The Five Scariest King Novels

That graphic is from a Twitter ad put out by Simon & Schuster. I can only figure that those are the five they sell because they definitely are not the five scariest King novels.

Pet Sematary is scary in parts, but it’s mostly just sad.

Christine is almost a comedy. I love it, but it’s not that scary.

IT… well, the first 70% is fantastically scary, but the ending is double plus dum. Even so it does belong on this list.

The Tommyknockers is just ridiculous. It’s barely readable.

Insomnia is a love story.

The actual five scariest Stephen King novels after the jump.

  1. The Shining.
  2. Salem’s Lot
  3. Bag of Bones
  4. IT
  5. Duma Key

As I’ve said on here before, I read The Shining because I saw the trailer for the movie and it scared me so badly I thought, “I’ll read the book so I won’t be terrified during the movie.” So, yeah, the book is even more terrifying than the movie and the movie is so different from the book it didn’t help anyway.

I decided to push through on a Saturday and just read the second half of the book in one sitting. I plopped down on the couch to start reading and right about the time I got to the topiary scene my cat slipped behind the couch and started scratching his back against the lamp plug. ZZZAAAPPP. The two of us ended up in the front yard without knowing how we got there. A book had never put me in a state of fear like that before.

Salem’s Lot was the next book I read after The Shining. This to me is King’s actual masterpiece. As with Ghost Story by Peter Straub, the classic Gothic setting of a small town cut off from everything as evil makes its inexorable way through the citizens sets this story apart from all others. I still read it every couple of years. It’s a master class in horror.

The scene in Bag of Bones where the magnetic letters on the fridge start to spell out messages is reason enough for this book to be on the list, but there are many other terrifying scenes both natural and supernatural that will haunt you.

As I said above, I love the first part of IT, but the last part is questionable on so many levels. The end is dumb and the monster turns out to be dumb and the thing that happens with Beverly Marsh is just icky and awful and he should just rewrite it. The first two thirds, however, are truly scary.

Duma Key is reminiscent of The Shining in that it’s a slow haunting in which everything starts just a little bit off kilter then proceeds to go batshit crazy. If you missed this one, read it.

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