The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

Asia's Tech News Daily

Sometimes it’s fun to be scared, when you know the monsters can’t get you.

Clearly a lot of people feel that way, or else Stephen King wouldn’t be one of the world’s bestselling authors, killer doll Chucky wouldn’t have a new TV series and we wouldn’t be on our 12th “Halloween” movie.

Horror is a cathartic genre, a place where we can explore our deepest anxieties and traumas, relive our worst nightmares and purge ourselves of the nagging fears that could otherwise overwhelm our psyches. Plus, it’s more fun and cheaper than therapy.

This Halloween season, the staff at USA TODAY is sharing the spookiest, most spine-tingling books we’ve ever read, including one of King’s best, a demented graphic novel and a work of true crime that’s scarier than anything a novelist could dream up.

So grab a cozy blanket, fix yourself a cup of cider, sit down with one of these 12 books and prepare to have your life ruined – in the good way.

From ‘The Shining’ to ‘The Birds’:25 horror movies to watch before you DIIIIIIIIIIIIE

Anthony Michael Hall didn’t get a horror boost after ’80s stardom. But it’s here now in ‘Halloween Kills’

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘Leave the World Behind,’ by Rumaan Alam

Alam’s recent masterpiece in literary horror is scarier for what it doesn’t show than what it does (though what it does show is plenty scary). A comfortably middle-class family vacations at a remote rental house over a long weekend when the home’s owners show up at the door, claiming there’s been an emergency and a complete blackout in the city. The two families warily cohabitate while all around them signs multiply indicating something is grievously wrong with the world: sudden alien sounds, animals behaving strangely, a woman weeping on the side of the road, a teenager’s healthy teeth falling out. Is it war? A terrorist attack? A nuclear disaster? Sometimes it’s not knowing that’s the scariest. – Barbara VanDenburgh

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell,’ by Nathan Ballingrud

I expect horror fans will be reading and rereading “The Butcher’s Table,” the anchor story of this collection, for years to come. The salty brigands of the pirate ship Butcher’s Table ferry a group of Satan worshipers “into the Dark Water” for the Feast of the Cannibal Priest and “a wedding at the lip of Hell.” “So it’s a love story then,” Captain Toussaint says. After a perilous voyage pursued by “carrion angels,” the fearless crew sits down for dinner in a dead angel’s skull. The table is set, the cutlery is laid out, but not all the guests are secure in their place on the food chain. Ballingrud gives us an epic adventure of infernal swashbuckling, burnin’ love, double-(upside-down) crosses and gore by the gallon. – Jonathan Briggs

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘Occultation,’ by Laird Barron

The horror story is a form versatile enough to accomplish many things, but its basic root purpose is to scare the reader. And Barron writes some scary stories. The highlight of his second volume of short fiction, a novella titled “–30–,” brings the creepy with both claws. Two researchers work at a remote outpost in an unforgiving wilderness when nature stops acting natural. If bugs are your phobia, this story will crawl straight into your nightmare closet. “–30–” starts slowly, softly, with disembodied whispers, strange sounds, midnight knocks at the door, then gradually, steadily cranks up the paranoia to a climactic pitch of mindless terror. Barron can even make a sunset unsettling: “He limped across a plain that stretched beneath a wide, carnivorous sky.” – Briggs

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘House of Leaves,’ by Mark Z. Danielewski

There comes a page while reading “House of Leaves” when you have to fend off visceral chills. Then they keep coming, until you find yourself awake at 3 a.m. unable to put down this binge-able labyrinth of a novel. The premise: a blind man dies and leaves behind heaps of papers describing a “Blair Witch Project”-type film about a family who moves into a home that’s bigger inside than it is outside. An expedition into a dark and cold abyss within the house follows. Horror ensues. Don’t let the experimental format dissuade you (there are footnotes and pages that require some neck-stretching). If you don’t remember the last time you got lost in a book, this one will do it. – Kristina Bravo

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘Misery,’ by Stephen King

I was one of King’s Constant Readers as a young kid, way before I should have been, usually on the down low and much to my mom’s displeasure. And even though I was pretty used to the horror he put on the page, reading “Misery” as a teen messed me up. Inspired by King’s own celebrity and his struggle with drugs and alcohol, the story of best-selling romance author Paul Sheldon’s snowy car crash and the chilling psychological terror that unfolds under the “care” of his super-fan Annie Wilkes was turned into a popular movie starring James Caan and Kathy Bates. But it doesn’t disturb you to the bone like King’s prose. The film’s infamous “hobbling” scene is so, so much worse in the book, as are several others, mainly because the legendary master of horror sparks the darkest depths of your imagination like nobody else. – Brian Truitt

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

“The Devil in the White City,” by Erik Larson

Hollywood in its darkest dreams could not come up with something as lurid as this true story of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and the killer who prowled its grounds. The story is told through the eyes of two men: the fair’s renowned architect, Daniel Burnham, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, the cold-blooded, blue-eyed murderer widely regarded as America’s first urban serial killer. In the prologue, titled “Evils Imminent,” the author tells us: “Beneath the gore and smoke and loam, this book is about the evanescence of life, and why some men choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible, others in the manufacture of sorrow. In the end it is a story of the ineluctable conflict between good and evil, daylight and darkness, the White City and the Black.” So what’s so scary about this story? It really happened. ­– Robert Abitbol

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe,’ by Thomas Ligotti

Penguin Classics laid out a big bowl of treats for horror fans in this collection of short stories. If you like your world outlook deeply, unsettlingly weird and your only exposure to Ligotti has been through the filter of Rust Cohle on “True Detective,” you might wanna risk a look. If you have no plans this Halloween, this would be a dandy book to curl up with and keep chilly company. Fans of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, David Lynch, nihilism, surrealism, mordant/morbid humor or just general gibbering lunacy are likely to find something of interest. There are scary clowns. – Briggs

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘The Silent Patient,’ by Alex Michaelides

If you’re into psychological thrillers with a mind-bending twist, this is the book for you. “The Silent Patient” is based on a women who lives a seemingly perfect life as a celebrated painter in a loving relationship. Then, one day, her husband comes home and she shoots him five times in the face. And never speaks a word again. The tale is told through the eyes of the psychologist trying to treat her. What she doesn’t say in words she says through her paintings, which are dark, disturbing and visceral. Michaelides’ debut novel explores how our past trauma defines us and how our insecurities manifest in relationships of great intimacy. I couldn’t tear myself away from this magnetic book, and I spent hours contemplating it even after I had finished reading. – Michelle Shen

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘From Hell,’ by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell

Jack the Ripper has, if you’ll pardon the wording, been done to death in pop culture. But no one’s had a scarier, more mind-bending take on the Victorian-era serial killer than that of the wild-haired occultist and mad man of comics, Alan Moore (“Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta”). This graphic novel, which uses as its inspiration a theory that the Ripper murders were part of a royal conspiracy to conceal an illegitimate birth, is not for the faint of heart, and I don’t just mean because of all the murder: It’s a doorstop of a book, dense with dialogue, annotations and bleak black-and-white art work. Moore’s take is less about proving any one theory than it is using a theory to flay open the very nature of evil. The book’s visuals of the Ripper’s final murder and vivisection are nauseatingly graphic, but it’s Moore’s depiction of the killer as a psychic gateway to all the horrors of the 20th century that would follow that makes it truly haunting. – VanDenburgh

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘Mexican Gothic,’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

There should be a separate category for anxiety-inducing novels. As you read “Mexican Gothic,” you become equally desperate as protagonist Noemí to get her cousin Catalina out of an isolated mansion in the Mexican countryside. Everything is confusing and, in true thriller form, you can’t see the full picture until it’s too late because like the reader, Noemí is learning everything for the first time. Moreno-Garcia does a great job of making fantasy realistic. You’re always expected to suspend belief when reading fiction, but it’s much more gratifying when the scenario you are thrust into makes sense. Moreno-Garcia created a charming, feisty, intelligent, complex and real person in Noemí. I wish she would write a prequel novel to “Mexican Gothic”; the backstory she created is rich and complex enough for it. And minor characters make a strong impact – whether they’re alive or not. – Josh Rivera

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘The Picture of Dorian Gray,’ by Oscar Wilde

As a queer man, I know a thing or two about resisting aging. But that doesn’t mean I have a portrait in my attic decaying – growing older and uglier in my stead – in an effort to stave off nature’s inevitable course. Meet Dorian Gray, who does have such a portrait. The eerie tale has everything you could possibly want this Halloween season: fancy clothes, parties, homoeroticism and a whole lot of betrayal. Well, I’ll take everything but the betrayal and the creepy painting. This painting idea kept me up at night, not to mention how Dorian’s life derails once his actions finally start begetting consequences. If pain is beauty, consider Dorian’s tale the most beautiful you’ll ever read. – David Oliver

The 12 scariest books we've ever read: 'Mexican Gothic,' Stephen King and other ghastly frights

‘The Haunting of Hill House,’ by Shirley Jackson

The book begins with a Dr. Montague inviting four guests to stay at Hill House for the summer, hoping to find evidence of the supernatural. The home has a history of suicide and strange occurrences. Jackson is a master of exploiting the reader’s imagination. Her simple and sublime prose about a home that could possibly be haunted is unnerving, and I found myself alternating between holding my breath and breathlessly turning the pages. Jackson sets the stage to hold the reader’s mind hostage with what could come next. It’s the uneasy journey where Jackson excels, so much so that while reading, one becomes acutely aware of even the slightest noise. And that was with the lights on. – Mary Cadden

Banned Books Week:We defend 30 challenged books including ‘Beloved’ and ‘1984’

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Iman Shumpert Writes Heartfelt Note After Winning 'Dancing With The Stars'

Iman Shumpert is still spinning with emotions after winning this season of “Dancing With the Stars” earlier this week. The 2016 NBA champion wrote a heartfelt note about his momentous ... Read more »

Brian May: ‘I don't find it easy living in this world today'

The Queen drummer has published a book on stereoscopy, which he describes as our precursor to social media – Clara Molden Under fluorescent strip lights in the archive library at ... Read more »

B.C. closing highways as downpour begins in latest storm striking southern region

VICTORIA — British Columbia's Transportation Ministry is proactively closing several highways today as another storm hammers the already saturated south coast. The province says it will close Highway 3 between ... Read more »

Tom Ford Jeers ‘House of Gucci': ‘I Often Laughed Out Loud, but Was I Supposed To?'

Count fashion designer Tom Ford among those who left a screening of “House of Gucci” wondering, “Was it a farce or a gripping tale of greed?” Ford, who began working ... Read more »

Canadians to get biggest drop in gasoline prices since 2009 over COVID variant fears

Canadians should experience the largest drop in gasoline prices since 2009 on Sunday as fears about a virulent new COVID-19 variant are expected to provide a break of 11 cents ... Read more »

Nordstrom Canada's Cyber Monday deals just dropped: Save up to 50% on fashion, beauty and home goods

Looking for more Cyber Monday deals, gift guides and holiday tips? Sign up for Yahoo Lifestyle Canada’s newsletter! Nordstrom Canada‘s Cyber Monday deals are up to 50% off. Yahoo Lifestyle ... Read more »

'Strictly' gave AJ Odudu the chance at childhood dancing dream her family couldn't afford

AJ Odudu says she’s living a dream on ‘Strictly’. (BBC) AJ Odudu has told how Strictly Come Dancing has given her the chance of living out a childhood dancing dream ... Read more »

Super-Mutated Omicron Variant Reaches Three More European Counties

Remko de Waal/Getty As the world waits to find out how dangerous the super-mutated COVID variant Omicron might be, three more European nations confirmed cases of the virus on Saturday ... Read more »

Craig Revel Horwood returns to Strictly ballroom after positive Covid test

Craig Revel Horwood has returned to the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel after he was absent last week following a positive Covid test. Guest judge Cynthia Erivo, who filled in ... Read more »

5 very strong films and series that appeared on Netflix in week 47

Photo: Legendary Pictures Also in week 47 of 2021, the necessary new films and series have appeared on Netflix. For example, since this week you can watch a few nice ... Read more »

Dr Alex George reveals he is taking medication for anxiety

Dr Alex George has revealed he is taking medication for anxiety, but admitted he did not access it “for years” because he was worried about the opinions of others. The ... Read more »

A Trump associate said the former president is 'pulling strings behind the scenes' in 2022 GOP primaries, likened him to 'The Godfather's' Vito Corleone: report

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina in the 2022 North Carolina Senate race.AP Photo/Chris Seward Former President Trump is playing an outsized role in molding ... Read more »

Quebec reports highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases since April with 1,171

A nurse prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children for distribution in Montreal, Quebec on November 24, 2021. – Today is the first day that children are allowed to receive ... Read more »

Dozens on Flight From South Africa Infected With COVID

Remko de Waal/Getty As the world waits to find out how dangerous the super-mutated COVID variant Omicron might be, Dutch authorities revealed that 61 people arriving on two flights from ... Read more »

Flood-stranded sturgeon pushed, pulled and carried back to the Fraser River

Angling guides Tyler Buck, left, and Jay Gibson, right, pushed, pulled and carried the sturgeon two kilometres. Video sent to the Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association shows it struggling in ... Read more »

Planes skid from side to side as they land at a snowy Birmingham Airport during Storm Arwen

Snow ploughs work furiously to remove sleet and ice from the Storm Arwen hit Birmingham Airport. Aircraft were seen skidding from side to side as they landed at the West ... Read more »

Gogglebox's Jenny looks unrecognisable in epic 80's throwback

Their hilarious on-screen friendship has made Jenny and Lee firm favourites among Gogglebox audiences, and this week fans were left in utter disbelief after an unearthed photo from Jenny's younger ... Read more »

The Queen speaks to these two people the most on her smartphone

Photo credit: Pool – Getty Images We know the Queen is all over Zoom and she’s even done her first Insta post, but apparently Her Majesty only really uses her ... Read more »

‘Queen only answers the phone for these two people'

“Apparently the Queen has two people she talks to on the phone most often,” Sacerdoti said of the British Queen, who incidentally received a specially protected Samsung phone from the ... Read more »

Aerial Footage Shows North Maine Landscape Blanketed by Snow

Winter showers swept parts of northern Maine overnight into Saturday, November 27, blanketing the area with several inches of snow. This aerial footage, posted to Twitter by James Sinko, a ... Read more »

Joe Ferrari's International Car Smuggling Scheme Included Large Amount Of Stolen Cars

Investigators shared that more than half of the seized 410 luxury cars are indeed stolen. Seized at the Thai border, law enforcement seized a large collection of luxury cars, and ... Read more »

Lifetime's 'Miracle in Motor City' is a love letter to Detroit and Smokey Robinson

In “Miracle in Motor City,” Tia Mowry-Hardrict’s character, a social worker named Amber, explains to her foster daughter, Lily (Markeda McKay), what tradition is and why it’s so important, especially ... Read more »

ONE the Musical is the most exciting premiere of the year

The protagonists of ONE the Musical, Nienke Latten and Soy Kroon. Photo: Axel Drenth It can’t be otherwise ONE the Musical tomorrow is the most exciting musical premiere of the ... Read more »

The chaos on Canada's west coast is a preview of climate change woes to come

British Columbia flooding. Illustrated | REUTERS, iStock World leaders have just returned home from COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, eager to talk about the progress they ... Read more »

Jodie Turner-Smith Shares Sweet Photo of Joshua Jackson and Daughter: 'Thankful'

Jodie Turner-Smith Posts Baby Pic with Joshua Jackson Jodie Turner-Smith/Instagram; Inset: Karwai Tang/WireImage Jodie Turner-Smith is giving the world a peek at her daughter. The actress, who welcomed her first ... Read more »

Jared Kushner built strong relationships with wealthy Arab states when Trump was president, but investment from regional players for his new business is yet to be nailed down, report says

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, played a key role in the administration’s Middle East policy.Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty During the Trump presidency, his son-in-law Jared Kushner worked extensively on Middle ... Read more »

Coronavirus latest news: Boris Johnson holds surprise Covid press conference after omicron variant found in UK - watch live

Boris Johnson holds press conference at Downing Street at 5pm Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the nation this afternoon after two cases of the omicron variant were identified in ... Read more »

Matt and Ellen Chisholm on their new baby daughter Bree: 'She's our little treasure'

For a family with a new baby, things seem pretty relaxed at Matt and Ellen Chisholm’s house in Omakau in Central Otago. TV presenter and journalist Matt, 45, sits on ... Read more »

Coronavirus latest news: Boris Johnson to hold surprise Covid press conference after omicron variant found in UK

Passengers travelling from South Africa queue to be coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tested after being held on the tarmac at Schiphol Airport – REUTERS Boris Johnson to hold a press conference ... Read more »

Barbra Streisand and Hugh Jackman mourn composer Sondheim

“Thank God Sondheim turned 91 and had the time to write such beautiful music and great lyrics,” Streisand said on Twitter with a photo of her and Sondheim. “Sometimes someone ... Read more »

I'm A Celebrity weekend shows cancelled after storm damage to production base

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! shows on Saturday and Sunday have been cancelled after extreme weather conditions caused production difficulties at Gwrych Castle in North Wales. The ... Read more »

Spy: Red light means green light for filming

A slew of TV shows are poised to get cameras rolling when Auckland enters the traffic-light system of Covid management. The new system means more freedom for the city, with ... Read more »

Spy: Renee Stewart's star turn in Sia Video

The rising-star daughter of Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter is a dancer in a video by one of the world’s biggest music acts. Rocking Rod released his 31st album last ... Read more »

Spy: Producer kiss and tells about Shorty St's intimate scenes

With only three weeks to go until the annual Shortland Street cliffhanger, producer Oliver Driver reveals how the series kept churning out episodes within their bubble. “Filming under level 3 ... Read more »

NZ exclusive: Oliver Stone on his new documentary JFK: Destiny Betrayed

For a period beginning with 1986’s Platoon and continuing through a stunning run of hit films including Wall Street, The Doors and Natural Born Killers, filmmaker Oliver Stone was firmly ... Read more »

Susanna Reid reveals shocking story of being mugged with a knife 25 years ago

Susanna Reid has revealed she was attacked with a knife 25 years ago. (Mike Marsland/WireImage) Susanna Reid has told the terrifying story of being mugged by a man with a ... Read more »

West End theatres to dim lights in tribute to late composer Stephen Sondheim

London’s West End theatres are to pay tribute to Stephen Sondheim. The composer and lyricist, famous for creating the musical Sweeny Todd, was described as one of theatre’s “greatest geniuses” ... Read more »

Clipper to brush southern Ontario with widespread snow, may impact travel

Clipper to brush southern Ontario with widespread snow, may impact travel The final weekend in November in southern Ontario will be filled with plenty of cold temperatures and snow, courtesy ... Read more »

Tesla's Texas Battery Bet Costs Carmaker $1.3 Billion German Aid

(Bloomberg) — Most Read from Bloomberg Tesla Inc. will forgo 1.14 billion euros ($1.3 billion) of state aid for the factory it’s building in Germany because it has decided to ... Read more »

JJ Lin wows a sell-out crowd in first S'pore concert since start of pandemic

The sell-out concert was the first here since the Covid-19 pandemic and JJ Lin’s first in-person concert in two years. SINGAPORE – Some 2,000 fans flocked to see Singapore superstar ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic