13 Underrated Creepy Books That Will Definitely Make It Harder To Sleep Tonight
When we're talking about spooky books (especially during October, the spookiest of months), several titles and authors seem to come up time and time again. Stephen King. Shirley Jackson. The Goosebumps series. That one kids' book with the story about the girl with the ribbon around her neck. Sometimes we'll get a throwback, like Mary Shelley or Bram Stoker. But the literary world is wide, and full of terror. There are a lot of freaky, horrific, and downright distressing books out there that you may not have heard of. Here are thirteen underrated creepy books to check out this Halloween and all year round, because ghosts never take the day off.
Some of these books are horror classics that might have faded out of the public eye. Others are off-beat graphic novels, creepy poetry collections, or frightening cult classics that deserve a wider audience. All of them will make it harder to sleep at night. They lurk at the back of the bookstore shelves, just waiting for an unsuspecting reader. So if you feel like you've read just about every creepy story out there, from the murder clowns to the serial killers, check out one of these underrated tales of terror for something entirely new:
'Horrorstör' by Grady Hendrix
A horror novel in the form of an Ikea catalog. It sounds a little silly and yes, Horrorstör is pretty hilarious, but it's also genuinely creepy. Three employees volunteer to take the night shift in order to get to the bottom of all the weirdness that has been going on in the Orsk furniture superstore, but what they find is far, far weirder than anything they could have imagined.
'Blindness' by José Saramago
It's hard to call Blindness underrated since it was a bestseller, but it's rarely brought up on lists of creepy, creepy books. And boy is it creepy. A city is suddenly hit with a plague of "white blindness." Thousands upon thousands succumb, until only one sighted woman is left to lead her charges through the empty, surreal streets of a ravaged city.
'The Woman in Black' by Susan Hill
The Woman in Black is an absolute classic, but it's sort of faded into the background when it comes to the major works of horror. This is the ultimate ghost story, though, for the Woman in Black is out for revenge, and you don't want to catch sight of her watching you through the fog.
'From These Ashes' by Fredric Brown
From These Ashes is, for the most part, a collection of very, very short stories, most of them science fiction. But no one can write a one page horror story like Fredric Brown. His series of Nightmare and Great Lost Discoveries stories, in particular, will leave you with an unpleasant feeling in your stomach for days.
'Black Hole' by Charles Burns
A grotesque STD that becomes a plague and leads to murders? Yikes. Black Hole is a chilling graphic novel that manages to capture all of our fears and anxieties about high school and all of our fears and anxieties abut illness and death. Also at least one kid will "molt" their skin.
'Thus Were Their Faces' by Silvina Ocampo
Mysterious doubles and talking statues and and pyromaniac children. Thus Were Their Faces operates on a sort of dream logic, spinning eerie tales of possession and lapdogs with hidden agendas. It's an impressive work of magical realism from one of Argentina's greatest short story writers, and it's also super creepy in a way that gets right under your skin.
'Geek Love' by Katherine Dunn
The title of this book sounds adorable! It's probably about geeks who are in love, right? And they go to comic conventions together? ...right? Actually, Geek Love is the skin-crawling story of a family who has decided to "make" their children into sideshow "freaks" by way of amphetamines, arsenic, and radioisotopes, and travel the country as a lurid family act. So... that's fun, too, I guess...
'Through the Woods' by Emily Carroll
I really don't know how Emily Carroll can create such lovely illustrations and also write such utterly terrifying stories. Through the Woods is a series of "fairy tales" that should not, under any circumstances, be read alone after dark. Read one of her online comics, and you'll see what I mean.
'Penpal' by Dathan Auerbach
The internet is extremely scary! At least, that's what I glean from Penpal, which started its life as a series of short and interconnected stories posted on an online horror forum. Those stories grew up to be one deeply frightening novel, all about uncovering the truth behind a horrific occurrence in one man's childhood.
'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
What makes The Yellow Wallpaper so incredibly, universally creepy is that there's no monster. There's no ghost. There's just one woman, trapped in a room with yellow wallpaper, slowly but steadily losing her mind. It's a quick read that'll stay embedded in your psyche forever.
'How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend' by Linda Addison
Through poetry and prose, humor and horror, Linda Addison explores friendship with demons (among other things). Her tales involve jealous ghosts, land sharks, and little girls learning witchcraft. She's able to swing from silly to viscerally dark in the space of a few sentences, and she's a must read for all horror fans, everywhere.
'Drawing Blood' by Poppy Z. Brite
Trevor McGee is finally returning home, years after his father murdered their other family members and took his own life. But far from burying the past, Trevor finds himself haunted by the demons that once drove his father to madness. Poppy Z. Brite is one of the major trans voices in the horror genre, and Drawing Blood is the rare horror novel that can explore a complex LGBTQ love story and scare you silly.
'The Haunted Looking Glass' edited by Edward Gorey
Edward Gorey is the unquestioned master of creepy drawings, so I trust his judgment when it comes to creepy stories, too. The Haunted Looking Glass is a collection of Gorey's favorite stories about ghosts (and other spooky subjects), each accompanied by a classic Gorey illustration.