Scary books

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Scary books

As a nod to Halloween, I was thinking about the scariest books I've read and I think the often-underestimated Stephen King comes up pretty high on my list. 'It' absolutely terrified me!

I also really like Ira Levin's novels, and 'Rosemary's Baby' is one I've re-read a couple of times.

Another good book that gave me nightmares is Thomas Harris's 'Silence of the Lambs', although it's not a supernatural story. Chilling, though...

Does anyone have any good recommendations?

I love scary stories! One of

I love scary stories! One of my favourites has to be The Monkey's Paw by WW Jacobs. Very creepy.

Two ghostly tales I've loved

Two ghostly tales I've loved are Helen Dunmore's The Greatcoat – just thinking about it makes my flesh crawl – and The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill: deliciously chilling.



I have read Susan's Hill "The Woman in Black" and fingered "The Man in the Picture" in bookshops without quite buying. But Hill does write so well that, on your recommendation I might now take the plunge!


"The Monkey's Paw" has to be an all time classic - just thinking of it sends a chill.


I would recommend "Strangers" by Taichi Yamada, translated from the Japanese. Brilliantly conceived and much more than just a ghost story.

For short stories, I would recommend Dickens, "The Signalman". A very clever linkage between the very first line of the story and its conclusion which makes you turn back the pages. Atmospherically superb as one might expect from Dickens.

Perhaps not technically a ghost story but something a bit more is "The Door in the Wall" by HG Wells which I keep re-reading.

So many books… not enough

So many books… not enough time to read. Love the sound of The Signalman @Thomas; I might have to add that to my wanted list.

Has anyone read a novel about a swarm of insects - I thought the author was Stephen King but I've just checked and he didn't write the one I'm thinking of. I read it years ago and this thread has reminded me of how terrifying it was. I'd love to read it again but none of those listed on Amazon looks right to me.

Do you mean 'Prey', by

Do you mean 'Prey', by Michael Crichton, by any chance? That's about a swarm of micro robots that evolves into a predator and targets people.

@Thomas - I've looked up 'Strangers' and it sounds intriguing. Oh, and I agree that 'The Signalman' is very atmospheric. It's a long time since I've read it - might have to re-read it now!

@goldenfool you are a genius!

@goldenfool you are a genius! Just checked and the cover looks familiar, as does the synopsis. My book tower is growing by the hour.

Thank you :)



Just finished reading "The Man in the Picture". Yes, a real chiller, although I think it just fell short of "The Woman in Black" which probably was a touch more original and the ending even more of a twist and shock. But she writes so well that you cannot help being gripped and drawn from page to page. Thanks for the recommendation

@Thomas, really pleased you

@Thomas, really pleased you enjoyed it!

Now I'll have to fish out my copy of The Woman in Black again, just for comparison's sake.

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Me too. I've just got a copy

Me too. I've just got a copy of The Woman in Black and it seems just the thing now the nights are drawing in and the first frost is on the ground.

Can't think of any really scary books I've read lately - but when I was younger I remember Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by MR James as being particularly hair-raising. Oh and HP Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulu had an enormous sense of creeping dread. But the really scary stuff was in films (and cheap american comics from EC - the macabre Tales from the Crypt and Weird Tales).

I'd love to know how other

I'd love to know how other people choose books. As you may have noticed, I'm hugely influenced by personal references, which seem to cut to the chase better than lengthy reviews. Anyone?

Confession: I often seek out

Confession: I often seek out novels that other people have recommended, but when I don't like them I find it really difficult to say so, especially when someone has lent me a favourite novel.

I tend to choose books, Sybil

I tend to choose books, Sybil, mainly by the old fashioned method of reading the blurb in a bookshop, then on to the first page or two and see if I am still interested at the end of it - then I might randomly pick out another page or two. I'm pretty fussy - a maybe won't do. As far as personal recommendations are concerned, (also Touche), I've found these only really work when you are directed to a book which you have considered a real possibility eg as with The Man in the Picture but hadn't quite got round to buying. Borrowing can be a bit hazardous - a work colleague once virtually thrust "Eat Pray Love" into my hands and I struggled with it for longer than I wanted before giving up. But she was fine when I handed it back and said I began to get just a touch annoyed with it!

On the whole I agree that a site like this is better than wading through a lot of reviews and does sometimes get you to that elusive next read - as I've found out!

I think you've just saved me

I think you've just saved me from trying Eat Pray Love! A friend suggested it to me but for some reason I've been reluctant to read it. The film didn't tempt me either.

Having said that, I always prefer books to films and usually find the latter disappointing if I've read the book. I wonder why that is?

morningstar's picture
I wade through lots of

I wade through lots of reviews - I've always loved a good book review. But I do take great notice of personal recommendations - I just prefer them to be heartfelt; I love it when someone says 'this is the best book I've read all year' or 'it will change the way you think about...' - I've had people pass books on and I've read them and been ambivalent then they say, 'I thought you might not like it', or 'yeah, I didn't really get on with it either' - why recommend it then?!

Oh and Thomas, thank you for reading 'Eat Pray Love' so that we don't have to.

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