Need more short, creeeeeepy books that are super scary!
March 18, 2015 10:47 AM   Subscribe

So, I have recently read a few books that have seriously creeped me out. I love that. I need more books like them - quick reads, seriously scary, well-written but pretty basic in terms of plot, full of dread, and with strong characters that are easy to root for as they battle evil.

They are: Penpal by Dathan Auerbach, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. I do also enjoy the Stephen King-style 800-page horror behemoths with 50 subplots and 100 characters, but for now I'm looking for simple, well-executive tales of dread. I read Bird Box in 3 nights and every creak of the house made me jump. I enjoy that, for some reason, and I want more. Thanks for any recs you may have!
posted by ORthey to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 85 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Naomi's Room, by Jonathan Aycliffe. 224 pages, a quick read, scared the living fucking bejeezus out of me, not only could I only read it during daylight hours but by the end I was actually following my husband from room to room because I couldn't bear to be alone while I was reading it. A friend sent it to me after I blithely commented that horror books don't scare me that much. I WAS WRONG.
posted by KathrynT at 11:14 AM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: The Cipher by Kathe Koja hits all your requirements except perhaps for characters who are easy to root for -- the protagonist is a rather ambivalent, slacker type -- but I think it's worth checking out. There's also The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.
posted by daisyk at 11:16 AM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: Neil Gayman's Ocean at the end of the Lane.
posted by nalyd at 11:42 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I really enjoyed John Dies at the End. It's probably half horror, half comedy, but the horror elements worked well on me. Also if you haven't read it, Gerald's Game is short and I found it fantastically creepy.
posted by graventy at 11:45 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not quite battling evil, but Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House is a classic for a reason.
posted by inire at 11:50 AM on March 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Senseless by Stona Fitch was so dread-inducing that I stopped reading after 2 chapters and took it back to the library. You may be stronger than me.
posted by moonmilk at 2:05 PM on March 18, 2015

(Watch out for spoilers in reviews)
posted by moonmilk at 2:05 PM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: Anything by Daphne du Maurier, but especially the short stories including The Birds. Hitchcock was a huge fan of hers (he also adapted Rebecca and Jamaica Inn), and if you're into the way he did suspense, you'll really enjoy her work.
posted by lhall at 4:12 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not exactly what you asked for, but for super short shots of horror check out reddit's No Sleep sub-reddit.
posted by pyro979 at 5:24 PM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: So this is more disturbing rather than horror, but have you tried Ian McEwan's novellas? The Cement Garden and The Comfort of Strangers are very short reads with mass heebie-jeebie appeal. And very well written to boot.
posted by timory at 6:30 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just chiming in to second The Turn of the Screw. Seriously, do not let the fact that Henry James can otherwise be a snoozer put you off. I've been bored by every other thing HJ has written, but The Turn of the Screw scared the bejeezus out of me.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:54 PM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: Seed by Ania Ahlborn. No link, on phone. If you are smarter than I am, you won't read it the first two nights of living in a new house.
posted by mibo at 6:54 PM on March 18, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks all! I've got a ton to go from here as these recs are almost entirely new to me. Much appreciated.
posted by ORthey at 7:28 PM on March 18, 2015

KathrynT pointed me at "Naomi's Room" after she read it and it also creeped me the fuck out.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:48 PM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: Wait, one more! Slights by Kaaron Warren. Creeped me right the hell out.
posted by RakDaddy at 8:13 PM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: Dark Matter, a ghost story set in the Arctic. Exactly what you are looking for!
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 4:19 AM on March 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: More of a collection of short story comics, but Emily Carrol's "Through the Woods" is gorgeously illustrated and pretty darn creepy. Not for kids.

Also, as a bonus, it only includes a single comics from her website, which means when you're done reading the book there's a ton more Emily Carrol creepy stories to read!
posted by Snuffman at 8:05 AM on March 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: (I didn't like Bird Box much, so take with salt grain ...)

Laird Barron is the best horror short-story writer that I've found since Harlan Ellison. He also wrote a novel, The Croning, that is pretty good and fairly short.

Also, if you did like Bird Box, try The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus. One of the most disturbing books I've read in a while, with a similar (yet much more surreal) premise.

And if you're into comedy-horror, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart is one of the more enjoyable books I've read in the past few years. Rollicking, even.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:22 PM on March 23, 2015

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