Just by cracking open Shirley Jackson's slim book The Haunting of Hill House, I knew I was taking a risk. I'm the kind of person who, upon hearing the floorboards creak, assume it's a ghost stopping by to say hello. So reading this ghost story was a leap for me. But reading it alone in my old house? That was a mistake. I was plunged into the same paranoid ideation as the paranormal investigators in the book.
The Haunting of Hill House was published in 1959 and remains one of the most acclaimed works of psychological horror of all time. A Netflix adaptation of the classic arrives on October 12. But when compared to other scary books, The Haunting of Hill House is tame. The works on this list range from mildly chilling to outright disturbing, and feature demonic possessions, ghosts, serial killers, and images that burrow into your mind and never leave.
Each horror book offers a challenge. Can you handle this? As the equation goes, horror books become more terrifying the deeper into the night you read.