8 Books Like 'It' To Read If You're Looking For More Terrifying Thrills
Clowns. They live in our sewers and eat our children. The "scary clown" character is a fixture of the horror genre, and no clown is more scary than Pennywise the Dancing Clown from It. Part 1 of the new It movie has finally hit the theaters, and most sane people are locking themselves in their homes and avoiding all storm drains and/or red balloons. But for you brave, foolish souls who actually want to read more about Pennywise and his clownish compatriots, here are a few terrifying books to read if you loved the It movie.
Not all of these books employ the killer clown archetype in the exact same way as It, of course. That's because not all horror writers can be Stephen King (thank goodness, because otherwise none of us would ever sleep at night). But all of these books have something in there to fuel your nightmares. Between killer carnies and terrifying coming of age stories, haunted circuses and real life murder clowns, these truly unsettling stories will keep you afraid of your own shadow until It Part 2.
So here are some books to read if you just can't get enough of It. After you've read It the book, of course.
'Geek Love' by Katherine Dunn
The Binewskis are a carny family who have set out to breed their own "oddities" for a traveling freak show. Through amphetamines, arsenic, and radioisotopes, they've created their own little family act of hunchbacks, "aqua-boys," conjoined twins, and the outwardly normal Chick, who just might be the strangest of all. Katherine Dunn manages to balance twisted family drama with outright horror in this creepy, brilliant book.
'Something Wicked This Way Comes' by Ray Bradbury
A sinister carnival rolls into town on one dark October night. Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has arrived in Green Town, Illinois, and two young boys soon find themselves drawn in by its mysteries. They're about to discover satanic sideshows, mazes, mirrors, and more in this hellish coming-of-age tale by one of the horror greats.
'The Body' by Stephen King
If you like It, you'll probably like quite a few of the many, many other horror novels King has to offer. But The Body, adapted into the film Stand By Me, is a great follow-up read if you want more about adolescent boys out on a thrilling, creepy adventure. Plus, The Body is a short story, so it's an easy quick read if you need to take a break from clown-based media.
'Twilight Eyes' by Dean Koontz
Slim MacKenzie is a drifter with eyes the color of twilight. He also just so happens to have the ability to see the invisible monsters that live all around us, feeding on our suffering. When Slim joins a traveling carnival, hoping for a respite from his personal demons, he discovers something far worse: a demonic hunting ground where humans are the hunted.
'Dark Carnival: An Anthology of Horror' edited by Jolene Haley, Kristen Jett, and Jessi Shakarian
Why settle for just one creepy clown when you can have an entire book of creepy carnivals? Dark Carnival collects stories of haunted fairgrounds, killer rides, and seriously messed up sideshows. Pick up a story now and then for a dose of horrific midway mania, or read straight through to made yourself truly terrified of ever setting foot in a carnival again.
'Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders' by Terry Sullivan and Peter T. Maiken
If fictional clowns aren't enough to make you feel queasy, you could always pick up a book about actual killer clown John Wayne Gacy. Back in the '70s, Gacy would appear at hospitals and charity events as the character "Pogo the Clown." He also assaulted, tortured, and murdered thirty-three young men and boys before he was finally caught. Killer Clown takes a detailed look at Gacy's crimes and the grisly investigation that followed... so read at your own risk.
'Bad Clowns' by Benjamin Radford
So why do we find clowns creepy, anyway? (You know, besides horrifying clown murderer John Wayne Gacy.) Benjamin Radford looks into the history of clowns and their place in popular culture to determine exactly why clowns are frightening, from Bozo to Krusty to Ronald McDonald. It turns out that the history of clowns is long, strange, and full of evil-clown panics.
'Summer of Night' by Dan Simmons
Five 12-year-old boys are looking forward to summer vacation in the sleepy town of Elm Haven, Illinois. But on the last day of school, their classmate Tubby Cooke vanishes without a trace. The gang soon starts to notice other disappearances, as well as strange phenomena around Elm Haven: a man dressed like a World War I soldier, odd holes that appear in the ground, and a truck that seems to be following them. Summer of Night may not be a creepy clown book, but it is the story of a lovable gang of kids coming of age in the midst of unimaginable horror.