Top 26+ Scariest Paranormal & Supernatural Horror Books (2023) In Order
Horror manifests in myriad forms, yet there's a unique, lingering creepiness that unfolds across the pages of a book, making each turn a thoughtful dance between anticipation and dread.
If you've already dipped your toes in the chilling waters of horror books, why not jump into the unexplored abysses? New reads await, flaunting a spectrum of frights from supernatural spectacles to mind-bending psychological fears.
Why Are The Most Frightening Stories in Paranormal Horror Books?
I find these stories quite unsettling as they step into the unknown, often featuring characters who are not entirely human yet have ties to our world. There's something about not fully grasping what's happening that scares me. The way they show paranormal and supernatural elements often comes off as dark and scary. When these books explore themes of death or violence, they become even more terrifying.
Take, for instance, the horror story The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum, which is based on a harrowing true story. The narrative is relentless and the violence is not for the faint of heart, portraying a chilling descent into human depravity.
If the idea of being scared excites you, stories like these can be both thrilling and horrifying. Reading a gut-wrenching supernatural horror book can certainly get your adrenaline racing, though the haunting imagery might linger, keeping you up at night.
I featured my personal collection of paranormal horror books in reverse-chronological order:
What Are The Scariest Paranormal and Supernatural Horror Books?
The Night House, by Jo Nesbo (2023)
In The Night House, a chilling horror novel from a renowned author, fourteen-year-old Richard Elauved is sent to live with his relatives in the secluded town of Ballantyne after the devastating loss of his parents in a fire. Soon after arriving, Richard becomes an outsider, and when his classmate Tom vanishes, the town accuses the new boy. Richard insists that a mysterious telephone booth near the woods swallowed Tom, a claim only Karen, another misfit, believes.
Together, they follow a series of enigmatic leads to an eerie house in the Mirror Forest where Richard encounters a haunting face and hears disturbing voices that threaten the life of someone he cares for. As more kids go missing, Richard races against time to clear his name, while battling the sinister forces consuming the town. Yet, the tale is further complicated as doubts arise regarding the trustworthiness of Richard as the narrator of his own harrowing journey.
It's raw, often making you question the reality of what's unfolding, much like the protagonist Richard's own perceptions. Yet, at its core, it's a story of resilience, the pursuit of truth, and the importance of allies in the most unexpected places.
Village Heresy, Don Marshall (2023)
Kale reluctantly shares his past experiences with a Bible study group, recounting his youthful involvement in the occult and a desire to reignite his writing career. His testimony uncovers a work-in-progress novel that ties him to a historic mass murder orchestrated by the demon Zozo. This revelation inadvertently summons Zozo, who torments the group by revealing their hidden sins, leading their relationships to deteriorate.
Coincidentally, the lives of the group intertwine with a sadistic serial killer wreaking havoc in the Pacific Northwest. As each individual confronts their past sins, it becomes evident that the killer has a mysterious link to the group. For Kale to find redemption and protect his friends, he realizes he might have to make the ultimate sacrifice. This narrative bears a resemblance to certain elements in popular horror and thriller novels, though the specifics of the story are unique.
The book's story is raw. It hits you hard with its portrayal of past mistakes and their repercussions. It's not just about horror or the occult; it's about people dealing with their past and trying to make things right. I appreciated how it tackled the tough idea of redemption and the consequences of our actions. The plot with the serial killer adds a gripping layer, making it tough to put down. It's a gritty read, but worth it for those who can handle it.
The Spite House, by Johnny Compton (2023)
In Johnny Compton's chilling debut novel, The Spite House, readers are introduced to Eric Ross, a man on the run with his two daughters, seeking refuge from a mysterious past. Abandoning his previous life in Maryland, Eric is in dire need of money and stability, facing the challenges of unemployment due to his lack of references and the constant fear of his haunting history catching up to him.
A glimmer of hope appears when Eric discovers an intriguing advertisement for the Masson House in Degener, Texas—a notorious location known for its paranormal activity. The owner of the house is searching for a caretaker to meticulously document the supernatural events that occur within its walls.
Though previous caretakers have succumbed to madness, Eric feels an irresistible pull towards the opportunity. Not only does the prospect offer a substantial payout, but it also entices him with the chance to delve into the secrets of the spite house.
If the rumors of its haunted nature are true, Eric believes that uncovering its mysteries may provide insight into the eerie power that has plagued his family, compelling them to live in constant fear and perpetually evade their past.
Day 305, by Nicole Thomas (2022)
Day 305 is a supernatural horror novel that fuses a romantic, chilling and unexpected experience. Nicole's talent is evident based on how she has created complicated characters that will keep you wanting to discover more in this short story. From the instant you start reading, this story pulls you into the intriguing characters’ lives and more discoverable backstories. You will love the vivid descriptions that propel this mentally uncertain story. Every scene is built into a terrifying ending.
Paul and Brenda are trying to enhance their relationship. While on a hiking trip, they find a book that can predict the future. Not just that. It is terrifyingly accurate. When Paul hurts himself on the beach, Brenda begins obsessing over the book since it predicted this ordeal.
While at home, Brenda rushes to look for the book as it can unlock more mysteries. But Paul has hidden it from her after seeing what it was doing to her. When day 305 comes, Paul and Brenda’s lives change unexpectedly.
Hidden Pictures, by Jason Rekulak (2022)
Hidden Pictures is for you if you are a fan of Stranger Things and will appeal to you if you are an art lover.
Mallory Quinn has just left rehab, and she enrolls for a job as a babysitter for Caroline and Ted Maxwell’s son Teddy. She immediately falls in love with this job since she has all the stability she craves, and her bond with sweet Teddy is excellent.
Teddy spends most of his time drawing the usual things any kid would draw, like trees, balloons, and rabbits. But on one particular day, he draws something else; a man dragging a lifeless woman’s body in the woods. His work becomes even more sinister as the figures transform into dark lifelike sketches.
Mallory wonders if these glimpses probably point to a murder that has gone unsolved for long or something supernatural. Even though all this seems crazy to her, she decides to work on deciphering the images and saving Teddy.
You will love Mallory’s determination not to back down and her redemptive qualities, but this story's shocking twist is something you will not have seen coming.
What Moves the Dead, by T. Kingfisher (2022)
If you are unfamiliar with T. Kingfisher’s work, this book will prove that she is the queen of atmospheric creep.
What Moves the Dead will leave you with tight muscles and unblinking eyes from its tension. But the way Kingfisher successfully combines horror and humor is even more remarkable and something you will love. When you finish this supernatural book, you will wonder if this is a cautionary tale about nature or humankind. But that’s for you to decide.
When Alex learns that Madeline Usher, his childhood friend, is dying, they run to the Ushers’ Ruritania ancestral home together with his friends. Upon arrival, they find a horrifying state of possessed wildlife and fungal growths encircling a dark and pulsing lake. What’s more, Madeline talks in very strange voices at night as she sleepwalks. An unknown nerve malady is also consuming Roderick, her twin brother.
With the help of Angus, a baffled doctor, and Eugenia Potter, a mycologist, Alex must figure out the House of Usher's big secret before it can consume everyone.
The House Across the Lake, Riley Sager (2022)
After his best-selling novel Final Girls, Riley crafted another strong plot.
Readers are taken on a chilling journey alongside Casey Fletcher, a bereaved actress seeking respite in her family’s quaint Vermont lake house. As she delves into a voyeuristic routine, watching the seemingly perfect couple across the lake, she becomes an unexpected savior, rescuing Katherine from drowning. This act spirals into a suspenseful tale of friendship and suspicion as Casey navigates through the facade of marital bliss shared by Katherine and Tom, which crumbles revealing ominous secrets when Katherine abruptly vanishes.
Sager meticulously crafts a narrative that explores the human psyche, the facade of perfection, and the dark truths lurking beneath serene surfaces, all while maintaining a pace that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.
Sager's characters are well-rounded and believable, making the stark contrast between the calm exterior and the underlying darkness even more impactful. The unsettling yet captivating setting of the peaceful lake house against the backdrop of a turbulent, mysterious disappearance creates a haunting atmosphere that complements the psychological complexity of the narrative.
Through Casey’s observational lens, Sager exposes the often overlooked sinister undertones of ordinary lives, delivering a story replete with unexpected twists and profound suspense. “The House Across the Lake” is not merely an escapist read but a deep dive into the complex nature of human relationships and the eerie tranquility that often masks life-altering secrets, making it a distinctive addition to the thriller genre.
Don't Tell a Soul Hardcover, by Kirsten Miller (2021)
This is a creepy suspense tale about Bram Howland who runs towards ghosts instead of going away from them. Sound courageous, right? Bram wants to come out of her family's past and even from gossip that seems to worry her. So, she opts to move to her uncle’s place in the small town of Louth on the Hudson River.
Uncle James seems to revamp his old mansion but is disturbed by the ghosts around. Several months ago, aunt lost her life in a house fire that others around believe to be put up by her daughter. Now, this manor and the locals both are creepy; the residents of the town do not welcome outsiders such as Bram.
Every day, Bram learns that the rumors the locals spread are as upsetting as the surprises they hide. Of all, the most terrifying one is the legend of the Dead Girls that the locals keep spreading. These were the girls who lost their lives in the house of Bram. The eeriest truth seems to be that these girls may not have left the place. If Bram peeps into this haunted story, even she might not leave the place. So, what is she willing to do now?
The Harrowed Paths, by David Annandale (2021)
This supernatural horror book reveals the mysterious side of Warhammer fiction via a series of tales of dark evil. Somehow, an esoteric evil has woke up in the targeted worlds ruined almost by non-stop battles. No one knows how this evil arose; it could be due to the insane violence or it could be so that it has been there, concealing among impatient shadows.
However, now, the evil has started skidding and sneaking into the rubble and the lives of the living, those who fortunately endured the unimaginable. It yearns for the miserable, lonely, and the vanished, forcing them down their tragic trails, including an isolated historian looking for an ethereal ship and an old woman looking for a recovery in a harsh wilderness.
Such an evil setup comes from the lecturer of horror films at a Canadian University and an author of the Warhammer Horror novel, David Annandale. Will the evil win?
Dark Solstice, by N.P. Martin (2021)
This hysterical horror book comes from the author of the Ethan Drake series. What would be your reaction if a ghost asks for your help to hunt for a witch to take revenge? Well, this is what Dark Solstice by N. K. Martin is all about. The ghost of the deceased father-in-law tells Fergie Thompson that a witch had killed him and how wants his help to take revenge. Obviously, upon listening to this, anyone would deem this as crazy initially.
Even Fergie deemed so but then unwisely agreed to help. Fergie now has a goal to kill a witch before his ex-wife or his Northern Irish town or even the world could become her wicked target. Hunting for a witch is certainly not his cup of tea. However, the father-in-law is giving him a lot of money. Thus, without any skills, Fergie has stepped into an eerie sphere of witchcraft, cosmic horrors, and fatal ghosts.
Shadows' End, by Ron Ripley (2021)
A retired Marine Corps sergeant meets a disrupted evil boy to sojourn the ultimate evil in this story by Ron Ripley and Scare Street. Shane Ryan, who is retired is challenged upon encountering an impossible choice. With the belief that a good offense is the best defense, Shane along with his pals manage to fend off an uncanny attack at a neighboring orphanage and are now firm to find out the one who is responsible for the slaughter.
Well, the reality is quite spooky; the source of evil is a hopelessly spoiled young boy who has learned how to control the impatient spirits of the dead. Outstripped and encountering wickedness beyond imagination, the hunting group has no option but to fight their way via an army of spirits to get hold of this menacing child.
However, Shane is aware that there is only one option to end this terrifying trauma, which is to slay the evil boy down. Will Shane do this?
Ghost in the Headlights, by Lindsey Duga (2021)
This is the story of a school girl who encounters an annoyed spirit on a road of a small town in the mood for revenge. She is Brianna Jenson who moved to the rural Pennsylvania town with her unkind uncle Shane just to find out that a frightening town ghost is awaiting her.
While daily walking from school when the sun starts to set behind the drooping twigs of Shadowrun Road, the girl starts hearing the footsteps that seem to follow her but are of no one. Soon, she sees a car coming on this narrow road with glaring lights and running over her. At this terrifying point, she realizes that the car has no driver.
The girl, showing courage, probes into the incident that occurred on that haunted road and learned about a tragedy that was never settled. So now, will the little girl go into the depth of this eerie mystery and solve it before the ghost takes revenge? Find out what the author, Lindsey Duga, has to say about it by reading this supernatural horror book.
The Boatman’s Daughter, by Andy Davidson (2020)
Can you recall the debut book of this author released in 2017? It was In the Valley of the Sun wherein vampires were hurled into a western setting. However, this one is a totally different world of horror awesomeness.
The famous horror author, Paul Tremblay, has tagged The Boatman’s Daughter as a “lush nightmare” wherein a young lady faces both human and supernatural forces that are all set to disrupt her fully. It highlights the dark aspects of humanity due to which the lady is forced to take a dangerous path to save her loved ones from the ancient forces.
Do you need to know anything more? No, right? This paranormal horror book makes you pass through a witchcraft-driven nightmare on the swampland.
The Sun Down Motel, by Simone St. James (2020)
The Sun Down Motel pulls you into a spooky setting right from the get-go. If eerie hotel stories pique your interest, this one will likely catch your eye. The narrative is solid and keeps you hooked.
The tale spins around Viv Delaney, Carly Kirk's aunt, who goes missing in a strange way while working as a night clerk at the motel back in 1982. Fast forward to 2017, Carly decides to visit the motel to dig into the mystery around her aunt's disappearance, only to find that the strange aura of the motel remains unchanged.
As Carly digs deeper, the mystery thickens. Is it haunted by ghosts or is there something more sinister going on? The story leaves you guessing with its suspenseful twists and turns. Through Carly’s investigation, you'll find yourself pulled into the eerie mystery that seems to cling to the motel. This book does a great job of blending the past with the present, keeping the tension high and the pages turning.
Miscreations, by Josh Malerman, Theodora Goss, et al. (2020)
Having a foreword by the iconic Alma Katsu and edited by Michael Bailey and Doug Murano, the Bram Stoker award-winning editors; this book shows what happens when giants are made out of ourselves. Perhaps, this is why it is named ‘Miscreations’.
Surreal beings sway in our darkest fantasies, nasty beasts pursue our warped pasts; they are nothing but vengeance and vicious obsessions.
Read the story if you want to know what the seven authors have miscreated in their visualization to end up with something truly unnerving and eerie. You may end up recognizing a monster within you! Yes, it is that scary.
The Deep, by Alma Katsu (2020)
Imagine if you were on the iconic ship of Titanic where the environment becomes eerie once it starts sailing to show you sinister events such as sudden deaths and stealthy disappearances? How would you react? Well, this is exactly how this supernatural horror book impacts you.
After all, the author is the one who had written The Hunger and has won an award too. From this author, you now get a fiction story of sinking Titanic along with its doomed sister ship, Britannic, with a supernatural twist.
The book skillfully combines paranormal activities with one of the biggest historical catastrophes. The Deep is an exploration of how our selections can push us inevitably toward our fate.
The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (2020)
The title itself is spooky, isn’t it? Yes, there is a faceless old woman who has haunted the modern-day Night Vale. When alive, her life was full of twists and turns: upbringing in the underworld and plotting as revenge for betrayal before dying and traveling as a spirit until set in Night Vale.
The book narrates a movielike tale, which forms a distinct horror story featuring a female protagonist. The events put you into a smart world of ups and downs, heroes and foes, shocks and laughs that holds your attention only to experience a horrible end.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix (2020)
Does the terror of Dracula still horrify you? Well, then this one is worth reading with a brave heart! Based on the setting of the popular novel dedicated to this vampire in the 90s, Steel Magnolias encounters Dracula in this saga.
Patricia Campbell’s struggling life is threatened when James who is a neighbor’s nephew steps into her home. He is actually a monster, which Patricia realizes later. Obviously, she fights to make up a bloody tale, which is ideal for fans of Stephen King.
Grady Hendrix is one of the most thrilling authors who almost gifts one new release every year. So, it becomes very interesting to think about what would be his next horror tale.
The Ancestor, by Danielle Trussoni (2020)
Anyone would be happy to receive a wealthy inheritance, right? How it would be if it is a noble title, money, and a palace in Italy? While it seems truly a prosperous sign, there is the dark side. Yes, this is a mysterious inheritance for Alberta Bert Monte.
She starts to feel like a dream come true with a private jet taking her to the castle below Mont Blanc, valuable vintage wines left, collection of precious jewels bestowed, and portraits of ancestors bequeathed. However, this wealth comes at a price, which is a ghastly misery.
So, as the book’s name suggests, the tale has dark family secrets wrapped under the eerie gothic fear. From the universally bestselling author of Angelology comes bewitching suspense that plummets you into the secrecies of human genetics and the unexpected load of spooky family inheritance.
Devoted, by Dean Koontz (2020)
In this spine-chilling paranormal horror book, a menacing giant emerges from the shadows after causing a father's eerie death, now setting sights on his widow and son. While the mother remains oblivious, her son starts sensing the lurking evil. With every eerie whisper and unexplained event, the dread grows, setting a haunting atmosphere. Unbeknownst to them, an unknown ally starts siding with the boy, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the encroaching darkness. The ally's mysterious aid becomes a catalyst, stirring a resolve within the boy to protect his mother at all costs.
As the malevolent plan of the evigiant gets into motion, the suspense thickens. The mother and son find themselves in a terrifying game of cat and mouse with the monstrous foe. Their struggle against the unseen terror unfolds with a tension that keeps one hooked. The unanswered question looms – will the duo manage to outwit this dark force, or will they fall prey to its sinister design? Each twist in the story drags them further into a nightmarish reality, pushing them to the brink as they fight to unravel the mystery and fend off the looming threat.
Five Midnights, by Ann Dávila Cardinal (2019)
Five Midnights transports readers to the picturesque yet enigmatic locale of Puerto Rico, where the veil between reality and folklore seems perpetually thin. As we traverse through the suspense-filled streets alongside Lupe and Javier, the dynamic duo embarks on a harrowing journey to unravel a string of mysterious murders plaguing the city.
The narrative cleverly intertwines the rich cultural tapestry of Puerto Rico with a modern-day investigation, creating a unique blend of realism and myth. As Lupe and Javier delve deeper into the mystery, they find themselves caught in a tangle of superstitions and fears deeply ingrained in the local populace. The community, steeped in legends and ancient tales, often lends a more willing ear to the whispers of folklore than to the cold, hard facts, adding an additional layer of complexity to their investigation.
The beauty of Five Midnights lies in its apt portrayal of the tension between logic and myth, as our protagonists grapple with the very real danger lurking in the shadows while navigating a culture brimming with tales of monsters and entities. The ominous atmosphere is palpable, with each chapter drawing the reader closer to the sinister truth lurking behind the murders.
The narrative keeps you guessing – is there an actual killer on the loose, or is there a more sinister, possibly supernatural, entity at play?
Wilder Girls, by Rory Power (2019)
Wilder Girls does not seem like a horror story at first, yet it turns out to be one of the most twisted and best horror books 2019.
It tells the story of an unfortunate happening at the Raxter School for Girls. Due to the tox, the whole school goes under quarantine. It feels like the tox can take everyone over.
Things start twisting when Byatt disappears. Hetty will try anything to find her, yet the hero has no idea what kind of secrets the island holds.
The Tenth Girl, by Sara Faring (2019)
It is hard to put The Tenth Girl in a specific genre. Some would say it is a marvelous horror, while others would rate it as a psychological thriller.
All in all, you are taken to an isolated school from Argentina – not just an ordinary school, but a school with a black legend behind it.
Things change when Mavi decides to enroll as a teacher. When one of her students disappears, she understands that something might be wrong with her house. It's haunted.
The Luminous Dead, by Caitlin Starling (2019)
The Luminous Dead happens at some point in the future – the humankind tries to find a different planet to survive. Gyre wanted to be part of this adventure, so she came up with some lies in order to be accepted in the project. She was worried about natural disasters, caves and the lack of water.
However, she soon realizes that there is more out there that she should be worried about.
This book was really interesting read despite being about one woman, alone, in a cave.
The Monster of Elendhaven, by Jennifer Giesbrecht (2019)
Although this is her first novel, Jennifer Giesbrecht has written one of the best horror books 2019 according to critics.
The action takes place in Elendhaven, a city taken over by plague. People are dying and no one can do anything about it, so the city is literally left to die. But then, there is something in it that simply refuses to die. Jennifer Giesbrecht has created a darkly compelling fantasy in this fantasy fiction, which is more about monsters and magicians.
The Institute, by Stephen King (2019)
We don't need to introduce Stephen King to readers, but we need to introduce his book The Institute. We are at night in the house of Luke Ellis in Minneapolis. During the night his parents were killed silently. Luke wakes up at “The Institute” (a room that is identical to his own, except it has no windows).
King's novels often start slowly, ordinary people in ordinary places. This is one of the things that King does best; he writes about small towns and the people who live there, going about their everyday lives.
But after a slow start this novel shows an incredible uncommon situation with this mysterious room.
Final Thoughts on Paranormal Horror Books
Paranormal horror books are a great way to get your scares in while also enjoying a good story and perfect to raise your Halloween mood.
If you're looking for a excellent books to read, why not give one of these a try? You might just find your new favorite. All these paranormal, supernatural stories are nerve-chilling and full of suspense.
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming or my Chrome extensions for ChatGPT. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has it's unique value.