If you say the words “horror novelist” to the average person, one name will inevitably come to mind: Stephen King. The man is synonymous with horror and has been ever since Carrie was published in 1973. On top of being a prolific writer, though, King is also an equally prolific reader who devours at least 80 books every year. Here are 40 that managed to scare even the Master of Horror himself!
1. Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Of this 2016 novel, Irish writer John Connolly said, “Hex is reminiscent of vintage Stephen King, and I can think of no higher praise.” Well, try this on for size — the man himself loved it too! King said, “A wicked witch holds an upstate New York town prisoner. This is totally, brilliantly original.” This would be impressive enough if Heuvelt was a seasoned veteran, but he’d actually knocked it out of the park on his very first English-language novel!
2. Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg
This 1978 supernatural neo-noir was made into the 1987 film Angel Heart, starring Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro as the preposterously — yet awesomely — named Louis Cyphre. When the book came out, King was flabbergasted by it, saying it was “a terrific book.” He then gushed, “I’ve never read anything remotely like it. Trying to imagine what might have happened if Raymond Chandler had written The Exorcist is as close as I can come.”
3. Slade House by David Mitchell
In August 2016 King tweeted about David Mitchell’s nerve-shredding — and unique — haunted-house tale Slade House. He posted, “Hard to imagine a more finely wrought and chilling tale of the supernatural. One of the rare great ones.” It made sense that King would dig Mitchell’s book, as nearly every review compared it to one of his tales of terror! In fact, British newspaper The Guardian claimed it was “like Stephen King in a fever.”
4. Bad Country by C.B. McKenzie
For a book to be scary, it has to exhibit some level of suspense. Luckily, C.B. McKenzie’s Bad Country, which tells the tale of a retired bounty hunter investigating a murder very close to home, has that in spades! King tweeted, “Terrific crime-suspense-mystery novel, but the real revelation is his fresh and original voice.” See? You don’t need to write horror to grip someone with perfectly calibrated tension!