The 20 Must Read Horror Books of All Time

There are many amazing horror books to read. But choosing which ones to read is not easy. That is why we have made a list of the 20 must read horror books of all time. Keep reading to see what books made our list!

The 20 Must Read Horror Books of All Time 20  

Choosing only 20 horror books for this list was not an easy task. But we chose the 20 book that we believe are the best of the best. With a lot of subgenres, the horror genre has a lot of great options. From author such as Stephen King and H. P. Lovecraft, there is something for everyone. You can see the full list below!  

The 20 Must Read Horror Books of All Time

The Best Horror Books

Our list includes some classics because leaving them off would be a crime. Novels like Dracula and Frankenstein are the face of the genre. If you like horror, then those are worth reading and seeing how many novels have been inspired by them. They may be old but are still some of the best horror novels written.

Other novels that are worth checkout on the list are Ring by Koji Suzuki, and It by Stephen King and The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. All three are well written and two of them have had mainstream success. This list could have included a bunch of novels by King and still have been a solid list.

A horror novel that I loved was Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons. It is a story about vampires and Nazis and reads like a thriller. Simmons is a talented writer and this book is detailed and well thought out. It is a different take on vampires that will have you hooked until the last page.


That is all for our list of the 20 must read horror books of all time. Let us know in the comments which books should have made our list. Happy reading!

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27 thoughts on “The 20 Must Read Horror Books of All Time

  1. Mari Teng says:

    I honestly feel there should be segregation as to type of horror stories before you announce it as a must read compilation. hence:
    1) supernatural/paranormal horror
    Dracula, The Exorcist (not on your list), Pet Sematary, and all the rest with tired vampires and ghosts in it
    2) scifi/supernatural/fantasy horror
    Frankenstein, Stange Case of Dr.J&Mr. H, Ring, and all the rest that has a tinge of lab works in it
    3) crime/thriller horror
    Silence of the Lambs, and all the suspense thrillers with gore in it
    Just a thought:
    The Stand
    Interview with the V
    or The Shining did not rank high in my list.
    More power!

    1. Tracy says:

      The fact that Clive Barker isn’t on this list, and Peter Straub is only on it once, shows a complete and utter ignorance, in horror.

  2. Tariq Ahmad Sheikh says:

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  3. Michelle Walker says:

    No Richard Laymon? Best horror writer I’ve read! He’s easily on par with Stephen King.


    Would you include D. DuMaurier’s “Don’t Look Now”?

  5. Kelly Courtney says:

    Swan Song by Robert McCammon should be on this list

  6. Johnny says:

    There is a couple of British horror writer James Herbert’s books that should’ve made the list

  7. Judy Eichholz says:

    Oh my… You left out Salem’s Lot!!! Was that really intentional???

  8. David Finn says:

    I think you could cut one of the King novels in favor of Joan Samson’s The Auctioneer. It’s an absolutely chilling novel and, if Samson hadn’t passed away shortly after writing it, we’d be speaking of her in the same breath as King.

  9. Gary says:

    The Descent by Sandy Delicate. The most disturbing horror book I’ve ever written. Quite brilliant. Imagine if the feral woman from The Last House on The Left wrote a novel.

    1. davidrosoff says:

      Did you MEAN to say that you wrote it? Does that mean you’re Sandy Delicate? 😄

      1. Anonymous says:

        The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty? Hell House by Richard Matheson?

  10. Dominic Petit says:

    The list is pretty good, Swam Song by Peter Straub is definitely a top 3 for me. The Exorcist is also a top 10 for me.

  11. Matthew says:

    Woof. Should just be the top 20 Stephen King novels.

    Off Season by Ketchum
    The Girl Next Door by Ketchum
    The Rising by Keene
    The Light at the End by Skipp and Spector
    Survivor by Gonzalez
    The Bighead by Lee
    The Deep by Cutter
    Head Full of Ghosts by Tremblay
    The Hollower by Sangiovanni
    The Elementals by McDowell
    I am Legend by Matheson

    There’s 11 books and 10 authors to know and read.

  12. Rebecca Hauser says:

    Silence of the Lambs is not horror. Other than that I thought the list was just OK and then I saw Mexican Gothic on it and the list lost all credibility.

    1. davidrosoff says:

      OF COURSE The Silence of the Lambs is horror. It’s about serial killers. Have you never seen a slasher movie? 😳

  13. davidrosoff says:

    This list is rediculous. 5 out of 20 are by Stephen King. This is supposed to be most must read horror books of ALL time. You don’t have a single book by H. G. Wells, Daphne du Maurier, Richard Matheson, or Robert Bloch.
    Label this list honestly: “Best Stephen King Novels”, then make a REAL 20 must read horror books list. 🤦

  14. Anonymous says:

    Really, of all the Stephen King books his two best, in my opinion, the stand and Salem’s lot are at the bottom of the list?!?!

  15. Sierra says:

    I’ve only read a few books by Dean Koontz but I am surprised to see no books by him on the list. Of the few books by Koontz I’ve read, Phantoms is my favorite. Certainly on the same level or better than the books on this list that I have read.


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