of productivity cheerfully gone!)
The Shining – still gives me nightmares and I’ve read it a couple of times. Last time I read it (last winter) I was in my creepy basement reading, got scared, went running up the stairs, tripped and almost killed myself. Now that is a good scary book.
I also love Poe – I began reading him when I was about 9 – my family was on camping vacation (yeah, that’s how we did vacations – tents and station wagons with the huge bubble on top of it for our gear). We went to a little book store and I found a collection of Poe stories. My parents tried to talk me out of it – because I was 9 – but I wouldn’t relent. They bought me the Poe collection and a dictionary (they were both teachers and refused to just give us a definition – we had to look it up). It took me forever to read some of the stories with that darned dictionary but I did it and I WAS HOOKED.
I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew books – probably around 8 years old. They scared the crap out of me (as did Scooby Doo Cartoons back then). Mom had the entire collected works of King at the time but wouldn’t let me read them until I turned 13. On my 13th birthday I picked up The Stand and haven’t been the same since. I now own the entire collected works of King as well. I’m not sure that I can pick one of his books that scares me the most. They all make me need to leap into the bed (even at the age of 35) so that something doesn’t reach out from underneath and grab my ankle.
I knew we were secret sisters. I was about the same age when I started reading Stephen King. Some people think that fucked me up, but I think it made me a delight to be around. Agree or I’ll eat your soul.
In any case, I’m not sure I could pick one favorite scary book, as that is my favorite genre. I love anything by Stephen King and I guess my favorite is The Shining, although I usually say it’s The Dark Half, because I prefer to be a little bit more obscure. I also love Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Good genes, you know.
Why do I have to pick? They all ROCK.
My favorite scary book growing up was, In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz.
This book has the story of a girl who always wore a green ribbon around her neck. One day she took off the green ribbon and her HEAD FELL OFF!
What a great tradition! I personally love Stephen King, which I realize is a cliche but, dude, he has a friggin’ Chekhovian eye for detail. After I read “The Shining,” I had to sleep in my mother’s bed for a week. I was eighteen at the time.
In terms of just keeping me awake at night, I’d also have to give a hat-tip to the fine works of Ray Bradbury, whose “The Illustrated Man” collection still gives me the shivers.
Jenny, I LOVE YOU!!!!!! I read the book “The Witch’s Buttons” as a child, and could never recall who the author was (let alone the book’s title) as an adult. I didn’t even recognize Ruth Chew’s name until I looked over her books, and saw the cover of that one. I am SO thrilled, because I’ve wanted to find this book for my kids for years!!! You ROCK out loud!! I’m so excited to know that there are more books by the same author!
As far as scary books go … “Salem’s Lot” scared the bejeesus out of me as a 12 year-old (when I first read it), but “It” probably takes the cake as one of the scariest books of all time. However, the bathtub scene in “The Shining” kept me awake for weeks after I first read it, so yeah … lots of wild (if slightly envious) applause from me to you for that awesome photo you took in said tub. Awesome special effects with the blood too.
And yes … my six-year-old is also looking for “Dick and Jane and Vampires”, and we also got treated (by the bookstore clerks, no less!!) like we were somewhat deranged for asking for that particular title!!
(Seriously … it’s not a fake book! http://www.amazon.com/Dick-Jane-Vampires-Laura-Marchesani/dp/0448455684)
Oh, and Jenny?? That dollhouse is freaking amazing. I want one now in the worst way. You are so freakishly talented that there ought to be laws.
When I was younger I loved reading the Fear Street books as well as the Goosebumps books. My all-time favorite book was Ghost in the Big Brass Bed. It didn’t really scare me so much but I loved it anyway and read it tons of times. Who doesn’t like a mystery involving a ghost? And war pictures that come to life?
P.S. Now you’ve got me wanting to buy all my childhood books for my kid.
You were tackling Bradbury in 7th grade?!?! I remember reading Fahrenheit 451 in high school and it’s fair to say that……I didn’t get it and thought it was stupid because I didn’t get it. I learned to appreciate him more AFTER college though.
Hell in 7th grade, I was still reading R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” books. Now that I know that there were people out there who actively and independently pursued Bradbury in 7th grade, I kind of feel like a dumb ass (_l_). Thanks a lot for the self-esteem booster, Blogess! Jk, jk, jk.
This may help, I went to paperbackswap.com and they have a lot of Ruth Chew’s books there if you’re missing some for your collection.
Jeez…. spelling typo. I meant, “BLOGGESS.” Derp-dee-durr. Digging myself deeper in this dumbass hole I already began digging. Does that make me a dumb asshole?
Scariest book ever? The story of the Devil himself. “Cheney: The Untold Story of America’s Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President”
Yeah, he’s had a lot of heart attacks, but remember: We can’t kill him unless we destroy all the horcruxes.
I like this concept, too. 🙂
I think my favorite horror story is Stephen King’s “Misery.”
I grew up reading Goosebumps and Christopher Pike books….and I’d have to say that Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask scared me the most…I read it when I was 10 yrs old and for the next few Halloweens after that I refused to try on costumes that involved wearing a mask 🙂
too much in love with old SK to pick one. DT is my fave, but it’s not so much ‘scary’… hmmm.. I guess the Shining… with honorable mention to Christine.. I still don’t like walking between the front bumpers of cars in a parking lot.
But bless you, now, FINALLY, I know who wrote that book! I remember the two girls who found a drawer full if magical items… the ‘What the Witch left’. I wish I’d know back then to look for more by the same author.
I highly recommend the Diane Duane series… ‘So.. you want to be a wizard. ‘ plus! still in print..!