Horror novels range from subtly chilling gothics to downright – well – horror stories. Here are some horror classics as well as a current series.
Stephen King is the obvious choice as the first author on this list. He’s been churning out horror fiction since the 1970’s. Mr. King’s hallmark, especially in his early work, is his juxtaposition of the mundane (a nursery rhyme, a Credence Clearwater Revival lyric) with the terrifying, and it’s my favorite aspect of his work. I read his early work as a teenager and young adult with eagerness, and they are still some of my favorites.
Now for a couple of classics. First up is Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby (click on the link to read the review). I watch the 60s version of the movie every year at Halloween and re-read the novel periodically.
Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) is a classic gothic novel with an element of horror; be sure to read my review by clicking on the link. The horror is subtle and chilling. This is a delicious novel.
While we’re on the topic of gothic horror, let’s talk about my favorite exorcist, the Reverend Merrily Watkins. Rev. Watkins, created by author Phil Rickman, is a priest in the Church of England who also serves as the diocesan Deliverance Consultant (excorcist). The stories are quiet, deep, introspective, but engaging. I love the audio versions. Next title in the series is due out in November of 2021. (By the way – the C of E really does have Deliverance Consultants. Google it. ) I have mentioned this series before; it’s also a crime fiction series so falls into two genres.
Another story of exorcism (which I consider the most terrifying kind of horror) is, of course, William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. This absolute ultimate in horror was published when I was in junior high school, and it terrified me. I saw the movie which was also terrifying; it could be that I may have been at an impressionable age, but I don’t know – looking back, it’s still over-the-top graphic and scary. If you haven’t read it, beware before starting; you will have images planted in your psyche that you will carry for a while.
Dean Koontz is another enduring horror writer; it’s been a while since I’ve read one of his works, but they are well done and worth the read. His novels have some recurring characters – including a golden retriever! You can find a list of his books in publication order at bookseries.org.