The 10 Scariest Books You Should Keep On Your Nightstand

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October is basically a month-long reminder that it's fun to be terrified—so what better time to grab a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and a couple hundred pages that will truly horrify you? Exactly! You probably don't need us to tell you that all of Stephen King's horror novels are classics, that Edgar Allan Poe was a master at creating dread, that the entire Goosebumps series is a one-way ticket to nightmares for days. So here are ten other seminal books that will scare and delight you.

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The definitive haunted mansion story, The Haunting of Hill House is not scary for the sounds and sights that some supernatural elements may or may not have caused inside. The terror is in the dread that the house's occupants feel, and the ravaging of their minds in the face of such fear. Fun!

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2. Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

Summoning the dead was never meant to be a fun, light-hearted activity. There's always a risk involved. (Even if what you're doing is actually, secretly a scam.) As teenagers, Ruth and Nat put on some excellent shows, but years later a mute Ruth appears on her niece's doorstep and leads her on a circuitous journey to…well, you'll find out. Prepare to be both terrified and blown away by Samantha Hunt's gorgeous writing.

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3. The Changeling by Victor LaValle

All of Victor LaValle's work is unsettling in the best ways, but it's his eerie twist on traditional fairy tales (which are creepy enough in their own right, tbh) that has most recently shaken up his ardent fans. The Changeling is a dark look at parenthood, race, and immigration in America, which is scary enough even before LaValle adds fantastical elements into the mix.

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4. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Vampire fiction has been all the rage for centuries, but you'd be surprised at just how scary it is to revisit the only one famous enough to have a Sesame Street character and a sugary cereal named after him. Count Dracula is an aristocratic shapeshifter, charmer, menace, bloodsucker who happens to drive women wild (this is not a compliment). Think of him as the ultimate example of an entitled, privileged man, especially given that his skin is quite literally white.

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5. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

The idea of Patrick Bateman has become a kind of pop cultural joke—the young, physically fit banker who likes Huey Lewis and the News and gruesomely murdering people with a smile on his face. But reading the book and getting into the head of an unreliable narrator with either a twisted mind or an unbelievably horrific real life (or both!) is an experience that's too viscerally upsetting to shrug off.

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6. Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

The most recently published book on this list is a graphic novel with characters whose faces are nearly devoid of all emotion, and it's their abject blankness that makes the events of the book so disturbing. Sabrina is the story of what happens to an ordinary man when his girlfriend is brutally murdered, and the devastation—and scrutiny—her loss brings to his own life.

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7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein's monster is wretched and friendless and in agony, but it's Dr. Frankenstein himself who is the terrifying one in Mary Shelley's classic. A narcissist who feels entitled to place his own goals and desires above all others, Victor Frankenstein reeks his havoc on the world without any consideration of the consequences of his singular passion to create.

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8. Demon Camp: The Strange and Terrible Saga of a Soldier's Return from War by Jen Percy

The only nonfiction book on this list, Demon Camp is the true stories of American troops who return from war in Afghanistan with terrible PTSD and the feeling that there is something even worse inside of them. Jennifer Percy's investigation takes us into a cult where IRL exorcisms are performed on traumatized veterans, with the hopes that metaphorical demons can be literally cast out.

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9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Ever jump into a relationship too quickly and then realize you don't know your S.O. very well at all? This is the terrifying premise behind the classic tale of suspense, Rebecca, in which a just-married young woman investigates what exactly happened to the ex-wife of her rich and glamorous new husband.

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10. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

A work of gothic psychological suspense, Henry James' 1898 novella is either a ghost story or a horrifying depiction of a governess going mad. Does it matter which version is the truth? The specter of evil lurks through the pages of The Turn of the Screw, and whether it's coming from the supernatural realm or inside the human brain doesn't make it any less terrifying.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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