As Hallowe'en approaches, I thought it might be fun to list my top 5 haunted house novels.
1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The greatest haunted house of them all. The opening paragraph of this novel remains one of the most compelling pieces of prose I've ever read, and the story is layered, complex, and thoroughly gripping. A great book from a great writer.
2. Nazareth Hill by Ramsey Campbell
One of the few horror novels to ever genuinely terrify me, this is Campbell at his very best. The tension is almost unbearable, the prose is hallucinatory, and the emotional impact is devastating. I love this book but I hate the way it made me feel - abused, manipulated, you might even say haunted. For me, it's one of the finest achievements in genre fiction.
3. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
A clever story-with-a-story framework adds depth to the story of a weird house. Without saying too much, this book is as much as an artefact as it is a story. I became utterly lost within its pages, and when it ended I felt like the book had been reading me as much as I'd been reading it. Incredible - a truly unique (and frightening) experience.
4. Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco
Underrated and sadly neglected by modern horror fans, this is a classic that really gets under your skin. The house isn't just somewhere that the story takes place, it's also a vital character in that story. It's a slim novel, but still packs one hell of a punch. Again, it's genuinely scary - something that's rare in the genre.
5. The Shining by Stephen King
How could I even think of leaving this one out? I read it when I was a teenager and it affected me so much that I've been processing it all these years. When I read it again recently, the book had lost none of it's power, and I even enjoyed it more as an adult and a father. An unforgettable story, and one that resonates throughout the years.
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