The only problem with Stephen King? His body of work is substantial. Finding a new-to-you novel is a challenge, especially with the not-so-great books lurking in the author's cannon (sorry, Stephen). Yet there’s plenty of terror to be had beyond The Shining and IT. If you’re looking for a lesser-known King novel that still delivers the chills, try one of these nine novels.
The Running Man
The Running Man is one of King’s novels written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. In the beginning of his career, King was only allowed to publish one book a year for fear of flooding the market—so he started publishing under a second name. Think of The Running Man as King meets Black Mirror: When Ben Richards’s daughter becomes ill, he decides to compete on a game show, “The Running Man”. The catch? To win the game, Richards must outwit and survive the efforts of the Hunters trying to kill him.
Cycle of the Werewolf
This early King novel follows a fictional town in Maine (no, not Derry) as they struggle to cope with a werewolf who takes a victim each month. Each chapter takes place during one month. Our narrator, Marty, a young boy in a wheelchair, takes it upon himself to find and stop the werewolf—before it gets to him.
The Dark Half
After being “outed” as Richard Bachman, King found inspiration for The Dark Half. Thad Beaumont is an author of well-received but underselling literary fiction. He is also the alter-ego of George Stark, a writer of terrifying and graphic crime fiction. As Stark slowly starts to take over Beaumont’s life, he becomes a physical entity—and he’s trying to get rid of Beaumont before Beaumont can get rid of him.
This strange, stream of consciousness novel is told by Dolores who is attempting to clear her name after being accused of murdering her employer. One of the least supernatural King novels, Dolores Claiborne, is terrifying nonetheless. Try the audiobook for extra intensity.
Related: The 6 Scariest Stephen King Books
Another Bachman novel, The Regulators and Desperation (published under King’s name) are companion books, but The Regulators far outshines its partner. In Wentworth, Ohio, a young boy named Seth lives quietly. When he discovers a being called Tak, he gains the ability to transform reality, wreaking havoc upon his neighbors and family. Can the townspeople separate Seth from Tak before it’s too late?
Bag of Bones
King’s “haunted love story” follows author Mike Noonan after the sudden death of his wife, Jo. Ever since she’s died, Mike can’t seem to write a word—so he retreats to his family’s old vacation house on Dark Score Laughs. After befriending a young, local widow and her daughter, Mike realizes that there’s a ghost in his house. And she’s after something. But what?
After Edgar Freemantle loses an arm and suffers a severe head injury during a construction job, he moves to Duma Key, Florida for a year-long vacation. He hopes that this break will give him a chance to recuperate and reconnect with his love of sketching. Soon it becomes clear that Edgar’s paintings aren’t just a way to relax—his paintings show horrific crimes that have or will come to pass.
What happens when Stephen King takes on classic horror? Revival. Opening with an H.P. Lovecraft quote and nodding to many other early masters of the genre, Revival is a slow-burning buildup to a full-scale meltdown.
Related: 11 Books for Fans of H.P. Lovecraft
End of Watch
The final Bill Hodges novel is easily the best—and the most King-like. Hodges discovers that he has pancreatic cancer and decides to take one last case: a recent rash of suicides. Each of the people involved were somehow related to the infamous Mr. Mercedes. This Hodges book combines crime thriller with a dash of primo Stephen King paranormal terror.
Featured photo: New York Daily News Archive / Getty Images