From Origins to Horror: The Fascinating Rise of Loch Ness Monster Horror Books

From popular Lore to its introduction into the book world, find out more about how Nessie became all the bone-chilling rage in the genre of horror novels.

Fiction Just For Fun Non-Fiction Pop Culture Recommendations

The Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as Nessie, conjures up images of a bygone creature from a bygone age. She (for many lay claim that this majestic myth is female) conjures up the idea of a water-dwelling beast that somehow has managed to exist in relative obscurity in a certain freshwater loch situated in the Scottish Highlands. Nessie herself stirs the winds with tales of sightings — 1100 recorded, to be exact — that many feel to be the truth: that this prehistoric creature lives beside man and that the past and present indeed collide. Over time, many stories have been told, and it was only a matter of time before such tales were penned in book form. From the first book about Nessie into the modern age of horror, let’s get into Nessie’s origins, the lore surrounding her, and how these stories of chilling, teeth-rattling, spine-tingling horror came to be.

Origins of the Loch Ness Monster

The Loch

We begin with Loch Ness itself. A picturesque area of vast forests, sprawling mountains, and a freshwaterscape of untold beauty and mystery. Stretching 23 mi (75 km) southwest from Inverness, the Loch lies at the eastern end of An Gleann Mòr (The Great Glen) near Fort Augustus village. The Glen, a deep trench-like area, runs east to west along a 380-million-year-old fault known as the Great Glen Fault, carved from glaciers during the ice age. At its deepest point of 230 m (754 ft), it stands to reason how Nessie may have been able to hide in plain sight all this time. These waters measure so deep that they could submerge every human on Earth three times over! The perfect place for a supposed legend of possible prehistoric size and age to wade.

Loch Ness in Scotland, where greenery surrounds a large, blue lake. On one side are green-covered mountains. On the other side are trees and a town with people walking along a road beside the lake.
IMAGE VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Lore Surrounding the Loch Ness Monster

The Legend of the Loch Ness Monster

This brings us to the legend of this great creature and her origins — a history that dates all the way back to 565 A.D. In his 7th-century account, St. Colombia, an Irish saint, penned what is considered to be the first encounter, when he went up against a most dastardly creature that’d attacked one swimmer and readied itself to strike another.

“Columba intervened, ordering the beast to “go back.” It obeyed…”

Loch Ness Monster: History, Sightings, and Facts, Britannica.com

From this first encounter, many more arose. Between 1500 and 1800, twenty-one recorded claims from locals cropped up, seemingly much more ado about superstition playing a larger role than actual evidence of the creature’s existence. It’s quite possible that many of these claims were steeped in Scottish folklore. Tales and scattered sightings of Nessie lay dormant for several more centuries. But hark! In 1933, the completion of a nearby road allowed an uninterrupted view of the Loch, and Nessie’s fame began to rise anew. A couple’s encounter of crossing paths with the creature as it bound for the water even garnered attention from a local paper.

“They were travelling along the Dores to Foyers Road when 200 yards in front of them they noticed an unusual grey object crossing the road. First, they saw what appeared to be a trunk like object, which was then followed by a large body. Mr. Spicer later claimed it looked like a “scenic railway.” The couple realised that whatever it was it was a living being, and watched in fascinated horror as it jerked across the road and vanished into the water.”

The Loch Ness Monster on Land, Historic-UK.com

Numerous other incidents cropped up, leading to the investigation of the creature by big-game hunter Marmaduke Wetherell, whose claims of spotting the creature’s tracks turned out to be no more than a hoax. Many were spurred on even more to prove the creature real, and in 1943, English physician Robert Kenneth Wilson was able to capture the creature in a photo. From the photo, speculation surrounding the creature assumed Nessie was a plesiosaur, a marine creature that’d gone extinct some 65 million years ago. But had they really? Is Nessie truly a creature connecting us to an incredibly distant past? Study after study concluded nothing, and alleged photos and encounters were debunked, but what do we truly know of Nessie’s realness? Is she merely lore?

A black and white still of a creature with a long neck and small head sticking up out of rippling water.
IMAGE VIA PICRYL/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Nessie’s Introduction Into the Publishing World: The First Book

The Loch Ness Monster and Others by Rupert T. Gould

Whether anyone truly knows if Nessie is real or simply a myth is still up for debate. Still, claims of sightings of the creature have yet to cease, even to this day. However, back in 1934, these sightings had grown in such great numbers that it was only right to collect these accounts. Enter Rupert T. Gould, a former British Navy Lieutenant, renowned horologist, and author of The Loch Ness and Others, who had made it his mission to document these eyewitness accounts. From the Spicers crossing paths with the creature one stormy night to the now-notable photograph of the creature and countless reports in between, all of these can be found in Gould’s collection.

Across a black-spotted, dark teal background, the title sits in light green lettering. The author's name sits beneath the title in yellow letters.
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Nessie Reaches Peak Fame With These Popular Books

Following the first book, others containing much information that could be gathered about the creature began to appear. Before long, various tales of the monster began to spring into the literary sphere. Nessie fiction spread even more with the popular book The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith, which was later adapted into film in 2007.

Movie version of "The Water Horse" by Dick King-Smith. a boy in a boat holds his hands out while a large prehistoric creature sits in the water behind him. The title is in golden yellow letters across the center.
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Popular Nessie Fiction

Three books -- "The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster" by Lari Don, "The Boggart and the Monster" by Susan Cooper, and "The Water Horse" by Dick King-Smith -- sit across a dreary background of mountains near a lake. A sea creature with a long neck sticks out of the water near the left side.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR/VPHAN

Loch Ness Monster Horror

Enter the World of Loch Ness Horror, Lest You Mind the Scare!

So, how did Nessie end up on the horror scene? Not much can be gleaned, but it’s possible that starting with the 1981 horror film featuring the creature, horror books didn’t stray too far behind.

A large prehistoric creature looms over a couple trapped in a boat on the roaring waters. The title is at the top in large, white letters.
IMAGE VIA IMDb

From the first book to popular books and films, we jump into the genre of horror that is all about this elusive creature of legend.

Loch Ness Horror by Eric S. Brown

The secret organization, The Order of Eternal Light, has long foretold the end of the world. Finding the Loch Ness Monster and obtaining some of its blood may be the answer to preventing the apocalypse, but the Order may face an even more dire task — finding the monster. Join the Order of Eternal Light in this frightfully unsettling tale as they race against time and all odds to locate a creature that holds the key to the future existence of humanity.

A large prehistoric creature faces away toward to the water. It's set against a dreary background. The author's name is above the creature in white letters. The title sits across the center in large, white letters.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP.ORG

The Shadow Over Loch Ness by Raphael Merriman

July 1934: Sir Edward Mountain is starting a five-week search of the mythical Nessie from his home on the loch’s banks. Edmund Macfolliffee is conducting his own search with a group of people who have their own reasons for wanting to seek out the creature. But when a death occurs, the survivors come to the horrifying realization that, while they’re assured something hides in the depths of the loch, something much more terrifying lurks in the house in this chilling Lovecraftian horror sure to keep you up at night.

The head of a creature peeks through a door. The title is at the top in white letters. The author's name is at the bottom in smaller white letters.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP.ORG

Loch Ness: A Horror Novella by Matt Shaw

For decades, Nessie has been a mere legend. A creature who’s been seen by some but doubtful by many. Still, many visitors make the trek to Loch Ness for the chance to encounter the creature, and author Reese Walker is one such visitor. Taking up residence next to the loch, Reese is enamored by its beauty and hopes to gain inspiration from the scenery and the legend itself. His last books haven’t done so well, and Reese is looking to the loch as a hopeful resurgence on the book scene. When a half-chewed body washes ashore on his first day in town, Reese can’t believe his luck. Is it possible the lore of the monster is more than fiction? Help Reese Walker find out in the horrifying novella, Loch Ness.

The title sits across a murky blue and red watery background in light blue-white letters. The author's name sits at the top of the cover in white letters.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP.ORG

Loch: The Zone Unknown Book #1 by Paul Zindel

Loch and his sister join their father on a scientific expedition. But things soon go wrong when a giant beast breaks from the depths of the water and a photographer, hoping to capture the photo of a lifetime, is devoured. Find out what happens next in Zindel’s terrifying horror, Loch.

A large, long-necked creature with sharp teeth looms from the dark water. The background looks ominous. The title is in blue letters near the bottom. The author's name is at the top in off-white letters.

Loch Ness by Donovan Galway

Dr. John Nagle has spent much of his career debunking the existence of Nessie. But something lies below the deep waters of Loch Ness. Something big. As Nagle seeks to refute the claims of the creature’s existence, he discovers a pattern — one that’s gone undetermined for three centuries — that points to when and where the creature will appear. With this information in hand, Nagle sets out to locate the Loch Ness Monster and prove his prediction to be true: that his findings were predicated on a former colleague’s findings of an ancient legend that spoke of the creature forming a bond with a family of travelers.

A boat travels across open waters right above a hidden creature with an open mouth full of sharp teeth. A man rows the boat while a woman lounges in the boat. The title is in rock-like brown letters across the top middle of the cover. The author's name is at the bottom in bright yellow letters.
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

The travelers had learned to call the creature at will and led it north to their native home. With this revelatory finding, Nagle is sure his luck is changing. That is, until he comes upon Aisling McCawler, a schoolteacher living near the loch. But Aisling, who harbors hatred for scientists, isn’t interested in Nagle’s theories and wants nothing to do with his penchant for death over finding the creature. And when Nagle’s research is stolen, his luck takes a turn for the worse. A competitor has located the creature and stolen one of its eggs. With this terrible act, a truce is broken, and Nessie is out for revenge. Dare to dive into this scary adventure of ancient history and myth as Nagle’s findings about Nessie come to life, and a centuries-old truce must now be rectified.

For a good scare, check out any one of these fascinatingly terrifying Loch Ness Monster tales. And if you should travel to the deep glen, remember to stay ever vigilant for Nessie. Who knows, you might catch a glimpse of her lurking.


For more on Nessie and other mythological creatures, click here.

Be sure to browse our Fantasy shelf on Bookshop.org!

FEATURED IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR/VPHAN