Horror books are meant to scare you, and sometimes that fear begins before you even open up the book. For fans of Stephen King, R.L. Stine, and Kendra Blake — you know what a scary book cover looks like. It usually takes more than just one image to freak me out, since I grew up watching horror films, but a few book covers have freaked out with a single glance.
We've all heard the idiom: you should never judge a book by its cover. But it's hard not to judge a book by its cover when the cover promises ghosts and ghouls and creepy tales that you will keep you up all night long. If the cover sends chills down your back, and you're looking for an ultra-creepy novel, then it's probably the one for you. Depending on what sorts of fears you have — spiders, dolls with dead eyes, vampires, ghosts, zombies resurrected from the grave, demon children — there's probably a book (and a cover) for you.
Without much more of an intro, and based on the creepiness factor alone, here are the 13 most terrifying book covers of all time:
1. Straightjacket Memories by Michael West
First of all, being in a straightjacket sounds terrifying. Second of all, all of those creepy monsters coming at her doesn't seem like fun at all. No thanks.
2. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
When I first saw this book on shelves, I felt a shiver run down my spine. Mixed with the creepy title, this book is just downright unnerving.
3. The Devouring by Simon Holt
If you want something that will give you nightmares for days, consider adding this to your shelf.
4. The Vivisector by Patrick White
For those of us with phobias about things touching our eyes... this cover is a huge no-no.
5. Annabelle by Ruby Jean Jensen
I grew up with an aunt who collects these sorts of porcelain dolls, and I vividly remember being too afraid to go near them. Those creepy little faces are masks for the evil within.
6. Night Stone by Rick Hautala
If there's one thing I know the horror genre, it's that small children with dead eyes are never a good sign.
7. Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine
Many Goosebumps covers gave me nightmares, but this one was easily the worst. I was almost afraid to touch this book as a child.
8. Child's Play by Andrew Neiderman
Alright, one more creepy cover with a doll and child. Honestly, is there anything worse? Chuckie is made of nightmares, and this cover does a great job of showing that.
9. Sleep Tight by Jeff Jacobson
If you have a phobia of bugs, you're probably squirming in your seat right now.
10. Asylum by Madeleine Roux
Madeleine Roux's covers are always creepy, but this one is particularly unsettling.
11. Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano
The fear of someone watching as you sleep is pretty much universal. And it's only made worse that "someone" is able to defy gravity.
12. Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
If you've stood alone in a dark bathroom chanting "Bloody Mary" to a mirror, then this book cover will definitely freak you out.
13. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
I mean really, what's so creepy about deadly objects hovering over a baby stroller? Nothing, nothing at all. Obviously.