The Killing Joke: 4 Unsettling Books About Clowns

Scare yourself silly this Halloween with these four reads about evil clowns that will surely give you nightmares.

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Do you remember the era of clown sightings everyone was raging about back in the fall of 2016? Yeah, those were no joke! One of those sightings happened to be at my high school at the time, and it didn’t help that I’m terrified of clowns. I blame you, Stephen King! On that note, here are four evil clown books that will make you think twice about sending your kids to a circus. (Do those even exist anymore?)

1. Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare


Brace yourselves for one spine-chilling ride in Cesare’s teen slasher debut novel because it’s about to get really creepy. Quinn Maybrook and her father move into the boring, tumbleweed town that is Kettle Springs in hopes of a fresh start. However, the town is heavily divided by the conflict between the rebellious, ever-evolving youths and the old and conservative generations. Quinn, however, really just wants to graduate from high school – that is, if she graduates.

2. Jack-In-The-Box by William W. Johnstone


If you’re interested in cursed antiques and demon-possessed children, then you’ve hit the jackpot. On the outside, young Nora Baxter is your stereotypical definition of innocence: blonde, blue-eyed, and doll-like. However, Nora’s father can’t shake away this uneasiness about her; his discomfort briefly subsides when he brings home an antique jack-in-the-box for his daughter, though I think he may have just made things worse.

3. The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott


This award-winning horror novel is filled with all the dark comedy and clownish horrors you can only dream of (but you’d really prefer not to). After twentysomething-year-old Jamie almost manages to hit a clown wandering down the road at night, he becomes a victim of a stalker clown trio who, strangely enough, want him to audition to join the circus. The problem is, he only has two days to pass, and failing isn’t an option.

4. It by Stephen King


You knew this was coming. This is not only one of the most popular horror novels to date but also a New York Times bestseller that received film adaptations (which scarred me for life). To start off, when a horror book opens with a six-year-old walking alone in the rain and talking to an inconspicuous clown hiding in a sewer, your best bet is that things are definitely going to go south. I have to mention that this book is heavy – and I mean doorstopper heavy – so buckle up because you’ve definitely got a long and incredibly horrific journey ahead of you. We all float down here.

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