Aside from those written by the man himself, books for Stephen King fans can be hard to come by. He might call himself the literary equivalent of a Big Mac, but there's really no one out there who writes like him. King's chilling horror and his grasp on character building aren't easily matched.
However, if you break down King's writing into its individual aspects — such as the aforementioned horror and character building — finding books his fans will enjoy becomes much easier. Believe it or not, every other contemporary horror writer doesn't feel like a cheap King knock-off, although it took me much longer than I'd like to admit to figure that out. And there are plenty of writers who capture the everyday terror of working- and middle-class existence. You just have to know where to look.
If you're a Stephen King fan who has tried and failed to find a good read between your favorite author's releases, check out the 15 books on this list. If you're more a fan of Lisey's Story and "The Body," don't worry; not all of these recommendations are scary. Some of these titles scared King himself, however, and others are ones he recommended on Twitter.
1. Joyland by Emily Schultz
It's the summer of 1984, and South Wakefield, Ontario's only arcade, Joyland, has closed. A few months of passion and intrigue lie ahead for a brother and sister, who alternate narration as Player I and Player II.
2. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
From King's own son comes this novel about a dark entity named Manx who spirits away children to a place he calls "Christmasland." Vic McQueen is the only child who ever escaped his clutches, but now she's all grown up — and Manx has her son.
3. Day Four by Sarah Lotz
A five-day singles cruise turns deadly after the ship stops dead in the water. When the plumbing backs up and food stores dwindle, the discovery of a body incites a mass panic that might doom them all.
4. The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
Jeff VanderMeer's Lovecraftian trilogy about a mysterious and deadly place called Area X will appeal to fans of King's weirder horror fiction.
5. A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor's takes on Southern life brim with a dark humor that sidles up to horror. In addition to the title story, check out "Good Country People" to see what I mean.
6. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
After a young woman's death is — questionably — ruled a suicide, a journalist becomes obsessed with revealing the truth, especially as it involves the woman's father: a cult-horror-film icon who has spent the last three decades in hiding.
7. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
This short, tight horror classic is a must-read book for Stephen King fans. Four people spend the night in Hill House as part of an investigation into the manor's ghostly reputation, but the house has other plans.
8. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Years after her family became the stars of a reality TV show called The Possession, a young woman agrees to an interview about her sister's madness and the tragedy that befell their family. King says this book "[s]cared the living hell out of [him]."
9. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
A chance meeting on a train sets two men with homicidal intentions on the path toward committing each other's murders in this suspenseful classic.
10. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Fans of The Stand will love N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season, which follows a mother's quest to rescue her kidnapped daughter from a murderous father and husband.
11. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel centers on an unnamed new bride, who feels cursed by the spirit of her husband's late wife when she moves to his estate.
12. Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Echo might be a children's book, and therefore happier than most of King's novels, but its focus on a magical harmonica possessed with the spirits of dead children will appeal to the master of horror's fans.
13. The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin
In Willy Vlautin's debut novel, two unfortunate and ill-equipped brothers go on the lam after a hit-and-run accident.
14. White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
One family's generations-long secret begins to surface in White Is for Witching. After her mother dies unexpectedly, Miranda Silver begins to experience strange medical phenomena that threaten her life, and her childhood home reacts violently to the presence of her invited guest.
15. Penpal by Dathan Auerbach
I love horror, but r/NoSleep is a cut above my pay grade. From that infamous subreddit comes Penpal, a patchwork novel that chronicles one man's quest to unravel the mysteries of his childhood, including the parts he can no longer remember.
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