Since 2013, The Conjuring franchise has been terrifying moviegoers the world over. The growing cinematic universe draws its inspiration from Ed and Lorraine Warren, two controversial paranormal investigators who investigated everything from the Amityville Horror case to the White Lady ghost of Connecticut's Union Cemetery. Between The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, and the various spinoffs like Annabelle and The Nun, Conjuring fans have plenty of cinematic horror from which to choose. The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It, which is based on the case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, was originally set for a September 2020 release, but is now pushed back to 2021.
Related: 13 Horror Movies Like The Conjuring That You Can Watch Tonight
News of the delay has left us searching for a fresh shot of fright. But where's a horror fiend to turn when the credits finally roll? Well, there's always room for more otherworldly terror! That's why we compiled the best books like The Conjuring we know fans of the horror movie franchise will love. The twisted tales below span non-fiction investigations into real-life hauntings and poltergeist activity to twisted tales of fictional terror packed with haunted houses, killer dolls, and more. They're guaranteed to keep the chills coming just like The Conjuring. So settle into your favorite reading chair: tonight's an excellent night for an exorcism...
For fans of The Conjuring
The Conjuring is based on the real-life haunting of the Perron family home, which the Warrens investigated in the early 1970s. Yet this is far from the only instance of a family haunted by sinister forces that the Warrens investigated. In 1974, the Smurl family of Pennsylvania began experiencing strange events in their home. These events were relatively benign at first: tools went missing, stains appeared on walls, foul odors wafted through rooms. All too soon, however, their abode became a house of horrors. The Smurls were plagued by thundering noises, phantom attacks, a hoofed half-man tearing down their hallway, and a constant state of terror. The Smurls did the only thing they could think of: They called renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Related: 6 Paranormal Cases Investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren That We Can’t Stop Talking About
The source for the exorcism and possession lecture scene in The Conjuring, Satan’s Harvest is the terrifying true story of a demonic possession. In 1985, Maurice Theriault, a farmer from Massachusetts, thought he was possessed by the devil. Distressed and in need of guidance, he went to the police and his local priest, but didn’t find help until he contacted the Warrens, who brought the well-respected exorcist, Bishop Robert McKenna.
The World's Most Haunted House
In the 1970s, an unassuming home on Lindley Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut became the epicenter of intense paranormal activity. The Bridgeport Poltergeist case of 1974 drew spectators far and wide. Though onlookers initially suspected the owners of the property, the Goodin family, of either faking or imagining the otherworldly events, it soon became clear that something dark and unusual was at work. Police officers, firefighters, and others witnessed intense events that they could not explain, from jumping furniture and floating refrigerators to malevolent, invisible entities that seemed to attack. The activity drew in the media, and even caught the attention of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who visited the home on Lindley Street to conduct their own investigation. Years later, paranormal investigator William J. Hall chronicles the mystifying case that still haunts the Bridgeport area decades later.
This House Is Haunted
Ed and Lorraine Warren may be the best known, and most controversial, paranormal investigators, especially now that the Conjuring films have made them household names. That said, they are far from the only ghost hunters in the game. Hans Holzer is often referred to as America's first ghost hunter. Here, he presents his most chilling investigations into real-life haunted houses throughout the United States and beyond, dissecting each home's history and speculating on the reasons why some eternal residents remain tethered to their earthly abodes.
The book behind the iconic horror movie from 1973, The Exorcist was itself inspired by the real-life exorcism of Roland Doe, which took place in 1949. In Blatty’s novel, Regan, a 12-year-old girl, suddenly becomes ill, experiencing bizarre and alarming changes. The cause: demonic possession. With the help of two priests, Regan’s mother attempts to save her young daughter. Will they succeed or will the devil claim another soul? If you’ve never read the classic horror novel, there’s no time like the present for losing sleep over The Exorcist once again.
A true story sure to appeal to Conjuring fans, The Uninvited is LaChance’s account of his encounter with demons. LaChance and his three children were living in Union, Missouri when their home was invaded by hellish attackers. In this terrifying tale, LaChance recounts the havoc wreaked by the demons–ranging from putrid odors and piercing screams to the murders of animals and sexual assaults. After escaping with his children, LaChance must return to Union to save the soul of the haunted house’s next occupant.
The Haunted House Diaries
In the woods of Litchfield Hills, Connecticut sits a 1790 farmhouse swarming with paranormal activity. After investigating the farmhouse, Ed and Lorraine Warren declared it "Ghost Central". The living occupants claim to regularly cross paths with their own ancestors, as well as strange figures and creatures that defy easy categorization, all seemingly entering into and moving across the property from an alternate plane of existence. In The Haunted House Diaries, William J. Hall investigates the otherwordly occurrences of this paranormal hotspot, drawing on journal entries and family documents to construct his haunting narrative.
For fans of The Conjuring 2
The Amityville Horror
The basis for the opening scenes of The Conjuring 2, The Amityville Horror is the supposedly true story of the Lutz family. Its truthfulness, like many stories associated with the Warrens, has been a source of much debate and even led to a series of lawsuits. Whether a conjured tale or all-too-real, The Amityville Horror is a terrifying and entrancing account. On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his family in their home at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. Just over a year later, George and Kathleen Lutz moved into the house with their children. They lived in the house for 28 days before they were chased out by the unimaginable horrors they had experienced while living there.
Related: Butch DeFeo: The Killer Behind The Amityville Horror
This House is Haunted
The rest of The Conjuring 2 was inspired by the Enfield Poltergeist, one of England’s most infamous paranormal cases. Playfair’s book delves into the story of the Enfield haunting, examining the otherworldly phenomena reported by Mrs. Harper and her four children. In their small home in Enfield, England, the family began to notice strange occurrences–odd noises and shifting furniture–but soon dismissed them. As the events became more disturbing and dangerous, the Harpers’ story became one of national intrigue.
In a Dark Place
The book that inspired The Haunting in Connecticut, In a Dark Place is one of the most infamous books about one of the Warrens’ cases. The Snedeker family has just moved into a new home. Little do they know, the new home is actually an old funeral home, plagued by the ghosts of the bodies that found temporary respite there. When they fall victim to the sinister spirit’s schemes, the Snedekers turned to the Warrens in a desperate attempt to save their lives.
Related: The Haunting of the Perron Family Inspired The Conjuring
Hans Holzer returns, this time chronicling his investigations into intense poltergeist activity. Holzer outlines the identifying characteristics of poltergeist activity—the term itself is German for "noisy ghost"—and then proceeds to examine the most menacing hauntings he's investigated, from the Bell Witch of Tennessee to the Millbrae Poltergeist.
Demon Street, USA
After a woman named Penelope is driven from her home by intense paranormal activity—a stove that dances across the kitchen floor, an invisible force that violently assaults her—she turns to her friends for help. A close connection named Robbie Lunt introduces Penelope to David Rountree, a paranormal investigator and Lakota shaman. Together, Lunt and Rountree embark on a desperate search for metaphysical knowledge to combat the entity and a dangerous quest to exorcise it from the home before it's too late. Here, Lunt and Rountree chronicle their harrowing battle against demonic forces.
For fans of Annabelle
Corky Withers is a fairly unsuccessful magician, but when Fats, a ventriloquist's dummy, joins his acts, Corky’s reputation skyrockets. Corky’s change in stature comes with a price: Fats is far more than a silly little doll. Magic delves into Corky’s dark and twisted childhood and intertwines it with the sordid events of Corky’s present, creating a hair-raising tale. Magic and its ominous doll will leave you reeling just like Annabelle.
As a young child, Leon develops an unusual attachment to Pin, a ventriloquist's dummy that his father uses to teach him about anatomy. As Leon grows up, he retains his close bond with the doll. When his father attempts to take the doll from Leon, believing that Leon has developed psychosis tied to the doll, everything starts to fall apart. This pulpy tale was written by Andrew Neiderman, who ghost wrote many of the infamous V.C. Andrews books. With a villainous doll and no shortage of scares, Pin is made for fans of Annabelle.
Related: The 5 Scariest Haunted Dolls You Do Not Want in Your Home
The Sallie House Haunting
Debra Pickman, her husband, and her newborn son were briefly residents in an infamous house in Atchison, Kansas. In a shocking first-hand account, Debra recounts the time her family spent living with a ghost girl named Sallie. When reading The Sallie House Haunting you’ll be transported into the creepy house and experience life–and near death–with the malevolent spirit of a young girl. Fans of Annabelle will appreciate the similarities between the ghost’s treatment of Debra’s young son and Mia’s young daughter.
For fans of Annabelle: Creation
Amanda is a successful architect living happily with her husband. Suddenly, she finds herself overcome with the urge to hurt him. She can’t control herself or her thoughts, almost as if someone has taken control of her body. This is exactly what has happened. There’s a demon possessing Amanda, hurting her loved ones and ruining her life. Will she be able to reclaim her life? Sara Gran, one of the rising stars of the mystery and thriller world, spins an utterly terrifying tale.
The House of Small Shadows
Catherine has a dark past and is often down on her luck. She finally gets an opportunity to start over when she’s offered a job as an antique appraiser. She begins cataloging the contents of Red House, the home of an eccentric, wealthy local man who recently passed away. His collection is full of antique dolls, creepy puppets, and morbid taxidermy. Catherine is immediately unsettled by Red House, but what’s in store is worse than she ever could have imagined.
The Little Stranger
Sarah Waters has become justly beloved for her ability to creep out readers while creating plot twists that will leave you stunned. Hundreds Hall is an estate that dates back to the 18th century. The family that has lived there for centuries is just barely holding on to their home in the days after World War II. When Dr. Faraday is asked to do a house call at the estate, he is distraught by the condition of the once grand house but quickly discovers that there are far more concerning things happening at Hundreds Hall. The death of a young girl continues to plague the house where strange, disturbing activities take place. Scrawled writing begins to appear on the walls to accompany the sinister events. There is clearly far more going on than mere child’s play.
For fans of Annabelle Comes Home
Annabelle Comes Home is all about, well, the haunted doll Annabelle coming home to the Warrens' occult museum, where she is stored securely in a sacred glass case (spoiler: Annabelle does not stay in the case for long). In this haunted doll horror from cult horror writer William W. Johnstone, it is a person who returns home only to square off against malevolent figurines. Jay Clute has not set foot in Victory, Missouri for twenty years. But now his Aunt Cary has passed, and he must return the house that so traumatized him as a child. Everything is just as he remembers it, from the furniture and dated decor to the disturbing collection of toys that follow Jay with their staring eyes, their tiny plastic hands dripping with blood...
Related: William W. Johnstone: Take a Twisted Ride Through the Mind of the Bestselling Old-School Horror Author
Letters from the Dead
What's the number one rule in trying to speak with the dead? Do not attempt to communicate with them if you do not know what you're doing! Alas, so it goes in Annabelle Comes Home. In This spooky narrative by international bestselling author Campbell Armstrong, two teenagers break out a beat up old Ouija board while vacationing at a crumbling seaside cottage to see if they can establish a connection with the other side. It isn't long before a spirit named "Roscoe" begins sending them twisted messages, unleashing a wave of terror that may doom the vacationers for all eternity.
For fans of The Nun
The Nun transports us from the Warrens' backyard in the Northeastern United States to a monastery in 1950s Romania, where a tale of unholy terror unfolds. Jeffrey Konvitz's bestselling horror novel The Sentinel takes place in Manhattan, yet it still unleashes a narrative of unholy horror that fans of The Nun will love. Allison Parker moves into a brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It's her dream apartment, and the perfect home base to launch her modeling career. But sinister energies crackle through the air of her new abode. Sinister tenants move through the building's corridors, including a blind priest who seems to track every move Allison makes. Then Allison begins hearing strange noises in the supposedly empty apartment above her, and is soon plunged into a nightmare of sin and eternal evil. When you're done reading The Sentinel, be sure to check out its sequel, The Guardian, which features a malevolent nun, a cunning priest, and multiple hellish twists.
Related: Satan at the Door: The Sinister Events Surrounding Jeffrey Konvitz's 1974 Cult Horror Novel The Sentinel
The Nun explores the gray gulf that lies between science and religion, hard reality and the unexplained. Colin Wilson dedicated his life to exploring the dark realms and behaviors that defy easy understanding. In his landmark work The Occult, Wilson surveys the history of the occult, its ideas, its practices, and its famous practitioners, from the inner workings of ancient mysticism to the life of Aleister Crowley. The result is a bewitching read and a “fascinating history of magic" through the centuries (The Washington Post).
Related: Colin Wilson: Essential Creepy Reads from a Master of Horror and True Crime
For another haunting read that spans centuries, check out Whisperers, a secret history of the spirity world by J.H. Brennan. The bestselling author and expert on the occult argues that the so-called "spirit world" whether you choose to believe in one or not, has directed the course of human civilization from its earliest stages. Brennan chronicles millennia of contact between our world and the other side, from shamanism in native cultures and medieval prophets like Joan of Arc to the spiritual affinities of world leaders through the years. The disembodied voices are calling out: Can you hear them?
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 "The Conjuring" via Warner Bros. Pictures