5 Most Terrifying Classic Horror Books

End of October is here and, although 2020 was nothing less than a long horror spell, it is only natural for a horror reader and writer to share some of my favourite books in the genre that truly terrifying me. If you are new to this genre, these books would be a great starting point for your but if you are an old chum to the genre, chances are you might have already read them, or at least might have watched the movies, so maybe re-read them again? It is that time of the year after all.

If you are a writer or an enthusiastic reader of horror genre and want to know about the details of the genre, then do check out the Webinar I conducted last October: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQ5IUEKUsps

5 Most Terrifying Classic Horror Books

1. The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

The Woman In Black by Susan Hill is a short story but a terryfing one. The mood and atmosphere of this story is so dark and gloomy that it’ll take you right in the manor on the moors where the story takes place. As opposed to most of the contemporary horror fiction, this book is very suggestive and plays with the senses – which for me personally is the best kind of horror. If you want me to be honest, I spent a lot of time during and after reading this book looking over my shoulder!

2. Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is very peculiar with a level of subtlety that is not only hard to nail but also near impossible to master. But Shirley Jackson is one author who could do it flawlessly. I mean, she was, and still is, one of the best horror writers in the world. She can spook you and confuse you and make you have nightmares just in a matter of pages. This book especially does all that and so much more. The ending is one you won’t be able to get out of your head for a long time after you turn the last page.

3. The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James

First off, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James is nothing like The Turn Of The Key by Ruth Ware (I say this because most of the people read The Turn Of The Key and think they’ve read both the books… if you get my drift.) The Turn Of The Screw is a masterpiece and will continue to remain so. This book is so wonderfully written that everything that happens in this book has now (in this modern world where anyone can write a book) become a trope. Yes! So if you want to learn anything about this genre, you need to read this book. Oh, and do it in the daytime as the tone of the book alone will make you feel like it is a hopeless, hopeless world.

4. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Now Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin is more of a straightforward arrow (mostly but not entirely) and has a mystery interlaced throughout. You may guess what will happen as a lot of writers have used this story as the basic premise of their novels, but reading this book is an experience in itself. More than the overall story, it is about the little things in this book, oh and the last act is pretty wicked! To follow it up, do watch the movie adaptation (the old one) as it is pretty good too (but of course only after you’ve read the book!)

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelleis a classic story that everyone knows but only a few have experienced. The writing and gothic atmosphere of the book will drag to to the deep recesses of the dark nature of human mind and drag you back again like a tight slap on the face. Read this book even if you know about the story not he surface. The writing is great and the feel fo the book – the tone and pacing is outstanding.


So these are my top 5 horror classics. Have you read these? Or do you like other classic horror books? Do share some recommendations and your thoughts on these in the comment section below!

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