100 Horror Story Recommendations

Last week we brought you a five part horror story recommendation series spanning over seventy stories in novel, short story, novella and comic book form. Here is the list in its entirety, complete with twenty five extra entries.

Simon Bestwick recommends:

1. The October Country by Ray Bradbury

2. Shock 3 by Richard Matheson: “Shock 3 is a fantastic collection of stories, weaving back and forth between science fiction and horror (as in ‘Return’, a brilliant and bleak story with a superb closing line); its style is straightforward and to the point, but at the same time lyrical, like a cross between Bradbury and Alan Garner. For me, it was a masterclass in how short genre fiction should be written, and it’s still a book I love.” Simon Bestwick

3. Billie Morgan by Joolz Denby

Read Horror recommends:

4. The Faceless by Simon Bestwick, “Set for release early next year, this multi-layered supernatural horror looks like it’s going to be utterly terrifying.”

Wayne Simmons recommends:

5. Carrie by Stephen King

6. Autumn by David Mood

7. Unmarked Graves by Shaun Hutson: “Horror veteran Shaun Hutson puts a new spin on Voodoo zombies with this contemporary urban horror.” Wayne Simmons

Read Horror recommends:

8. Drop Dead Gorgeous by Wayne Simmons: “Simmons’ exciting apocalyptic zombie novel plays upon feelings of discontent, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty, loneliness and trepidation.”

Sam Stone recommends:

9. Sparrowhawk by Paul Finch

Read Horror recommends:

10. Demon Dance by Sam Stone: “Winner of the Best Novel at the British Fantasy Awards 2011.”

Graham Masterton recommends:

11. The Processby Brion Gysin

12. The Man with the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren: “A tough, dark novel set in the Polish quarter of Chicago immediately after World War Two. The title character is Francis Macjinek ‘Frankie Machine’ who is a poker dealer and jazz drummer. Frankie has shrapnel in his liver and becomes addicted to the morphine he uses to kill the pain. One day he accidentally kills his connection, Nifty Louie, and goes on the run. Eventually, he loses touch with the love of his life, Molly-O, and has to go on the run again. Full of despair, he hangs himself. Not a very cheerful story altogether, but amazingly well written by Nelson Algren who also wrote A Walk on the Wide Side.” Graham Masterton

13. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Read Horror recommends:

14. The Manitou by Graham Masterton: “No nonsense  horror that mixes Native American mythology with slow slabs of suspense.”

15. Cruddy by Lynda Barry: “Lynda Barry’s illustrated novel is a dark fable narrated by a suicidal misfit who offers the reader a lurid and vicious account of the trauma she endured at the hands of a murderous father. I re-read this book at least once a year and it’s my favourite coming-of-age novel, or maybe a better description would be coming-of-rage.” Alan Kelly

16. Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite: “Necrophilia, cannibalism and hardcore gay sex with scenes of ultra-violence which would make David Cronenberg’s stomach turn over! I’m so disappointed that Brite moved away from dark literature and I’ve yet to read a novel which rival’s this!” Alan Kelly

17. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: “There is something magical about Gaiman’s work and this is one of his best! Another novel I return to again and again, outstanding!” Alan Kelly

Read Horror recommends:

18. Let Me Die A Woman by Alan Kelly: “Beautifully trashy B movie pulp, in equal parts hilarious, camp and gory.”

Gary McMahon recommends:

19. Pet Sematary by Stephen King

20. Needing Ghosts by Ramsey Campbell: Needing Ghosts is Ramsey Campbell’s finest book. This novella synthesises everything that’s great about his work: a protagonist whose mind is slowly unravelling, the slow accumulation of paranoid detail, weird visions, black comedy, hallucinogenic prose, the horror of the everyday thrust into a kind of cosmic detail which transforms the mundane into the horrific. For me, the book distils the very essence of Campbell’s fiction.” Gary McMahon.

21. A Child Across the Sky – Jonathan Carroll

Read Horror recommends:

22. The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon: “Read The Concrete Grove because McMahon depicts precise details succinctly without compromising on the unrelenting pace or quality of his prose.”

Shaun Jeffrey recommends:

23. The Stand by Stephen King

24.Tengu by Graham Masterton: “I love the way Masterton blends myth with fact, and nowhere does he do this better in my mind than in Tengu. The story is about Japanese demons that infect their followers with the mad strength of the berserk and the capacity to survive attack from any weapon. In this novel Masterton uses factual references from World War II, and gives a whole new spin on why the bomb was dropped, but in such a believable way. That’s what makes him a masterful storyteller and this such a great novel.” Shaun Jeffrey

25.The Stake by Richard Laymon

Read Horror recommends:

26. Killers by Shaun Jeffrey: “The sequel to The Kult is quite possibly Jeffrey’s best work yet and at just £1.99 on Kindle it’s a steal.”

Mark Morris recommends:

27. Ghost Story by Peter Straub (also recommended by Dan Howarth): “I always think of Ghost Story as being the template for the perfect horror novel. It’s compelling, erudite, beautifully structured and written, and steeped in an almost palpable sense of atmosphere and dread.” Mark Morris

28.Dark Companions by Ramsey Campbell

29.Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Read Horror recommends:

30. ‘Fallen Boys’ by Mark Morris (taken from The End of the Line): “A traditional ghost story with a heart punching conclusion.”

Stephen Volk recommends:

31. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

32. The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley: “Yes, Wheatley is unreadable in many ways – his style is stodgy (but so is Lovecraft’s) and he is a product of his time, snobby and sometimes racist. But I love the ideas, big, brash and wonderful metaphysics in (to him) as modern a setting as Stephen King’s and immaculate attention to occult detail. Mocata is one of the best villains ever and at the time TDRO was touted as ‘the best book of its kind since Dracula’ – which speaks volumes of its impact. It’s not for nothing Dennis Wheatley was dubbed at his height The Prince of Thriller Writers.” Stephen Volk

33. The Ritual by Adam Nevill

Read Horror recommends:

34. Ghostwatch by Stephen Volk: “Genuinely terrifying TV, preying on people’s primal fears and disguising it as a ‘live, as it happens’ experience – made more frightening by the fact that the presenters were people who graced our screens regularly. A startling exploration in creating fear.”

Michael Wilson (Read Horror Editor) recommends:

35. Hell House by Richard Matheson

36. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum: “Ketchum firmly establishes himself as the master of suspense and unrelenting brutality in this compelling and downright terrifying tale of human endurance. Whilst it is one of the most explicit reads you will ever endure, it is succinct and at no point gratuitous. A tutorial in how to write graphic horror from one of the greats.”

37. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

Conrad Williams recommends:

38. Finishing Touches by Thomas Tessier

39. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski: “House of Leaves is one of the most unusual novels I’ve ever read. Presented as a scrappy, multi-narrated palimpsest, at its heart is a terrifying story about impossible architecture and the people who endeavour to make sense of it. It is a labyrinthine novel on many levels, and an essential touchstone for the genre.” Conrad Williams

40. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Read Horror recommends:

41. One by Conrad Williams: “For gritty, well-written horror literature you can’t go far wrong with anything Conrad has written. One is one of the best post-apocalyptic outings this side of King’s The Stand.”

Jasper Bark recommends:

42. Till Death by Johnny Craig (taken from The Vault of Horror #28): “This is easily the best zombie comic ever created. It’s the most unsettling treatment of the disintegration of a relationship and the onset of sexual loathing that I’ve ever read and the art is some of this unparalleled master’s best.” Jasper Bark

43. The Greatest Horror of Them All! written by Joe Simon, drawn by Jack Kirby (taken from Black Magic #29): “Kirby did everything in comics, usually better than the rest of the competition, so this title isn’t just an empty boast. This story, written by long time writing partner Joe Simon, tackles miscegenation, body horror and the failure of love in the face of prejudice.” Jasper Bark

44. The Monster of Dread End Written by John Stanley, drawn by Ed Harris (taken from Ghost Stories #1): “Writer, John Stanley is best known for kid’s comics like ‘Little Lulu’ and ‘Nancy’, in this instance he turns in a truly horrifying tale that breaks no taboos and has no gore whatsoever. All the same it frightened and disturbed its readers so much it drew a record number of parent’s complaints and John Stanley sadly never wrote another horror comic.” Jasper Bark

45. The Well written by Bruce Jones, drawn by John Bolton (taken from Twisted Tales #4):  “During the 1970s Bruce Jones was at the forefront of Warren Comics horror renaissance and this led the short lived PC Comics to give him his own line of comics in the 1980s. This story is about fears so dark and subterranean that we hardly dare bring them to light, in this case a mother’s fears of her unborn child’s invasion and violation of her body.” Jasper Bark

Read Horror recommends:

46. ‘End of the Line’ by Jasper Bark (taken from The End of the Line): “This sci-fi horror tome with a distinctly Twilight Zone flavour will keep you captivated and guessing from start to finish.”

Dan Howarth (Read Horror Staff) recommends:

47. Ghosts of an Antiquary by MR James

48. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver: “All the elements of a Victorian ghost story transposed into a remote arctic setting. The feeling of isolation and abandonment coupled with some strong set pieces make it a very atmospheric read.” Dan Howarth

49. 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

Simon Kurt Unsworth recommends:

50. Children of the Kingdom’ by T.E.D Klein (taken from Dark Gods)

51. ‘Battleground’ by Stephen King

52. The Mezzotint by MR James

53. Skirmish by Clifford D Simak: “Skirmish is a near-perfect story, acting as the opening to an untold bigger story; added to that, it’s fast and clever and manages to take seriously an essentially silly proposition. You’ll never look at your television the same way again…” Simon Kurt Unsworth

Read Horror recommends:

54. Quiet Houses by Simon Kurt Unsworth: “ A fantastic example of a portmanteau piece. Many different yet equally compelling stories drawn together by a sympathetic and interesting lead character. Includes every emotion a great ghost story should from terror to pity.”

BC Furtney recommends:

55. ‘Dread’ by Clive Barker (taken from Books of Blood): “Clive Barker’s ‘Dread’ comes on like a lean, mean thing with bad intentions. Crisp characters play out within methodical pacing and the story sharpens with every paragraph, the premise tightening like a vice and leaving us – like poor Steve – with no escape. ‘Dread’ pulverises the senses like a meat hammer and gets under the skin like maggots. This tale is one bad motherfucker and my personal favourite piece of Barker’s, by far. “ BC Furtney

56. Zee Bee & Bee by David James Keaton: “Kept me reading and worked on a dizzying multitude of levels – not all being horror.” BC Furtney

57. ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ by Ambrose Bierce (taken from Tales of Soldiers and Civilians: “One of the greatest shorts of all time. Should be required reading across the board.” BC Furtney

58. Ur by Stephen King: “Cleverly relevant to today’s lit industry, whil still delivering the style from the man we know so well.” BC Furtney

Read Horror recommends:

59. Scarla by BC Furtney: “This is to the novella what A Serbian Film is to cinema, a rich social commentary wrapped inside a blood-drenched sodomising cock.”

Simon Marshall-Jones (Read Horror columnist) recommends:

60. Casting The Runes by MR James: “A beautifully constructed tale of the hubris, of power and arrogance, with a classic character study of the arch-villain who is all-too-comfortable in the knowledge that he possesses power over others yet is blind to the weaknesses that leave him vulnerable.”

61. Thief of Broken Toys by Tim Lebbon

Angela Slatter recommends:

62. The Fabric of Things by Steve Duffy

63. The Tower by Marghanita Laski: “I read this story in English class when I was fifteen and have not read it since. But it’s stuck in my mind as a truly chilling tale and, more importantly, the one that made me want to be a writer.” Angela Slatter

64. Children’s Story by Bob Franklin

65. The Mysterious Mansion by Honoré de Balzac

Read Horror recommends:

66. Sourdough and Other Stories by Angela Slatter

Jack Ketchum recommends:

67. The German by Lee Thomas

68. Audrey’s Door by Sarah Langan

69. Zombies and Shit by Carleton Mellick III: “If you haven’t read Mellick you’re not nearly perverse enough for the twenty first century.” Jack Ketchum

Read Horror recommends:

70. The Woman by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee: “The Woman is every bit as real as us and exposes the cruelty and perversity of mankind with all the subtlety of a pair of scissors clean-cutting a clitoris.”

Shaun Hutson recommends:

71. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

72. The Totem by David Morrell

73. Legion by William Peter Blatty

74. Headhunter by Michael Slade

Read Horror recommends:

75. Dying Words by Shaun Hutson

76. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgress

77. 1984 by George Orwell

78. Through a Glass, Darkly by Bill Hussey

79. The Alienist by Caleb Carr

80. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

81. The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

82. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

83. The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood

84. American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis

85. Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

86. Weaveworld by Clive Barker

87. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

88. World War Z by Max Brooks

89. The Terror by Dan Simmons

90. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

91. Dracula by Bram Stoker

92. The Dark Half by Stephen King

93. Meat by Joseph D’Lacey

94. Beowulf

95. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

96. Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

97. House on the Borderlands by William Hope Hodgson

98. Carmilla by J Sheridan Le Fanu

99. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

100. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

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2 responses

10 11 2011
Theresa Derwin

Hi, can you put the list on as a downloadable doc please?

20 11 2011
David Searls

Nice list. For short stories, I would have added “Events at Poroth Farm” by TED Klein. I agree with whoever offered up The Terror from Dan Simmons and especially Ghost Story from Peter Straub. GREAT books.

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