What is the scariest book you ever read? (Title already used almost 15 years ago)

:+1: Already bought, about to be delivered to my Kindle. I just have to fetch it and turn on Wifi.

Skeleton Crew also has some champion short stories. Don’t pass up his novella collections, such as Different Seasons, while you’re at it.

I’d like to know which of his novels you’ve read, so we can all rag on 'em. :laughing:

Disclaimer first: it was long ago that I read Stephen King, 20 to 35 years ago.

Let’s see, I remember:

Pet Sematary (good)
Shining (good, I read it after having seen the movie, which I also like, but they are different)
Firestarter (it was a long time back, I don’t remember much, but it didn’t impress me, I don’t remember if I even finished it)
Tommyknockers (a druggy mess, but entertaining)
Dreamcatcher (same, even messier)

And I think that was it. I’ve estimated too high with seven or eight.

Amazing: I picked two of your five – I could not wait for The Tommyknockers to be done. IMHO, his worst. Dreamcatcher runs a very close 2nd. Too many of his novels have “chase sequences.”

Settle in some evening and try The Dead Zone, or 'Salem’s Lot (A Dracula pastiche).

Nobody here afraid of getting abducted by aliens? Whitley Streiber’s Communion and Transformation are both high-octane nightmare fuel. It is left to the reader to decide if they should be classified as fiction or non-fiction but either way, both absurdly scary books.

I read Stephen King’s Carrie when I was in 8th grade and he didn’t as of yet have a second novel out. I didn’t find it particulary scary so much as riveting entertainment. Second book of his that I encountered was The Shining which I still think is his best work overall. Very few of his books have utterly creeped me out, but whichever of the Tower series had the flashback section in which the wife or girlfriend of the Gunslinger dude got burnt as a witch, and the sheer sense of the inevitability of the event, as if it were a preordained tragedy, was definitely creepy; then there was that short story “The Mangler” about the evil steam press in the laundromat, and the “Sun Dog” with the haunted camera… mostly he’s an author who is really good at telling tales, who incidentally does shivery stories as his genre, and I find them dramatic and engrossing but only sometimes scary as fuck, inspiration for nightmares etc. Having said that, Christine was better and more unnerving than it gets credit for.

I picked both Tommyknockers and Dreamcatcher out of the books bargain bin in supermarkets. I thought, what can go wrong with DM 2.99 invested in 700 pages by Stephen King? Boy, I was in for some treats. But I finished both books, I was entertained enough.

I never read Transformation. I have read Communion and some related books by others. The concept is indeed terrifying- Monsters are real. They can come for you at any time and do unspeakable things to you. No one can help you. No one will hear you scream.

I haven’t read either of these, but:

There are several lists online that purport to rank all of Stephen King’s books. On one such list of just the novels, The Tommyknockers is ranked last (51 out of 51), and Dreamcatcher is #46. On another list, Tommyknockers is #63 and Dreamcatcher is #62 out of 64.

Rumor (or, maybe not) has it that SK was hitting the cocaine pretty hard while writing a few of his novels and I think The Tommyknockers was one of those.

BTW: If you’re going to try The Stand, see if you can find the original 800 page version. Then if you like it, have a slog at the 1100 page version in a few years.

Yeah, I heard the same rumors, and Tommyknockers shows that it could be true. It borders on absurdity, just like Dreamcatcher.

Before Stephen King, who is the greatest horror writer of our time, there was Ira Levin, who wrote Rosemary’s Baby in 1967. Scariest book I’d ever read up to that point.

On the question about Stephen King’s short story collections, this is the complete list:

Night Shift is definitely one of the good ones, but I think I’ve read most of the stories in all of them. I do have Night Shift but can’t remember reading Jerusalem’s Lot. May have been one of the ones I missed. Will probably read it tonight – it’s on my Kindle.

Not even M.R. James? W. H. Hodgson is pretty famous too, though I don’t believe I’ve read him (I do have that Borderlands book in my to be read pile…for about 3 years)

I think the scariest book I’ve ever read is Mine by Robert R. McCammon.

I, too read “Communion” and “Transformation” when they came out; there are a few other sequels that came out later that are lesser-known. Both Whitley and his wife Anne, who died a few years ago, maintain(ed) that the stories were true.

I also read this book largely debunking those stories, although it was also quite a few years ago and I don’t remember much about it.

Gramma is a personal favorite. Talk about creepy.

Funny, I just read that a few months ago. It didn’t quite work for me, but McCammon really is a good writer of set pieces/individual scenes.

It’s funny which stories stick to people in SK’s short stories. The Jaunt haunted me so much that once I had to have emergency surgery and the medication they gave me to counteract hallucinations the actual anesthesia gave me did not work and The Jaunt featured prominently in my fevered dreams. That was at least 15 years after I read Skeleton Crew.

The Survivor Type with its catchy last line and The Mist with its movie also stuck. I even remember Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut quite well even though it isn’t very memorable but I don’t remember Gramma even after reading the synopsis.

I reread The Stand during the beginning of the pandemic. Wasn’t a good idea.

^ “He left her a dollar tip that was crawling with death.”