Halloween is fast approaching, so why not get yourself in the mood by reading your way through my list of the scariest novels of all time? A few of these are supernatural, but not all; instead they are the kinds of books you just can’t put down and which are guaranteed to give you an adrenaline surge without leaving the comfort of your armchair!
1 Heart shaped box by Joe Hill. This is a supernatural thriller and to my mind the scariest book I’ve ever read. An ageing rockstar buys a ghost on the internet. I love that the story is also a mystery thriller. Be prepared for endless twists and turns and a truly satisfying ending.
2 Misery by Stephen King. You couldn’t really have a list like this without Stephen King but this is, as far as I know, his only book which doesn’t have a supernatural element and yet to me it’s the scariest one he’s written. A writer is captured by his ‘number one fan’.
3. Affinity by Sarah Waters. challenging the best of Victorian gothic, this historical thriller has you wondering what is real and what is imagined.
4. Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton. This author is someone I look out for and this, her latest novel, has to be the most gripping to date. A school siege in Devon lasts three long hours – and the story is told in real time.
5. The Milkman by Anna Burns. Not what you would normally classify as a halloween book, but this 2018 Booker Prize Winner has such a scary antagonist that our hero never dares name him. Set in the time of the N.Ireland ‘troubles’ it is disturbing and satisfying.
6.Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. Another author who I’m always looking out for, she is a master of the slow burn suspense. A girl is told by her father that the end of the world is coming and they must hide in the woods. Many, many years later she finds out this was a lie..
7. On the Road by Cormac McCarthy, again not supernatural, but post apocalyptic and the scariest one out there
8. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. Yet another not to be missed author, this is a ghost story set in the long Arctic winter when a man trapped in an isolated cabin realises he is not alone…
9. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. Never sure how much Wyndham is read these days, although it was interesting to see the recent TV adaptation of The Midwich Cuckoos with Keeley Hawes doing so well. Chrysalids is one of my favourite Wyndham’s and has such scary moments in it; it’s also so timeless. Again post apocalyptic, when religious fundamentalism has gripped the earth and anyone who is slightly ‘different’ will be put to death.
10. Under the Skin by Michel Faber. Unclassifiable really, is it sci-fi? Allegory? Thriller? Just read it and be gripped by this woman who drives around deliberately picking up hitchhikers for nefarious purposes.