Best vampire novel
“Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King
The definitive vampire novel, hands down. King is known as the master of horror for a reason. Whether you’re a fan of King, vampires or horror, you cannot go wrong with this novel. Plus the vampires don’t glitter.
“I am Legend” by Richard Matheson
Don’t watch any of the movie adaptations; read this book. Matheson’s tale is the progenitor for everything in the realm of the vampire and zombie genre.
Best horror short stories
“Books of Blood” By Clive Barker
Barker’s “Books of Blood” redefined the term scary. Each story leaves you desperately seeking more horrific yarns spawned from Barker’s twisted mind. Be sure to at least read “The Midnight Meat Train,” “In the Hills, the Cities” and “The Forbidden,” which was adapted into the famous horror movie “Candy Man.”
Best zombie novel
“Day by Day Armageddon” by J.L. Bourne
Interestingly enough, this novel humbly began as a fictional online blog narrating the play-by-play of a survivor’s life in a zombie-infested world. Nevertheless, it portrays a scarily realistic breakdown of society as a zombie virus spreads across the world. This is one of the most creative and convincing takes on the zombie genre in recent years.
“The Walking Dead” by Robert Kirkman
This graphic novel morbidly depicts everything that can go wrong to a group of survivors trying to stay alive during a zombie apocalypse. Kirkman crafts some of the most realistic characters ever portrayed within any literary medium and constantly questions just how far some people will go to survive.
Best ghost story
“Ghost Story” by Peter Straub
This is pretty much self-explanatory. It’s a ghost story (duh). Straub weaves an intricate tale about a group of friends killed off one by one by what is apparently a shape-shifting ghost. Straub’s horror stories are on par with King’s own terrifying tales.
Best scary clown novel
“IT” by Stephen King
Some people are deathly scared of clowns. For those who don’t find Ronald McDonald scary at all, this novel will still frighten you. If you’re scared of clowns, drains, Chinese food, libraries, bicycles, you name it, then King has found a way to give you nightmares about it all in this one tale. “IT” is one of King’s best works and proves he is truly great at creating some of the most realistic characters ever written.
Best scary technology novel
“Demon Seed” by Dean Koontz
In “Demon Seed,” Koontz examines a computer-controlled house that becomes sentient. With our growing dependence on technology, this novel only becomes more prevalent. In our society, where a car can just about park itself and everyone has to be connected to the Internet through their new iPhone, Koontz’s tale is that much scarier. Especially when we realize just how vulnerable we are to something as simple as the Internet not working — let alone our computers attempting to control us.
Best serial killer novel
“Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris
The first novel to introduce the nefarious Hannibal Lecter does not disappoint. Reading like a perverted “Law and Order” episode, this thriller is full of mystery, detective work and two crazed serial killers. “Red Dragon” is terrifying and a great forerunner to “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Best scary kids adventure
“Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury weaves both fantasy and horror into this tale of good vs. evil. Two childhood friends are forced to confront their own worst fears while battling a horrific evil that comes to their town in the form of a sideshow carnival.
Most under-appreciated Poe story
“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” by Edgar Allan Poe
Most people have read “The Tell-Tale Heart” and know “The Raven.” Yet in “M. Valdemar,” all of Poe’s demented psychosis really shines as he explores, in gross detail, specifically how far someone is willing to go to prevent their own death. This is truly one of Poe’s most horrific stories.
Best alien novel
“Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr.
Campbell’s chilling story was turned into the horror movie classic, “The Thing.” And in typical Hollywood fashion was remade as a prequel of the same name. “Who Goes There?” is a fast-paced thriller that makes you feel just as paranoid and claustrophobic as all of the characters trapped in the Arctic tundra with a deceptive alien assailant.