13 Creepiest Book Titles Ever, Because Sometimes We Do Judge A Book By Its Cover
We know that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but what's the verdict on judging a book by its title? That's fair game, right? I'm going to go ahead and assume that it's fair to judge a book by its title, and then I'm going to round up all of these books and bury them somewhere where they can never find me, because these are some of the creepiest book titles in all of literature.
Now look, I understand that some people like creepy books. That's fine. I, too, can get behind the occasional ghost story. I mean, all of the illustrations from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark are forever etched into my subconscious mind ever since I checked it out of my elementary school library. I can even stomach most creepy book covers (at least, I can now that I've finally gotten rid of my porcelain doll collection). But when a book's title is enough to send shivers down your spine all by itself... that's well over your daily dose of creepiness. I know that a title is supposed to intrigue you, but some of these titles just make me want to sprint in the other direction and sleep with all the lights on.
But if you enjoy the sensation of a dozen spiders crawling down your back, here are some truly creepy titles:
1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirely Jackson
Shirely Jackson is one of the greats of modern horror, so it's no wonder she can write a creepy title. And a creepy book. Accompanied by a very, very unsettling cover. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is just as strange and off-kilter as it sounds. If the title makes you a little uneasy, that feeling is only going to grow as you find yourself sucked into the claustrophobic world of the Blackwood sisters.
2. It by Stephen King
I really wish this one was called, "Hey, there's a killer clown in the sewers, FYI" because the monster in It isn't nearly as scary as the title itself. It is just so vague, your imagination run wilds trying to figure out what It is (spoiler: it's kind of a killer clown that lives in the sewers). It's sort of like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but so much more sinister. What does It want? What is It going to do to that balloon? You'll have to read to find out.
3. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
This one doesn't seems so creepy—at first. But on the first page of the book, someone suggests that making a child the protagonist of a ghost story is a real "turn of the screw," or something that tightens the dramatic tension. So then you're left reading this book about a governess for two beautiful, strange, creepy children, just waiting for that screw to turn again...
4. Where Did The Baby Go? by Sheila Hayes, illustrated Eloise Wilkin
OK, so I know this is just an innocent kid's book with an unintentionally creepy title... but seriously, where did the baby go? And what do you mean, "Where Did The Baby Go?" Why was no one watching this baby? Why is this little girl staring sadly at a photograph? Is it a picture of the baby? Where is the baby? (Spoiler: the big ending is that the little girl was the baby, she's just older now... pretty solid twist).
5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
What does that mean, Hush, Hush? Who are you talking to? Why do we have to be quiet? What's going to happen if we're not quiet? As far as onomatopoeia goes, Hush, Hush is probably the creepiest title around. If there wasn't a sexy fallen angel on the cover, I wouldn't even know what this book is about—I'd just feel vaguely afraid to talk too loud.
6. I Held My Breath as Long as I Could by Kristopher Kelly
Oh, hell no. This is way too creepy, even without the blurry photograph of the woods. I absolutely do not want to know what happened after you stopped holding your breath, Kristopher Kelly. Please do not tell me.
7. Papap's Teeth by Danielle DeVor
You know what? Teeth are pretty creepy. This book title has singlehandedly made me realize that teeth are just really, really creepy. They're bones that live outside. That's not ok. And Papap? Who is Papap? What's up with his teeth, that there's a whole book on the subject? Why is the title written in blood? Yikes.
8. Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy
Confession time: I had this book as a kid, and I only read half of it before I gave it away, because it was just too creepy. I think the title was most of the problem. The first half of the book was all little orphan Maggie wandering around this giant, empty mansion, hearing the occasional whisper in the walls... and you know what? I so did not want to know what was behind that attic wall.
9. The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean
Speaking of things that shouldn't be in walls, The Wolves in the Walls is one hell of an unsettling title. It's a kid's book, so it's not really as horrific as it could be... but that title. Wolves don't go in walls. You know what? I'm adding "walls" to the list of normal things that are surprisingly creepy, along with "teeth."
10. Lick the Razor by D.B. Tarpley
I will not lick the razor, thank you very much. And nor do I care for that bright yellow, yet still deeply foreboding cover. Lick the Razor goes beyond a creepy title, and enters nausea-inducing territory.
11. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? is up there with the creepiest stories of all time (and it's based on a real-life murder, so that's fun). Even the title alone makes you squirm. Who's asking that question? It's the kind of title that makes you not want to get into cars with strangers.
12. They Thirst by Robert McCammon
There's a certain elegance to the straight forward creepy title. They Thirst. That's all you need to know. Are they vampires? Zombies? Doesn't matter. Just get them something to drink.
13. Skin and Other Stories by Roald Dahl
I think we're letting Roald Dahl off the hook too easily. I mean, yes, I like the guy, but we're focusing too much on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, and not enough on the fact that he once wrote a book titled Skin. Normal Roald Dahl is creepy enough, what with the kids falling into chocolate rivers. I'm not sure if I'm ready for a collection of his stories for adults... especially not if the title story is just called Skin.