Great Horror Novels You Need to Read

We are big readers here at ILoveHalloween and we always try to find the best stuff for you guys to check out. From lesser known Stephen King stories to Recent Award Winners, we know that a lot of you can't wait to sink your fangs into another scary read! Well, we've put together a list of fantastic horror novels worth checking out. They're from the last 30 years or so, with some older favorites and some more recent nightmare-inducing tales. Most importantly, they're not on every other damn best-of list on the Internet.  

Cipher Kathe Koja Dell Abyss pbk Jan 1991.JPG

Kathe Koja

When two struggling artists discover a mysterious hole in the storage room of their building, they begin down the path of curiosity, discovery, and ultimately madness. This was Kathe Koja's first book and it took the horror world by storm, winning a Stoker and Locus award and bringing something genuinely new to the genre. 

Buy it now. 


Lost Souls 
Poppy Z Brite

A muckier, more gay, deep-south vampire story, Lost Souls is about a goth teenager who calls himself Nothing, who runs away from home and discovers his heritage as a vampire. A transgressive, vicious, and homoerotic story, it's one of the best vampire novels of the 90s. 

Buy it here. 


Final Girls
Riley Sager

Someone is killing off final girls - those lucky survivors of slasher movie massacres - and one of the remaining heroines is desperate to find the killer. A genre-savvy take on the slasher archetype mixed in with a fascinating study of trauma and recovery, Final Girls is a great read. 

Buy it here. 


World War Z
Max Brooks

Forget the movie, World War Z captures the global zombie apocalypse so effectively that any other attempt to do traditional zombie narratives will be unfavorably compared to it. Told like a Ken Burns documentary, with each chapter telling a different part of the global story, World War Z is a fantastic addition to the horror canon. 

Buy it here. 


Joe Hill

The perfect scary Christmas story, Nos4a2 reimagines vampires through the character of Charles Manx, a soul stealer who abducts children and takes them to Christmasland, where he feeds on their souls. However, one of his victims gets free and, as she grows up and has children of her own, she must battle with Manx once more for the life of her child. This is an imaginative reinvention of a classic monster that proves the old scares still work.

Buy it here.  


The Nightrunners
Joe Lansdale

A gritty mix of revenge story and home invasion, The Nightrunners was an early splatter punk standout. Author Joe R. Lansdale's creation in the God of the Razor - a nightmare entity that requires blood offerings from its acolytes - is one of the most horrible entities ever created and the book is a fast read with strong hard-boiled writing.

Buy it here.  


Off Season 
Jack Ketchum

This tense and brutal thriller, about a group of campers besieged by backwoods cannibals, catapulted novelist Jack Ketchum in the horror spotlight. One of the most vicious and unforgettable tale on this list, Off Season is a must-read for fans of gory thrillers.

Buy it here.  


The Eighth
Stephanie Wytovich

A recent Stoker award winner for best first novel, The Eighth draws from Catholic lore to tell the story of Paimon, a demon soul collector, and the love that damns him. A stunning and imaginative debut. 

Buy it here. 


I Am Providence
Nick Mamatas

Famous author Nick Mamatas tells the tale of a murder mystery set in the horror world, as a controversial author and Lovecraft scholar is found dead at a horror convention in Providence. Full of winks at Lovecraft's famed Cthulhu Mythos, this is a great novel for you hardcore Lovecraft fans out there. 

Buy it here. 


Motherless Child
Glen Hirschberg 

Two young mothers are turned into vampires after a drunken night at a sleazy bar. One struggles to control her urges while the other wants to bring her family into undeath with her. As they fight the competing pulls of motherhood and their predatory instincts, they find themselves hunted by the vampires who made them. Scary, intense, and a little bit sad.

Buy it here.  


Joyce Carol Oates

One of the most chilling books of all time, legendary author Joyce Carol Oates takes us into the mind of a Jeffrey Dahmer-esque serial killer as he tries to turn a human being into a mindless sex toy. Absolutely essential reading for fans of serial killer stories. 

Buy it here. 


Octavia Butler

A ten-year old African American girl wakes up in a cave with brutal injuries, no memory, and a powerful thirst for human blood. From there, Octavia Butler crafts a truly unique sci-fi/vampire hybrid featuring a unique twist on the vampire strain. A classic and absolutely worth reading. 

Buy it here. 


Paul Cornell

A young man suffers at the hands of bullies and his rage taps into an ancient evil slumbering in the depths of the West Country hills. Paul Cornell captures adolescence in Margaret Thatcher's England in this award winning novel. 

Buy it here. 


Little Heaven
Nick Cutter

Three mercenaries take a job to check in on a man who may have been kidnapped by a religious cult. Once they arrive, the trio realize that there are more dangers than they originally imagined. A scary, action filled ride by one of the best new writers in the genre. 

Buy it here. 


Paperbacks from Hell 
Grady Hendricks

This nonfiction book is a study of the 80s horror novel boom. A great coffee table piece and a fantastic way to rediscover old favorites, Paperbacks from Hell has wound up on several Best-of-2017 lists.

Buy it here. 


Summer, Fireworks, and my Corpse

This pair of novellas by Japanese horror writer Otsuichi tells the story of a murder from the perspective of the dead body and of an eye transplant that begins showing the user a dead man's life. Elegant and very eerie, Otsuichi needs to be discovered by larger audiences.

Buy it here.  


The Missing
Sarah Langan

Three-time Stoker award winner Sarah Langan channels her inner Stephen King into this tale of a children on a field trip awakening a dormant, predatory evil. Vibrant characters and a scary monster make this a highlight of small-town terror. 

Buy it here. 


A Choir Of Ill Children
Tom Piccirilli 

A young man has his hands full caring for his siblings after his parents pass, but a preacher friend cursed with visions warns him that something terrifying is coming to town. If you like your scares mixed in with a Southern Gothic atmosphere of history and decay, this is the book for you. 

Buy it here. 


Dark Harvest 
Norman Partridge

Dark Harvest is a short novel about one small town's horrifying Halloween tradition, where a pumpkin-child is brought to life and hunted by the townsfolk. Part chase novel, part The Lottery, this is a great annual read for Halloween. 

Buy it here. 


Ballad of Black Tom
Victor LaValle

Winner of the British Fantasy award, this novel retells H.P. Lovecraft's story "The Horror of Red Hook" from the perspective of an African American musician whose delivery of a book to an old witch leads to devestation in the heart of Brooklyn. One of the most celebrated books in recent memory.  

Buy it here. 


The Suicide Motor Club
Christopher Buehlman

The Suicide Motor Club is a kick-ass rock and roll story of vampires driving across the country in souped up muscle cars as they hunt their prey, and of the woman who survived their deadly attack and pursues them with vengeance in her heart. Pure adrenaline from start to finish.  

Buy it here. 


My Soul to Keep
Tananarive Due

Part of author Tananarive Due's African Immortal trilogy, My Soul to Keep conjured the best of Anne Rice's work. The story follows Jessica, a young woman who start to realize that her perfect husband is far from what he appears to be, and that the source of his eternal youthfulness might come with a dangerous cost.

Buy it here.  


Madeleine Roux

A YA gothic horror novel punctuated by eerie photo illustrations, Madeline Roux creates an unforgettable world in the Brookline Dorm, a former psychiatric hospital that had been converted into dormitory space for teenagers entering a college prep program. As the kids get deeper and deeper into Brookline's twisted history, they discover the secrets behind the asylum's supernatural terrors. 

Buy it here. 


Yoko Ogawa

A collection of interlocking tales set around murder, madness, and vengeance, Revenge is a great horror/crime novel that will bring you deeper into the world of Japanese horror literature.

Buy it here.  


We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lionel Shriver

What would you do if your child committed a schoolyard massacre? How would you put your life back together? These questions underline the somber and heartbreaking We Need to Talk About Kevin. It's not a happy book by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also a fantastic study of one mother's relationship with her angry son. 

Buy it here. 


White is for Witching
Helen Oyeyemi

An eerie gothic ghost story that is sometimes told by the haunted house itself, Helen Oyeyemi's White is for Witching is a beautifully written story about a young woman suffering from a rare eating disease who takes up residence in her family's ancestral home. This book was described in the NYTimes review of books as "a delightfully unconventional coming-of-age story." 

Buy it here. 


Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe
Thomas Ligotti 

One of the most important and influential writers on this list, the reclusive Thomas Ligotti is a sort of philosophical horror master whose fluid, nihilistic pose was a huge influence on the HBO series True Detective. This Penguin Classic release of his earliest short story collections is a must have for any fan of macabre literature.

Buy it here.  


The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All
Laird Barron

A celebrated modern master of the New Weird school of fiction, the work of Laird Barron has been celebrated by fans of cosmic horror, spy fiction, and hardboiled crime fans. This collection introduces new readers to his terrifying and hauntingly beautiful work.

Buy it here.  

If there's anything you think we've missed, let us know in the comments. Happy reading!