Stephen King’s Most Dreadful Novels

September 5, 2018

Stephen King is definitely known as one of the greatest and most talented horror and mystery writers in history. This is the person who brought us “It”, “The Green Mile”, “11/22/63”, and that’s off the top of our heads. Actually, during the writer’s journey into becoming a literary icon, he has released over 50 novels. In this article, we suggest our choice of the most dreadful King’s novels.

Stephen King A List of His Scariest Novels

5. Carrie (1974)

Let’s begin our list with King’s first ever published novel, “Carrie”. The plot revolves around a lonely and unpopular 16-year-old girl Carrie, who discovers her telekinetic powers. Just like any regular and sensible human being would do, the girl uses her newly-discovered powers to revenge everyone who hurt her. Ok, teenagers can be mean enough, but if an unpopular and oppressed girl gets telekinetic powers… the consequences are horrible.
“Carrie” is one of the most commonly banned books in schools across the USA, which proves how brilliantly twisted the writer’s work. This is because King’s writing style makes the reader sympathize with the main character, despite the fact that she is definitely neurotic and terrifying.
It should be mentioned that Stephen King almost gave up on this project, but his wife, Tabitha, discerned the potential in the novel and pushed him to keep going. The huge success, which this first publication had, pushed the writer to continue his work and produce brilliant novels that have made him the real King of Horror.

4. The Shining (1977)

This novel was written under the heavy influence of King’s 1974 visit to The Stanley Hotel and his prolonged recovery from alcoholism. The story’s plot revolves around the life of Jack Torrance, who is an ambitious author and a recovering alcoholic, and who accepts the position of the off-season caretaker of The Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Mountains. He takes his wife and son, Danny Torrance, with him. Danny possesses psychic abilities that allow him to view the dreadful past of the hotel. Jack’s family gets snowed in, and things turn around very fast.
 A cool story lies behind the book. “The Shining” was the writer’s third published novel, and the first two were set in Maine, where King grew up. So, for the next story, the author wanted it to have another setting and vibe. That is why he literally opened the USA map and pointed to a random location, which turned out to be Boulder, Colorado. King decided to stay with his wife in The Stanley Hotel for a while and worked on the book there.

3. It (1986)

In the fall last year, the screen adaption of the novel “It” was surrounded by hype for a good reason. This is a thrilling and terrifying story – a real masterpiece of the King of Horror. 
“It” is an epic novel told through two alternative narratives, each about three decades apart. It concerns numerous themes, which became the staples of King’s works, among which childhood trauma and the way it affects the entire adult life, the power of memory and tension in a small town. Oh, and there is a creepy clown, which lives in a sewer in this story.
This novel became truly an icon in modern culture; it was nominated for and won plenty of awards. And just like other numerous literary works of King, it was adapted a couple of times.

2. Pet Sematary (1983)

This is another horror novel that was embraced by audiences and provided a fresh take on the question: what are you ready to do to bring your darlings back from the dead?
This story revolves around the life of Louis Creed, a doctor who gets the new position as the head of the University of Maine’s campus health service. Together with his family, Louis moves to a new house along the highway. One day, while walking with their new neighbors in the woods, they came across a pet cemetery and met some local kids burying their deceased pets. The book has the title Pet Sematary, rather than spelling it correctly as cemetery, because in the story, children spell it this way.
The main theme of this novel is death and the way it affects the family. And just as usual, King puts his own creepy twist to what is already a scary subject. King often takes his own life experiences as inspirations for his books. He got the idea to create this story when he moved back to Maine to teach at the University of Maine. During that year, he lived with his family in a rented house placed by the highway. The passing cars claimed the lives of many pets, so local children buried them in the field that was situated near King’s home. Affected by all this, the writer created Pet Sematary.
When the novel was finished, both Stephen King and Tabitha considered it too dark, so the author did not want to submit it. However, he was finally forced to do that, because of the contract obligation towards Doubleday, his publisher. In spite of great success of the book, King still thinks that it is far too dark.

1. Night Shift (1978)

OK, we kind of cheated on this one. It is not a novel; it is a collection of brief stories. The book includes 20 stories and each of them is a light, romantic comedy with happy ending. Ok, we have cheated again. The stories are far from light. However, they are excellently twisted, scary and thrilling. 
This publication consists of the following short stories: “Jerusalem’s Lot”; “Graveyard Shift”; “Night Surf”; “I Am The Doorway”; “The Mangler”; “The Boogeyman”; “Gray Matter”; “Battleground”; “Trucks”; “Sometimes They Come Back”; “The Ledge”; “The Lawnmower Man”; “Quitter, Inc.”; “I Know What You Need”; “Children Of The Corn”; “The Last Rung On The Ladder”; “The Man Who Loved Flowers”;  “One For The Road”; “The Woman In The Room”.

So, here it is. The list of Stephen King’s most horrifying books as we see it. Sure, each of you has your own opinion on which stories should be included in the list. But if you still have not read any of the books listed above, come on, do it! Thank you, Stephen King, for your brilliant ability to engage, horrify and thrill us with plenty of various fresh ideas.


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