Horror fans around the world are wearing out their streaming subscriptions right now, and we here at iHorror have been doing our best to help by posting lists of the best streaming content on Amazon, Hulu, Tubi, and more.
But what do you do when you’ve seen everything a million times and what you haven’t seen just doesn’t appeal to you?
Well, dear readers, it’s time to break out the books. You guys remember those, right?
The truth is, while TV and movies are certainly binge-able, there are some amazing horror book series out there that are just as terrifying and engrossing that all but demand to be read in succession.
And, since a lot of us are stuck at home right now, it’s the perfect time to pick up a book or 12 and immerse yourself in their haunting landscapes.
The Dark Tower Series
Stephen King’s epic cross-world series follows Roland Deschain–a gunslinger and the last descendant of his world’s version of King Arthur–on his quest to find the fabled Dark Tower, a nexus point of all known universes.
The fascinating thing about the Dark Tower series of books is that they tie many of King’s other novels together. Throughout the series, you’ll find references to It, The Stand, The Shining, Cell, and so many more.
The world King created for this series is absolutely tangible with its own religions, language, and enough epic showdowns between Good and Evil to put even the most jaded reader on the edge of their seat.
If you think Randall Flagg aka The Man in Black aka The Dark Man is bad, you must meet the Crimson King.
The Vampire Chronicles and Lives of the Mayfair Witches
This is a two for one from author Anne Rice that I’ve combined because they are both epic and they eventually intersect.
Listen, I love Anne Rice and I’m not arguing with anyone about whether her books are horror or not. Wildly romantic, beautifully researched and written, and without question filled with terrifying moments, Rice has created some of the most vivid literary worlds in any genre of the last 40 years.
In The Vampire Chronicles, Rice introduces us to immortal blood drinkers beginning with 1976’s Interview with the Vampire. Some are good and some are most definitely bad, but every single one of them has an incredibly engrossing story to tell, and quite frankly, Lestat de Lioncourt is arguably the most famous literary vampire since Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Then there are the Mayfairs, hereditary witches with remarkable powers and whose epic family history–related in The Witching Hour, the first book in the trilogy–is astonishing. If jealous spirits, unearthly beings, powerful women, and family intrigue are your thing, then the Lives of the Mayfair Witches should be on your reading list.
Brian Lumley’s Necroscope was all the rage when I was hitting high school in the early 90s.
Harry Keogh is a necroscope meaning he can speak to the dead, but this is simply the tip of the iceberg for Harry as he grows and learns to expand his psychic abilities, allowing him to teleport from one place to another instantaneously, connect with the minds of others, and the ability to resurrect the dead.
He becomes an agent for a British ESP agency, and eventually finds himself in a battle with vampires invading our world.
What is so interesting looking back, is how politically relevant Lumley’s books were at the time highlighting conflict between the real-life British and Soviet governments while wrapping them in stories of the vampires and psychic abilities.
They are, of course, skewed toward the British side of life, but that’s to be expected as Lumley, himself, is British. Ultimately, this dates some of the work, but the horror book series is still a fascinating read that I highly recommend.
The Books of Blood
Clive Barker’s Books of Blood may be the single greatest collection of short fiction in contemporary horror literature.
Published over the course of two years, each volume contained a handful of stories, several of which have been adapted into film. It was in the Books of Blood that Candyman was born. They gave us the cult favorites Lord of Illusions and Rawhead Rex, and more recently The Midnight Meat Train and Book of Blood.
It all begins with a framing story in the first volume about a young man named Simon who pretends to be a psychic medium. Hired by a researcher to investigate what is supposed to be a particularly haunted house, Simon begins faking visions but soon finds himself attacked by the spirits who pass through the home en masse.
They carve the stories of their lives into his skin making him a living chronicle, and he becomes the book of blood. The premise, then, was that the stories found within the six volumes were copied directly from Simon’s skin.
The stories in the collection are often downright terrifying and have earned a lofty place in horror history.
The Scary Tales Series
What if, when Prince Charming kissed Snow White, she woke up as a zombie rather than a cute princess ready to get hitched?
This is the way Rob E. Boley’s Scary Tales series begins.
Set in a land filled with magic both dark and light, Boley takes classic fairy tales and mashes them together with classic Universal monsters to create something entirely original that has to be read to be believed.
It’s an incredible genre-bending adventure that often takes those fairy tales we’ve become accustomed to seeing through Disney-tinted glasses and returns them to the terrifying horror stories they once were.
There are currently seven volumes in the series with three more planned for release in 2021.