His name might be synonymous with horror, but it's not easy to pick out Stephen King's scariest books. The Mainer has a career spanning more than 40 years and dozens of titles, but there are a few horror gems that shine just a little bit brighter than the rest.
King staked his claim to the horror world when he published Carrie in 1974. By the time Carrie hit the big screen in 1976, King had put out another novel, 'Salem's Lot. The books kept rolling off the presses, and, despite the occasional dip into fantasy, King had built himself an empire of horror by the mid-1980s.
Obviously, there's nothing wrong with King's non-horror works. His epic fantasy western saga, the Dark Tower series, is beloved by fans the world over. The Green Mile, "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption," and "The Body" have all made their way to theaters.
There's just something about King's horror, though. He helped make prominent many of the scary-story tropes we grew up with, including — perhaps most infamously — Monster Clowns. I might be a bit biased, but, if you're looking for a scary book written in the last 40 years, you can't go wrong with Stephen King.
There's a reason It tops this list of Stephen King's scariest books: It is about horror incarnate. The titular creature awakens every 27 years to feed off of the residents of Derry, Maine, and It uses horror to "salt the meat," as it were.
2. 'Salem's Lot
King's second novel centers on a group of makeshift vampire hunters who mount an opposition to the dark entity that threatens to engulf the entire town. Floating vampire children and a nasty suicide legend round out the 'Salem's Lot experience.
3. The Shining
When he takes a job as its caretaker, an aspiring writer brings his wife and young son to live in an isolated resort for the off season. But the Overlook Hotel has an unspeakable history, as well as its own will, and it wants a new ghost to live there forever.
4. Pet Sematary
Shortly after the Creeds move to a new home, both the family cat and the youngest child are killed in tragic accidents. But the Creeds' neighbor has let them in on a little secret: an ancient burial ground, where the buried always come back.
5. Children of the Corn (first published as a short story in Night Shift)
When they accidentally run over an injured boy in rural Nebraska, a couple takes his body into Gatlin, the nearest town. But no one in Gatlin lives to be older than 19, and He Who Walks Behind the Rows does not like outsiders...
Four childhood friends embark on their annual hunting trip in the wilds of Maine, not knowing that this year will be fatally different. When they're trapped in the snow, between a dangerous alien invasion and an unhinged military leader, the men must rely on a fifth friend, Duddits, to save the world.
7. The Mist (first published as a novella in Skeleton Crew)
On an otherwise normal day in a small town in Maine, a large group of shoppers find themselves trapped in a supermarket. Outside, a thick mist has crept in, and the creatures who hide inside it will take no prisoners.
8. The Regulators
A happy afternoon in an Ohio suburb quickly turns horrific when a group of strange, brightly colored cars roll in, carrying grotesque gunners who shoot on sight. As their neighborhood transforms into a child's caricature of the Wild West, the suburbanites must work together to stop the demon behind it all, before it's too late.
9. The Dark Half
As a writer, literary fiction author Thad Beaumont isn't as successful as graphic crime novelist George Stark. Just after Beaumont reveals that Stark is his pen name, and holds a mock burial for him, he finds himself wanted for murders he did not commit, carried out by a man who matches his description and his fingerprints...
Discovered by his self-proclaimed No. 1 fan after a drunken car crash, author Paul Sheldon finds himself trapped in the home of Annie Wilkes: a reclusive woman with big plans for his career.