2. WOMAN AT POINT ZERO BY NAWAL AL-SADAWI
This short novel reads like an interview, but it details the account of a woman who waits on death row in Cairo. The scariest part is not that she is a murderer, but all of the terrible, misogynist, violent things that she withstood before she became a killer, and the hope that she has lost, or never had.
3. ROSEMARY’S BABY BY IRA LEVIN
Ira Levin said that Roman Polanski’s film adaptation of Rosemary’s Baby was exactly how he pictured it in his mind, so if you sometimes think, when you see tabloids about celebrity births in the checkout line, “He has his father’s eyes,” you might want to check out this terrifying psychological horror novel.
4. LET ME IN BY JOHN AJVIDE LINDQUIST
Some may argue that because Let Me In is a vampire novel, it doesn’t count among psychological horror novels, but I disagree. The vampirism in this book is its least horrifying aspect. Instead, think of Oskar, the child who fantasizes about murdering his bullies. The fact that Eli is a child vampire. The concept that the person she has enlisted to hunt for her is a pedophile, dramatically in love with her. And horrors abound even from there–this is seriously just the top of the list.
5. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS BY THOMAS HARRIS
If Silence of the Lambs is not on your list of scariest psychological horror books, I really don’t know what to tell you. Not only is Hannibal Lecter a licensed psychiatrist who manipulates his patients into becoming his literal dinner, but Clarice Starling has to mastermind him in order to get his help catching yet another serial murderer. What’s more is that this novel is based on true events about Ed Gein and his victims, and one of the leading criminal profiling FBI investigators, Robert Ressler, was consulted on its writing.