Top 5 Horror Book Series You Should Be Reading


Reading. You know, that thing where you look at words on a page. Well, apparently it’s still a thing. So if, by some miracle, you decide that you’ve had enough of staring at a screen and want to stare at some good old-fashioned books instead, I’ve complied a list of some of the best horror series available.

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1. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

You will no doubt have heard of this one. Jim Butcher’s classic series follows Harry Dresden, a private investigator with magic powers, as he investigates supernatural cases.

It is set in a world where magic is basically an open secret, filled with werewolves, ghosts, demons, and other supernatural creatures, each of which has its own government. Dresden himself tries to protect the livelihoods of both the supernatural and everyday citizens, being the world’s only “consulting wizard,” meaning that he has a duty to serve both.

2. Skulduggery Pleasant/Demon Road by Derek Landy

Also on the topic of detectives with magic powers, we have Skulduggery Pleasant. It’s a bit more difficult for him to go undercover than Dresden on his assignments, however, on account of him being a walking skeleton.

Lasting for nine novels in addition to several spin-off novellas, the first book follows a young girl named Stephanie, who inherits the estate of her uncle, who was a successful horror author, after his death, only to find that his creations may have been all too real. She becomes an assistant to the long dead and now skeletal wizard/detective Skulduggery Pleasant as they team up to stop evil forces from conquering the earth.

After the series ended, author Derek Landy launched a new saga called Demon Road, which features vampires, serial killers, and, you guessed it, demons. Both series are definitely worth checking out.

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3. Incarnations of Immortality by Piers Anthony

Best known for his comic fantasy series Xanth, which frequented the New York Times Bestseller charts during the ‘80s and ‘’90s, Piers Anthony is the very definition of a workaholic, as he’s written well over 200 books and, even at 81, is showing no signs of slowing down, having a multitude of upcoming books in the works.

After Xanth, his most well-known series is Incarnations of Immortality, starting with 1983’s On a Pale Horse. The series focuses on humans who are forced to become the incantations of Death, War, Evil, Time, and other elements. A key theme in the series is the corruption and misuse of power, represented by how ordinary humans are ascended to god-like positions, but it also explores how, when they act within reason, things that most people fear can actually have a very human element to them.

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4. The Discworld Death Trilogy by Sir Terry Pratchett

The late Sir Terry Pratchett was one of the UK’s most popular authors. He was most recognized for his fantasy series Discworld, which sold over 85 million copies worldwide. Whenever a new installment was released, people would go nuts over obtaining a copy, with the 40th book in the series, Snuff, breaking sales records by becoming the third fastest selling book in UK history, selling 55,000 copies in three days. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1998 and was awarded a knighthood for “Services to Literature” by the Queen in 2009.

After his death from Alzheimer’s disease earlier this year, his daughter, Rhianna, who is known for her writing work on games like the Tomb Raider reboot, announced that the series would not continue. But as most series never even come close to 41 books (not including the countless character and location guides), I think it’s safe to say that we more than got our money’s worth.

What’s the series about, you ask? It’s about a world shaped like a disc (duh), which is carried through space by four elephants on the back of giant turtle named Great A’Tuin. And one of the recurring characters was a librarian transformed into an orangutan who viciously attacks anyone who calls him a monkey. Yeah, this is fantasy at its strangest.

I know what you’re thinking: That sounds more like comic fantasy than horror. Well, hear me out… one of the major recurring characters in the series, who appeared in nearly every book, was Death, depicted in his classic skeletal grim reaper form. Three of the books in the series – Mort, Reaper Man, and Soul Music – were known as the “Death Trilogy” and featured Death as a protagonist rather than a supporting player, so if that doesn’t place them in the horror category, then I don’t know what does.

Despite resembling the nightmarish embodiment of Death, the character in the Discworld series was actually something of a more lighthearted figure who resented having to cut people’s lives short before their time, in addition to having a fondness for curry, beekeeping, and partying. So yeah, if you’re in the mood for some lighthearted fantasy/soft horror, then look no further.

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5. The Works of Darren Shan

Okay, this one may seem like a bit of a cop-out because instead of focusing on one single work, I’ve decided to focus on the entire career of Darren Shan. As a kid I was pretty much obsessed with his body of work, so I think it’s worth talking about it as a whole.

Firstly, there’s his young adult series The Saga of Darren Shan, about a young boy named, eh, Darren Shan (yes, he really did name the protagonist after himself), who becomes a half-vampire, learning the ways of the creatures of the night from his master, an ancient vampire named Larten Crepsely (who later received his own prequel series), whilst they travel with a circus freak show. As the series progressed, the books delved into deeper fantasy territory, with a war breaking out between the vampires and their mutant subspecies, the Vampaneze, in addition to dragons, other dimensions, and depictions of the afterlife.

And yes, before you ask, it was adapted into that piece of trash 2009 film which was clearly just made to cash in on the success of Twilight, but the less said about that the better. However, it was also adapted into a wonderful manga series by illustrator Takahiro Arai, which is definitely worth checking out.

His next YA series, The Demonata, focuses on another young boy named Grubbs Grady, who joins a secret organization called the Disciples to battle demons after they slaughter his family.

The antagonist of The Demonata, Lord Loss, was undoubtedly one of the finest villains in all of literature, a six-armed monstrosity with a pit full of snakes in place of a stomach, who speaks in a decidedly slow, sad tone, reveling in the sorrow and torment that he bestows upon others. The series focuses on the Disciples trying to prevent Lord Loss from establishing a tunnel between our world and the demon realm so that he can literally unleash hell on Earth. There’s also the small matter of Grubbs becoming a werewolf as he has demon blood flowing through his veins.

Shan is currently working on Zom-B, a 12-part series that follows a teenage girl who, following a living dead outbreak, is, you guessed it, turned into a zombie, as she tries to find a solution to the outbreak that is destroying mankind.

And let’s not forget his adult series, The City, about a power-hungry crime lord who turns to magic in order to rise through the ranks.

As much as I love his work, one particular complaint that I have with Shan is that, as I assume  publishers tell him that each of his series needs to contain a set number of installments, some of his books end up being rather light on plot, acting more as filler than anything else so that he can hit the targeted number. But one area where I won’t be complaining is the level of violence in his work. Hell no. Unlike that other kid’s horror series (cough, Goosebumps) Shan’s YA books, in addition to his adult ones, pushed violence to the max. I’m talking page after page of NC17-level violence here. Shan has a real gift for describing violence in such a way that it really does feel as though you are witnessing it first-hand, so great are his skills as a writer.

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