With shows like Making a Murderer and Mindhunter taking Netflix by storm, is it any wonder we still love to read true-crime books? Below, I have 11 horror books based on true stories that will have you sleeping with the lights on for the next week, so ramp up your Halloween fun with a bit of spooky reading, won't you?
Horror holds a special place in a lot of readers' hearts, but millennials grew up with scary stories from a very young age. From classic horror collections — Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, In a Dark, Dark Room — by Alvin Schwartz to the pulpy scares of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps and Fear Street series, we've been reading horror books pretty much ever since we could hold a book.
Of course, our affinity for scary stories isn't new. In the 20th century, shows like The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Outer Limits brought creepy tales into living rooms across the country every week. Today, American Horror Story continues to freak out its audience, seven seasons in, the first feature-film adaptation of Stephen King's IT rose to the top of the box office, becoming the No. 1 movie in the U.S. on its opening weekend, and streaming-service exclusives like Stranger Things and Black Mirror offer up our favorite thrills and chills.
Still, there's just something about that "Based on a True Story" label to really get your blood pumping. Even if what you're reading or watching is a highly fictionalized account of real-life events, the fact that something even remotely similar to your horror entertainment has actually happened to someone? That's downright terrifying.
True-crime fans should note that most of the books on my list below do not bill themselves as true stories. Rather, the authors of these books have drawn inspiration from real-life killers, locations, and circumstances to pen their bestsellers. With that criterion, I could easily include about a dozen Stephen King books alone, but what's the fun in that?
It's also worth mentioning that what I find scary and what you find scary may be two completely different things. That's OK. If you aren't scared by any of the books on this list, by all means, drop me a line on Twitter to let me know what your favorite horror books based on true stories are. I'll be excited to read them — but only with the lights on.
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