• search-icon

26 Blood-Curdling Books for Fans of American Horror Story

The terror continues.

Ryan Murphy's horror anthology series American Horror Story creates a fresh and terrifying world with each new season. From killer clowns and mad doctors to vengeful spirits and sinister cult leaders, AHS covers nearly every side of the horror genre. Season eight, AHS: Apocalypse, wrapped up last fall, and the newest season, the teen slasher-inspired AHS: 1984, just premiered. If you're the kind of fan who can't get enough AHS-style terror, we've got you covered. Below is a coven of creepy books for fans of American Horror Story that covers all eight seasons of the show.

Related: All Eight Seasons of American Horror Story, Ranked from Worst to Best 

Choose your favorite season, and sink back into an atmosphere of fear, whether it's inside a haunted asylum or a hotel that you may never be able to check out from ...

AHS: Murder House

Buy House of Leaves at Amazon

House of Leaves

By Mark Z. Danielewski

Much like the mansion in AHS: Murder House, House of Leaves has a life of its own. There are several narratives dispersed throughout this cult horror hit, but the primary plotline is that of the Navidson Family. Will Navidson, his partner, and their two children move into a house in Virginia. The four quickly discover that the house is somehow far larger on the inside than the outside, and there are always new doors, rooms, and hallways appearing and disappearing in their home. The disturbing recounting of their exploration of the strange house and the multiple enveloping narratives enthrall and terrify.

Related: American Horror Story Gets the Slasher Treatment in Season 9 Teaser 

House of Leaves

By Mark Z. Danielewski

Buy The Loveliest Dead at Amazon

The Loveliest Dead

By Ray Garton

Just like the doomed Harmon family in Murder House, the couple in Ray Garton's haunted house horror are running from their past. Jenna and David Kella are still reeling from the unexplained death of their four-year-old son, Josh. The married pair hopes a move to a new abode in a remote corner of northern California will provide solace for them and their young sone Miles, perhaps a chance to heal. But the past never stays hidden for long. Soon the Kella family begins encountering sinister figures in the shadows and ghostly children—including one that resembles their deceased child—in their backyard.

The Loveliest Dead

By Ray Garton

Buy Hell House at Amazon

Hell House

By Richard Matheson

William Reinhardt Deutsch is dying, but he’s not yet ready to give up on life. He’s hired Dr. Lionel Barrett, a physicist; Florence Tanner, a mental medium; and Benjamin Franklin Fischer, a physical medium, to carry out extensive research and determine what happens after death. Their first step: Investigate the Belasco House, also known as Hell House. Supposedly the most haunted house in the world, Hell House was the site of terrible crimes long ago. But this is not Fischer’s first time in the house. He was the only person to survive an expedition into the house some 30 years prior. Once the team enters the house, they are tormented by spirits who have uncovered their greatest weaknesses. They will struggle to escape Hell House with their lives and sanity.

Related: 26 Best Horror Books from the Past 150 Years 

Hell House

By Richard Matheson

Buy Maynard's House at Amazon

Maynard's House

By Herman Raucher

How many times do we have to say it, friends? Stay out of spooky houses in the woods! Austin Fletcher, a troubled Vietnam war vet, is now the surprise owner of a secluded house in the wilds of northern Maine. Fletcher was willed the abode by Maynard Whittier, a brother-in-arms and close friend who died in combat. At first, Fletcher is charmed by the rugged northern landscape, its quiet, its isolation. Soon, however, he starts to notice strange occurrences in the house. But is the eerie activity all in his head, a byproduct of solitude and the increasingly inclement weather? Before he can make a break for it, a blizzard sweeps in and the haunting begins. 

Maynard's House

By Herman Raucher

AHS: Asylum

Buy Shutter Island at Amazon

Shutter Island

By Dennis Lehane

U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are on their first assignment as partners. They are sent to a remote island to search for a woman who has disappeared. She is a patient at Ashecliffe Hospital, an institution for the criminally insane, sent there after drowning her three children. Despite the island’s isolation, the marshals cannot find Rachel Solando anywhere. As Daniels and Aule interview the staff and scour the grounds, they discover that the patients aren’t the only sinister presence at the hospital. Fans of AHS: Asylum will be captivated by the twisted experiments and complicated criminals found at Ashecliffe Hospital.

Related: 20 Twisted Psychological Thriller Movies That Will Mess with Your Head 

Shutter Island

By Dennis Lehane

Buy The Sleep Room at Amazon

The Sleep Room

By F. R. Tallis

A promising young psychiatrist by the name of James Richards is given what he believes to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He's invited to work alongside the charismatic Dr. Hugh Maitland at Wyldehope Hall in deepest Suffolk on a controversial new therapy wherein disturbed patients are kept asleep for months at a time. At first, Richards is thrilled. But as he settles into his new life at Wyldehope, he begins to sense something is horrifically wrong. Dr. Hugh Maitland the lead on the project who is unwilling to talk about the patients’ past, is much like the sadistic doctors in Asylum. And when creepy things start happening, Richards realizes that there might be more to the Sleep Room than he knows.

The Sleep Room

By F. R. Tallis

Buy The Asylum at Amazon

The Asylum

By John Harwood

Much like some of the patients in American Horror Story: Asylum, Georgina Ferrars is being held in Tregannon House against her will. When she emerges from slumber, disoriented and confused, the doctors inform her that she checked herself into the asylum under the name Lucy Ashton—a name she's convinced is not her own. Things only get more bizarre from there as Georgina searches for the truth about her past and tries to free herself from Tregannon House. The Asylum makes for a story even Lana Winters might be apprehensive to cover.

Related: Her Touch Was as Cold as Ice: A True Ghost Encounter in a Forsaken Sanatorium 

The Asylum

By John Harwood

Buy One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest at Amazon

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

By Ken Kesey

Nurse Ratched rules an Oregon psychiatric hospital with an iron fist. She and the doctors have stripped their patients of individuality and any form of self-autonomy. They employ harsh tactics, including hydrotherapy, electroshock therapy, and lobotomies, in an attempt to have total control of the patients. Enter McMurphy. He’s a new patient in the hospital who is determined to shake things up. He refuses to submit to Nurse Ratched’s strict rules and harsh treatments. But is sheer will enough to break free of the constraints of a cruel institution?

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

By Ken Kesey

AHS: Coven

Buy Beautiful Creatures at Amazon

Beautiful Creatures

By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Ethan Wate is a seemingly average 16-year-old. He lives in a small South Carolina town in the same house his family has occupied for centuries. He does well in school and plays on the high school’s basketball team, but he wants nothing more than to get out of Gatlin, South Carolina. But then the dreams start. He’s plagued by the same dream night after night and is shocked when the new girl at school is none other than the girl who’s been appearing in his dreams all summer. Like AHS: Coven, Beautiful Creatures is the story of young people with magical powers who struggle with the delineation between good and evil and who are plagued by the secrets and actions of their magical ancestors.

Beautiful Creatures

By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Buy The Bone Mother at Amazon

The Bone Mother

By David Demchuk

Author David Demchuck was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award for this bewitching narrative comprised of “beautiful and brutal nightmares...made all the more terrifying by the history in which they’re grounded” (Publishers Weekly). Three small villages on the Ukrainian/Romanian border serve as a refuge for the last of the mythical creatures of Eastern Europe. War looms; it is a fight that may eradicate their kind. As the powerful Night Police advance on their sanctuary, those who remain tell their stories and face their destinies.

Related: 9 Famous Witches Throughout History 

The Bone Mother

By David Demchuk

Buy The Witch's Cradle at Amazon

The Witch's Cradle

By Gillian White

Much like the witches of Salem, whose descendants are portrayed in Coven, Cheryl Higgins is the target of a modern-day witch hunt in Gillian White's tense psychological thriller, The Witch’s Cradle. A trashy reality show shines a harsh and unforgiving light on the Higgins family, exposing their poverty-stricken life to a callous TV-viewing audience. Soon thereafter, the three Higgins children are kidnapped. The two older children are found, but baby Cara remains missing, and the public turns on Cheryl.

The Witch's Cradle

By Gillian White

Buy The Wicked Deep at Amazon

The Wicked Deep

By Shea Ernshaw

Penny Talbot learned how to read her fortune in tea leaves when she was just five years old. Now, she’s seventeen, but she still sees exactly the same fortune she saw as a small child: She will fall in love with an outsider who appears on the secluded island where she and her mother live. The island is just across the bay from Sparrow, a cursed village that is haunted by the spirits of the Swan sisters. Each summer, the sisters, who were received a death sentence for practicing witchcraft, inhabit the bodies of three young women and exact their revenge on local boys. Penny strongly believes in the legend, but when Bo Carter, an outsider, arrives, everything becomes infinitely more complicated–and dangerous.

Related: 17 Award-Winning Horror Books You Need to Read Now 

The Wicked Deep

By Shea Ernshaw

AHS: Freak Show

Buy Something Wicked This Way Comes at Amazon

Something Wicked This Way Comes

By Ray Bradbury

Just before their 14th birthdays, a strange traveling carnival comes to Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade’s town. Despite the wariness of the adults in town, Will and Jim can’t wait to explore the carnival that arrived in the middle of the night. Soon, they discover that the carnival, and its leader, Mr. Dark, harbors many ominous secrets.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

By Ray Bradbury

Buy Lobster Boy at Amazon

Lobster Boy

By Fred Rosen

AHS: Freak Show, of courseis packed with carnival performers, including its very own “Lobster Boy” in the form of Jimmy Darling. In this riveting true crime read, author Fred Rosen examines the real-life murder of legendary carnival performer Grady Stiles, Jr. better known as Lobster Boy. Rosen lays out how Stiles's demise was in fact orchestrated by his wife, Mary Teresa, another carnival performer known as the Electrified Girl, who arranged to have Stiles murdered after suffering years of physical and emotional abuse from him. The narrative is full of appearances from the couple’s colorful acquaintances, including the World’s Only Living Half Girl and the Human Blockhead.

Related: The Murder of Lobster Boy 

Lobster Boy

By Fred Rosen

Buy Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet at Amazon

Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet

By H.P. Wood

Kitty Hayward and her mother have traveled halfway around the world to visit Coney Island. They’re drawn to Dreamland, the island’s new amusement park, but the idealistic new attraction isn’t as bright and shiny as it seems. When Kitty’s mother disappears, she finds support in a place she least expects it: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet. Its employees are circus freaks of all kinds, but even they are not prepared for what’s to come. The stuff of dreams turns to the stuff of nightmares as a horrible sickness, an assassination plot, a murderer, and an arsonist come to Dreamland.

Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet

By H.P. Wood

AHS: Hotel

Buy The Shining at Amazon

The Shining

By Stephen King

There’s really no other hotel horror that comes close to touching The Shining. Jack Torrance is looking for a fresh start. When he’s offered a position as an off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, he thinks it’s the perfect job. But before long, Jack’s five-year-old son Danny starts seeing ghosts in and around the hotel. Then, they turn vicious. As the vengeful spirits take control of Jack, Danny and his mom must do whatever it takes to escape the hotel alive. The Overlook certainly isn’t exactly the relaxing resort the Torrance family was expecting…

Related: 11 Nightmare-Inducing Authors to Check Out After You've Read Everything by Stephen King 

The Shining

By Stephen King

Buy A Face at the Window at Amazon

A Face at the Window

By Dennis McFarland

For years, Cookson has struggled with his addictions to drugs and alcohol, but he’s finally starting to rid himself of his demons. When his daughter goes off to school, he and his wife, Ellen, decide to take a trip to England. They’re staying at the Hotel Willerton, which has a history even darker than Cookson’s. The hotel is haunted by the ghost of a young girl who is threatening to suck Cookson back into his dark days of addiction. A Face at the Window explores how a location can become a symbol for a stagnant life.

RELATED: 16 Ghost Books to Haunt Your Days (and Nights) 

A Face at the Window

By Dennis McFarland

Buy The Blood Countess at Amazon

The Blood Countess

By Andrei Codrescu

In AHS: Hotel, Lady Gaga plays Elizabeth, also known as the Countess, the 112-year-old queen of the Hotel Cortez who feeds on blood. Her character traces back to the real-life Countess Elizabeth Báthory, a 16th century Hungarian noblewoman and was said to have murdered hundreds of young virgins and bathed in their blood to preserve her youth. Codrescu’s fictional account of the Blood Countess follows present-day journalist Drake Bathory-Kereshtur, one of Elizabeth’s descendants, and his search for the truth about his distant relative's haunting legacy.

Related: The Bloody Reign of Countess Elizabeth Bathory

The Blood Countess

By Andrei Codrescu

Buy The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America at Amazon

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America

By Erik Larson

Notorious American serial murderer Dr. H.H. Holmes constructed his own hotel of horrors during the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, an infernal construction he used to lure multiple people to their dooms. This bestselling historical work by Erik Larsen weaves together the dazzling true story of the launch of the 1893 World's Fair and the Holmes' violent spree. Much like the unsuspecting guests at the Hotel Cortez, Holmes' real-life victims didn't know they were targets … until it was too late.

Related: Hotel of Horrors: The Dark and Terrifying History of L.A.’s Cecil Hotel 

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America

By Erik Larson

AHS: Roanoke

Buy The Ritual at Amazon

The Ritual

By Adam Nevill

The inspiration for the spooky Netflix film, The Ritual is a horror novel in which four old friends unearth an ancient, evil spirit. The four friends reunite for a hiking trip in the Swedish Forests, but they quickly discover that they’ve grown too far apart and former friendship is replaced by tension. Things get far worse when they stumble upon sacred sacrificial grounds. 

The Ritual

By Adam Nevill

Buy Wylding Hall at Amazon

Wylding Hall

By Elizabeth Hand

The first half of AHS: Roanoke is styled as a documentary that chronicles the otherworldly activity haunting a North Carolina farmhouse. Award-winning author Elizabeth Hand also employs a documentary-style device in her haunting supernatural tale, one that focuses on a British acid-folk band. Years ago, the group holed up at an old English estate known as Wylding Hall to record their next album. But their dreamy recording session soon turned into a waking nightmare when their lead singer, Julian Blake, disappeared into the gloom of the mansion. Years later, the surviving members reunite, and together with a psychic and documentary filmmaker, tell their own versions of that cursed day. But is everyone telling the truth? And what truly happened to Julian all those years ago? 

Related: 8 Dark and Twisted Shows like American Horror Story 

Wylding Hall

By Elizabeth Hand

Buy Hex at Amazon

Hex

By Thomas Olde Heuvelt

In 1664, a witch was put to death in Black Spring, New York. To prevent her from causing any further havoc, the woman’s mouth and eyes were sewn shut. Unfortunately, the witch’s powers have allowed her to haunt the town ever since–although her eerie stitches remain in place. In modern day, the townspeople have created an app that allows them to know when the witch is about to appear. But there are rules in Black Spring: You can never tell anyone about the witch, and you can never leave. When a group of teens becomes sick of the rules, things get ugly, quickly.

Hex

By Thomas Olde Heuvelt

AHS: Cult

Buy The Dead Zone at Amazon

The Dead Zone

By Stephen King

King dips his toe into a political horror show in The Dead Zone. After Johnny Smith suffers a head injury, he begins to experience premonitions of the future. Some of these premonitions are benign: He can find lost items, discover the story of an object by touching it, is able to tell his nurse that her son’s surgery will be successful. But when Johnny has a premonition that a future president of the United States will cause a nuclear showdown, he must decide whether it falls upon him to stop the candidate, no matter what it takes.

RELATED: 9 Terrifying Stephen King Novels You May Not Have Read 

The Dead Zone

By Stephen King

Buy The Hymn at Amazon

The Hymn

By Graham Masterton

Lloyd Denman's fiancée Celia Williams ended her life in a most shocking manner: She burned herself alive. The grieving husband has a hunch that there's more to the story of Celia's demise. And so, haunted by her death, Lloyd sets out to uncover the truth. His suspicions are confirmed when he learns that Celia was involved with a dangerous faction known as the Salamanders—a world domination cult born of the same dark secrets that spawned the Third Reich. Soon, Lloyd finds himself in over his head, and the only way out may be through fire. Masterton’s exceptional skills are on full display here as he conjures a masterful tale of terror that combines ancient mysticism with modern-day brutality. 

Related: Master of Horror: 13 Terrifying Graham Masterton Books 

The Hymn

By Graham Masterton

AHS: Apocolypse

Buy A Boy and His Dog at Amazon

A Boy and His Dog

By Harlan Ellison

AHS: Apocolypse kicks off with a near-future nuclear war that lays waste to civilization and ushers in a nuclear winter. In this cult classic novella, sci-fi luminary Harlan Ellison invites you on a bizarre trip through a post-apocalyptic American wasteland. Times are strange, friend. John F. Kennedy survived his assassination attempt and breakthroughs in science and technology now allow for advanced communication with our animal companions. Young Vic and his telepathic dog, Blood, set out across the wastelands of the war-ravaged United States, two souls among a handful of survivors who endured the cataclysmic nuclear war between the Americans and the Soviets. Together, they hunt for sustenance. But their bond is tested when they cross paths with Quilla June Holmes, a beguiling individual who lures the boy and his dog into an underground civilization. 

A Boy and His Dog

By Harlan Ellison

Buy Swan Song at Amazon

Swan Song

By Robert R. McCammon

In the past, Robert R. McCammon’s horror epic was likely deemed unfilmable given its dense and sprawling narrative. But in today’s era of peak TV and horror anthologies like American Horror Story, Swan Song is practically begging for a multi-part Netflix series. Nuclear annihilation lays waste to America, and a disparate cast of survivors searches for salvation in an irradiated wasteland of madmen, monsters, and mutated animals. A Bram Stoker Award-winning bestseller, Swan Song was included in PBS’s Great American Read list of top 100 books.

Swan Song

By Robert R. McCammon

This post is sponsored by Open Road Media. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for The Lineup to celebrate the horror stories you love.

Featured still from "American Horror Story" via FX

Published on 10 Sep 2018

scroll up