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Top 10 Best Horror Books in 2021

A summary for the Top 10 Horror Books that will leave you frightened from the gut wrenching and grotesque moments; and at the same time have you coming for and more due to the stellar writing and exciting narratives that these novels have to offer.

Reasons to look for a good horror book

Horror has always been that one genre that people will either love or throw away the first chance they get. It is also a genre that is so much more than the occasional jump scare like the movies make it seem out to be; showcasing a world full of bleak and terrifying scenarios that don’t always revolve around ghosts or women wearing all white clothes. To truly appreciate the genre; we have helped give you a list that makes for some of the most interesting narratives that justifies this bleak and grotesque environment; hopefully allowing you to fall in love with the Horror genre. So now, here are the top 10 Horror Novels that we at ‘OwlRatings’ have picked for you to choose from.

Best overall & scariest book

IT horror book

IT horror book

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Coming from one of the most iconic horror writers of the generation comes one of the most iconic horror novels of all time; IT. This classic horror novel was written by none other than Stephen King in the year 1986 which is about seven children terrorized by an evil entity that exploits the fears of its victims. Set in Derry, a small town in Maine, United States the novel introduces us to a figure who has been terrorizing a rather peaceful location. But this figure dressed himself up in overly large boots and likes to put white make-up on his face to help bring out his clown persona. In addition to the a simply perfect story; the novel features a brilliant ensemble of characters such as the likes of Billy, Ben, Mike and many more such characters that each have their own thing going on. The novel is divided into five different parts and totals a mammoth 1,500 pages; making it for a long but exciting read. The book also dives into social criticism regarding modern society and its problems in between the lines. Overall, it is an exciting, multi-faceted story. Overall, if you are a fan of the horror genre; IT is a must read; unless of course you haven’t already binge-read it a couple dozen times.

Best for adults

Doctor Sleep horror book

Doctor Sleep horror book

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Doctor Sleep is another entry in this list written by one of the most successful authors of the horror genre, Stephen King. This also happens to be a sequel to his very successful novel, The Shining which took both the reading and film world by storm in the 80’s. The plot is based in the United States and revolves around the psychic powers of the characters ensuing in a thrilling victory of good over evil. Danny Torrance is an alcoholic and short-tempered; living in Florida with his parents. As the story progresses; the introduction of psychic powers and interesting characters make for a truly compelling read. The novel is written in a vivid and picturesque manner which will enable the readers to visualize each episode easily Altogether, this wonderful work by Stephen King is a gift to readers of all ages as they have a beautiful experience entering a world full of imagination and content. The concept of having more than one protagonist allows us to follow a story on a different level; with each person being well written and given the time and detail to feel as realistic as possible. Although the ending may be a little predictable to some; it is still a very exciting read for many.

Best psychological horror book

Lord of the Flies horror book

Lord of the Flies horror book

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Lord of the Flies is written by British Author, William Goldberg way back in 1954. The book focuses on a group of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempt to govern themselves. This novel explores the psychological impacts of what would happen if suddenly societies seized to exist; making for a truly inspiring read. Ralph and Piggy are the only two survivors of a plane crash as they are left deserted in an unknown island, amid a wartime evacuation. The kids being fairly young; cease the day and choose to live in excitement thanks to the lack of adult supervision. But, what they have truly in store for themselves is much more than gallivanting around the beach and sleeping on top of hammocks. The plot includes the tension between groupthink and individuality, between rational and emotional reactions, and between morality and immorality. It will make you questions the basic meanings of life; and is brilliantly portrayed to make the characters very relatable. When you finish reading the book you are left wondering with more questions than answers. The novel feels like a commentary on the current political and social environments; so this may be the perfect read if you are looking for something way different than your usual blood bath of a horror novel.

Best for young adults

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark horror book

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark horror book

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a mixture of 82 different short horror stories which has been written by Alvin Schwartz; the series being famous for the classic sketch illustrations by Stephen Gammell that come with the stories. Initially targeted at kids, the books got their fame from teenage readers; some even saying that kids should not be allowed to read these books since it can get too much to handle in certain elements. Relying heavily on folklore and urban legends to adapt some of these terrifying stories; author Alvin Schwartz researched extensively and spent more than a year writing the book. This reflects in the book’s popularity; which has been praised by many; but deemed as questionable by a few as well. With an eerie relatability in many of the plots and premises; the readers are thoroughly engaged with the book. Alvin Schwartz knows how to point out the unnatural disfigurements of normal situations; making for great horror moments. Some of his best short stories from this elusive collection includes ‘Harold the Scarecrow’ and ‘One Sunday Morning’ which leaves us craving for more. Give this a read if you want a huge variety of stories to fill your weekly horror quota.

Best historical horror book

Beneath a Scarlet Sky horror book

Beneath a Scarlet Sky horror book

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Beneath a Scarlet Sky is a genuinely inspiring and epic story based on real events of World War II from an Italian young guy’s perspective has everything from romance to action to keep the readers hooked. This simplistic yet engaging novel is written by Mark T. Sullivan; who manages to inspire the readers into imagining some of the cold and dark experiences from the world war era. Although the novel can come across as quite bleak since it begins with the main character, Pino Lella having to witness his ancestral home is bombed by the Nazis; it yet has everything from romance to tense epic moments that keeps the reader hooked while it gives much historical information about the war and its effects on Italy. The novel which described every detail so vividly; successfully manages to take you back to mid 20th century Italy with lengthy descriptions and information. It is a perk for history lovers but can be a bit boring if you are not interested in this part of the novel. Characters such as the protagonist and Carletto Beltramini make this journey worthwhile; showcasing some truly beautiful and tragic moments along the way.

Best author

The Institute horror book

The Institute horror book

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The Institute is one of the best fantasy novels that has been written by none other than Stephen King. Arguably the greatest writer in the horror genre; and rightfully so, King has managed to bring in all his elements including crime and suspense along with some new ones as well. If you enjoy boss battles and grandiose conspiracies, the allure of cosmic forces moving beneath the surface of sleepy reality, then this novel is for you. The Institute is largely centred on the plight of one 12-year-old boy named Luke Ellis, who is smart but also has mild telekinesis abilities. The captivating story creates sympathy for the protagonist and anguish for the antagonist as any good novel should. By the end of the read; you are left smiling because King manages to bring back the main protagonist’s greatest power and you never see it coming. All these elements beautifully combined to give us a much deserved climax; making for one of the author’s most intriguing books. Overall; the novel is slightly different from what you would expect from the author given the elements of science-fiction; so make sure to give it a try if you are a fan of the genre.

Best for teens

Uzumaki horror book

Uzumaki horror book

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Uzumaki is one of the best-known works of the successful author Junji Ito, who has written a brilliantly crafter story in the horror genre and in the world of manga. So if you are looking for an unconventional horror manga that gives you goose bumps but at the same time tells you an exciting story, Uzumaki may be the perfect read for you. The story takes place in a small town relatively far away from civilization; as we follow our lead protagonist; Kirie Goshiwa. Things start to get stranger by the page as we see her boyfriend’s father get consumed and obsessed with spirals which eventually leads to his death. As their mother too passes away due to this incomprehensible obsession with spirals; things start to get creepier which leads the couple to fled from town. Ito’s terror is visceral and subtle at the same time; taking the readers on a path filled with uncertainty and terror. The manga form comes off as a very engaging method of storytelling; the phrase ‘a picture says a thousand words’ being more applicable than ever. The constantly mystery and horrifying element will surely keep readers invested til the end; as the twists and turns along the way make for a very engrossing read.

Best for kids

Good Omens horror book

Good Omens horror book

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Written by English authors Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman; Good Omens is a comedy-horror-novel. The exciting plot revolves around two opposite divine energies, an angel and a demon, now age-old friends, who are trying to stop the predicted Apocalypse, that is, the end of the world. The novel is an amazing blend of humour and humanity. The novel is centred on the foretold Armageddon and as the story reveals itself, it shows how the characters react on knowing that the world shall end soon. The apocalypse is upon us, and the world is coming to an end. Our protagonist; Aziraphale and Crowley who are an angel and demon respectively, decide to interchange antichrist with an ordinary boy in order to change his raising which in turn might change his mind set. With the Authors carrying this story through hilarious scenes and exchanges; there is also room for sensitive topics related to mankind, humanity and religion that have been subtly instilled within the storyline. This novel is a great choice for readers who are looking for not only sheer humour but also for serious matters discussed skilfully.

Best classic

Dracula horror book

Dracula horror book

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Dracula is a horror novel that has been written by the Irish author Bram Stoker in 1897. It introduced the world to the vampire known as Dracula; which has influenced so many films, stories and even video games. Ever since the dropping of this novel; it has given rise to one of the most popular fictional characters of all time. It is considered as one of the most engaging horrors and vampire fiction novels, anyone with a little imagination would enjoy reading it. The story follows Jonathan Harker as he approaches the home of Count Dracula in Transylvania. After Dracula unleashes a horrifying curse upon Jonathan’s wife and many other countless souls; the vampire tries to spread across his horror onto the rest of the world. A majority of the first act is told entirely via diary entries which only adds to the eeriness and makes the setting feel all the more realistic; enabling us to look into Jonathan’s slowly cracking psyche as he begins to make connections and associations between the Count and the horrors of the night. To sum it up, Dracula is the perfect horror story; which has the right mix of entertainment and horror and has given the world one of its best fictional characters in existence.

Best for middle schoolers

Devoted horror book

Devoted horror book

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Written by the American Author, Dean Koontz, Devoted is an epic thriller about a story of an age-old bonding between a human and a canine and a horrible villain reaching the nadir of his immortality. Dean Koontz has always been one for mystery and suspense; and this novel is no different. The story of Devoted is related to an autistic boy and his relationship with a golden retriever. The boy who is gifted with supernatural abilities tries to find the true reason for his father’s death with the help of his dog; who is also gifted. The story in its most utmost sense highlights the loyalty between a boy and his loyal dog; the latter’s inherent faithfulness towards his master braced with his unusual capabilities serve as a cherry on the cake to the readers. While on one side of the story you have the charming understanding and connection between Woody and Kipp; the kid and his dog. But, on the other hand there is the villainous Lee, whose recklessness is beyond the imagination of anyone. The scale is one of the extremities, and there is nothing halfway. The book is thoroughly packed with expectancy with a beautiful combination of trust and loathsomeness. However, it is not suitable for readers of all age groups due to the inclusion of sexual content and intense barbarity.

What’s important when choosing a good horror book

Just like any other genre; the horror world has to give you enough of excitement or intrigue in the story to make you keep reading. It is our goal to make this decision making process much simpler for you; by breaking down the reviews on four crucial talking points.

The first talking point is the story of the book. This point mainly helps viewers in understanding what kind of narrative they would be getting into; a bleak setting in a dystopian future or maybe a more 21st century take on the genre. This way, you get choose what kind of setting and style of horror you are interested in to take a step into choosing your perfect horror novel.

The next criteria is the entertainment factor; which is arguably the most crucial of the lot. What kind of story are you looking for; one full of surprises and plot twists with a crazy and outlandish villain; or a simpler story that takes you on an emotional roller coaster. From being fan of vampires to enjoying a simple yet terrifying ghost story set in the suburbs; we have broken it all down for you in our reviews.

Our third talking point is the writing of the novel. Some people like an author that is more detailed and goes through every setting with the utmost of dedication and description; whereas others prefer a story where it is left to the reader to interpret. From some award winning authors like Stephen King to newcomers of the genre; the writing breaks down the Author’s style and method of writing.

Finally; our last criteria is the characters. No novel is any good without a good bunch of well-developed characters that suffice the plot and the overall narrative of the story. You want to see your characters actively being involved in the story; where their decisions could completely change the consequences. You may also be a fan of anti-heroes of the big baddies such as Count Dracula; or may want a simpler bunch of characters that go about their day to day lives.

These four talking points have talked about extensively; so by the end of our reviews you would be ready to make the perfect decision for your Sunday read.

FAQ

Who is the best Horror Author of all time?

Stephen King

What is the all-time best selling Horror Novel of all time?

Dracula

What is Stephen King’s greatest Horror Book?

The Stand (1978)

What is the top rated Horror Novel according to the guardian?

Red Dragon, Thomas Harris

Final verdict

We hope that by going through are extensively researched reviews; you will be able to pick from our list of Top 10 Horror Books. Check out our full reviews per book and we promise you; that you won’t be disappointed.

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