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The scariest writing for me is not the bloodspattery, gore-filled prose. It is not even the kind that keeps me up at night, wondering if a killer is lurking in the shadows. The scariest writing, to me, is the kind that incepts those intrusive thoughts, the macabre punchlines that dawn when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store and see something that reminds me of the narrative–the kind that shocks me mentally. Bottomline: I like psychological horror books.

There’s a fine line between psychological thriller and psychological horror books, though. Psychological horror books are not mysteries; they’re not whodunnits. They inspire fear through suggestion, paranoia, and implication, rather than through violence, pursuit, or even gore itself. Below are the 25 most terrifying psychological horror books that I could find.


This book is a collection of short stories, but it’s tied together by an over-arching narrative. Writers are accepted into a retreat where their ties to the world are completely severed. Once there, each of them tries to curate a survival experience, unaware that all the others are, too. Haunted is one of the most terrifying psychological books because–due to the nature of the narrative–each character brings a new, fresh hellscape.

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