One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon as a kid was reading through a choose-your-own-adventure book. I could never just choose one story, I had to know all the possibilities. I’d go through the book over and over—until I had created the perfect adventure. These were never just books for me, they were portals that opened the door to infinite stories.
Recently I wondered if anyone had taken the fun of these adventure books and given them an adult edge—bonus points if they were horror! To my delight, I found they had. Here are seven gory, macabre, and outrageous choose-your-own-adventure horror books for adults.
Choose Your Own Misery: The Office
Sometimes the most terrifying things about being an adult are the most mundane. Zombie-ing you way through work with a hangover. Having to stay late at work or sit through the meeting that obviously could have been an email. Playing the is it cancer WebMD anxiety spiral of torment. The first in the Choose Your Misery series, The Office has plenty of choices to get through your workday but none of them end well. Told with a hefty dose of dark humor, The Office is the everyday nightmare you didn’t know you were already living.
Death by Halloween
Murderers, zombies, and cannibals, oh my! This choose-your-own-adventure book is not for the faint of heart. It’s meant for readers who lurked in graveyards hoping to encounter a vengeful ghost. Or crept through dark woods never shaking the feeling that you were being hunted. It’s for readers who want to live through literal nightmares and come through terrified but alive. Death by Halloween promises hours of interactive adventures that will keep you up through the night with over one hundred different choices to make with over fifty unique endings.
Fighting Fantasy: House of Hell
Your car broke down and you knock on the door of a mansion for help. But when you’re invited inside, the terror unfolds. Armed only with a pencil and a piece of paper, this interactive book is a puzzle with myriad choices leading you to a hundred dead ends, purposeful misdirection, and several choices that end in death. But no matter which monsters you choose to fight or which rooms to explore, there’s only one way out of the House of Hell.
House of Hell is the tenth book in the Fighting Fantasy series and has a more advanced difficulty level as far as the gameplay. It’s gruesome, macabre, and challenging, promising hours of terrifying entertainment along the way.
Admit it. Every time you watch a zombie movie, you sit in smug confidence that you would never make the same bad choices the characters make. Here’s your chance to prove it. In Infected, you’re the main character facing legions of the ravenous undead. You can’t call the CDC and you don’t want to let them eat your face. Every obstacle presents a choice. Maybe you live, maybe you die, but once you choose, you can’t go back. The first in the Click Your Poison series, Infected has dozens of possible endings but only the rare few actually survive.
When you’re born, life is nothing but possibility. But every small choice can have unforeseen disastrous consequences. Some lives are mundane, others filled with horror, and as the character Keith Marion, you can help navigate the perilous waters of life. Over 600 pages long, with 300 chapters, there are endless choices to make. But make the wrong one, and poor Keith dies or is forced to endure a life so boring, you’ll both wish for his death. Not every storyline is a horror thread. Some are action-oriented while others feature a murder mystery, and you never know which choice will lead to which.
Life’s Lottery highlights how varied the mundanity of life can be in a creative, sometimes depressing, but always entertaining fashion.
Super Giant Monster Time!
Do you want to be a punk chick with a green mohawk? Or maybe try your luck as a scientist. Or perhaps you’re more comfortable keeping your head down as the office drone. In Super Giant Monster Time! you can choose which character to start your adventure as. But remember: there are no safe choices. Each character faces their own obstacles that can lead to the most horrifying and bizarre consequences that they likely deserved. It’s absurd and fun, and has a ton of twisted endings you never see coming.
Scooby Doom versus the Cult of Cthulhu
If you’re looking for a grown-up twist on all your favorite 80’s kid nostalgia, look no further. As Scooby Doom, a hound of Carcosa, you have to stop the tentacled leader of the Cult of Cthulhu. This book might be filled with Easter eggs straight from your favorite Saturday morning cartoons but be prepared for those childhood delights to end in gruesome ends. Most of the forty-seven possible endings are not happily-ever-after, but as you navigate ABC Weekend Specials, chart-topping hits from the 80’s, and myriad cultural icons and references, you’ll quickly find a little bit of gore never gets in the way of a good adventure.