What Are You Scared Of? A Guide to the Ghastly Subgenres of Horror

Posted by Hayley on October 1, 2018
Goodreads Horror Week 2018

Horror Week is sponsored by Dark Corners, an Amazon Original Stories Collection.

Genres can be defined by what's waiting around the corner. In a romance book, it's happily ever after; in a mystery novel, it's the culprit. For horror fans, death is always near—and knowing that is half the fun.

In order to uncover truly terrifying reads, we delved into the rich and grotesque world of horror subgenres, focusing on the mayhem makers that turn dread into an art form. We narrowed down our recommendations to the books that have been added the most to Goodreads members' shelves and that have at least a 3.7 average rating.
Something wicked this way comes, readers. Which books will you be adding to your Want to Read shelf?



A full moon reveals a flash of teeth and fur? It's a werewolf.

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Shifting walls with malevolent intent? It's a haunted house.

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A murderous lunatic hiding in plain sight? It's a psychopath.

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A decaying hand clawing at your shoulder? It's a zombie.

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An eerie menace stalking you across the stars? It's an alien.

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A tangle of guts and a decapitated head? It's a bloodthirsty maniac.

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A spooky apparition with unfinished business? It's a ghost.

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What's your favorite kind of horror story? Tell us in the comments!

Check out the complete coverage of Horror Week:
Let's Play: Conjure Your Worst Nightmare
50 Most Popular Horror Novels on Goodreads
The Most Popular Book-to-Scream Adaptations

Comments Showing 1-50 of 90 (90 new)


message 1: by Reader453 (new)

Reader453 Right now I have:

Days Of Hate - Ales Kot (Dystopian)

Infidel - Pornsak Pichetshote (Haunted House)

The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle ( Lovecraftian)


message 2: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Strongly rec PAUL TREMBLAY'S awesome takes on classic horror tropes, ESP his Exorcist-inspired HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS.


message 3: by Holly (new)

Holly Most of my faves tend to defy the sub-genre definitions; some I intend to re-read this October:

Curfew by Phil Rickman by Phil Rickman

House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill by Adam Nevill

Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon by Thomas Tryon

Dark Gods by T.E.D. Klein by T.E.D. Klein

Long Lankin (Long Lankin, #1) by Lindsey Barraclough by Lindsey Barraclough


message 4: by Aaron (last edited Oct 01, 2018 09:18AM) (new)

Aaron I love the book The Devil in Grey by Masterton


Also, Coldbrook is probably the best zombie book I've read


message 5: by Supratim (new)

Supratim I love horror stories with elements of mystery, set in small towns or forests, and preferably set in the 70s or before!


message 6: by Alondra (new)

Alondra Most of these have either been read or are on the list, with me owning most.... good grief. What does that say about me!!??

LOL


message 7: by Tmob (new)

Tmob This Post added 8 more to my TBR!


message 8: by Wanda (new)

Wanda Maynard I have GHOST STORY by Peter Straub. A collection of Stephen King book, which I love. A few of Joe Hills, and also Bently Little. He is another good horror writer.


message 9: by Cassie (new)

Cassie Fischer No vampires?


message 10: by Phil (new)

Phil Read eight, but where are the pointy toothed one's?


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* I'd never heard of Thor and High Moor but now I must read - esp. since they're both on Unlimited.

Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand is a fun horror book and very well done - recommended!


message 12: by Hayla (new)

Hayla Cassie wrote: "No vampires?"

I was surprised by this, too!


message 13: by Maggie (new)

Maggie May My favorite horror sub-genre is the haunted house / ghost story but it's hard to find good ones. So many authors write ghosts as metaphors or symptoms of mental illness, it's hard to find a modern ghost story that is just creepy and fun.


message 14: by Dan (new)

Dan Porter Maggie wrote: "My favorite horror sub-genre is the haunted house / ghost story but it's hard to find good ones. So many authors write ghosts as metaphors or symptoms of mental illness, it's hard to find a modern ..."

Throw in a few deomns, and those are my favorite sub-genres as well, and I agree with you about the more modern stories. That's why I tend to stick with the old school authors like Arthur Machen, M.R. James, and J. Sheridan Le Fanu. All time favorite author though is Lovecraft. Poe is a close second.


message 15: by Alondra (new)

Alondra Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "I'd never heard of Thor and High Moor but now I must read - esp. since they're both on Unlimited.

Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand is a fun horror book and very well done - recommended!"


High Moor is really good. I hadn't read much werewolf horror stories, but this was good.

Amazon usually has the first 2 as freebies; the 3rd I eventually got for .99, I think. Good luck!!


message 16: by Bettielee (new)

Bettielee Maggie wrote: "My favorite horror sub-genre is the haunted house / ghost story but it's hard to find good ones. So many authors write ghosts as metaphors or symptoms of mental illness, it's hard to find a modern ..."

I'm more than half way thru the Family Plot by Cherie Priest right now and it's so good!


message 17: by Leo (new)

Leo Maggie wrote: "My favorite horror sub-genre is the haunted house / ghost story but it's hard to find good ones. So many authors write ghosts as metaphors or symptoms of mental illness, it's hard to find a modern ..."

I was going to recommend you "Anna Dressed in Blood" since it seemed right up your alley, but it seems you've already read it. It was the only *good* modern book that came to my mind when I saw your comment, so I'm with you on modern ghosts. I feel most of them lean towards "ok-ish" and/or forgettable rather than good.


message 18: by Nettie (new)

Nettie Any good (post) apocalyptic recommendations? I havent read a good horror in years, I want one that I need to read with the lights on.


message 19: by Carol (new)

Carol Nettie wrote: "Any good (post) apocalyptic recommendations? I havent read a good horror in years, I want one that I need to read with the lights on."

Stinger I read this when I was a teen. Really a great book. It's a must read. Another is Swan Song By Robert Mccammon.


message 20: by Nettie (new)

Nettie
Stinger I read this when I was a ..."


Swan Song is one of my favourite. Iain Robb Wright's Damienverse series is one I would definitely recommend.

Brian Keene's The Rising, Dead Sea and Darkness at the Edge of Town are some more of my favourites.


message 21: by Mark (last edited Oct 02, 2018 12:54PM) (new)

Mark Kloss Maggie wrote: "My favorite horror sub-genre is the haunted house / ghost story but it's hard to find good ones. So many authors write ghosts as metaphors or symptoms of mental illness, it's hard to find a modern ..."

It's not super scary as it is designed for Middle Grade but I think Spirits of the Dead (The Christopher Daring Adventures #1) by Stephen J. Willis Spirits of the Deadfits your description pretty well!


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* H wrote: "Maggie wrote: "My favorite horror sub-genre is the haunted house / ghost story but it's hard to find good ones. So many authors write ghosts as metaphors or symptoms of mental illness, it's hard to..."

I have to agree that Anna Dressed in Blood was great fun and I was impressed.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Nettie wrote: "
Stinger I read this when I was a ..."

Swan Song is one of my favourite. Iain Robb Wright's Damienverse series is one I would definitely recommend.

Brian Keene's The Rising, Dead Se..."


I'm not crazy about some of his other zombie stuff but Dead Sea is one of my favorite horror books.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Alondra wrote: "High Moor is really good. I hadn't read much werewolf horror stories, but this was good.

Amazon usually has the first 2 as freebies; the 3rd I eventually got for .99, I think. Good luck!! ."


Thanks, I'm going to try to get to both of them this month.


message 25: by BauerRAT (last edited Oct 04, 2018 12:50AM) (new)

BauerRAT  Maggie wrote: "My favorite horror sub-genre is the haunted house / ghost story but it's hard to find good ones. So many authors write ghosts as metaphors or symptoms of mental illness, it's hard to find a modern ..."

Hello Maggie

Im a newbie here , but ive come looking for those exact types books, do you have any haunted house recommendations ?

I've just read Peter James House on Cold Hill for the second time and I loved that . Anyone got any similar recommendations?

Cheers all


message 26: by Alex (new)

Alex Aaron wrote: "I love the book The Devil in Grey by Masterton


Also, Coldbrook is probably the best zombie book I've read"


The Devil in Grey is SOOOOO good!


message 27: by Maggie (new)

Maggie May I've just read Peter James House on Haunted Hill for the second time and I loved that . Anyone got any similar recommendations?

I haven’t read any Peter James so I am not sure what might be similar but The Twilight Pariah by Jeffery Ford is a good ghost story.


message 28: by Tesalonica (new)

Tesalonica what? no witch books?
I read Hex last year and loved it.


message 29: by BauerRAT (new)

BauerRAT  Maggie wrote: "I've just read Peter James House on Haunted Hill for the second time and I loved that . Anyone got any similar recommendations?

I haven’t read any Peter James so I am not sure what might be simila..."


Thnk you ill have alook, I meant the House on Cold Hill and tbf its not usual for Peter james, he usually writes crime novels. Still I love a good ghost story , so ill check that one out , thanks


message 30: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Anything by Richard Laymon. His stories are very creepy and bizarre! The stories will stay in your mind and around the dark room at night!


message 31: by Will (new)

Will Kelsey Cool list. I’ve got a few more in my To Read list


message 32: by Robin (new)

Robin Intriguing that not a single novel of Stephen King earned a spot in any of the subcategories! It’s certainly nice to discover other writers in the genre, but King’s contributions deserve mention!


message 33: by Abigail (new)

Abigail EK Adding some of these to my reading list! I've been heralding October by rereading all my favorite Stephen Kings-Gerald's Game is tied with Mr. Monster for the scariest book I've ever read.


message 34: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Cassie wrote: "No vampires?"

I guess they're not scary anymore since Twilight... they now belong to the romance genre ._.


message 35: by Melis (new)

Melis ünler haunted houses and ghosts


message 36: by Vladimir (new)

Vladimir Vladov My favorite horror novels are:
It and Salem's Lot by Stephen King;
Carrion Comfort, Summer of Night, Song of Kali by Dam Simmons;
Stinger by Robert McCammon;
The Totem by David Morrell;
Dracula by Bram Stoker;
And many more...
When I describe a book as favorite, I mean that when i read the last page, I want to start again from the beginning.
Thanks for the invaluable information you provide for the readers.


message 37: by Alan (new)

Alan Toner Maggie wrote: "My favorite horror sub-genre is the haunted house / ghost story but it's hard to find good ones. So many authors write ghosts as metaphors or symptoms of mental illness, it's hard to find a modern ..."

I agree. And being a horror writer myself, I certainly know how tricky it can be to write a ghost story that is not formulaic and cliched.


message 38: by Alan (new)

Alan Toner My all time favourite horror author (now sadly deceased) is James Herbert. When I first read his debut novel THE RATS way back in September 1975, I became an instant fan. In fact, Jim was a big influence on me in regard to taking up writing my own horror stories.


message 39: by Alan (new)

Alan Toner Vladimir wrote: "My favorite horror novels are:
It and Salem's Lot by Stephen King;
Carrion Comfort, Summer of Night, Song of Kali by Dam Simmons;
Stinger by Robert McCammon;
The Totem by David Morrell;
Dracula by ..."


Some great choices there, especially Dracula and Salem's Lot.


message 40: by Alan (new)

Alan Toner Aenea wrote: "Cassie wrote: "No vampires?"

I guess they're not scary anymore since Twilight... they now belong to the romance genre ._."


I hate Twilight. Completely took the scare factor out of vampires and made them too slushy and soft. Ugh!


message 41: by Alan (new)

Alan Toner Melis wrote: "haunted houses and ghosts"

Me too. And I write them myself too.


message 42: by Alan (new)

Alan Toner Barbara wrote: "Anything by Richard Laymon. His stories are very creepy and bizarre! The stories will stay in your mind and around the dark room at night!"

I agree.


message 43: by Alan (new)

Alan Toner BauerRAT wrote: "Maggie wrote: "I've just read Peter James House on Haunted Hill for the second time and I loved that . Anyone got any similar recommendations?

I haven’t read any Peter James so I am not sure what ..."


I loved The House On Cold Hill too.


message 44: by Koen (new)

Koen Smit-Amor Stephen King, always Stephen King. A less good Stephen King book is still better than the average horror/thriller book in my humble opinion. It’s the language, the dialogue, the set-up, the storyline, the twists, the psychology of the characters... I just love them.


message 45: by Cobagibu (new)

Cobagibu what about the vampires? ...


message 46: by Ziggy (new)

Ziggy Nixon Thanks for the suggestions! If anyone's interested, the best WEREWOLF book I've read to date is the 3rd installment of Larry Correia's fantastic 'Monster Hunters International' series! And ZOMBIES, wow, so many to choose from, though 'The Girl With All the Gifts' and the prequel should be on everyone's list! But hey where's the love for VAMPIRES? 'The Passage' series, end of discussion. Just wow.


message 47: by Cobagibu (new)

Cobagibu Ziggy wrote: "Thanks for the suggestions! If anyone's interested, the best WEREWOLF book I've read to date is the 3rd installment of Larry Correia's fantastic 'Monster Hunters International' series! And ZOMBIES,..."

exactly!... Elrod...Yarbro... I re-read them every October, where are the newer authors???


message 48: by Richard Howard (new)

Richard Howard M.R. James was the master of the atmospheric ghost story.


message 49: by Richp (new)

Richp Counting the book I may finish today, I count 12 books for me that contain at least one major incident of horror. 8 of them are nonfiction, and 2 of 4 fiction do not fit these categories. A lot of Edgar Allen Poe does not either.


message 50: by CarmenMia (new)

CarmenMia K Haunting of Hill House is sooooo good


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