What's The Scariest Book Set In Your State? Here Are All 50 Answers
Every state has its own breed of spooky stories and urban legends, but finding those ghouls and goblins revived in horror novels can be a challenge, particularly if you don't live in a story-rich state. To make reading in your own backyard easier, I have put together a list of the single scariest book set in every state, so keep reading to find out which horror novel should be the next to hit your nightstand.
Some states are the setting for a lot more scary stories than others. Maine, for example, is home to American master of horror Stephen King, and New York provides the sandbox for a wide variety of authors, including horror writers. Books set in New England and the Midwest excel at exposing the evils that lurk beneath picture-perfect surface lives, and the South and Appalachian regions have more than their faire share of creepiness.
Finding horror novels set within some states' borders is easier said than done, however, which is why you'll find a few thrillers and true-crime novels in the mix below. Don't worry, though, because these books are just as terrifying as any novel Stephen King has ever written.
Check out my picks for the scariest books set in every state below, and share your favorite novel from your home state with me on Twitter!
Alabama: 'The Elementals' by Michael McDowell
In this haunted house story, two old-money families collide in unexpected ways during a fateful summer gathering on Beldame, a long, thin piece of land that becomes an island at high tide, and that plays home to three Victorian houses. The sand dunes have begun to reclaim the third, unused home, and no one is truly sad to see it go. But for India, a 13-year-old visiting Beldame for the first time, the empty house has an allure that could spell disaster for everyone on the island.
Alaska: 'Polar Night' by Julie Flanders
When a woman is kidnapped by a Russian vampire who demands that she transform herself into his long-lost love, troubled detective Danny Fitzpatrick works to uncover the details of her disappearance, and discovers she is not the first woman to go missing in Fairbanks.
Arizona: 'The Revelation' by Bentley Little
This Bram Stoker Award-winning debut novel takes place in a small Arizona town plagued by sacrilegious strangeness. The pastor disappears with his family, the church is doused in goat blood, and an End Times preacher rolls into town with a righteous fury. As death and destruction take over Randall, Ariz., the new preacher assembles a team of locals to stop the growing evil in town.
Arkansas: 'The Bird Eater' by Ania Ahlborn
After his young son's tragic death, Aaron returns to his childhood home, Holbrook House, where he finds himself inexplicably haunted by dead birds and a strange, boyish figure. Two old friends attempt to reunite with the grieving man, but when he distances himself from them, they pitch themselves into the thick of Holbrook House, making it their mission to rescue Aaron.
California: 'The Hunger' by Alma Katsu
Set in the middle of the tragic Donner Party Expedition, Alma Katsu's The Hunger follows the wagon train into the Sierra Nevada, where their already weakened group begins to lose members to the mysterious and malevolent force they worry is always watching them.
Colorado: 'The Shining' by Stephen King
A down-and-out writer and recovering alcoholic, Jack Torrance drags his wife and son to a secluded Colorado resort hotel, where he is to be employed as caretaker during the off-season. Little does he know that the Overlook Hotel is home to many, many guests who never leave.
Connecticut: 'The Other' by Thomas Tryon
Set in 1930s Connecticut, Thomas Tryon's The Other centers on a pair of identical twin brothers with very different personalities. Niles and Holland were born on different days, with different Zodiac signs, and it shows. When their extended family gathers to mourn their father's death, one of the twins' antics turn more sinister than ever before.
Delaware: 'Hawkes Harbor' by S.E. Hinton
Bastard orphan Jamie Sommers travels the world seeking respite before arriving in the titular Delaware town, where he discovers something that will drive him over the edge into madness. Framed by interviews with psychiatric professionals, Jamie's story is unforgettable, slow unwinding, and not one to be missed.
Florida: 'Annihilation' by Jeff VanderMeer
Although it's never explicitly said that Area X lies in Florida, folks who have read Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation will agree that the eerie, offset location perfectly fits the Sunshine State. The first installment of VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation follows an all-female team of researchers into a physics-breaking space that changes everything — and everyone — that enters it.
Georgia: 'The House Next Door' by Anne Rivers Siddons
Col Kennedy and her husband Walter maintain a peaceful, comfortable existence on the outskirts of Atlanta. The peace shatters when a new construction goes up on the lot next to the Kennedys' home. The house brings ruin to all who enter it, and Col eventually finds herself forced to speak out on the dangers of the eponymous house next door.
Hawaii: 'The Presence' by John Saul
While on a project to study strange, humanoid bones found on Maui, anthropologist Katharine Sundquist watches as her teenage son becomes allergic to oxygen after recovering a geode from the Pacific. When a local astronomer uncovers a radio signal emanating from an ancient star, Katharine enters into a race against the clock to connect the dots and save her son.
Idaho: 'Pines' by Blake Crouch
Inspired by the 1990s TV series Twin Peaks, Blake Crouch's Pines follows Secret Service agent Ethan Burke to Wayward Pines, Idaho, where two of his fellow agents have gone missing in recent weeks. But after a violent incident leaves Ethan with no identification or official materials, he finds himself hard pressed to convince Wayward Pines residents of who he is and why he has come.
Illinois: 'Summer of Night' by Dan Simmons
During the summer of 1960, five preteen friends discover than an ancient evil has begun the process of returning to this world. When their classmate goes missing, the boys discover that he is not the first, and learn that they will have to rely on themselves if they want to survive and save their town.
Indiana: 'So Cold the River' by Michael Koryta
When a wealthy woman hires him to create a documentary film about the life of her ailing father-in-law, Eric believes his luck might be turning around. But after journeying to the old man's recently renovated hometown, the former site of a popular resort, the filmmaker finds himself plagued by visions, auditory hallucinations, and intense headaches, and his investigation into the town's history uncovers something that might have been better left in the dark.
Iowa: 'The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion' by Margaret Killjoy
Drawn to an idyllic commune to investigate her best friend's suicide, Danielle finds herself embroiled in the utter chaos that follows the residents' summoning of a protector spirit — a three-antlered deer called Uliksi — that begins killing its worshippers. Does the demon deer mean to slaughter the entire town, or is it culling evil from Freedom, Iowa? It's up to Danielle and her newfound group of friends to find out.
Kansas: 'Dark Places' by Gillian Flynn
Twenty-five years after seven-year-old Libby testified that her teenage brother Ben murdered their mother and sisters, she discovers a network of self-determined private investigators who want evidence that will exonerate the now middle-aged convict. In need of money, Libby agrees to help the Kill Club, for a price. But as her own investigation into the tragedy of her childhood deepens, she finds herself fleeing a killer once more.
Kentucky: 'The Watcher' by Charles Maclean
Mild-mannered junior executive Martin Gregory returns home on a Friday evening, fully intent on spending his wife's birthday weekend with her and their two dogs. Instead, upon his arrival, Martin butchers the animals and packs them into a box disguised as a birthday present for his wife, then leaves without a word. Seeking professional help for his actions, Martin descends into a hypnotic and terrifying journey into his past lives.
Louisiana: 'The Gates of Evangeline' by Hester Young
Following the tragic death of her young son, Charlie Cates accepts an assignment to write a true-crime book about the disappearance of a boy in Louisiana, 30 years before. Her son's death seems to have granted her disturbing visions of missing children, and one of the boys she sees might be the child at the heart of the case she has been sent to investigate.
Maine: 'The Keeper' by Sarah Langan
With the shuttering of its primary employer, the town of Bedford, Maine turns its attention to Susan Marley, a former beauty who now spends her life on the streets and in the shadows. She's on everyone's mind, quite literally: they're all dreaming about her. But things are about to get worse, much worse, as the violence in Bedford's dreams becomes reality.
Maryland: 'The Walker in Shadows' by Barbara Michaels
Pat's home is a twin to the empty structure next door, but the other house's new residents couldn't be more different than she and her son Mark. Josef Friedrichs rejects Pat's getting-to-know-you hospitality, and he's none too happy about how friendly with Mark his daughter Kathy has become. But re-opening the old house might have been a misstep, as the four adults discover that it may not have ever been empty, after all.
Massachusetts: 'Book of Shadows' by Alexandra Sokoloff
When the object of a Goth-rock frontman's attentions is found murdered in a suspected Satanic ritual, it's up to Boston P.D. investigators Adam and Carl to sort out fact from fiction. Why does a local witch claim that supernatural forces are behind the girl's death, and why did the lead suspect attack them during questioning if he's innocent?
Michigan: 'Bird Box' by Josh Malerman
After a series of incidents around the world involving people who fly into murderous rages after seeing something, the surviving dredges of humanity have learned to navigate the world without seeing anything. Living in a home with blacked-out windows, Majorie has trained her two children to wake up without opening their eyes. Now, after years of preparation, she thinks they're ready to go outside and make one last run for safety.
Minnesota: 'A History of Wolves' by Emily Fridlund
Raised by the last members of a Minnesota commune, 14-year-old Linda doesn't fit in with the other kids at her school. She takes comfort in her part-time employment as governess to Paul Gardner, the four-year-old son of her neighbors. But two events — dreadful accusations against a substitute teacher and the dramatic return of Paul's father, Leo — tear apart Linda's burgeoning sense of normalcy.
Mississippi: 'Fay' by Larry Brown
Seventeen-year-old Fay Jones wants more than a backwater life with her abusive father, so she packs up what little she has and heads for Biloxi. She gets by with a little help from the strangers she encounters along the way — and she leaves only bodies behind.
Missouri: 'Crota' by Owl Goingback
When a mangled body is recovered from the side of the road in Hobbs County, local police want to write it off as a bear attack, in spite of the fact that there are no native species of bear nearby. The Native American community has a different explanation: a legendary evil called Crota has come to call.
Montana: 'The Ploughmen' by Kim Zupan
Set in a snow-blanketed Montana, The Ploughmen carefully explores the relationship that blooms when a sheriff's deputy, still reeling from a dreadful childhood trauma, is assigned to night shifts at the local jail, where an elderly, insomniac serial killer is awaiting trial.
Nebraska: 'There's Someone Inside Your House' by Stephanie Perkins
Makani leaves her problems in Hawaii and moves to live with her grandmother in Nebraska, but the past has a way of catching up. As soon as their senior year begins, Makani's new classmates begin to die, killed one-by-one in gruesome ways, and her love interest is the prime suspect.
Nevada: 'Prey' by Michael Crichton
In Michael Crichton's 2002 horror novel, an experimental nanotechnology escapes the confines of a Nevada research base and begins to function, not according to its programming, which involved military reconnaissance, but to its own desires: hunting down the humans that created it. The rapidly evolving, learning, and growing cloud of deadly particles becomes the apex predator everyone dreads, and it's up to an unemployed scientist to stop the coming swarm.
New Hampshire: 'The Auctioneer' by Joan Samson
This quiet novel of small-town horror explores the impact of one man's hunger for power and money. Claiming that security should be beefed up to fight crime outside of Harlowe, auctioneer Perly Dunsmore convinces the town's sole lawman to hold an auction, selling off items donated by families in town, to hire more deputies. Each week, the sheriff and his new deputies go door-to-door, seeking more items for auction. And each week, those who do not give freely meet "accidental" ends.
New Jersey: 'The Accursed' by Joyce Carol Oates
One of Joyce Carol Oates' Gothic novels, The Accursed revolves around a bride's sudden disappearance on her wedding day, and the spirtualists, preachers, and devoted brother who begin a search for answers as tragedies continue to strike around them.
New Mexico: 'Little Heaven' by Nick Cutter
In 1965, three mercenaries venture into the wilds of New Mexico to find a man in Little Heaven, a religious compound, where his aunt believes he may have been kidnapped and hidden. Something much worse than a mystery cult lies in those woods, however, and no one who encounters it will remain unchanged.
New York: 'The Ballad of Black Tom' by Victor LaValle
This retelling of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Horror at Red Hook" situates readers in a ride-along with the eponymous Tom, who procures magical artifacts for magicians and con artists. When he's hired by Robert Suydam to deliver an ancient book to a Queens spellcaster, Tom finds himself entangled in the affairs of the Great Old Ones and their devoted worshippers.
North Carolina: 'Drawing Blood' by Poppy Z. Brite
Twenty years after his father brutally murdered their family and took his own life, sole-survivor Trevor returns to his childhood home in search of answers. There, he meets Zach, a hacker on the run from the F.B.I. Trevor and Zach fall in love, but can the computer genius save his new companion from the darkness of his past?
North Dakota: 'Follow Me Down' by Sherri Smith
Called home to North Dakota when her twin brother disappears and one of his students is found in a local river, Mia is determined to prove her brothers' innocence by finding the real killer. Doubts linger, however, and Mia's investigation into her hometown's politics will put her on the killer's radar.
Ohio: 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison
Living safely in Ohio, the formerly enslaved Sethe is haunted by a memory from more than a decade before: she killed one of her own daughters to prevent her from being sold back into slavery. Her actions cause the free black community in Cincinnati to reject Sethe, and her home is occupied by the ghost of the child she killed out of love.
Oklahoma: 'Killers of the Flower Moon' by David Grann
This one isn't fiction — which makes it all the more terrifying. During the Roaring Twenties, the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma accumulated massive wealth, due to the presence of oil on their land. The local white community conspired to steal the tribe's land and money, but their actions drew the attention of J. Edgar Hoover and his brand-new Bureau of Investigation.
Oregon: 'The End of the Sentence' by Maria Dahvana Headley and Kat Howard
With his life falling apart, Malcolm Mays buys a foreclosed home in Ione, Ore. A relationship with the house's original owner is included in the deal. Dusha Chuchonnyhoof has been imprisoned for 117 years, and his sentence is almost up . . .
Pennsylvania: 'The Resurrectionist' by E.B. Hudspeth
Combining (fictional) biography and (fictional) research, The Resurrectionist takes readers inside the mind of Spencer Black, a surgeon who believes that mermaids, minotaurs, and other half-human hybrids are actually the evolutionary ancestors of humanity.
Rhode Island: 'The Red Tree' by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Following the death of her lover Amanda, writer's-blocked novellist Sarah moves to Rhode Island, where she discovers the papers of her new home's former occupant, who was obsessed with the titular oak that still sits on her property. The tree captivates Sarah as well, and she begins to compose a manuscript dealing with her own experiences in its presence, which may lead her back to Amanda's arms.
South Carolina: 'Grief Cottage' by Gail Godwin
Narrated by 11-year-old Marcus, Grief Cottage tells the story of a newly orphaned boy who moves to South Carolina, where he lives in close proximity to the eponymous structure, the site of a tragic event. Fifty years earlier, the family who lived in Grief Cottage died in a hurricane. Their son's body was never found, but his ghost haunts the old home, and Marcus is drawn closer to it every day.
South Dakota: 'Blood Ties' by Lori G. Armstrong
Following the death of her Lakota half-brother, part-time P.I. Julie Collins has discovered that no one wants to look into an ongoing string of deaths of Native American men. When a white girl is pulled from a nearby creek, however, Julie's investigation will uncover ties between the case and her past.
Tennessee: 'The Family Plot' by Cherie Priest
The inventory in Chuck's salvage business is growing thin when he's approached by a wealthy widow looking to turn over the rights to her estate. Chuck sends in four team members to dig for salvage gold, but his crew begin to encounter the estate's spectral residents, and one becomes increasingly convinced that he knows where the bodies are buried.
Texas: 'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy
The horror in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian lies not in ghosts or demons, but in the evil that lurks within the hearts of men. The novel follows the southwestern Glanton gang, a real-life group of bounty hunters who collected scalps from the Apache Indians they killed. Keeping in mind that the scalp hunters are the heroes of this gore-fest, you can only imagine what antagonist Judge Holden is like.
Utah: 'The Open Curtain' by Brian Evenson
Revolving around the archaic Mormon ritual of blood atonement, The Open Curtain centers on Rudd, a Mormon teenager who learns that he has a half-brother, Lael, who lives nearby. After discovering that Brigham Young's grandson was once on trial for murder, Rudd and Lael begin an investigation into the ancient ritual, but Rudd's mind may not remain intact until the end.
Vermont: 'The Broken Girls' by Simone St. James
For 20 years, journalist Fiona has had to grapple with her sister's death at Idlewild Hall, a boarding school for troubled girls. The dead girl's boyfriend was convicted of her murder, but Fiona has never been convinced that he was the culprit. When someone decides to restore the ruined Idlewild Hall, Fiona steps in with a story idea, hoping to learn what really happened all those years ago.
Virginia: 'House of Leaves' by Mark Z. Danielewski
After moving into a new apartment, narrator Johnny Truant discovers a detailed manuscript written by the suite's late tenant, Zampanò. The papers concern a documentary titled The Navidson Record, which records the experiences of a photographer and his family in a strange house in Virginia. There's just one problem: Johnny can't find any proof that the movie, the Navidsons, or their house have ever existed.
Washington: 'The Good House' by Tananarive Due
Angela Toussaint intends to sell her grandmother's home in Sacajawea, known to locals as The Good House, but upon her return she discovers that the darkness that lurks inside its walls — the same evil that claimed the lives of her mother and son — has awoken once more.
West Virginia: 'The Unquiet Grave' by Sharyn McCrumb
Mrs. Heaster told her daughter Zona not to marry Trout, whose first wife died of a fall the year before. When Zona dies under similar circumstances, her mother demands justice, using Zona's own testimony from beyond the grave to back up her claims against Trout.
Wisconsin: 'The Grip of It' by Jac Jemc
Alternating narration from the central characters, The Grip of It follows Julie and James as they move into a large, old house on the edge of a small town, following an unfortunate episode in which James gambled away the bulk of their money. It doesn't take long for everything they once loved about the home to take on a sinister pall, however, and the couple soon realize that they cannot escape the house's own dark history.
Wyoming: 'The Darkest Night' by Ron Franscell
This true-crime novel revisits the 1973 abduction of sisters Amy and Becky, who suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of two men who offered them a ride home when their tire ran flat outside of Casper. Only one of them would live to tell their story. Written by the girls' neighbor, The Darkest Hour will give you the creeps for years to come.