Greatest Horror Novels of All Time

atkins-bookshelf-literatureAny consideration of the greatest horror novels of all time inevitably brings up three Masters of the Macabre: Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King. Each of these writers inspired the other: Poe influenced Lovecraft, who in turn, influenced King. In her fascinating article for The New York Review of Books, titled “The King of the Weird,” Joyce Carol Oates, notes the uncanny similarities between Poe and Lovecraft: “The American writer of the twentieth century most frequently compared with Poe, in the quality of his art (bizarre, brilliant, inspired, and original, yet frequently hackneyed, derivative, and repetitive), its thematic preoccupations (the obsessive depiction of psychic disintegration in the face of cosmic horror perceived as ‘truth’), and its critical and commercial reception during the writer’s truncated lifetime (dismal), is H.P. Lovecraft. Though Poe is far more renowned than Lovecraft, indeed, and ironically, now a canonical figure in American literature — he who died penniless and scorned! — both writers have had an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction, and Lovecraft is arguably the more beloved by contemporary gothic aficionados.” In fact, it was Lovecraft’s collection of short stories, The Lurker in the Shadows, that set King on his path to becoming one of the most successful horror fiction writers of all time  (he has sold more than 350 million copies of his books!). One day, King and his brother were exploring in the family home attic and came across an old Lovecraft paperback that belonged to their father. King experienced an epiphany when he looked at the cover that featured a frightening, yellowish demon lurking in a cave beneath a tombstone — in an instant, he knew he wanted to write horror stories. “I knew that I’d found home when I read that book,” he explained at a booksigning event.

On Halloween, Bookshelf, presents two lists of the top ten greatest horror novels of all time. Read them if you dare…

The readers of Flavorwire selected these as the scariest books of all time:
It by Stephen King
Piercing by Ryu Murakami
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Hell House by Richard Matheson
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Best of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The editors of selected these novels as the greatest horror books of all time:
The Shining by Stephen King
Dracula by Bram Stoker
It by Stephen King
Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
The Dunwich Horror and Others by H.P. Lovecraft
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Pet Sematary by Stephen King

For further reading: Halloween by the Numbers
How Did Edgar Allan Poe Die?
Banned Books that Shaped America

For further reading: Danse Macabre by Stephen King, Berkley (1987)

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