Originally posted on The Lineup
When it comes to the great works of paranormal horror, there are numerous classics from which to choose—Stephen King’s The Shining certainly comes to mind. If, however, you’re willing to stray outside the box to get your thrills, you’ll find plenty of lesser-known paranormal books that still deliver the terror. The following nine underrated paranormal books will get under your skin, and ensure many a sleepless night.
1. Nella Waits by Marlys Millhiser
Millhiser introduces readers to Lynette, recently widowed and having just returned to her hometown. It seems like her luck might be taking the turn for the better when she connects with Jay, who has also returned home—to his eerie family estate. However, the ghost of Jay’s mother, Nella, has other plans for her son: And they do not involve another woman in his life.
2. The Dower House Mystery by Patricia Wentworth
Amabel Grey has been offered two hundred pounds to stay at an old English estate, Dower House, for six months. In need of money to help her daughter, and hoping to rekindle an old romance, Amabel agrees to the offer. As it turns out, though, the eerie rumors about the Dower House are very much real.
3. The Wanting by Campbell Armstrong
When the Untermeyers rent a home in a remote town in Northern California, they believe it will be the perfect escape from city life—especially for their 12-year-old son Denny. Strangely, however, there are no other children in town. Even more unsettling is the elderly couple next door, who have taken a particular interest in Denny for what may be sinister reasons.
4. The Hymn by Graham Masterton
After his fiancee commits suicide seemingly out of nowhere, Lloyd Denman desperately searches for a reason why. His pursuit of the truth draws him into a world of paranormal cults, ancient secrets, and terror.
5. Smoke Ghost & Other Apparitions by Fritz Leiber
This chilling collection of supernatural horror stories comes from author Fritz Leiber, a winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for science-fiction. Many of these compelling and horrifying tales have been out of print for decades, despite their thoroughly terrifying nature. In addition to the title story, this collection includes “Cry Witch,” “Dark Wings,” and many more.
Monahan tells the story of a real-life haunting: That of the “Bell Witch,” a Tennessee spirit who terrorized the Bell family in 1818. The town schoolteacher wrote down the horrifying supernatural events plaguing the Bells to give to his daughter, a record which Monahan obtained and prepared for publication. The Bell Witch might just be the most terrifying title on this list, for the chilling reason that this haunting was a real historical event.
7. Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe
Charles is devastated by grief after the murder of his four-year-old daughter Naomi. As he tries to investigate the true reasons behind his daughter’s death, Charles finds himself drawn into a realm of supernatural terror, where he stands to lose his very soul.
8. After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones
This acclaimed collection of horrifying supernatural stories will chill you to your core. The title story flips the typical concept of “haunted house story” on its head, while tales like “Thirteen” and “Welcome to the Reptile House” build on the horror that lies behind images on the big screen, and under our flesh, respectively.
9. The Ritual by Adam Nevill
When four friends embark upon a journey into the Scandinavian wilderness, tensions run high. When an ill-conceived short-cut leads them upon the remnants of what looks like an ancient pagan ritual, they realize that something truly horrific stalks these woods.