From the ghastly visions of clairvoyant children to the evil machinations of a haunted hotel, Stephen King’s horror classic (and its 1980 movie adaptation by Stanley Kubrick) has influenced countless horror novels and movies.
If you just can’t get enough of the idea that Jack Torrance was always at the , these terrifying books like The Shining are for you… because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
A Head Full of Ghosts
A combination of The Shining and , the Barretts’ world is turned upside down when their teenage daughter starts exhibiting signs of what looks like intense paranoid psychosis in Paul Tremblay’s first novel. Trips to the doctor leave her undiagnosed and unchanged, so the family seeks help from their priest, who believes she may be the victim of demonic possession. Desperate to pay her medical bills, the Barretts agree to be filmed for a reality show called The Possession. But what they witness, and the television crew captures, is far more dangerous than anyone bargained for.
This critically acclaimed modern ghost story begins with two orphans, Ruth and Nat, who, to pass the time, claim to be able to communicate with the dead—much like Danny in The Shining. Their strange gift leads them to be used as pawns in an elaborate con. Years later, when Ruth’s niece Cora becomes pregnant, her aunt resurfaces to lead Cora on a journey across New York state—leading her to realize how her story (and that of her unborn child) are linked to Ruth and Nat’s.
In this classic 1977 thriller from best-selling author Dean Koontz, Mary Bergen is a clairvoyant who has worked for years aiding police in tracking down murder suspects. But her visions are clouded by events from her own past. Mary was the victim of a brutal crime as a child and, despite the fact that her attacker died 24 years ago, she is haunted by visions of him claiming to return for her. Like Danny and Hallorann’s gifts in The Shining, Mary’s psychic abilities come with a very high price.
The Loveliest Dead
Jenna and David Kella are on the run from enormous personal tragedy—the unexplained death of their four-year-old son, Josh. An inherited home outside of Eureka, California, promises a new start for them and their surviving son, Miles. But when they arrive they find that their grief has followed them. Jenna sees visions of a ghostly toddler, and her husband hears the sound of children’s laughter in the backyard. One of these visions even resembles their dead son, Josh. Miles wakes in the night to see a vision of a sulking man telling him “to be a good puppy.” Just what kind of house of horrors have the Kellas stumbled into?
This subtle homage to will delight those who revel in the ghoulish cast of characters in The Shining’s Overlook Hotel. When Caroline Evans’ husband is murdered in Central Park, she finds herself the widowed mother of two children. Luckily, her re-marriage and move to a new apartment building on the Upper West Side give her hope that things are looking up. Sorry, Caroline. Once there, her children Ryan and Laurie start having horrible nightmares, and their neighbors exhibit strange behavior. At first Caroline thinks it might just be growing pains, but then again, children do have a sixth sense about these things.
The Haunting of Hill House
A psychologist calls in two young women who have had experiences with the paranormal to test the capabilities of fear in this classic 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson. But what he doesn’t anticipate is that one of the women, Eleanor, is particularly sensitive to the unexplained phenomena (like Danny in The Shining), and that puts her particularly at risk from the evil spirits that lurk behind its walls. If the family drama at the heart of The Shining is what really freaks you out, you’ll love The Haunting of Hill House—a book that Stephen King once called America’s finest horror novel.
If the twins at the end of the hallway weren’t creepy enough for you, try Piers Anthony’s dystopian novel Sopaths on for size—featuring murderous children born without souls who will stop at nothing to get what they want. When Abner murders his own daughter in self-defense, he is taken in by a network of sopath victims called Pariah. The group is working to save the world from these evil beings. But Pariah leads him to the most dangerous sopath of all, the appropriately named Autopsy. Readers have called Sopaths “a deeply disturbing, soul-searing narrative that will leave you more scarred than scared.”
Knowing his time is running out, wealthy publisher Rolf Rudolph Deutsch hires two mediums and a physicist to discover whether or not there is life after death. The motley crew of hired researchers travel to Belasco House in Maine, which has earned the terrifying nickname of Hell House. Abandoned since 1949, the Belasco House is supposedly the most haunted house in the world. The team is eager to investigate the so-called Hell House, but little do they know that the evil lurking inside its walls is making a quick study of them, too.
Joseph Hillstrom King, better known by his pen name, Joe Hill, is actually the son of The Shining author, Stephen King. Aware of perhaps the inevitable comparisons, King chose to publish under a pseudonym. His first novel, Heart Shaped Box, tells the story of an aging rockstar’s obsession with collecting odd memorabilia online, and the one item that brings him a whole lot of grief—a dead man’s funeral suit, which arrives in a heart shaped box. Despite many warnings, Judas (the rockstar), like Jack Torrance, purchases the suit anyway and discovers a dark past that links him to this unusual collectible.
The Amityville Horror
This real-life account of one of the most infamous haunted houses of all time has spawned a series of films and many questions about its claims. This haunted house repeatedly terrorized George and Kathy Lutz and their three children. They described unexplained swarms of flies, feeling as if some unseen force was grasping them, loud noises, and oozing walls—amongst other terrifying phenomena. Though the Lutzes’ account was met with much controversy, there was one thing they weren’t making up: Its violent backstory. Before they moved in, the house was the site of the murder of the six members of the DeFeo family, who were shot and killed by their own Ronald DeFeo, Jr. in 1974.
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Featured still from "The Shining" via Warner Bros.