The Best Horror Novelists of all Time

In the interest of celebrating the best genre in literature, I thought I would post a bit about the writers that I think are the best horror writers of all time. There is at least one book that comes to mind when I think of each of these writers and the books they have written have been part of my reading ever since my mother started letting me take down the books with the dark covers. Nonetheless, I look up to everyone who has dared to try to offend the senses of others with wording and imagery. These nine have just stuck out for me and hope you have or will have the opportunity to enjoy them as well.

Stephen King

I'm starting this off with a bang. Stephen King is the horror writer of the 20th century. He has churned out more bestsellers than I have time to count. Everything he writers turn to gold and film, I should add. No one is as universally appealing to horror fans as Mr. King. Sure, he has his denouncers, but they cannot even make a dent in his sales.

For me, it all started weirdly. The first of his works that I read was "The Green Mile." Any fan would tell you that is an odd place to start, but not a bad one. It was brilliant. I had to have more. From there, it was a parade of King books leading to the story that I think of as the Mecca of horror and science fiction -- The Dark Tower series. Boy, how I was, and still am, hooked. I've forgiven King for his ending, but only after throwing the book across the room at three in the morning and pouting the entire following day. Still, I was only upset at the end because the series was so good. I don't think any ending would have satisfied me.

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley needs no introduction. All I have to say is "Frankenstein." Enough said, but I suppose I need to say more in order to be able to call this an entry. Mary Shelley was clearly brilliant. Her 19th century masterpiece has spawned countless adaptations in novels, films and on the stage. The monster created by the eponymous doctor now has a life of its own, no pun intended, but it is like the monster has leapt off the page and clomped its way through the past century and a half without any reference to the novel being necessary. Bravo, Mrs. Shelley.

Bram Stoker

How does one say anything about Bram Stoker that has not already been said? Well, anything sensible, at least. I could call him a terrible couch and be original, but that wouldn't make much sense, would it? Anyway, Bram Stoker is responsible for the best and most beloved vampire novel of all time. No one will ever be able to touch "Dracula." You can make vampires sparkle, you can make vampires sexy, you can make vampires teen heartthrobs, you can make vampires disgusting and just about anything else. What you cannot do is tell a single vampire story to match "Dracula." You can try, but you will fail.

William Peter Blatty

William Peter Blatty is well known, but not nearly as well known as his above counterparts. However, the biggest story that he spawned haunts the minds of adults and teens alike. Perhaps some children too, but the idea of a child checking out this work by William Peter Blatty is almost as disturbing as the book itself. I am talking about "The Exorcist." Blatty might not be Stephen King, but that novel is as spine chilling as a novel can get. He pulled out all of the stops. He made sure I could not put the book down and that I could not sleep once I did.

Edgar Allen Poe

The master of short stories, the poet of horrors, the eerie, the brilliant, the chilling -- Edgar Allen Poe! Sorry, I can't help it. The man deserves an entrance filled with adjectives. Edgar Allen Poe wrote tales that would span a mere few pages and remain stuck in your mind for the rest of your life. It's impossible to name one that defines his craft, though "The Raven" is likely his most oft-quoted work. If you want a story whose words will masterfully paint a picture but also leave enough to the imagination for you to keep filling in blanks long after you are done, pick up Edgar Allen Poe. If you regret it, you either experienced it well or have no taste.

H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft is the creepiest of the creepy. The only way I can describe his work is by telling you to imagine a dictionary, a thesaurus and an encyclopedia set combined and then robbed of everything light, fluffy or happy. That is what H.P. Lovecraft leaves you with it. He is a master of words, a purveyor of darkness and just about everything I could not be if I lived a million years and wrote every day. There is no replacing him in the annals of horror history.

A few honorable mentions are Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Algernon Blackwood and Anne Rice (What? She's good.). All right, horror fans, pick a novelist from above and start reading, if you haven't. You have no idea what you are missing.


  1. This is an amazing list. What novel of Stephen King have you read?