Later this month will mark the official kick off for autumn, a time when the weather starts to become crisper and colder, and Halloween creeps towards us like a stalking demon. And if the usual celebration of the spooky holiday might be impacted by the lingering tendrils of the pandemic, there's still scope for curling up in a darkened room and feeling a chill run down your spine thanks to a great horror tome.
Movies and TV series frequently adapt well-told horror stories, (such as The Haunting Of Bly Manor, which is on its way to our screens) but if you want to go back to the source, now is a great time to open up some atmospheric, terrifying tales. Yet with so many books out there in the world, where do you go about choosing what to read? That's where Empire's helpful list comes in, rounding up a list of great horror books to instill fear for the time you read them, albeit with the knowledge that if and when you need to, you can put them down. Not something that always applies in our seemingly terror-filled times.
Take a look at our list, which gathers together classic spooky stories and some big names in the genre for at least a place to start. You may discover a new favourite author or genre, so take the leap and feel the fear...
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10 Of The Best Horror Novels
The Haunting Of Hill House
A scientist invites an eclectic group to spend time in the imposing, titular manse. What follows is a trip into their worst nightmares... Shirley Jackson's book was the inspiration for Mike Flanagan's Netflix series, which brought the chills last year.
The Turn Of The Screw
Henry James' gothic horror finds a governess hired to look after two kids at a creepy estate. Which, as you might imagine, turns out to be harbouring more than just weird architecture. Flanagan and his team have an adaptation, called The Haunting Of Bly Manor hitting Netflix this year.
The Woman In Black
Susan Hill spins a yarn of young solicitor Arthur Kipps, sent to wrap up the estate of one Mrs. Alice Drablow. Cue haunting visions of a mysterious woman and truly scary stuff.
Stephen King opts for some human horror in this tale of Paul Sheldon, the author who meets his biggest fan... And soon lives to regret it.
Bram Stoker's book is among the select few seen as a true horror classic. Most adaptations change or ditch elements, so go back to the fang-bearing source.
The Tell-Tale Heart
Edgar Allen Poe is an accomplished master of horror, and this story of murder, guilt and heart-clenching fear is among his best.
At The Mountains Of Madness
While author HP Lovecraft's legacy has become more complicated in the decades since his death (as partly explored in the new show Lovecraft Country), his work is pioneering in the cosmic horror genre. Here, explorers discover ancient ruins buried in Antarctica and... well, you can imagine what follows. Or at least, he could.
Daphne du Maurier's story of a young newly wed confronted by the dark secrets of her husband and the house he lives in eschews more traditional frights for human drama. Mostly...
Ira Levin's unsettling book about a couple who move to a New York apartment building where the neighbours start to take a keen interest in their pregnancy. Turns out they have dark plans for the child...
William Peter Blatty's book became one of the most famous horror movies of all time and the source material - based on a real incident – is just as scary.