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The book that scares me the most isn't horror, but it gives me the terrors. A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel. It's about the French Revolution, and the way she writes you are immersed in it. The book feels alive, and you can feel your cortisol levels rising and the adrenaline pumping as the "place" of safety within the novel gets smaller and smaller. Read it several times, always scares the hell out of me.

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I think this book is frightening in the way that something so hopeful becomes something so dark, paranoid and completely out of control

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Definitely.

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Pet Sematary by Stephen King seriously fucked me up. It’s an encounter with death, disease, and grief that somehow got deep under my skin -- more than any other horror novel.

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author

This sounds like one I should avoid 😬

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For real. And I read it one summer while I was living in Maine in a monstrous old house.

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Yeah. It's really disturbing.

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Oh yes, same here; Pet Semetary is the only book that kept me awake after I finished reading it in the middle of the night! 😬😱

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founding

My choice, too!

My wife and I were reading it at the same time and she was so scared that she threw the book on the floor.

I think one of our sons was three or four at the time...

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I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I made the mistake of finishing King's "The Mist" in the middle of the night. I was in high school, it was probably a school night, HA.

I had every stuffed animal plus my two live cats in bed with me, and my bathroom light on before I could fall asleep.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

H.. Lovecraft. At 11 it was truly frightening.

Addendum: I have a number of Doré illustrations from Dover. Excellent work.

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Cujo. Because it could really happen.

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I don't usually read horror, but I love mystery and Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" was positively chilling. Sooooo well done with the suspense. Right off the bat you know you are in for a creepy read.

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That book was also on my mind - I remember I couldn’t put it down. It made me actually shiver at some parts.

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Yes, same. I couldn't read it too late at night!

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Oct 30, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

House of Leaves. It's been a long time since I read it so I can't remember what it was, but I do know that that book gave me the heebie-jeebies something fierce.

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House of Leaves is scary as hell. Gets deep into existential terror

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When I was young I was always rooting around for something salacious ... I was about 11 or 12, maybe 13, when I read 'The Fog' by James Herbert. I remember being scared and pretty aghast at the depths humans could stoop to!

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the Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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The Road, Cormac McCarthy

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That was JoJo's answer ... I think she read it after seeing the film so the images were easier to conjure up

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author

I know exactly what you mean

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deletedOct 30, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell
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author

Great answer!

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I love a good mystery or suspense, but I'm a big scaredy cat when it comes to horror. The most scared I've been was actually because I knew a character in a novel that I loved was going to die and I REALLY didn't want him to. I kept imagining a happy ending for this character, that I knew he would never have. I guess I was more sad, but the way he died was so unexpected and realistic that it made me scared too.

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I’ve been wracking my mind and I can’t think of a single book that has frightened me...but that’s probably because I don’t read any horror. I only watch them!

Everyone read Emily’s work!!!!!!

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Awwww! Thank you Caroline!!!... I was doing some research on books about "home" in a general sense and I came across a book called HORRORSTOR. The cover looks exactly like an Ikea ad and I had this strange fear I might accidentally read a horror novel thinking it was a furniture catalogue???

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Hahaha be careful out there!

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Also, Thank you so much for the mention!!! I really appreciate all you do here at The Books that Made Us!!

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author

You’re very welcome!

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Oct 30, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

Thank you so much for the callout!! :)

This is technically not a scary book and might seem like a strange response, but the scariest book I can recall in recent memory was Colson Whitehead's "Nickle Boys" that I read a few months ago. It was all based on a true story (which makes it even scarier) about an abusive boys reform school. It is a great and powerful book as all of Colson Whitehead's work is but it was very scary and upsetting in parts and not the best choice for a bedtime read!

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Oct 30, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

For me it’s both Pet Semetary and Cujo. I read them in early high school under the covers with a flashlight as I shared a room with my little sister and lights had to be out. Sounds funny now but it was so terrifying! I read a bunch more Stephen King books after those. I guess I like to be scared. 😁

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Thank you so much for the shoutout! I do think that possibly the most scared I've ever been (but in a good way) while reading a book was when I read 'The Master and Margarita.' I don't believe it's discussed all that often as a horror novel but there are definitely some passages there that are terrifying like the Omen-like events that lead to Berlioz's death or the Satan's Ball in its second half.

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I haven't really read much horror. Maybe flicking through Goosebumps at primary school or something... Or when I read my old stuff

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author

😂😂😂

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Oct 31, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

The relatively unknown short story“The Frolic” by Thomas Ligotti is one of the creepiest works I’ve ever read. It’s available in the “read a sample” portion of the Amazon Kindle preview for his book “Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimescribe”(https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00TY3ZOLE/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1698714737&sr=8-1). I don’t find monsters or the undead as terrifying as criminal psychopaths.

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"Principia Mathematica" by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell :)

This three-volume work is known for its rigorous approach to mathematical logic and the foundations of mathematics. It's a highly advanced and challenging text, often considered one of the most complex works in the field of mathematical philosophy. Scary and intimidating.

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Posing. Interesting 🧐

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Hmm 🤔 I don't scare easily reading fiction. And scare very easily reading nonfiction 😄 Like Witness for the Defense is terrifying. But again, not hard to scare me with real life horror.

Fiction-wise … I guess The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. It's the only time I can recall feeling scared while reading fiction.

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I don't read horror, but i am scared by reading 2 kinds of books:

1. The ones I don't understand.

2. The ones that mess with my feelings

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Jay Anson's The Amityville Horror. Scared the bejesus out of me.

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I wrote about this! I wonder, is there such a thing as a TRULY scary book? Mine was, of course, also Stephen King. https://subverse.substack.com/p/the-curator-no-26-is-there-such-thing

And I was also in discussion with Adromeda and Caitlin over at Present Tense on this topic too. So loving the responses here and note Stephen King is laughing all the way to the BANK.

https://presenttense.substack.com/p/the-scary-difficulties-of-writing

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The Color Out of Space, by H.P. Lovecraft

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The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Thomas Ligotti recommended it somewhere.

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It’s not horror or even very scary, but I remember being terrified of the mysterious person in the above floor in Jane Eyre.

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'The Rats' by James Herbert, aged maybe 12.

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Either Carrie or The Shining. I’ve never gotten over them.

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Another vote for Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I can remember reading it as a teen and feeling very unsettling as we lived in the woods also and had dogs.

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Oct 31, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz. Had to stay up to read the ending, but then couldn’t fall asleep.

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Oct 31, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

Cujo. By Stephen King

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Flann O’Brien’s ‘The Third Policeman’ isn’t scary in the sense of many other books mentioned in this thread, but is an eerie, surreal novel that I love re-reading around Halloween. It mixes absurdity with a mounting sense of dread, building to a final morbid twist.

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When I was in high school I read Creature by John Saul. That book seriously messed with my head.

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Just wanted to add In Cold Blood to the list here-- it deeply disturbed me and turned me off forever to the "true crime" genre. Nothing scarier than what people can do to other people imo. And in that book Capote tries so hard to discover why the crime was committed and there's just...no reason. That really horrified me.

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The Stand also by Stephen King. And one he wrote that isn't as famous, The Girl who loved Tom Gordon, the build up was constant and realistic. Probably my favorite SK story.

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Oct 31, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

'The Wasp Factory's by Iain Banks

It's not a jump scare or crazy twist kind of novel. More unnerving than anything. I prefer horror that doesn't completely show you the monster, but let's it track through your mind, stalking your nerves, until you're not sure where you're at or how you got there. Alone and without escape.

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King's It or Rose Madder for different reasons that intersected at times. I snuck It home from my school library as my mother never would have approved. It was the first and last book to force me to put it down out of sheer terror while I read alone in my room at night.

Rose Madder turned over some bloodied stone within me and revealed the extremity of man's obsession and violence.

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About as close as I got to scary books were the Ann Rice novels. Interview with a Vampire and others around New Orleans if I recall correctly. I'm not one for horror, so in my mind, those books were scary to me.

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“Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

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