popular horror novels

13 Popular Horror Novels

What are some of the most popular horror novels of all time? I asked myself this question and did a little digging on Goodreads to find the answer. A lot of the books I found were expected, but some were a bit surprising!

1. Stephen King Novels 

stephen king it

King’s novels are by far and away the most popular horror novels. I would say at least 10 of his novels are in the top 20 most popular. So instead of making this list a list about him, I’ve decided to lump all his novels into the #1 spot.

I’ve only read one Stephen King novel (The Long Walk), and I read it as a 12-year-old (what sort of sick child was I??). I’ve never really been that into any of his other books. I tried to read Under the Dome semi-recently, but I hated a character in that book too much to continue.

2Dracula by Bram Stoker


Well DUH this is high on the list. This book is fantastic!

3. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

the exorcist

I am currently reading (and loving) this one!

4. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

the haunting of hill house

Um, I’ve never even heard of this one until now! MUST ADD TO TBR.

5. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

the silence of the lambs

6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


I read this one and thought it was okay. It barely counts as horror, and since that’s what my expectation was, I was disappointed.

7. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

interview with the vampire

Confession time: I started this book and maybe got 1/3 of the way through. I was bored out of my mind so I DNF’d it.

8. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

9. Ghost Story by Peter Straub

ghost story

Another one I’ve never heard of but will be adding to my TBR ASAP.

10. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

heart-shaped box

Ah, son of Stephen King. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just too much talent for one family. They need to share the talent-wealth with the rest of us.

11. World War Z by Max Brooks

world war z

loved this movie, but have heard that the book is not exactly what you’d expect (it’s essentially a series of military documents/communications). It sounded a little too dry for my taste, so I have yet to pick it up.

12. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

house of leaves

Am I the only one who didn’t know this book was considered a horror novel?

13. Swan Song by Robert McCammon

swan song

I’ll be honest, this cover makes me laugh more than it wants to make me scream… but if the masses say it’s good, I suppose I should give it a try one of these days!

Have you read any of these? Which would you recommend?


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  1. Okay, I don’t know if this counts as HORROR specifically, but I like reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell around Halloween! It’s a very dark, fantasy, magic based story and I adore it!!

  2. I’ve read Dracula, Interview (just reread this one actually), and Frankenstein. I don’t remember Frankenstein though because I read it in high school for required reading and hated it lol. I wonder how I’d feel now, but I don’t want to slog through it again just to find out. The rest of these are prob too scary for me! (Although I have seen Silence of the Lambs, so maybe I could handle that one.)
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight just posted Book Review: Shadow Rise (Shadow Fall Book 2) by Audrey GreyMy Profile

  3. To be honest World War Z is MUCH less dry than you’d think! It outlines various outbreaks of the zombie virus across the globe through interviews, documents, diary entries, etc, in stead of following one character. It’s actually terrifying (although that’s always my favorite part of a zombie story- the outbreak).

    1. Well that’s good to know!! I think I will have to read it then! I really wanted to, but some people deterred me. So now it’s back on the TBR! thanks Anna!

  4. I’ve actually read two of these, woohoo! I read It earlier this year and loved it up until a certain scene that really disturbed me (and not in an “I’m scared” way) and knocked off a whole star from my rating. I also read Frankenstein back in high school, but I don’t remember much besides not hating it. 😂
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    1. Hahahaha about Frankenstein! A lot of King’s books have really disturbing stuff in it that I don’t like (usually it’s real-life possibilities, so they make me uncomfortable), which is why I find myself never reading his books (or starting them and not finishing them). So I’m not surprised about what you said about It!