The Scary Novel You Should Read Next, Based On Your Favorite Classic Horror Movie
Halloween season is nearly here, which means that horror buffs can finally revel in weeks of scary programming on their favorite networks. If you're looking for a way to squeeze more frights into your life, I've got the perfect scary novel for you to read, based on your favorite classic horror movie. Grab your popcorn and your favorite blanket, because it's about to get pretty freakin' spooky in here.
I personally believe that horror novels belong on your nightstand year round, because there's nothing quite so lovely as a good, literary scare. For others, though, fall is the only time for ghouls and ghosts — 'tis the season, after all. No matter which camp you fall into, you'll find something to read among the 15 books on the list below.
It's worthwhile to mention that I've taken some liberties with the "classic" horror movie label. You won't find Frankenstein, Dracula, or The Wolf Man on this list. Rather, I've picked movies that span the three decades between Psycho (1960) and Child's Play (1988). These are the horror movies you probably watched at least once growing up, so get ready for a heavy dose of nostalgia and a few scares, too:
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'Psycho,' read 'The Family Plot' by Cherie Priest
Family secrets and a creepy old manor house make Psycho the horror thrillfest it is, and fans of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous film will love Cherie Priest's The Family Plot. In Priest's novel, the wealthy Augusta Withrow and her family have secrets to hide, and as a salvage crew will soon discover, her house is, well, less than empty.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'The Shining,' read 'The Haunting of Hill House' by Shirley Jackson
Stephen King's The Shining wouldn't be the same story without the Overlook Hotel: a haunted structure that attempts to enchant and possess its longterm residents. In the same way, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House — which is soon to have its third screen adaptation, thanks to Netflix — deals with an evil residence intent on maddening those who step inside.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'The Exorcist,' read 'Affinity' by Sarah Waters
The Exorcist shocked audiences in 1973 with its portrayal of a young girl driven to monstrous and blasphemous deeds by a demon. In Sarah Waters' Affinity, a well-to-do spinster begins working in a women's prison, where she meets and becomes enraptured with a famous medium.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'Hellraiser,' read 'The Cipher' by Kathe Koja
Based on a novella by writer-director Clive Barker, Hellraiser tracks a series of events that unfold after a magical puzzle box unleashes a demon with a knack for torture. Kathe Koja's horror classic, The Cipher, centers on a young couple who discover a hellish black hole hidden in their apartment building.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'Child's Play,' read 'The Icarus Girl' by Helen Oyeyemi
In Child's Play, a young boy comes into possession of a murderous doll inhabited by the soul of a serial killer. In Helen Oyeyemi's The Icarus Girl, an eight-year-old girl named Jessamy struggles to fit in in both of her parents' home countries — the U.K. and Nigeria — and eventually befriends TillyTilly: a girl only Jessamy can see.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'Soylent Green,' read 'The Killing Moon' by N.K. Jemisin
The 1973 dystopia Soylent Green explored the dark side of a world-hunger cure invented and distributed in an age of overpopulation. Hitting similar notes, N.K. Jemisin's The Killing Moon centers on Ehiru, a man tasked with collecting magic from his city's sleeping residents, who finds himself thrown into a conspiracy when those sleepers begin to turn up dead.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'Rosemary's Baby,' read 'The Silent Companions' by Laura Purcell
Rosemary's Baby capitalized on fears for its pregnant heroine's safety, a theme that's eerily similar to one you might find in Laura Purcell's The Silent Companions. The gothic novel follows Elsie, a heavily pregnant widow, as she moves into her late husband's ancestral home, which is rumored to house a centuries-old curse.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,' read 'Brother' by Ania Ahlborn
Since 1974, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre terrorized viewers with its family of inbred villains, who manipulate the intellectually disabled baby of the family, a giant known only as Leatherface, into murdering passersby. Taking a slightly different approach, Ania Ahlborn's Brother tells the story of a family very much like Leatherface's, from the perspective of Michael, a young killer who doesn't want to hurt anyone.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'Halloween,' read 'The Girl from the Well' by Rin Chupeco
Centered around the two surviving members of the Myers family, Halloween recounts the evil stalker-killer Michael Myers' first attempt to finish the job and kill his kid sister, Laurie Strode. Less a tale of familial homicide than revenge, Rin Chupeco's The Girl from the Well tells the story of Okiku, a Japanese ghost who hunts and kills predators who prey on innocent children.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'Friday the 13th,' read 'Revenge' by Yoko Ogawa
In Friday the 13th, the teens who let young Jason Voorhees drown find themselves slaughtered, one after another, by a spirit of his vengeance. Yoko Ogawa's Revenge contains 11 stories — connected in subtle and sinister ways — centered around the titular theme.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'The Amityville Horror,' read 'The Silence' by Sarah Rayne
Supposedly based on a true story, The Amityville Horror is a haunted house story for the ages. Occupying that same vein is Sarah Rayne's The Silence, in which a widowed antiques dealer finds herself face-to-face with the ghosts that haunt her late husband's childhood home, which was once the scene of a grisly crime.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'A Nightmare on Elm Street,' read 'Dreamfall' by Amy Plum
Sleep is dangerous in A Nightmare on Elm Street, in which the gruesome killer Freddy Krueger gets his revenge on the lynch mob who burned him alive by murdering their teenage children in the kids' dreams. Amy Plum's Dreamfall also deals with deadly nightmares, this time as the result of an experimental insomnia treatment gone horribly wrong.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'Poltergeist,' read 'The Grip of It' by Jac Jemc
The forerunner to today's haunted house films, Poltergeist explored the strange and horrific events following a young family's move into a house built atop an ancient graveyard. In Jac Jemc's The Grip of It, two people in a tiring marriage purchase a house in the country, only to discover that it is beset by strange phenomena.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'Jaws,' read 'Into the Drowning Deep' by Mira Grant
The movie that made generations afraid of swimming, Jaws revolves around a series of shark attacks on the New England coast. In Mira Grant's Into the Drowning Deep, the killers are more legendary than man-eating sharks — they're mermaids.
If your favorite classic horror movie is 'Alien,' read 'Contagion' by Erin Bowman
For all you sci-fi horror fans out there, I've got this recommendation. Both Alien and Contagion focus on the events that follow a spaceship's response to a distress beacon that summons them to a too-quiet location where a deadly creature reigns. Pick this one up if you've been sorely disappointed since Alien 3.