My horror book preferences are these: Dark, spine-tingling, traditional. I like my vampires to be scary, not necessarily sparkly. That’s no slam against Twilight. I happened to read all four books in the series and only regret Stephenie Meyer did not push the envelope a little, but on the whole, I like the kind of material that makes me double check my feet are safely tucked under the covers.

In no particular order, my horror book recommendations to enjoy by a fire are these:

Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon

I found out about Robert R. McCammon from one of Stephen King’s books, can’t remember which, but it’s amazing. Imagine post nuclear Hollocaust with the devil on the loose. If you liked Stephen King’s The Stand, you’ll like this better. Swan Song was my introduction to the writer, and the other books of his I’ve gone on to read have never left me disappointed.

The Exorcist by William Blatty

My older brother was watching this when I was still in elementary school. I never found the opportunity to see the whole movie all the way through, and when I finally got the whole story, it was in the form of the original book by William Blatty. To this day I have not seen the movie, and now I wonder if it would somehow diminish the mystique of a film that ushered in a whole new era of horror movies. I don’t know that it’s the scariest book I have ever read. Parts of it were quite frankly comical, but true horror fans should not pass the opportunity to add this to their collection.

Update: I have since seen the movie, the original. The book holds its own. Read the book first and then watch the movie.

Wizzard and Glass by Stephen King

This is an example where The Dark Tower series as a whole is … Well, look, I’m not going to mislead you. The second half of the series is rather dull, but Wizard and Glass is Stephen King’s diamond. You can read it as a standalone piece. It’s an interesting mixture of western, fantasy, and horror. I have already read the book at least five times and plan on reading it again.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Would you bring back your beloved pet from the dead? Some would argue this is a terrible spoiler, but with a title like “Pet Cemetery…” what exactly did you expect from the King of horror? So, it’s not the conclusion you question, it’s the way you get there, and for the typical American family down to the friendly cat, it’s going to be one creepy journey to the question of all questions: What would you do if???

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Another Stephen King? Yes, I’m a big fan, but I’m careful about what I pass along as “the best.” This is traditional vampire at its greatest. Think of it as Stephen King’s take on the Dracula classic. I absolutely loved it! And you will too! No friendly, glittery vampires here.

Christine by Stephen King

What can you buy today for $250? In the late 1970’s it bought a nerdy high school kid a Plymouth Fury that was not remotely street legal, but Arnie Cunningham saw something in the old junker no one else did. Well, the car’s former owner may’ve known something, but he died soon after the car was sold, taking his dark secrets to the grave. Only, the secrets may not have stayed buried. Strange things begin to happen late that summer, suspicious incidents that have a bad way of circling back to Arnie and his peculiar car. The curious need not go poking around. These are too likely to find themselves face to face with glaring headlights on a dark stretch of highway.

Haha, okay okay. That’s the last Stephen King, even though there are several others that could have easily made the list. The pattern you’ll see here though is that his earlier material is, to me, more compelling than his more recent books.

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

Something about horror books produced in the 70’s really speaks to me. Is the story about this possessed home true? I genuinely can’t make up my mind about it. It seems like something happened, but why not give it a read? I was surprised at how much it spooked me.

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