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Authors > Is Stephen King the greatest horror writer in history?

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message 1: by Francisco (new)

Francisco Ponce palmero | 102 comments yes, he made me discover the world of horror fiction and his are some of the books I have enjoyed more in my life. Althought technically the non-porlific T.E.D. Klein is a better stylist than King his work is very little and King has dozens and dozens of interesting novels and collections. What do you think?


message 2: by Greg (last edited Dec 23, 2017 10:34AM) (new)

Greg (popzeus) He has to be considered up there, for me. He’s just such a great storyteller, which lends his horror a dimension that I’ve rarely found in other authors of the genre. I guess that’s what has made him such an enduring presence in horror fiction and produced the levels of success he’s had, although I imagine there are a fair few out there who would hold his popularity against him.


message 3: by WendyB (new)

WendyB  | 2970 comments Mod
I don't know about being the greatest but he certainly is up there among the most prolific. And he has had a big influence in how horror has been written in the last 40 years.


message 4: by Jay (new)

Jay (okay_jay) | 215 comments As far as influence, he is way up there. Same goes for output and popularity. Style, though? He definitely has some stunning moments of prose, but is sometimes pedestrian. There's also the question of originality, which is where many people say he is lacking. He is better at juxtaposing existing ideas than formulating them. This can be seen in his revisiting (some would argue recycling) themes and elements from his own bibliography.
He is a great horror writer, certainly, but I wouldn't say greatest.


message 5: by Harsh (new)

Harsh Kumar (harshkumar) | 187 comments No offence to Stephen King fans.
A prolific writer he is indeed.
A very innovative one.

But he is not the greatest and never will be.
Infact I know that Joe Hill hasn't contributed alot to the horror literature as much as his father did, but I like his works more than King's.

I still think the shining is his best novel.
Atleast for me


message 6: by Jay (new)

Jay (okay_jay) | 215 comments Personal opinion: The Shining or Misery are probably his most effective novels, while Bag of Bones is the best, structurally. My favorite of his novels would be Dolores Claiborne, though. I find the Maine dialect is my favorite mode of King's prose, and Dolores herself is one of his best characters.
Still, I tend to like his novellas better (esp. regarding his recent work), and would say that Different Seasons has some of his best work.


message 7: by Jack (new)

Jack | 29 comments It is very hard as to pinpoint if he is the greatest horror writer of all time. He can perhaps get away with getting called the greatest modern horror writer, but not all time greatest. His predecessors such as Poe and Lovecraft did their fair share of influencing the horror genre as much as King. Ultimately though I wouldn’t label King as the “king” of horror since there are many more horror writers out there, classic and contemporary that are just as reputable as King.


message 8: by Latasha (new)

Latasha (latasha513) | 10827 comments Mod
he's pretty good but I wouldn't say greatest. I'd have to go back and look at those who came before him. Poe, for example. all these years later and we are still talking about him.


message 9: by Alondra (new)

Alondra Miller | 1893 comments Stephen King is my favorite author...Period.

Now, is he the greatest horror writer ever; probably not, according to the general public, this group or even this site. He is my favorite horror author. I never read horror prior to reading him. My first book was Carrie at age 13, and from then I was hooked. He introduced me to Richard Matheson, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon and even John Sandford (Mystery/thrillers); and a ton more.

I guess it is true what they say; You never forget your first. LOL


message 10: by Micah (new)

Micah Castle (micahcastle) | 1644 comments He's not the greatest horror writer in the history, not by a long shot. However, the amount of work he puts out, most of it being good quality, and how prolific he is to modern horror, puts him up there as one of the most notable writers.


message 11: by Erin (new)

Erin (ems84) | 6960 comments He is one of my favorite authors of all time but would I say he is the greatest? Maybe for his earlier work but I wouldn't put him in that category now. I still love his newer books but they don't horrify me as much as some of his classics do.


message 12: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Cross so far from what ive read yes :)


message 13: by Perry (new)

Perry Lake | 307 comments Stephen King is a very good writer. I have read many of his classic works and I have enjoyed them, especially The Stand.

That said, I have never found anything scary in any of his works. Partially, this is because horror is the theme I read most often and I'm used to most of the tropes and memes contained therein. I don't scare easily. But the other half of that equation is that King does not build scenes of true horror; he reveals the dark side of human nature. Those are two different things.

But there are works I do find scary. Peter Straub's Ghost Story, and short stories like The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman have sent chills up my spine. But if you want to talk about the greatest horror writer in history, we will be discussing Howard Philipps Lovecraft.


message 14: by Marie (new)

Marie | 3562 comments He is my favorite horror author, but is he the greatest horror writer? That depends on who you ask as die-hard Stephen Kings fans would say yes. :) Many horror authors on here have on their profiles that Stephen King was one of their influences to write their own horror stories.

His older novels are classic horror, but his newer stuff doesn't seem to have the same "horror" mold as his earlier work. He might have been considered the greatest years and years ago, but there are loads of horror authors out right now that could one day become the greatest. :)


message 15: by Phil (new)

Phil (chaoseum) | 776 comments I’d say he’s among the greatest, but it’s such a subjective thing that I don’t think anyone can be called THE greatest.


message 16: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Senteney (trollbridgeblogger) Stephen King is to horror what Elvis was to music, THE KING


message 17: by John (new)

John | 135 comments Perry wrote: "Stephen King is a very good writer. I have read many of his classic works and I have enjoyed them, especially The Stand.

That said, I have never found anything scary in any of his works. Partially..."


I would have to wholeheartedly disagree there. Though I don't adhere much to the Best Ever idea in things like writing and music.

Where I disagree is Lovecraft. At best, and this is being generous, I found one or two of his tales creepy. And if you don't leave adequate time between and read them consecutively over a short span of time as I did (likley why I am such a harsh critic, my bad) then they tend to blend into one another as his theses are somewhat repetitive.

IT, when I first read it oh so many years ago, on the other hand I did find disturbing and scary. Granted, this is no longer the case, but it did have an initial effect effect on me. That being said, I would agree with you concerning King. Many of his novels hit the creepy mark but don't really go beyond, especially now that I am older.

I think Lovecraft is the Beatles of the horror genre: over-rated due to a fair measure of hype. Personally, if I am going that far back, I far prefer Poe to Lovecraft. Far more gifted writer.

I started reading horror back in '85 and back then Koontz, King, and Straub were the big ones and I guess they have stuck with me.


message 18: by John (new)

John | 135 comments Philip wrote: "I’d say he’s among the greatest, but it’s such a subjective thing that I don’t think anyone can be called THE greatest."

Well said!


message 19: by Anne (w/ an E) (new)

Anne (w/ an E) (mzcatnthehat) | 754 comments I agree with Philip ^^^^^^^. Sure, I have read and enjoyed more horror books by Stephen King than by any other author, but I am not done reading horror, either. Who knows what I will discover in the future?


message 20: by R. Leigh (new)

R. Leigh | 36 comments There’s more to being a great writer of any genre than just the straight quality of their prose. Their influence on the genre, their inspiration to others, their effect on society, the list goes on. For these reasons, King is, in my opinion, very obviously the best horror writer of all time. For as long as Lovecraft and Poe have been around, for as influential as Koontz has been, how many movies have been made based off their works? To be fair, they’re different sorts of writers with different styles, so it’s not very honest of me to compare them.

In short, I think King is the King.


message 21: by Jay (new)

Jay (okay_jay) | 215 comments R. Leigh wrote: "There’s more to being a great writer of any genre than just the straight quality of their prose. Their influence on the genre, their inspiration to others, their effect on society, the list goes on..."

Poe, Koontz and Lovecraft all have several films based on their works. More films have been made of Dracula than almost any other character; that doesn't make Stoker the greatest horror writer.
Inspiration for films isn't a great argument for merit, but it could be a way of measuring influence, in conjunction with other metrics (such as people noting them as an inspiration).
Also, arguments that being prolific of popular equals greatness are misguided, IMO; Dan Brown may sell tons of books, and James Patterson may crank out a book a week, but that doesn't make them the best in their field (thrillers).
Obviously, greatness is subjective, and any topic of opinion can devolve into definitions and defensiveness. I personally dislike the idea of calling any one writer The Greatest in any genre; it is unquantifiable and exclusionary. Also, I am not willing to say I can objectively judge greatness better than everyone else. I'm both snobbish and egotistical, but I have my limits. However, I'm hesitant to accept anybody else's "objective" judgement, either.
I personally prefer to say "favorites", as then the subjectivity is transparent. Besides, we can argue all day over who is the best; nobody (sane) is going to argue over whether your preferences.
I'm loving this thread, and am sorry for dropping this huge chunk of text. Just needed to clarify my opinions (and rant).
Still, tis the season of "Best Of"s, so maybe I'm just wrong.


message 22: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Senteney (trollbridgeblogger) R. Leigh wrote: "There’s more to being a great writer of any genre than just the straight quality of their prose. Their influence on the genre, their inspiration to others, their effect on society, the list goes on..."
I agree wholeheartedly, Stephen King has the midas touch, he writes it and someone comes along and says hey let's make a movie and in 20 or 30 years let's remake that movie. Poe has had a lot of movie adaptations also, but has no where near the body of works of Mr. King. The man is a living legend.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) | 875 comments Stephen King is definitely an impressive author and has contributed much to the horror and thriller genre. He is underrated to me on how well he does dramas - most people don't even seem to realize some of the movies made off his dramas were even from him. I do think he is a bit overrated with some circles since I find many authors as imaginative or able to write as well and not given the acknowledgement, but he definitely deserves his reputation overall.


message 24: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2788 comments He's certainly up there and worth consideration although I wouldn't automatically jump to say yes.


message 25: by Jenny4924 (new)

Jenny4924 | 2 comments I was asked a few months back WHY I was such a constant reader of Stephen King. As I discussed this with my friend I realized a big reason I enjoy his work is NO CHARACTER IN HIS BOOKS ARE SAFE. He rarely writes in first person and is not afraid to have what we think are main characters die. He also plays on the fact that whether we believe that vampires, werewolves, or other things exist, there are definitely monsters that currently live next door.


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