Most Stephen King fans have, by now, accepted the fact that there are many adaptations of King's work out there, both good and bad. His frightfully brilliant books have been turned into some of the world's most terrifying movies, as well as some of the world's most meh TV miniseries (and at least one famously flopped Broadway musical). So avid King readers were cautious going into Hulu's Castle Rock, the new TV horror series set in a fictional town in Maine. Castle Rock brings together dozens of King's different books and short stories, nearly all of which take place in one inter-connected multi-verse of horrors. It's no mean feat. But Castle Rock manages to pull it off in style, with a star-studded cast and some genuinely stunning moments of TV horror. So if you're just dying for that next episode, here are a few spine-tingling books to read in the meantime.
Of course, if you really want to stay in the world of Castle Rock, you can just read every novel, novella, and short story that Stephen King has ever written (it might take you a while). But if you're looking for more small town scares and well-crafted creeps, then here are 19 books written by King and his fellow horror greats to keep the spooky times rolling:
'The Graveyard Apartment' by Mariko Koike
A young couple, their daughter, their dog (Cookie), and their white finch move into an apartment by a graveyard. You can probably guess how that works out for them. But legendary horror author Mariko Koike gives King a run for his money when it comes to gradually ratcheting up the tension to create memorable characters and an unforgettably creepy atmosphere.
'Providence' by Caroline Kepnes
Jon and Chloe grew up as best friends in their small New Hampshire town (I'm not saying that all New England states are basically just Maine, but... they're not dissimilar places). They depend on each other for everything, until the day that Jon disappears. Chloe's forced to navigate young adulthood without him. And when Jon finally reappears, he's not the same boy who went away...
'The Chalk Man' by C.J. Tudor
In 1986, young Eddie met the Chalk Man at a fair. The Chalk Man gave him and his friends ideas for drawings and secret messages, and it was all in good fun until the Chalk Man led them to a dead body. Now Eddie is a grown up, and all that is behind him... and then he receives an envelope containing nothing but a small drawing and a very ominous piece of chalk.
'The Devil Crept In' by Ania Ahlborn
Jude Brighton has gone missing, and his hometown of Deer Valley, Oregon, is starting to lose hope. It's been over 48 hours, and most people have assumed the worst for the missing boy. Only Stevie, his best friend and cousin, is still confident that Jude is out there and must be found. But Stevie's grand search will lead him to a number of other unsolved cases, and a terrible truth far worse than anything the adults can imagine.
'Needful Things' by Stephen King
Leland Gaunt has opened up a new shop in Castle Rock. It's called Needful Things, and it's creepy as heck. Everyone who enters the store seems to find just what they need, but the price they pay for each object is increasingly unusual. For devout fans of Castle Rock, this is perhaps THE Stephen King book to read, full of details of the town's inhabitant's and a deeply freaky exploration of evil.
'The Grip of It' by Jac Jemc
Julie and James have moved out of the city to get away from it all ("it all" being, primarily, James' gambling problem). Their new house is isolated. It sits between the sea and the forest. And it's increasingly strange, with rooms within rooms that seem to spontaneously decay, moving stains, and water that's full of mold spores. The Grip of It is a grotesque, gripping new take on the classic haunted house.
'The Good Son' by You-jeong Jeong
Yu-jin awakes one morning to a strange metallic smell and the dead body of his mother lying at the bottom of the stairs. He has no memory of the night before, which isn't all that unusual for Yu-jin, who has always suffered from seizures. But in this case, drawing a blank isn't an option: He must find the truth of what happened to his mother that night... and what part he played in all of it.
'Four Past Midnight' by Stephen King
This book collects four of Stephen King's most chilling novellas, including The Sun Dog, which is set in (you guessed it) the sleepy town of Castle Rock. In this story, 15-year-old Kevin Delevan has started to notice a strange black dog in each of his Polaroid pictures... and it seems to be getting closer?
'The Cabin at the End of the World' by Paul Tremblay
Little Wen is on vacation with her dads at a remote cabin in the woods of New Hampshire (can you guess where this is going?). One afternoon, she sees a stranger in the driveway. He seems friendly, and he wants to talk and play with her, but he also wants to warn her that "None of what’s going to happen is your fault." The Cabin at the End of the World is excruciatingly creepy, and a perfect read for fans of Stephen King's Misery or any other remote cabin fiction.
'Baby Teeth' by Zoje Stage
Suzette is reaching the end of her rope when it comes to her daughter, Hanna. She's an adorable little girl, but eerily silent. She loves her daddy, but she doesn't seem to care for her mommy. And her "childish" pranks are far, far too sophisticated for a little kid to pull of alone. Baby Teeth takes the "creepy kid" genre to the next level (so maybe don't read it if you do a lot of babysitting).
'Into the Water' by Paula Hawkins
Jules is coming back home against her will, to care for her teenage niece now that her sister is dead. Her sister, Nel, was found in a pool at the foot of a cliff. But Jules knows that she didn't jump. And Jules might have to uncover some unsavory memories from her own past if she wants to figure out what really happened to Nel that night.
'Gwendy’s Button Box' by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
You'd think that by now people would just stop living in Castle Rock altogether. But 12-year-old Gwendy Peterson lives in Castle Rock, and every day of the summer she takes the precarious Suicide Stairs up to Castle View. And one day there's a stranger up there who wants to talk to her. Gwendy’s Button Box is a classic King nightmare, set in his classic Maine town.
'The Breakdown' by B.A. Paris
If you've read a lot of Stephen King, you know that he's somewhat obsessed with car crashes (understandable, since he was almost killed in one). So he would probably be thoroughly freaked out by what happens to Cass while driving down a shortcut road in the middle of a storm in The Breakdown. Cass can't put that night out of her head, and her life is starting to fall apart as she tries to shake the feeling that someone (or something) has been watching her ever since.
'The Bargaining' by Carly Anne West
Penny has always been something of an inconvenience to her parents. But this is the first summer that they've decided to ship her off to the remote woods of Washington state to restore an old, broken-down house. Penny tries to find the bright side (like the cute guy at the general store), but she just can't ignore the weirdness of the old Carver House... or the children she sees, beckoning her ever deeper into the woods.
'The Good House' by Tananarive Due
Any good small town horror story starts with our reluctant protagonist coming home some years after a tragedy. In the case of The Good House, Angela is returning to her grandmother's house, the place where her son, Corey, died two years ago. She's finally ready to confront the events of that day and find the truth... but it turns out that her grandmother's legacy is far stranger (and more cursed) than Angela ever could have guessed.
'Bag of Bones' by Stephen King
Grieving novelist Mike Noonan has returned to his former favorite summer spot in (say it with me now) western Maine. He's still plagued by nightmares after the death of his wife four years ago. But he's also drawn to the widowed young mother, Mattie, as she fights for the right to keep her daughter... a fight that soon becomes entangled with the ghostly visitations that seem to want something from Mike.
'The Missing' by Sarah Langan
In a remote, wealthy community in (yup) Maine, a third-grade schoolteacher has decided to take her class on a field trip. While visiting the ruins of a neighboring town, however, a small boy unearths a horror in the woods — a horror that transforms its victims into something not quite human.
'Pet Sematary' by Stephen King
Pet Sematary is undoubtedly one of King's scariest works, and that's saying something. The Creed family has just moved into a lovely old house in rural Maine, and everything seems to be going fine. When the family cat dies, it's an ordinary tragedy... until the cat is buried in local "Pet Sematary," unleashing an ancient evil that has been silently biding its time.