Posted on October 30, 2020 at 10:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Stephen King seems to owe Fussy fans a sincere apology, a therapy session, or at least a good nightlight.

When we asked which books gave our fans a good scare — guts and gore fully allowed — they told us just how deeply King terrified them!

So as not to let him hog the spotlight, we’ll first share other books that frightened our readers.

In addition to Shirley Jackson and Peter Straub, who turned up both on this list and our previous inquiry (about the not-quite-as-dark), these stories were the stuff of many nightmares: 

Andrew K.: “The Cask of Amontillado” is so much more creepy when you are mature enough to really understand how horrible the final scene is. That being said my taste tends towards the work of Clive Barker in horror.

Aside from being the basis for the Hellraiser universe, his work tends to lay back the skin of reality as we know it and show us a wonderful and terrifying hidden world that lays underneath where the line between ally and enemy is not always as clear cut as we would like. Imagica, while more a work of fantasy, is definitely Barker's with wondrous visions and terrible truths in equal measure.

Catherine W.: Dean Koontz’s Tick Tock.

Cynthia V.: Anything by Edgar Allan Poe, The Turn of the Screw, and, of course, The Exorcist!

Diane W.: Read Helter Skelter. It'll scare the crap out of you — and it's nonfiction.

Donna W.: Beowulf.

Dorie U.: Swan Song by Robert McCammon — it gives me chills every time I reread it.

Eileen G.: Harvest Home, Thomas Tryon.

Erin K.: 1. Dracul, by Bram Stoker’s great-nephew. Single scariest book I’ve ever read; 2. The Shining; 3. The Omen; 4. Pet Sematary; 5. The original Dracula.

Jack S.: The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson.

Janet K.: Dracula and The Exorcist! For a long time after I read The Exorcist I was scared of every little noise in the house!

Janet M.: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill.

Jean M.: The Amityville Horror.

Kelly R.: All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By. Southern Gothic horror, so well written.

Leslye R.: The Handmaid’s Tale.

Linda D.: The Historian.

Rebecca E.: Here are my scary books. Don’t know if I'd read them again: Helter Skelter, In Cold Blood (Truman Capote), Silence of the Lambs.

Sharon S.: “The Willows.” A short story by Algernon Blackwood.

Silvia E.: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, was one that really scared me, and I never read it again.

Suzy K.: The Other by Thomas Tryon, The HAB Theory by Alan W. Eckert.

Talitha E.: The Exorcist was scary. It kept me up all night.

Tina A.: I don't read a lot of scary books. I loved James Patterson's Alex Cross series. They're scary to me because they could be real.

And now for the Stephen King section …

Annetta G.: I put books that scare me when I'm reading them in the freezer. Pet Sematary was in there for a loooooooong time.

Carol S.: The scene in The Shining when the topiaries move — gets me every time.

Debbie M.: I threw The Shining, Helter Skelter, and It in the trash.

Tina H.The Shining. I actually threw it in a trash can not in our house because I didn’t want it in our house.

June T.: The first time I read The Shining, I had to drop it and walk away for awhile. I had never been frightened by a book before.

Kelly R.: Carrie had to leave my bedroom before I could sleep!

Venaye R.: For many years The Haunting of Hill House. Then Stephen King wrote It and changed clowns forever.

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