The Beginner's Guide To Horror (sorted by scariness/gore)

Hey guys! Today's post is basically a Halloween book guide we've put together with some help from your nominations for Who Is The Fairest of Them All? We'd like to give thanks to everyone who sent us their nominations, as well as those who helped us on Twitter to provide a more valid reading analyzation. We changed up what we were actually going to do, which was a poll. Instead, like I mentioned above, this post includes your nominations of Halloween books, as well as books we've gather on our own, placed into categories. Those categories are: mild, intermediate and ultimate in levels of horror/scariness, respectively (based on our opinions, and our readers'). Also, huge thanks to all the lovely ladies that helped us with this Horror guide; we didn't read all these books, so this post couldn't have been finished (easily) without you all.


  • Insomnia by J.R. Johansson - I can barely remember this one; there wasn't anything too remarkable. The main character was a crazy stalker (even though we know why he does stalk). The premise is basically about a guy who hasn't slept for fours years: an insomniac. Everything was just pretty illogical and the creep factor was non-existent basically due to the poor writing and annoying characters. This was a DNF for me, so I took a look at other people's reviews and on average, see nothing creepy-scary being noted. Moreover, the culprit was not much of surprise and what was meant to be a psychological thriller felt more like a book about a stalker that never sleeps. Some enjoyed this, but for me, several things made it unenjoyable and rather dull. 
    • Fright Scale: 1 out of 10.
    • Recommended for: readers who aren't well-versed in horror and get scared very easily. There wasn't anything too suspenseful here. If you're home alone an October night and scare easily, this may just be the perfect read for you. Key word: may. 
  • Extremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge by David Lubar - Extremities is a pretty dark anthology; I'm not denying this book of that. But, with that having been said, I didn't find it to be particularly scary, or even creepy, for that matter. As well as that, I thought there were only a few interesting stories. However, this one may be a good kickstart to your Halloween reading. Maybe you can start off with something mild and gradually move onto scarier things? 
    • Fright Scale: 2 out of 10
    • Recommended for: those who want a very quick read, with short stories that, while not particularly creepy, contain a dark-enough subject matter to be at least somewhat suitable for an October night in.
  • The Murmurings by Carly Anne West - It may be worth noting that I initially put this one under intermediate, but after some thinking, moved it down to mild, because honestly, this is just about as mild as horror gets. Don't let that creepy cover or synopsis fool you--The Murmurings is, for the first half, a contemporary novel with psychological undertones, and for the second half, a tame paranormal/supernatural with some admittedly interesting lore and scenes. 
    • Fright Scale: 3 out of 10.
    • Recommended for: readers looking for something that will not excessively scare them, but that will likely send them a few good chills every now and then. 

  • The End Games by T. Michael Martin - I wouldn't say that as a whole this one is creepy, but the Bellows (aptly named, since they bellow back everything you say creepily in a sloooooow waaaaaaaay liiiiiike thiiiiiiis) are pretty chilling creatures, and are as a whole really cool. 
    • Fright Scale: 4 out of 10
    • Recommended for: do you like creepy zombies with an original twist? Then odds are you'll like The End Games, so long as you go in with the mindset that the zombies will likely be the only things to even remotely creep you out. But this one is a fun post-apoc read to picture yourself in, if you really want to add a scare-factor to make this an even better Halloween read.
  • Asylum by Madeleine Roux - I cannot stress enough on how much potential this book had to be a downright scary novel. Unfortunately, the writing wasn't effective enough and I actually fell asleep reading this in the middle of the day. The mystery was interesting enough to actually enable me to finish it but it wasn't awfully thriller-esque. 
    • Fright Scale: 2 out of 10
    • Recommended for: I honestly don't think I can recommend this highly to any type of horror reader. But, there is little creepiness in this one, so maybe for those readers who scare very easily, this could be a last resort.
  • Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard - I love this book. I do. It's such fun, and the main characters are fun and sassy and just awesome. BUT, if you're looking for something with mild scares, Something Strange and Deadly is for you. 
    • Fright Scale: 2.5 out of 10
    • Recommended for: readers who want a zombie novel unlike The End Games (see above), where the focus is more on characters and romance than on flat-out creepiness. 

  • Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - This wasn't necessarily creepy the entire time, but there were quite a few times where I was utterly creeped out. And Kendare Blake's descriptiveness is just downright chilling. Nevertheless, a fantastic read and a great male lead character. 
    • Fright Scale: 5 out of 10 (upper mild)
    • Recommended for: readers who want a nice balance of fun and sassy characters, and some genuinely creepy moments and wonderfully described gore.
  • Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake - The sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood, with more gruesomeness, especially near the end. 
    • Fright Scale: 5 out of 10 (upper mild)
    • Recommended for: fans of Anna Dressed in Blood (obviously), and those who like descriptive and gruesome writing over outright horror.
  • Unbreakable by Kami Garcia - Unlike the romance-dominant Beautiful Creatures, which Kami Garcia co-wrote, Unbreakable deals with ghosts and paranormal elements. I began reading this at 1 in the morning (don't worry, I don't always sleep that late) and felt rather spooked within a few pages. 
    • Fright Scale: 5 out of 10 (upper mild)
    • Recommended for: readers who love when their books get right to it, with suspense starting from the beginning with fun and creepy paranormal elements and great action.


  • Velveteen by Daniel Marks - Since neither of us have read Velveteen, we've got some help from our bloggy friend, Christina at Reader of Fictions, who was a fan of this creepy read that has some very original (and nasty) ways of torture. (Just so you know, the guy likes to slowly torture his victims (teenage girls) by abrading them with a nutmeg grater. Then he starts cutting them. All the while keeping them hostage for a week with no food, almost no water, and no bathroom breaks. At all. Yeah.)
    • Fright Scale: 7 out of 10
    • Recommended for: horror readers who appreciate/enjoy laughing while gross/horror stuff is happening. For example, those who enjoy stuff like Joss Whedon's The Cabin in the Woods, though not quite so scary.
  • Ten by Gretchen McNeil - Whenever I get the opportunity, I recommend this book to people. Why, you ask? For starters, it's just the right amount of creepy and awesome. Gretchen McNeil has NAILED the ominous atmosphere of a secluded island with ten teens and one killer, and when I say nailed, I mean nailed. The uncertainty, the storm...everything. Nailed. Not to mention, the reveal of the killer surprised even me. And that's saying something. 
    • Fright Scale: 6.5 out of 10.
    • Recommended for: readers who want a very atmospheric and creepy whodunnit that will surely place you amongst one of the ten characters on Henry Island. 
  • In the After by Demitria Lunetta - Once the dystopian society in In the After is introduced, the creepiness kind of takes a break, but the first quarter or so is so suspenseful, Demitria Lunetta's use of silence in the world is freaking eerie as all hell.
    • Fright Scale: 5.5 out of 10
    • Recommended for: although I personally think the real suspense and horror in this is prominent in the first quarter, I would recommend this to those who like a more subtle take on post-apoc that will have you panicking, because you know you would totally die if placed in the MC's situation. I just wouldn't read this going in with the intention of being scared.

  • Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff - This one gives off all the creepy vibes. We have a girl who can talk to ghosts (her dead best friend), as well as a murder mystery going on. Paper Valentine is a tense read, and it's one that will probably make you feel rather withdrawn/sad at the end. Also, Paper Valentine touches upon topics such as abuse and illnesses, which, while not horror, may not be for the faint hearted.
    • Fright Scale: 5.5 out of 10
    • Recommended for: readers who like their ghosts creepy, but still have a strong contemporary feel to it. With that having been said, the mood also passes on to the reader in a way, and you'll probably feel a little withdrawn and spooked and the end.
  • Parasite by Mira Grant - It's rather rare for me to read adult novels, but I surprisingly enjoyed this one. YA readers looking for some good old horror should definitely give this one a go; we have tapeworms in bodies, sleepwalkers that kill, and a top secret that could potentially be harming every living being on earth. All the yummy horror and gruesomeness is right here. It's also a dystopian horror, which is rather new, I think.
    • Fright Scale: 6 out of 10
    • Recommended for: any reader from YA, NA and Adult--even though this has been labelled as adult. There are people who kill in their sleep and tapeworms seeming to have minds of their own. Dystopian and horror readers will love this.


  • Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn - Whether it's gore that gets you most in regards to horror, or genuinely chilling scenes that will freak you out continuously, trust me when I say that Another Little Piece has it all. With each speck of absolute horror in Another Little Piece, there is a thin layer of unyielding beauty to confuse that shocked and terrified look on your face even further.
    • Fright Scale: 8 out of 10
    • Recommended for: any reader who is not faint of heart, can stomach gore, and loves being truly horrified. Because trust me, there's a lot to shock and horrify readers with in Another Little Piece, and it makes for a perfect Halloween read.
  • 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad - This may be a bit biased, considering the mere thought of space in and of itself makes me squirm in my seat (I hate space), but 172 Hours on the Moon is pretty damn frightening. It also requires a good deal of patience. If you're reading this one because you want to be scared, my recommendation would be to read the first half during the day, and save the second half for night. The second half is horrifying, creepy, viscerally written, and will likely scare the crap out of you. Honestly, at a few points in the novel I had to put the book down for a few minutes and turn on the light; I was so scared and unnerved.
    • Fright Scale: 8.5 out of 10
    • Recommended for: readers who like their horror stories with bearings to reality, readers who are open to conspiracy theories, and those who like being kept in the dark about the big baddie, à la The Blair Witch Project. In order to be truly scared by this one, go into it with the second half waiting for you at night, suspension of disbelief and all, and prepare to be scared. 
  • Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough - I plan on reading this one soon, but since I haven't yet, I've got some help from the awesome Erin Bowman, author of Taken, who has read Long Lankin
      • "This is a very slow, atmospheric read. This won’t be for everyone, but horror fans, and those willing to immerse themselves in a slower read, should pick this up. The last hundred pages pack quite the punch."
    • Fright Scale: 8 out of 10
    • Recommended for: readers who aren't afraid of things that go bump in the night and prefer eerie, atmospheric tales that steadily build (as opposed to blood-soaked action). This novel is more hair-raising than gory, but it's fable-like quality makes it that much more disturbing. Fans of ghost stories and demonic haunting will enjoy!

  • The Diviners by Libbra Bray - This one is so much fun, but DAMN it's a creepy, creepy, creepy read. "Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells 'em off for a coupla stones." If you enjoy being scared, save this one for a night where you're home alone and in the mood to be creeped out heavily. I promise you, this won't fail.
    • Fright Scale: 7.5 out of 10
    • Recommended for: simply put, if you looking for a sure-fire way to get creeped out, then we recommend The Diviners to you. Because this serial killer, Naughty John? The epitome of creepy. EPITOME. But on the other hand, it's still such a fun read, and the characters are witty and fabulous, so there's a nice balance of quirkiness and horror.
  • The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman - Another one that neither Mel nor myself have read (yet, as we plan to soon), so we've got our awesome friend Jessie at Ageless Pages Reviews to give us her thoughts on The Waking Dark!
      • "The Waking Dark has its moments of pure horror (that beginning is memorable to say the least), but the creepily yet weirdly possible scenario shown plays out with a quietly insidious atmosphere. The novel, about the descent of a small town from a normal place to a hell on earth, is a smart and scary read. Wasserman sells her story with enveloping suspense and desperate characters. There are surprising moments, but for the most part, The Waking Dark is more a quietly but sinister story than an outright horrifying novel."
    • Fright Scale: 7 out of 10
    • Recommended for: fans of intense but not too gory psychological horror.
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick - We have not yet read this but we got some help from Wendy at The Midnight Garden.
      • "If you're the type of reader who prefers goth over gore, mood over mayhem, or disquiet over digust, this is exactly the kind of horror story that will appeal to you--one that is odd and beautifully strange, and one written with passion, but also with great restraint. Unapologetically bold, horrifying, and desperately doomed, Midwinterblood is not a book any reader could easily forget." [From Wendy's review of Midwinterblood.]
    • Fright Scale: 7 out of 10
    • Recommended for: as long as you are the sort of reader I refer to in that quote above. It's really a dark, poetic horror story, but not the sort of jump-out-of-your-skin horror type like Anna Dressed in Blood.

It's giveaway time!

This giveaway will have two winners. What these two winners will win are three of the above books, of their choice, from each of the categories of horror. That means, one winner will choose a book from mild horror, intermediate horror, and ultimate horror. However, if you win and none of the books in one particular category interests you, you may choose, say, two books in intermediate, one in ultimate, none in mild. Sound good? Good! Let's get to the giveaway. (Also, you may notice that Mel and I have taken away the option of commenting to gain points, as we feel that our readers leave comments of more substance when 'leave a comment' is not a giveaway entry option. Hope you all understand!) 

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  1. I remember reading Mel's review of Asylum and yikes, such a shame the potential was ruined so easlily by the writing, :( I really want to read The Waking Dark though, the synopsis shows that it has a great potential--glad to hear it's really horrific! Thanks for sharing all the recommendations, ladies! :D

  2. Awesome list of titles!! I've read a few of these and loved them. Scary/creepy books are some of my absolute favorites! Thanks for the totally amazing giveaway! :)

  3. I LOVED The Diviners and you totally put it in the right place. That book creeped me out!

  4. Thank you so much for compiling this awesome list! Seriously, you guys, it's helped me figure out which horror books to turn to. I've had Velveteen so long on my shelf, and the fact that you compared it to Cabin in the Woods is killing me. I must read it sooner rather than later. And I'm surprised that Asylum was not scary at all. That sucks. I thought it was going to be a lot better (especially with the pictures inside).

  5. I totally agree with you about In the After. The first quarter of the book is definitely my favorite.

  6. Thanks so much for the recommendations! I'm always at a loss when it comes to starting creeping books because sometimes I'm a bit of a chicken but I always WANT to read more of these books around Halloween. Ten & The Waking Dark are both on my list to read before the end of the month. The Anna series is also on my list but I doubt that I will get to them before the end of October, glad to know they are a good creepy choice though! Also... I read Another Little Piece and it was phenomenal! Glad to see it made the list :D I will be bookmarking this for future reference, thanks so much again! Oh! And thanks for the giveaway :) Happy Halloween Ladies!!

  7. The Diviners and Girl Of Nightmares are so scary ;) I'm going to read Coldest Girl in honor of Halloween!
    -Scott Reads It!

  8. Wooo, you finished the post! *pats you on back* I'm a little surprised Insomnia is basically entirely without horror. Huh.

  9. This is a fantastic list! Definitely bookmarking it for future reference =) I've heard that Anna Dressed In Blood is pretty creepy. And it's a shame to read that Asylum isn't - the subject matter is certainly a scary issue.

  10. This was such a great idea! I love the reading suggestions based on how scary they are. I just got The Walking Dark from the library and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

  11. This is such a fantastic compilation of books, Blythe! I have to agree that The Diviners and Another Little Piece are both absolutely creepy, though I still love the milder books like Something Strange and Deadly too. I'll have to get on the Anna Dressed in Blood duology, not to mention so many other titles I haven't even considered yet! Fantastic post, my friend! :)

  12. Oh I like how you organized all of these books! I'm not good with creepy at all, but somehow I didn't find The Diviners too bad? Maybe it had to do with the fact that I was reading it in broad daylight. And I do want to read Midwinterblood and Something Strange and Deadly and Paper least now I'll know what I'm getting into!

  13. But wait! there aren't any 10 out of ten picks? Long Lankin...I might have to check that one out. I've read a few of those like the Anna once. I wouldn't even have thought Something Strange and Deadly would end up on the list ...course I haven't read it yet.

  14. Woah is Diviners horror?! I had no idea! I thought it was a paranormal.
    I've heard that Another Little Piece is really freaky, so I definitely want to give it a go. I'm going to have to check out some of the other titles on there too :)
    Thanks for sharing guys!

  15. Thanks for the post! I want to read more "scary" books. I'm a bit of a fraidy cat, but definitely better than I was when I was younger, so I don't really mind reading spooky books nowadays.


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