Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. In this latest edition of Top Ten Tuesday, readers get a Halloween Freebie, meaning that they can list whatever topic they want, although a horror or Halloween theme is encouraged. So, in the spirit of the holiday, I decided to attempt to list my favourite horror novels of all time.
Now, before I start this list I do have to admit that horror is really not my favourite genre of fiction. While I do not actively avoid horror novels or movies, I really do not go out of my way to read/watch them and my knowledge and appreciation of the genre might be a little lacking as a result. However, over the years I have had the opportunity to read several great horror books that I quite enjoyed and I have featured my absolute favourites in the list below.
It did take me a little while to come up with this list, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out. Be warned that the books on this list, while all technically horror books, do match my literary preferences, so you are going to see a few unusual entries, such as horror hybrid novels or horror novels with unusual topics. I did cheat a little by including several novels by Jonathan Maberry, including four books from his Joe Ledger series, but each of these entries is really awesome and makes exceptional use of their associated horror elements. There is also a bit of a reliance on zombie fiction throughout the entries on this list, although I think this reflects the current fascination with zombie movies and television shows rather than my specific preferences. The end result is a very “me” list of horror novels, but I think that each of the ten novels below, as well as the entries in my honourable mentions section, are really good horror novels and each of them come highly recommended in their own right.
Goosebumps/Ghosts of Fear Street novels by R. L. Stine
I can’t do a list of my favourite horror novels without mentioning some of the first horror books I ever read. Like a lot of people, I grew up on the awesome stories of R. L. Stine. My parents bought my brother and me a ton of Goosebumps novels, as well as some of his Ghosts of Fear Street books. I have a lot of fond memories of these books and I found most of them to be fairly scary when I was younger. I am not sure how much these books would stand up if I read them now as an adult, but several awesome entries do still stick in my mind after all these years including the Goosebumps books Night of the Living Dummy (love me some Slappy), Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes, A Shocker on Shock Street and Deep Trouble, as well as the Ghosts of Fear Street novels Why I’m Not Afraid of Ghosts and Halloween Bugs Me! Definitely a fun horror series for younger readers, I look forward to eventually getting my future kids onto these books.
Nights of the Living Dead edited by George A. Romero and Jonathan Maberry
Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker
Awakened by James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth
Top Ten List:
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
I think it says a lot about my horror choices that the first book on my list is about killer mermaids. Into the Drowning Deep is exceptional book that actually turns a mermaid attack into a pretty terrifying experience. Grant did an amazing job of this book and Into the Drowning Deep comes very highly recommended.
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
The first of the Joe Ledger novels I mentioned above, Patient Zero, is an awesome book that features an elite counterterrorist unit as they attempt to stop terrorists spreading a deadly zombie virus across America. I have a lot of love for the thriller aspects of Patient Zero, however, the highlights of this book are the gruesome and terrifying zombie sequences, which sees the protagonists get overwhelmed by hordes of the infected. This results in a number of impressive horror scenes, and I had to include this book on my list as a result.
The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
The Anomaly is an excellent horror novel from 2018 which follows an unfortunate film crew after they get trapped in a series of ancient caves and are forced to face the terrible horrors waiting for them inside. There are a lot of amazing elements to this book, but I personally appreciated the intense and claustrophobic atmosphere that Rutger was able to produce, especially as most of the novel takes place in the dark.
Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry
This is another impressive entry in the Joe Ledger series that sees the protagonists once again go up against the zombie virus they encountered in Patient Zero. Maberry does an exceptional job resurrecting this horror element in this book, and it is one of my favourite Joe Ledger novels as a result. Readers can expect another series of terrifying zombie attack sequences in Code Zero, especially as Maberry works in a few intriguing new twists to keep the reader’s undivided attention.
Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber
I am a rather big fan of Star Wars fiction, but I had never been scared while reading a Star Wars novel until I came across Death Troopers. Death Troopers is part of the Star Wars Legends canon and features an Imperial prison ship, which of course contains Han and Chewie, encountering an abandoned Star Destroyer filled with a zombified crew. Watching a bunch of Star Wars characters attempt to escape from zombies is really cool, and Schreiber comes up with a number of gruesome scenes that will definitely stick in your mind. Also, if you really want to get a fright out of this book, make sure to check out the audiobook version of Death Troopers, as the various sound effects they include are extremely disturbing.
Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry
For this Joe Ledger novel, Maberry switches it up a little and features a Lovecraftian horror storyline, with the protagonist getting a glimpse into other dimensions filled with all manner of dark creatures (including of course some zombies from another Maberry horror series). This proved to be an intriguing change of pace, and I quite enjoyed seeing this new horror story unfold.
Devolution by Max Brooks
Devolution is an awesome and fun horror novel from earlier this year. World War Z author Max Brooks expertly makes use of a whole new horror monster when he explores the fate of an isolated community who are attacked by a tribe of sasquatches. Brooks really turns these creatures into a frightening and deadly force of nature, and readers are in for an exciting and well-written tale of survival and brutality.
Deep Silence by Jonathan Maberry
The final Joe Ledger novel on this list is actually the first novel from Jonathan Maberry that I ever read. Deep Silence is an excellent book that sees the author return to the Lovecraftian horror vibes he utilised in Kill Switch. The Lovecraftian scenes in Deep Silence are really distinctive and scary and help to make an excellent horror novel, especially when the protagonist also has to deal with a horde of civilians driven into a murderous rage by the visions they encounter.
Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw
Dreadful Company is an interesting addition to this list that follows the adventures of a human doctor who provides specialised medical care to horror creature in order to keep them healthy. While this book is not as scary as some of the others in this list, it does contain an excellent story that references a number of iconic horror novels. This ends up being a really good read, and I think a lot of horror fans will appreciate Shaw’s take on the genre.
A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal
The final entry in this list is A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal. A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is an awesome and fascinating book that examines the potential rise of vampires as the dominant species in the world through a series of different perspectives. This book features a number of clever and captivating storylines, and I really enjoyed this fun twist on the classic vampire tale.
Well that’s the end of this horror themed Top Ten Tuesday. I am fairly happy with how this list turned out and I really enjoyed each of the scary entries above. I had a lot of fun coming up with this list, and it turns out that I have actually read a number of great horror books over the years. I might revisit this list next Halloween, although I think that will depend on how many horror novels I read in the next 12 months. I have got a couple of upcoming horror novels on my radar at the moment, including Ink by Jonathan Maberry and Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff, and it will be interesting to see how they turn out. Until then, everyone have a safe and spooky Halloween and make sure to let me know what your favourite horror novels are in the comments below.