I love reading and writing horror stories. As such, I have devoured hundreds of tales from horror writers over time. Horror stories tend to be imaginative and emotive, and while the use of vampires and werewolves no longer makes for a unique tale (thanks a lot, Twilight!) there are so many fascinating stories out there to keep you up at night.
If you’re looking to sink your fangs into the best horror fiction, here are my suggestions.
THE TAKING BY DEAN KOONTZ
The Taking is not only my favourite horror novel, but it is also my favourite novel full stop. Written by American novelist Dean Koontz (who follows Stephen King closely as one of the best American horror writers) The Taking is as perfect a horror story as you can get.
Koontz incorporates everything from creepy self-mutilating talking dolls to ghosts, UFOs, aliens, zombies, giant bugs and creepy dream sequences and while that may seem like a lot to pack into one novel, Koontz pulls it off with his ultimate ‘end of the world’ horror vibe.
IT BY STEPHEN KING
This certainly wouldn’t be a list of horror novels without something by Stephen King. The master of horror has written hundreds of stories that chill readers to the bone, but none are more prohibitive of sleep than IT, King’s story of a demonic entity that uses the fears of children (as well as the likeness of an evil clown) to prey on the small town of Derry, Maine.
IT is split into two stories and is as thick as a George R. R. Martin tome. The first part follows a group of children haunted by an evil clown who attacks them through the biggest fears. As the children of Derry are picked off one by one, the kids resolve to attack the evil entity, but as the second part of the novel shows, IT doesn’t hesitate to resurface 25 years later.
THE SKULDUGGARY PLEASANT SERIES BY DEREK LANDY
While a walking-talking skeleton in a dapper suit may sound scary, this series is actually for young adults, making it a great read for those who want thrills without too much violence.
The novels star Stephanie Edgley, a darkly humorous twelve-year-old Irish girl who inherits her uncle’s manor and the dark powers that accompany it – including witty ace detective Skulduggary Pleasant who becomes her mentor.
This series, which has twelve books and a few short stories, mixes Jack the Ripper style mysteries with dark sorcerers, corpse-like villains, and a strange new world behind the veil of our own. The fast-talking sass that Derek Landy brings to the page makes for an enjoyable read no matter which of his novels you have your nose in.
COSMIC DECAY: CONTAMINATION BY COURTNEY CARR
Hey, if we’re talking about horror stories, where would I be without a shameless plug? Written by yours truly, Cosmic Decay: Contamination is the first in a three-part series that marries a unique blend of horror and science fiction by focusing on a battle for the Earth against both zombies and aliens.
The story centres on married couple Max and Victoria Stone who are riding out the end of the world via zombie apocalypse (known as ‘the Mindless’) with a group of survivors. As they battle the cannibalistic humans who wander the streets they soon become privy to the arrival of Visitors from another world, who are behind the destruction in a bid to take over the Earth.
As the Visitors’ settlement begins, the group band together to figure out a way to get the Visitors off their planet and try to reclaim their world.
I wrote this novel with the idea that this takeover of the world could happen at any place, at any time, and to anyone, which is what gives the destruction of Earth such a chilling resonance. If you read closely enough, you may just find a lot of Canberra influence between the pages.
Get your own copy of Cosmic Decay: Contamination here.