Blog – Posted on Tuesday, Dec 24
50 Best Stephen King Books, Ranked By Horror Readers
As the greatest living master of both jump scares and slow-creeping dread, Stephen King has reshaped an entire genre in the image of his imagination. For two generations of literary thrill-seekers, his very name is synonymous with horror. That’s no surprise, given his uncanny ability to produce at superhuman rates — all without sacrificing the immersive settings, intriguing characters, and relentless terror
Over the course of his four decade-long career, King has written 61 novels and shepherded 48 stories to the big screen, remakes included. He’s also won more Bram Stoker Award than any other writer. The prestigious genre prize — the Pulitzer of spooky and the sepulchral — comes with a bone-colored trophy in the shape of a haunted house. King has a whopping thirteen of them: enough to form a tiny haunted neighborhood across his bookshelf or his desk.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of great Stephen King books out there, you can also take our 30-second quiz below to narrow it down quickly and get a personalized horror book recommendation 😉
Which horror book should you read next?
Of course, when it comes to King, the big question is: where do I start? To help you out, we've put together this list of the best Stephen Kings books, ranked from least popular to most popular based on each novel's Amazon reviews. If you think a certain book deserves to be higher or lower on the list, you know what to do: head to Amazon and leave your own review.
Happy — and spooky — reading!
50. The Colorado Kid (2005) - 4.0 stars ⭐
The scariest thing about fear is the fear itself, right? Well, the most unsettling thing about mysteries is the element of mystery itself. And the nature of mystery is exactly what this noir crime installment explores.
In The Colorado Kid, a man has been found dead off the coast of Maine, and the only people who have any hint to the cause of death are a forensics student and a staunch local journalist. But as more clues begin to reveal themselves, the less this case seems to make sense. All signs point to something strange… and definitely sinister.
49. Revival (2014) - 4.0 stars ⭐
What happens when a beloved minister loses his faith and renounces God? This is the hypothetical that King examines in Revival, a story about the afterlife and the price of knowledge. Chock-full of sly tributes to masters of the genre such as Mary Shelley and H.P. Lovecraft, the first two-thirds of the book is a slow build, but it erupts in an ending that will raise the hairs on your neck (and leave you bleakly contemplating reality). Easily one of his scariest recent works, this is a triumphant return to “old-school” King.
48. Elevation (2018) - 4.2 stars ⭐
In a bit of a departure from King’s usual flare, Elevation tells the story of a shrinking man named Scott Carey. While his mystery weight loss may seem like the setup for a standard horror scare, it turns out the story is actually a surprisingly heartwarming tale of a man out to fight oppression in his small town in Maine. But that doesn’t mean there’s no thrills to be found in this short little novella, which is the perfect portion size for an afternoon read.
47. Roadwork (1981) - 4.2 stars ⭐
Inspired by King’s tumultuous feelings over the slow decline and subsequent death of this mother, Roadwork is a messy, fraught book — but that’s not a bad thing. Instead, this book shows King’s range. In it, we meet Barton Dawes, a man who’s life takes a sudden turn when a highway extension is slated to pass right over his beloved home. Dawes doesn’t plan to take a thing like this lying down, though, and soon his obsession with fighting back against the faceless bureaucracy threatening to destroy his way of life takes a darker turn.
46. Gerald's Game (1992) - 4.2 stars ⭐
The premise of Gerald’s Game is simple: Jessie is handcuffed to a bed after a sexual tryst gone wrong, her partner dead on the floor.
King delves expertly into the psychological effects of such a predicament, making what is essentially a one-woman book terrifying. Be aware that there are graphic descriptions of domestic battery and molestation, as King directly confronts sexual abuse and victim humiliation. Yet the characterization is strong and the story compelling. (There’s a reason the adaptation became one of Netflix's best-received films.) You may need to suspend disbelief at times, but the spellbinding ending makes the ride well worth it.
45. Sleeping Beauties (2017) - 4.2 stars ⭐
Welcome to the suffocating world of Sleeping Beauties, in which a supernatural “sleeping sickness” has come to exist — for a filmy gauze wraps around all of the women in the population when they fall asleep, like a cocoon. Worse still, it’s impossible to tear them from it, as they wake up with violence in their eyes if anyone touches the gauze.
With such a high-concept premise, Sleeping Beauties is a solid offering as a standalone book. But past Stephen King books, such as Under the Dome and The Stand, set the standard so high that this one might pale in comparison.
44. Lisey's Story (2006) - 4.2 stars ⭐
Lisey Landon has been in a state of denial since her husband, the famous novelist Scott Landon, died two years ago. When a mysterious stranger approaches demanding Scott’s old manuscripts and notes, Lisey is forced to sort through her husband’s papers. But that’s a task that may reveal a living nightmare, for Scott went to dark and secretive corners of the world for inspiration. Inspired by King’s own near-fatal accident, Lisey’s Story is about the bonds of marriage and the nature of love. It may be King’s most personal and powerful book yet — and he has gone on the record stating it’s his favorite.
43. Dreamcatcher (2001) - 4.2 stars ⭐
When they were children, four friends in the town of Derry saved a young boy with Down syndrome from a group of sadistic bullies. This heroic act changed them in many ways — including leaving them with unusual powers. 25 years later, Dreamcatcher picks up with the boys living separate lives, but continuing to reunite for an annual hunting trip. It’s on one of these trips that they encounter a strange and incoherent man ranting about lights in the sky, and a fight for survival against a being from another world begins. But to survive, they need to take a dark walk down memory lane...
42. Under the Dome (2009) - 4.2 stars ⭐
Under the Dome was a long time coming: initially started in 1976, King didn’t pick the draft back up until the 1980s. Even then, the book wasn’t published until 2009. Based on another high-concept premise, Under the Dome tells the story of a town that suddenly finds itself encased in a mysterious dome that appeared out of nowhere, cutting its inhabitants out from the rest of the world. Which begs the question: how would people react when they discover that they’re stuck together, possibly for eternity?
41. The Long Walk (1979) - 4.3 stars ⭐
Want to see Stephen King’s true beginnings? Written during his freshman year of college, eight years before Carrie was published, The Long Walk is the first novel King ever wrote.
This dystopian horror novels follows the journey of 100 teenage boys as they partake on a ritual known as “the walk,” where contestants must maintain a walking speed of 4 mph, without any pauses, until only one remains. With no outside assistance and deadly consequences for failure, this unflinching insight into the human psyche will provide psychological thriller fans with far more chills than any of King’s many monsters.
40. The Regulators (1996) - 4.3 stars ⭐
Published under King’s pseudonym, Richard Bachman, The Regulators is the “mirror novel” to Desperation. The novels take place in parallel realities, and many of the characters appear in both — although often in very different roles. This edge-of-your-seats thriller kicks off when a peaceful summer afternoon in suburban Ohio is shattered by a blaze of gun violence. What follows is a trippy, chilling adventure straight out of a child’s imagination, with all the horrors and surprises that entails.
39. Cell (2006) - 4.3 stars ⭐
Clayton Riddell is having a good day. He’s an artist from — where else — Maine, and has just landed a dream comic book deal. On his way home from landing this big break, Clayton’s elation turns to devastation as America is thrown into utter chaos. The culprit: “The Pulse” — a phenomenon wherein people are transformed into murderous maniacs through their cell phone. Clayton is one of the few survivors that have escaped The Pulse’s homicidal effects, and in Cell, he heads home (to Maine) in search of refuge and answers.
38. From a Buick 8 (2002) - 4.3 stars ⭐
Thought Christine was the deadliest car in the Stephen King multiverse? Think again! Meet the abandoned Buick Roadmaster of From a Buick 8. Since 1979, the car has been hidden away in Shed B, behind a barracks in rural Pennsylvania by trooper Curtis Wilcox. Curtis and his fellow troopers have been investigating the car in secret for decades. After Curtis is killed in a gruesome auto accident, his teenage son Ned begins to tend to the barracks, as a way of holding onto his father’s memory. One day, of course, he discovers Shed B. And so the investigation into the powers of the Buick Roadmaster begin again…
37. The Dark Half (1989) - 4.3 stars ⭐
What’s in a pen name? Well, in the case of bestselling horror author George Stark (real name: Thad Beaumont), a lot. But now, Thad is leaving the horrifying and twisted narratives of his old novels behind to write under his own name and start a new life. The thing is, “George” doesn’t want to go down without a fight — a violent fight. And Thad is finding it harder and harder to deny the connections between a string of local homicides with the fictional murders dreamed up by George Stark. Fans of Fight Club will enjoy The Dark Half's Tyler Durden-esque plot with a literary twist.
36. The Tommyknockers (1987) - 4.4 stars ⭐
About a subtle alien invasion in a small town in Maine, The Tommyknockers is unnecessarily long and the weak ending doesn’t redeem it. According to Stephen King himself: “I mean, The Tommyknockers is an awful book. That was the last one I wrote before I cleaned up my act.” Despite the good rating on Amazon, if you’re wondering Stephen King books you can afford to skip, this is a good candidate.
35. Insomnia (1994) - 4.4 stars ⭐
In this book, Stephen King achieves the impossible. He takes one of the worst things ever — insomnia — and makes it even worse. Our protagonist in Insomnia — or, should we say, victim — is Ralph Roberts, an “everyman” who has just lost his wife. Expectedly, he has trouble sleeping. Unexpectedly, he begins to see strange things during this “waking insomnia.” But are they hallucinations born out of sleep deprivation, or something else entirely? Beyond the gripping premise, the winks to Dark Tower will keep fans intrigued — and have their hearts racing to the last chapter.
34. Desperation (1996) - 4.4 stars ⭐
Stepping out of Maine for a hot minute, we find ourselves in the remote town of Desperation, located off a desolate stretch of Interstate 50 in Nevada. Other than its foreboding name, what’s so special about it? Well, it’s home to maniacal police officer Collie Entragian, who has been abducting passing travelers, to start. But Collie is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the evil that lies in Desperation. And young David Carver, one of the abductees, is about to learn that the devil he knows might be a lot less scary than what else is coming…
33. Mr. Mercedes (The Bill Hodges Trilogy Book 1) (2014) - 4.4 stars ⭐
One of King’s more recent offerings, Mr. Mercedes is about a detective on the trail of a stone-cold killer who goes by the name of (you guessed it) Mr. Mercedes — a reference to the horrifying act of murder that he committed years ago. That said, this game of cat and mouse isn’t quite original, and we’ve seen it done with a better villain before. If you’re short on time, we’d say that this is one of the easier ones to skip. Not King’s worst, but not quite his best, either.
32. Joyland (2013) - 4.4 stars ⭐
The first thing to know about Joyland is that it’s not exactly one of the scariest Stephen King books. That said, you’ll still get a sampling of King’s staples: strong characterization, intense psychological studies, nail-biting suspense, and a tantalizing glimpse of the supernatural.
Joyland is a mix between a mystery and a ghost story, following student Devin Jones who has a summer job at a North Carolina amusement park in 1973. It is there that he learns of a girl who had been murdered years ago, the killer who’s still at large — and the ghost that may or may not be haunting the premises.
31. Cujo (1981) - 4.5 stars ⭐
The title character is a 200-pound Saint Bernard, a true best friend to his owner, Brett Chamber. But when Cujo chases a rabbit into a cave and is bitten by a sick bat, he turns into man’s worst nightmare, terrorizing a once-peaceful town in central Maine.
30. Firestarter (1980) - 4.5 stars ⭐
The young protagonist of Firestarter, Charlie, has pyrokinetic powers — the ability to create fire with her mind. They are hereditary powers, so to speak: during college, her broke parents earned cash by volunteering as test subjects for top-secret experiments conducted by a government organization known as The Shop. These experiments left the students with psychic talents, which have now been passed down to Charlie — and now The Shop are onto her. Not only do they know about her powers, they want to use her as a weapon. But Charlie isn’t about to go down without a fight.
29. Cycle of the Werewolf (1983) - 4.5 stars ⭐
This short novel comes with illustrations by Bernie Writghtson — co-creator of the “Swamp Thing” — to really help fuel your nightmares. As the title would suggest, Cycle of the Werewolf tells the story of Tarker’s Mills, a small town that is terrorized at each full moon by a werewolf who can talk like a human, but whose footprints are decidedly beastly…
28. Bag of Bones (1998) - 4.5 stars
How many of King’s novels feature a middle-aged male novelist in Maine? A lot, including Bag of Bones. This time, the Mainer in question is Mike Noonan, an author dealing with intense grief after the sudden death of his wife — a grief that has rendered him incapable of facing a blank screen or piece of paper. But his writing abilities aren’t gone for good, because a series of strange and terrifying events are about to take place that will reunite him with the muse, including: unrelenting nightmares, a family in the midst of serious conflict, and supernatural forces plaguing his old summerhouse.
27. Needful Things (1991) - 4.5 stars ⭐
Needful Things opens on the town of Castle Rock, which is a peaceful community until a mysterious man named Leland Gaunt comes into the picture. He opens a shop where he sells customers the object of their heart’s desire — hence the shop’s name, Needful Things. But, in exchange, he requires something extra as payment… something that threatens to plunge the entire town into mass hysteria and sin. Due in part to its wonderfully insane villain, Needful Things is a winning combination of suspense, blood, and action that keeps readers on their toes right up until the explosive and entirely unexpected ending.
26. Rose Madder (1995) - 4.5 stars ⭐
Rosie Daniels is on the run from the most lunatic person in the world right now: her husband. Norman Daniels will stop at nothing to get her back. This is the set-up for Rose Madder, a book that falls smack dab in the middle of Stephen King’s oeuvre. It might not be the very best of what King has to offer, but it’s definitely worth the read for its taut writing and strong characterization, particularly of Rosie. Ultimately, King takes an age-old reality — that of an abused woman fleeing her dangerous husband — and churns out a home run.
25. The Outsider (2018) - 4.5 stars ⭐
When an 11-year-old boy’s mangled corpse is found in the park, all signs point to Terry Maitland. As the local Little League coach, he’s the squeakiest-clean person in town. Yet for every iron-clad alibi that Maitland has, the police uncover an inexcusable piece of DNA evidence that incriminates him. How can somebody be in two places at once? Let it be known: The Outsider is not your regular crime thriller, though the first third of the book might convince you otherwise.
24. The Dead Zone (1979) - 4.5 stars ⭐
Falling into a five-year coma after a car accident is a tragic event. Waking up from said coma with the ability to see people’s past and future is a gift, right? Well, The Dead Zone's Johnny Smith does not see it that way. When he shakes the hand of a corrupt politician, Johnny sees what awaits the US if the man continues to rise in power. Is it Johnny’s responsibility to change the future — and if so, how?
23. The Eyes of the Dragon (1984) - 4.5 stars ⭐
King takes a step into traditional epic fantasy with The Eyes of the Dragon, drawing clear influences from European fairy tales. It’s a story about the Kingdom of Delain, where King Roland has just been murdered and his son and heir, Peter, has been framed for the crime. Now, Peter has been imprisoned in a tower. And if he wants even a chance at freedom and reclaiming his throne, he must come up with a plan for taking down Flagg, the wicked sorcerer who planned Peter’s downfall, and Thomas, his usurper brother.
22. Duma Key (2008) - 4.5 stars ⭐
In Duma Key, Edgar Freemantle has fallen on tough times: an accident has resulted in the loss of his right arm, and some serious memory and rage issues. His marriage has suddenly ended, and Edgar is beginning to wish the accident had taken his life instead. His psychologist suggests a fresh start somewhere new — and to take up a hobby that brings him peace. So Edgar moves to the coastal Florida town of Duma Key, and starts sketching. But there’s more to Edgar’s art than he knows … something powerful seems to lurk in the images he creates, a power that’s longing to break free.
21. The Running Man (1982) - 4.5 stars ⭐
Years before The Hunger Games hit the shelves, King introduced the world to The Running Man: a dystopian gameshow wherein contestants attempt to stay alive for thirty days while being hunted by an elite strike force. No one has ever survived past day 8, but for Ben Richards, the desperation of his life may just provide him with the edge he needs to make the attempt. Told through 101 counting-down chapters, this tense and targeted thriller will have you on the edge of your seat straight through the shocking conclusion.
20. Blaze (2007) - 4.5 stars ⭐
Another book first published as Bachman, Blaze was one of King’s earliest novels. Written before Carrie, King offered the draft of the novel to his publishers alongside Salem’s Lot for his second release. The publisher chose the latter, and Blaze went into a trunk for about thirty years. Now fully reworked, this novel tells the story of Clayton Blaisdell Jr. (“Blaze” for short), a disturbed young man who steals a baby in order to pull of a con. The only problem? His partner in crime (and brains of the operation) is dead.
19. 11/22/63 (2011) - 4.5 stars ⭐
What if you could to go back in time and rewrite history? This is the situation high school teacher Jake Epping finds himself in when his friend Al asks him to go through a portal to prevent JFK’s assassination. In Jake’s case, he complies, and finds himself surrounded by sock hops, big cars, Elvis tunes, and cigarette smoke in Jodie, Texas. But 11/22/63 is a King novel, after all, so you can bet the Southern charm and Stetsons soon take a backseat to suspense as Jake seeks out a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald.
18. Christine (1983) - 4.6 stars ⭐
Perhaps someone once told King that a novel about a car could never be terrifying and King responded with, “Want a bet?” And while a car seems like an unlikely villain, the titular "Christine" — a red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury — is no doubt a vehicle of terror. And she currently has a nerdy teenager called Arnold under her spell. Can Arnold’s friends save him before he completely loses his mind to this eight-cylinder succubus? Put the pedal to the metal and read Christine to find out.
17. Dolores Claiborne (1992) - 4.6 stars ⭐
Vera Donovan, Dolores Clairborne’s wealthy employer, has just been murdered. Dolores is now a suspect, and tells the police a long and winding story about her relationship to Vera. The story starts way back with her crumbling marriage and husbands suspicious death almost thirty years ago. It also details Vera’s physical and mental decline, and the emotional toll she put on those around her. Dolores Claiborne is not a pretty story, but it’s almost impossible to look away — both for the listening policemen within the narrative, and for readers who flips through King’s disturbing pages.
16. Finders Keepers (The Bill Hodges Trilogy Book 2) (2015) - 4.6 stars ⭐
Warning: contains spoilers about Book 1 in the Bill Hodges trilogy.
John Rothstein is the author of the famous Jimmy Gold series. However, he hasn’t written in years and many view his beloved character as a sell-out. At least, deranged fan Morris Bellamy does. In retaliation, Morris kills John and empties his safe, taking one final, unpublished Jimmy Gold novel. Before Morris has the time to do anything with it, he is locked away in prison for 35 years — long enough for the novel to fall into the hands of teenager Pete Saubers. In Finders Keepers, the only thing in the way of Morris getting his hands on Pete, those notebooks, and his long-awaited vengeance is — you guessed it — police detective Bill Hodges.
15. End of Watch (The Bill Hodges Trilogy Book 3) (2016) - 4.6 stars ⭐
Warning: contains spoilers about Book 1 and 2 in the Bill Hodges trilogy.
This final novel of King’s hard-boiled detective trilogy revisits Brady Hartsfield, the psychopath behind the deadly “Mercedes Massacre.” Brady now resides in a vegetative state in Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic. But… how comatic is he really? While Brady might look vacant, his mind — having been pumped full of experimental drugs — is still very much whirring, biding its time until Brady is powerful enough to commit new schemes of violence and terror without his body ever leaving Room 217. But before that, he has two other priorities on his list: revenge and retired police detective Bill Hodges.
14. The Talisman (1984) - 4.6 stars ⭐
The Talisman series, which begins here, is the story of Jack Sawyer: a twelve-year-old boy who’s on a desperate mission to save his mother from certain death. To do so, he’ll need to cross into another realm entirely, one filled with both infinite wonder and terror. Confronted with “Twinners” — disturbing duplicates of people he knows in real life — Jack flips back and forth between worlds on an epic fantasy adventure that readers will never forget.
13. Black House (Talisman Book 2) (2001) - 4.6 stars ⭐
In this gritty, horror follow-up to the fantastical novel The Talisman, we once again meet Jack Sawyer — only this time, he’s not the boy he once was, nor does he have any memory of the epic journey he went on in an quest to save his mother. Instead, by the time Black House rolls around, he’s a retired Los Angeles homicide detective now living in rural Wisconsin. But when a series of gruesome murders drag Jack back into the game, he’s forced to confront the mystery of his past in ways far more terrifying than anything he experienced as a child.
12. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999) - 4.6 stars ⭐
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is best categorized as a psychological thriller — but one that’s unusually told from the perspective of a 9-year-old girl. The story follows our young heroine as she becomes hopelessly lost in a forest where she begins to see supernatural signs that may or may not be hallucinations. But nothing is just a walk in the woods whenever King is involved, because something powerful is stalking her. King is often at his best when he’s writing about one character, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon raises that bar higher yet. Remember to stick to the trail, kids!
11. The Institute (2019) - 4.6 stars ⭐
If you enjoyed IT for the child heroes confronting evil forces, you’re going to love King’s return to that theme in The Institute. Centered around twelve-year-old Luke, a boy who’s parents are murdered on the night he’s stolen from his home, this a story of conspiracy, secret experiments, and children with paranormal powers. At the Institute, Luke and other children like him — children who have displayed either telekinesis or telepathy — are subjected to brutal procedures designed to enhance their abilities. But you can only keep people down for so long before thoughts of rebellion begin to whisper through the halls.
10. Doctor Sleep (The Shining Book 2) (2013) - 4.6 stars ⭐
Warning: Contains spoilers for The Shining.
Danny Torrance has been trying hard to shake his childhood memories of the Overlook Hotel. And in the beginning of Doctor Sleep, it seems like he might be able to do just that when he settles down in New Hampshire, joins an AA group, and gets a job at a nursing home where he becomes known as “Doctor Sleep.” But his past isn’t ready to let go of him yet, because Dan is about to meet Abra Stone — who has the gift of “the shining,” just like Dan, and is being hunted by a group of quasi-immortal travelers called the True Knot.
9. 'Salem's Lot (1975) - 4.6 stars ⭐
An old mansion in the town of Jerusalem’s Lot (hence the book's title) is steeped in local lore. Author Ben Mears hopes that this creaky building will prove to be something of a tonic for his writer’s block. But distraction from his new novel arrives quickly in the form of two young boys who have ventured into the woods - only for one to come back out alive. What happens when lore mingles with reality… and turns deadly?
8. Carrie (1974) - 4.6 stars ⭐
Certainly one of the best-received debut novels ever published, Carrie is the story of a struggling and unhappy high school girl with telekinetic powers and an abusive mother. Her name is Carrie White, and she’s about to go on a violent rampage of revenge against the peers who have bullied her for the past few years. Put down your bucket of pig’s blood, and pick up this book (stat!) to better acquaint yourself with a groundbreaking addition to the horror genre
7. IT (1986) - 4.6 stars ⭐
It should be no surprise that IT is this high up in our list, controversial as it is. IT is one of his most complex and lengthiest novels to date. It follows two parallel narratives: one set in 1958, when a group of seven children meet and battle a monster in the sewer; and the other in 1985, when the survivors return to their childhood town to face old demons. Outside of a divisive scene between the children, IT is a brilliant example of an author writing at his peak. And, once you reach the last page, you can safely say that you, too, survived IT.
6. The Dark Tower series (1982 - 2012) - 4.7 stars ⭐
The Dark Tower series consists of eight Stephen King books, all of which feature a “gunslinger” and his supernatural journey towards a tower — a quest which is both physical and metaphorical. The series spans multiple genres, incorporating elements of horror, science fantasy, dark fantasy, and Western (hence the gunslinger). If you’re wondering which Stephen King book to read first, The Dark Tower is a great place to start, as the books link to many of his other novels — which, in turn, also relate back to this series.
5. Misery (1987) - 4.7 stars ⭐
Warning: aspiring authors, stay away from Misery. Once you read it, you may never want to become a famous novelist. Everyone else — come on in, because this is an A+ tale of psychopathy, insanity, and blood. It tells the story of author Paul Sheldon, who has met his biggest fan, the morbidly delusional Annie Wilkes. Holding Sheldon hostage after he’s involved in a car wreck, her goal is to get him to write another novel in which his protagonist is brought back to life. Her method? Torture, torture, and more torture.
4. The Stand (1990) - 4.7 stars ⭐
One of King’s most accomplished books ever published, The Stand is a multi-genre work that sets up a plague story within a cautionary tale about technology. Throw in the supernatural, religion, and an apocalyptic battle between good and evil and you’ve got the makings of a masterpiece. It all begins when a mistake at a government lab releases a super-flu upon the continent. Don’t get sick while reading this book, kids!
3. Pet Sematary (1983) - 4.7 stars ⭐
Many call Pet Semetary Stephen King’s scariest book. King has confirmed that he thought it was too dark to publish, and only did so to settle a contract.
Needless to say, Pet Sematary is not for the faint of heart. If you’re up for it, get ready for a rollercoaster of suspense and gore. The story opens innocently enough, as Louis Creed and his family move to a town in Maine. Near their house is a cemetery for children’s pet… and a bit further down in the woods lies an ancient Native burial ground, which will be the cause of all the chilling events in this grisly beast of a novel.
2. The Green Mile (1996) - 4.8 stars ⭐
In The Green Mile, King plunges readers straight into the murky horrors of death row. Prison supervisor Paul Edgecombe is on duty when he meets John Coffey: a gentle giant who has been sentenced to the death for raping and murdering twin girls. As events at the prison go on to spiral out of control, Paul realizes that Coffey might not be all he appears to be. With memorable characters and suspense that ratchets up with a flip of every page, The Green Mile became — and remains — an instant classic.
1. The Shining (1977) - 4.8 stars ⭐
Easily acclaimed as one of the best Stephen King books, The Shining has been discussed, debated, and parodied so often that it is a cornerstone today in popular culture. Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic, is the new caretaker at an old hotel. To no one but Jack’s surprise, the hotel has a dark past, which soon comes out to play… and the key to it all might lie in Danny Torrance, a young boy who possesses “the shining”: a psychic ability to mind-read and see things others cannot. This was the book that vaulted King to superstardom, and for good reason — The Shining is peak King from first page to last.
Can't get enough of Stephen King books? Check out this review of every short story collection he's published!
Or if you've had enough King but can't get enough of the dark or scary, here are some lists that will help you find your next read!
[Updated 2020/08/13 UTC]