#20. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
This book is SO disturbing. The monsters aren't supernatural but human. And your neighbors. And it was based on a true story. This was one of the first books I read that shattered a pre-conceived notion about human nature; and not in a good way. It is horrific and not recommended for anyone who can't easily forget entertainment that also truly terrorizes.
#19. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
As the title suggests, this book is rich with secrets; though right from the first page you know you’re dealing with a murder and a cover up. Tartt's debut is so rich and layered, and a real pleasure to read her hypnotic writing. A group of Classics students at a prestigious college are charming and yet repulsive. This story is a downward spiral through beautiful landscapes into deadly, hypnotic territory. Highly recommended reading...and rereading.
#18. Still Life With Crows by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Still Life With Crows is one of Preston & Child's best in the Agent Pendergast series. Boy, do I enjoy lurking around in dark, scary places with Agent Pendergast. One of the truly original main characters out there. These books are impossible to put down. Crows is set in a small Kansas town, but the writer's never opt for the cheap and easy stereotypical characters. I've enjoyed all of the Pendergast books, but this one is the most genuinely frightening of the bunch.
#17. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
The quote on the cover says it all, "This book will scare the hell out of you." It did me. On the plus side, for months after reading it, I was actually happy to share a bedroom with my younger brother. To this day, I would never buy a house or a house in a neighborhood that had windows even remotely resembling the iconic windows on the end of the Amity house. Many lawsuits have challenged whether or not this is actually a true story, but it doesn't matter. It's a haunting book either way.
#16. The Shining by Stephen King
King is at his masterful best here toying with his constant readers as he pulls out every scare tactic in the book. I remember my heart pounding as young Danny Torrence's visions get ever more out of control trapped inside the snowy, abandoned resort. No one is better than King at scaring the crap out of you in confined, remote places. The movie kind of sucked in my opinion, but the book still makes my heart do a tap dance in my chest. And the sequel Doctor Sleep is actually pretty great in its own right.