Cormac McCarthy writes scarier stories than Stephen King.

Cormac McCarthy writes scarier stories than Stephen King.

That is all.

A.M. Burrage and M.R. James and L.P. Hartley write scarier stories then Stephen King.

Blood Meridian is some of the scariest shit I’ve ever read.

Try Hartley’s “The Man From Down Under,” and “The Traveling Grave.”

And M.R. James’s “Count Magnus.”

Also F. Marion Crawford’s “The Upper Berth.”

Stephen King would poop in his pants.

For more drawn-out spooks, as in “oh my god, this is EERIE AS HELL.” Try

Oliver Onions; “The Beckoning Fair One”

Algernon Blackwood; “The Willows”

And the most scarifying of all, in my opinion: Arthur Machen; “The White People.”

Yeah, The Road is the most beautiful book I never want to read again. Nothing I’ve read by King comes close in horrifying me.

In his first story about Roland Deschain, as originally published, King nibbled at the edge of what McCarthy showed us in Blood Meridian. He never came anywhere near that close again. The Dark Tower saga was a ripping yarn, but it wasn’t scary.

“Near Dark” excels any of King’s efforts as well. Right from the opening paragraphs.

Is it because real life is scarier than the supernatural? A lot of what King writes (and is best at) isn’t even horror - like Prison Shank Prevention.

No, McCarthy’s work wanders in and out of the fantastic. He does not write about the same world in which we live.

I prefer Roald Dahl and Louisa May Alcott’s short stories myself For people known as writers of children’s books, they both can really write a scary story.

I sometimes wonder if Stephen King is a reincarnation of Louisa May Alcott.

That book morphed from one that took me three attempts to finish, to being in my top 5 books off all time (along with The Crossing). It’s an investment, but man does it pay off when you put the effort in.

Two of his earlier lesser-known books, Outer Dark and Child of God, have levels of depravity that make Blood Meridian seen quaint. They are well worth reading if you like his stuff, but are not for the faint of heart.

I’ll have to look into that. I had not associated Louisa May Alcott with “scary” before.

I wasn’t ever under the impression that King was trying to be “scary” with The Dark Tower.

Fantastic maybe, at least with The Gunslinger. But yeah, not scary. Though there were parts in The Drawing of The Three and The Wastelands where I was scared for the characters. The Gunslinger was just so weird, that I couldn’t connect to what was going on, and therefore wasn’t scared about what might happen to the participants. Drawing and Wastelands, and parts of Wizards and Glass felt a lot more real, and consequently, I felt more of a connection to what was going on.

McCarthy writes some disturbing things, that’s for sure. I’d say the events he paints are too fantastic to be real, and then I remember images I’ve seen that are surreal: Nazis dressed in furs and boas on the Eastern Front, prisoners feverishly eating excavated mammoth or saber-tooth cadavers on an Arctic GULAG dig, raping albinos to cure AIDS. Compared to that, the motley that he describes clothing the band that travels with the Kid and Judge Holden is positively ordinary.

EDIT: I’d heard that Judge Holden and Anton Chigurh were not really people so much as embodiments of supernatural entities, like Death. Is this a common theme in McCarthy’s work?

There are characters in Outer Dark that are even more explicit in their representation of archetypes, to the extent that it’s not clear they are real. In The Road, the father and son often talk about “carrying the fire” and are themselves embodiments of goodness. The protagonist in The Crossing is much the same.

It’s certainly a theme in his books that characters are strong representations of something. But with the exception of Outer Dark, I’m not sure that I’d say they aren’t people.

You don’t think all the things that happened to Jake and to Father Callahan, just for starters, weren’t meant to be scary? They are of a piece with such acknowleged King horror novels as It and Salem’s Lot.

The Dark Tower is a mixture of genres, but Horror is definitely one of them.
I thought of this thread when I saw who was #1 on this list of The Most Terrifying Book I’ve Ever Read.

It’s worth mentioning that all three are free ebook downloads at

Widdershins (includes the story The Beckoning Fair One)

The Willows

The House of Souls (includes the story The White People)