Top Ten Horror Book Writers

The top ten horror authors. Not films but books. Their ability to scare amazes and will pull you into the book.

Please share your comments.
The Top Ten
1 Stephen King Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. Many of his most well-known novels include Carrie, It, The Shinning, The Stand, Misery, The Dark Tower series, and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, which was later adapted into the film The Shawshank Redemption which is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.

Stephen King is probably one of the most well-known and prolific writers of our time. Ranging from the frustrated child that develops telekinetic powers to a mythic Universe of gunmen and creatures, and passing through the basic horror of the classic vampire and werewolves, King does one thing for sure: he keeps you reading and devouring the next chapter.

Is he the best horror writer of all times? Probably. Quality and quantity joins the concept of diversity, but above all, King is even better day after day, and he has something new to tell. Something to write about. And we, well, we'll just wait for his next book.

No one else writes like Stephen King. He can make me laugh, cry and scare the crap outta me like no one else can. He's always addressed as the best horror writer but I think he's much more than that. He writes with such wit and depth, it goes beyond the average horror novel standards. (Just take The Shawshank Redemption). And seriously, I've read a decent amount of books, but never I had such a fit of laughter as when I read chapter V of Duma Key. I was literally rolling and gasping for breath and had sore abs the next day. Worked the first time and works every time I read it. I couldn't thank enough for this man to write books like that.

What makes Stephen King different from other writers of horror is that he tries to link up elements of fantasy horror from our imagination, whether it's vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies, and other supernatural beings, with real-life horrors of racism, sexism, homophobia, pollution, collapse of the environment, and thus lend the social or psychological issues some of the weight that horror fiction could offer. Most of us have little to fear from monsters, and yet we live in cultures that are every bit as dangerous despite the non-existence of terrible supernatural forces.

What makes Stephen King different from other horror authors is that he tries to link up the elements of fantasy horror from our imaginations, whether it's vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies, and other supernatural beings, with real-life horrors of personal tragedies and traumas, racism, sexism, homophobia, pollution, collapse of the environment, and thus lend the social or psychological issues some of the weight that horror fiction could offer. Most of us have little to fear from monsters, and yet we live in cultures that are every bit as dangerous despite the non-existence of terrible supernatural forces.

2 Edgar Allen Poe

If you truly respect the horror genre you wouldn't place someone as talented and dedicated as Edgar Allen Poe as second place. If anything he should be number one. Of course there are the people that believe "so-and-so's books are so much scarier," but Edgar Allen Poe was the man to push his way into man's subconscious and bring its fears to life back in the 19th century. Stephen King would not have a place in this world if it weren't for Poe. He was one of the best known authors of American history and has earned his place at number one. If anyone claims different then they are unable to fully appreciate the true horror genre.

He creates so much suspense and it's like he's right there telling you an ancient story that has been passed for generations but has nevertheless decreased it's scariness.
In his short but frightening stories he doesn't scare you with.
The typically ghouls, ghosts and zombies, it's just the ideas behind it all that are terribly frightening.
Like for example the tell tale heart: don't you find the idea of some stranger watching you night after night for seven night? It's scary, especially when you think about the fact that the stranger was biding his time when he could have killed a long time ago. And the stranger thinks he's not crazy which is stupid because the way he goes on about the poor old man really is horrific. I mean imagine killing a man because his bone chilling eye was getting under your skin. And the way he hid the heart under the floorboards, a complete psychopath in my experience.
Edgar Allen Poe finds a way of expressing feeling perfectly as if were second ...more

People say Stephen King, only because they know the name. Yet King is nothing compared to Poe. Poe was able to capture emotion, dread, fear, loneliness and utter desperation that King, just can't get. Whereas King shocks with imagery (Blood, or like in Misery, the dead rat ice cream cone) Poe shocked with internal tension and dread ( the shared feeling you have with the protagonist in Tale-Tell Heart, as it beats, beats, beats through the floor boards). Poe was able to make the story personal, something you connect too and forces you to share the experience with the hapless victim.

Master of horror he sure showed to be with tales such as The Pit and the Pendulum. Master of alternative science fiction he sure showed to be with tales such as A Descent into the Maelström. Master of unclichéd romance he showed to be with tales such a Ligeia and somewhat similar yet at the same time not. Even had some comic reliefs, like certain parts from The Gold Bug and the somewhat ending of The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Now, please do not get me wrong with this, for I also vote for Edgar Allan Poe (it is not Allen) over the fact that he is a true master of horror. But, he is a horror of suspense and unlike Stephen King does not repeat the formula all that much over and over like: I am afraid of this and that and ugh. It is all about the atmosphere and how well the words are all formulated.

3 H.P Lovecraft Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. Virtually unknown and published only in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre. more.

Stephen King was the first horror author I had the chance to read. I was introduced to horror movies and literature at an early age and I've been hooked ever since. However when I branched out I realized that King is kind of elementary and doesn't really branch out from his standard formula after the first few classics. I'll always respect the Shining because come on - it's a masterpiece! But Lovecraft opens and imagines entire worlds to us and there's just nothing like him. Disturbing, violent, scary in so many different ways!

At the dawn of a new century, many authors relied on short cheap magazines to display their work. Lovecraft relied mainly on "Weird Tales" and never made over 500 dollars from any paycheck. However, even with little payment his work caught the attention of hundreds of readers from the very beginning and now his work and references to his work (especially Cthulhu) are seen and used everywhere. It is impossible to live in todays world without seeing Lovecraft's influences even if you don't realize it. His writing can be boring and the over usage of descriptions can often drive audience members away, however the way he has done it is in a way that is tolerable to most people and portrays his idea in a better way than broad writing. Also some people say they don't enjoy his work due to the underlined points of xenaphobia or minor rascism in his pieces. However this was common in the earlys 1900's and ofetn an accepted trait in Providence Rhode Island, so to find winks at rascism and fear ...more

The true master of horror captures the most terrifying creatures you didn't know you were scared of. The Colour out of Space itself made me scared of unfelt wind rustling the trees! His range stretches from simple ghost stories to cosmic horror, and even the first true modern zombie tale (Herbert West Re-Animator). The only issue I have is he didn't have longer to write his superb tales of true horror.

Lovecraft is an excellent author whose original works intrigued hundreds of readers who love a spark of dread and horror in their lives. His imagination itself is his very own canvas. His nightmares, his thoughts, his delusions of this world and the unknown, are the paints waiting to be brushed in. His work is amazing in his own ways and it will last for generations to come.

4 R. L. Stine

R. L. Stine is one of the greatest horror writers for kids, he is writing so many scary books with monsters, for example Say cheese and die, Haunted mask, Welcome to dead house, and many more, I will probably start reading Stephen kings books after I have readen all of his books. So far my favorite goosebump books are Monsterblood and A night with the living dummy, Well, I pretty much hate the goosebumps book called Curse of the Mummy's Tomb. But still I love the books.

I have no standard to judge this "GREAT AUTHOR". Still, I'll say that one of the best authors. Not one of the best authors, only ONE best authors. Loved his Horrorland series. My favourite book is Streets of the Panic Park. He should be number one in this list. No words to describe him, love you and waiting for a new series from master of fright. #AnSh ThAkUr

Awesome! Stine is the creator of the popular children's series Goosebumps. Goosebumps is very intense and introduces a new character in pretty much each book. Stine is very creative when it comes to writing horror stories, but horror stories your future kids will adore! Currently Reading Revenge R Us. Great book!

R.L. Stine has written the most popular horror book series: Goosebumps. His books have very different stories from each other and has a new character.

5 Clive Barker

I like King, Koontz, Poetry and Lovecraft. Barker does elevate horror stories to the level of ART. His themes are deep multilayered messages. His characters are complex and multi faceted. There is something to be learned by reading his work. The darker side of human nature is exposed to us and understood, not justified or agreed with. You can relate to all his characters even the monsters. Isn't that true horror? The true horror is to realize that all of us have the capability of being a monster. The challange is to resist that impulse no matter how much "horror" we may have experienced in our own lives. No one today expresses this with such eloquence.

Clive is way more intelligent than Dean Koontz. His books are more on par with serious literature. Koontz has a mainstream appeal to his books and probably makes more money, but Clive is on another level. Back in 1985, Stephen King said he is the future of horror. This is true. Clive is still the future of horror. His books are literally so good that he's still ahead of his time.

Creative, imaginative, hair raising, bone chilling, literature by this man. He is also a painter, and his paintings are just as mesmerizing and creepy... It's extraordinary! He should be listed as the number one horror writer in my opinion!

Not as popular as Stephen King, but a much better horror author than King. I love King, he is my favorite author, but when it comes to horror? Clive Barker is better.

6 Bram Stoker

One of the greatest writers, of all genres, of the 20th Century. He weaved one of the greatest horror stories of all time, and in doing so created perhaps the most infamous monster of all, Dracula!

7 Mary Shelley Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, née Godwin (30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Shelley, in her one novel, energized the horror genre worldwide at a critical moment so that her effect has been felt for over 200 years. Lovecraft's essay, "Supernatural Horror in Literature", being organized chronological, provides a good viewpoint on Shelley's relative place in horror literature by showing what preceded her and what followed. Just for sheer impact and influence on the genre, Shelley should be listed in the top ten.

I would like to point out one little fact. In Stephen King's Danse Macabre, he states that Frankenstein's Monster (along with Dracula and the Werewolf via Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) is one of the horror genre's major archetypes. Famous to the point of having its own breakfast cereal, Frankenstein is pretty influential. I mean, it helped shape number 1 on the list.

The psychological torment that Frankenstein's "monster" endured, knowing that he was created as an experiment by an obsessed quack, was illustrated viscerally and unabashedly. The novel was dark and unforgivingly horrific.

8 Dean Koontz

The same plot and the same characters written over and over again with a generic, eye-grabbing title that has almost nothing to do with the story slapped onto the front so it sells copies at the airport. He is the greasy fast-food of horror literature.

For me he is second to #1 which is Stephen King. He incorporate elements of horror, mystery, thriller and suspense. Stephen King read his book and inspired him, sometimes he get ideas. One of the best.

I've tried to read Koontz different times and can't come close to finishing a book. Poor character and plot development. Makes me want to write because if he can get published, maybe I can too.

Love Koontz! His works keep on the edge of my seat. I am also more apt to re-read his works. His work does lean more toward suspense, and yes... When he dives into his horror, you will NOT sleep!

9 Richard Laymon

I think people are getting confused between horror and thriller...Laymon is a true HORROR writer. A lot of this top 10 are over rated, and Marry Shelley at #7! come on she wrote 1 good book and that's it!

I have read all of Richard Laymon's books. Such awesome stories. They kept me riveted from the very beginning all the way to the end.

This writer was an absolute awesome storyteller. He made you feel as you were right in the middle of the horror.

Love Richard Laymon, Unfortunately, I am unable to listen to any of his works on audiobook. Bummer!

10 Darren O'Shaughnessy

The Saga Of Darren Shan is the best book series I've ever read. Actually it's the best 12 books I've ever read. Its not only scary but there are so many amazing adventures in it you just can't stop reading it. You're always like "1 page more and I will stop reading" well that never happens! And its emotional too. I swear I feel every feeling in my body while reading these series. You should be wasting your time if you haventread the books yet. Go and add reading Darren's books to your bucket list!

Darren Shan is an excellent author who makes his readers lean on the edge of there seats. Readers can't wait for the next book in the Darren Shan series as they can't wait to find out what happens next in his dangerous life.

Darren is an amazing author, his ability to mix horror with adventure is amazing and every book makes you just sit on the edge of you seat wanting more and more!

I enjoyed the Saga of Darren Shan books and the manga because it also fits together if it wasn't for those storyboards that were put on the manga version.

The Contenders
11 Richard Matheson

Hell House trumps every "scary" book written by King.

Matheson's work is so much more solid than Barker or King, I don't know why I am the first to vote for him?

Matheson explores themes of inner human darkness, choices, consequences and evil. King writes boo stories and Barker writes gore stories.

Hell House in itself is a disturbing piece that is so intense. Despite having ghosts, there are other dark themes including necrophilia, sodomy, abortion, rape, murder, lust and the corruption of the soul.

I would also vote for his collection of short stories over 60% of the authors on this votes best list.

Closing I will say the only really good horror novel by King is Thinner. (Salem's Lot was okay, but not truly as horrifying as Hell House or the Button by Matheson.)

Matheson's world is one of misery and despair and he is able to capture this in his writing again and again. From I am Legend to his wealth of short stories, each will leave you with a sadistic grin on your face.

I am Legend... Need I say more. Forget the films they are pants, check out the real thing, it is simply outstanding!

Stephen king adores Matheson's work so should you.

12 Christopher Pike

So happy he's on this list! Christopher Pike is the perfect transition for pre and teens from most RL Stine books (especially the non-Goosebumps) into something like King. Loved his stories growing up, and he could really get into your head... there's one story of his that STILL haunts me.

You have to read some of his adult novels, especially The Season of Passage, to understand what an awesome horror writer Pike is. Season of Passage stays with you forever, never leaves the back of your mind, never stops beguiling.

This person is reasonably unknown but it's sad he is, because he really knows how to make amazing characters, fantastic plots and exellent character development. Don't let his ignominy fool you, he is one of the best if not the best horror writers.

Love his books. Got hooked on "Remember Me" when I was kid. Now I am introducing his books to my nieces.

13 Agatha Christie Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, was an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. She is the best-selling novelist ever. She also made the longest play ever. She is remembered for making multiple mystery books including; And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, A.B.C. Murders, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

I have tons of her novels including Poirot & Marple. Mysteries give the amount of edvice that means something to a person in that kind of story.

Best Mystery writer! Her stories are believable yet so mesmerizing that you can't put them down

14 Ramsey Campbell

He's not the fear of the slasher or the satanic being, but rather that of everyday uncomfortable situations - a traffic stop, a confrontation, an audit, etc. - heightened to the point of the unbearable. And if you need them, there are usually monsters underneath.

The absolute best horror writer ever!

15 Anthony Horowitz

This guy rules!

16 Shaun Hutson

Make me feel lie I ma readin an 80's horror movie, that is definitely a good thing love his work.

17 Bentley Little

His novels made me stay awake all night, unable to put it down. I was so eager to know how the end would turn out... Not to mention they made me glance at the darkness within the room every now then, boy was I sacred! Laugh out loud.

18 Koji Suzuki
19 John Saul

This author was my introduction to the horror genre with "The Homing". I'm STILL afraid of insects! Fantastic writer - I would recommend him any day!

His books are suspenseful and each tales plot is different from the one before. Horror fans of all ages will appriciate his writing. It's hard to put one of his books down!

When I thought I knew how things would turn out... Bang! Nope there was a twist in the end. Stories has you on the edge.

I have been reading his books since I was 14 years old. He is my favorite author. I hope he writes a lot more books.

20 Peter Straub

Every book he has written has entranced me and spooked the heck out of me. My favorite horror writer HANDS DOWN.

If it weren't for Stephen King, Straub would have been considered the best of the 70's and 80's.

A branch of Stephen King. One of the best. Try to read his books, all his books.

21 Kelley Armstrong

Her supernatural novels are the best. They have everything a good novel needs, romance, suspence, gore, fantasy, sex, and a dark sence of humor.

22 Graham Masterton

Some of his ideas may sound silly when the lights are still on. You may laugh at the things he came up with or all the mistakes he made not doing the research or ignoring some details just to make something fit the story, but then you read the stories and they just can't leave your head, some of his ideas will haunt you even years after reading. That man knows how to scare his readers.

Brilliant, Burial and Sleepless are the best books I have ever read.

Horror commences right from beginning of his books.

23 Chris Mentillo

"Known to the macabre audience as "a true master of horror." This recluse's life really is a true testament of a living nightmare, and with no tripe. Dr. Chris Mentillo began writing about such dreams of horror due to his ill-fated lifestyle, dealing mostly with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and routinely horrific nightmares, thus igniting his career as a best-selling horror writer. The rest as they say is history."

24 Vincent V. Cava

This guy can pull a horror story out of a sock, and scare the hell out of you, give you the creeps, or even trouble you for days on end.

My favorite short story writer, in five lines this man can terrify you where you stand.

I've listened to picture this 3 times and it still gives me chills

You're the best

25 Jack Ketchum

If King is the master if horror, Ketchum's the god of terror.

8Load More
PSearch List