Top 5 Scariest Horror Fiction Writers


Horror fiction is an all-encompassing beast. It’s a mirror to another world – a simulation
that we prescribe ourselves, to slip into another world – where the supernatural, the
paranormal – the mythological and a place where the mask of humanity slips. Since Horace Walpole first penned the legendary
Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto – considered to be the birthplace of modern horror – our
culture has been graced with some of the finest writers, authors and novelists that humanity’s
inner fear has to offer. Well, let’s take a look at the best of the
best. Hello horror fans – and once again, welcome
back to the scariest channel on YouTube – Top 5 Scary Videos. As per usual, I’ll be your horror host Jack
Finch – as today, we curiously take a look at the Top 5 Scariest Horror Fiction Writers. Roll the clip. For the curious amongst you, that clip was
from Stanley Kubrick’s legendary adaptation of Stephen King’s 1977 novel, The Shining
– of course it was, you know that, I know that – this is a horror fiction writer list. But – it leads me to an important point. This list was pretty much impossible for me
to fully realise without first putting some rules on myself – and so, I’ve deliberately
left off horror fictions most celebrated writer, Mr. Stephen King himself – because he tops
the top of every list ever, so much so that we’ve even got a series dedicated to his
most terrifying horror characters. Also, I’m keeping things fresh – and I’m
staying with contemporary horror, so nothing pre-1940 – Lovecraft, Chambers, Poe, Shelley,
Stoker – they’re all titans of horror literature – and they don’t need a list to highlight
their impact on horror culture – after all, there influence is all around us. Kicking off at Number 5 – Lisa Tuttle Who – her horror fiction aside – is such a
damn badass that she just had to make this list. Although she’s perhaps more widely known
for her science fiction and young adult works – Lisa Tuttle’s incredibly original horror
went a little bit under the radar throughout the 80s and 90s – but fortunately for us,
art is eternal. For the most part. Born in Houston, Texas in 1952 – Lisa Tuttle
first came to light in 1981 with her debut novel, Windhaven – which was written in collaboration
with the one, the only – George R.R Martin – but then, she shifted gears, carving her
own path into the realms of horror fiction. If you’re a frequent viewer of Top 5 Scary
– you’ll know that I’ve got a bit of a thing for 70s and 80s graphic aesthetics – and
the majority of Lisa Tuttle’s paperback covers are some of the best of the best. Her first true horror novel, 1983’s Familiar
Spirit – is a cautionary tale of mystical sacrifice, and a warning to think very carefully
about what you wish for. Her 1987, Gabriel, is incredibly messed up
– so I’d segway that one perhaps – but Tuttle’s real horror genius lies in her many short
story collections – 1986’s A Nest of Nightmares being the tip-top of that horrifying pile. For both horror AND science fiction, Lisa
Tuttle is an incredibly worthy contender. Swinging in at Number 4 – Clive Barker And while his horror literature may not be
the most synonymous theme with Barker’s life, the painful fact is that despite his
filmmaking career, first and foremost, Clive Barker is an incredibly talented horror novelist. Oftentimes Barker goes under appreciated – mainly
due to his widely successful Hellraiser series based on Barker’s 1986 novella, The Hellbound
Heart. Hellraiser and Clive Barker have walked together,
hand in hand through the extra dimensional rift, for the best part of three decades – but
his blood-soaked list of horror novels, comic books, novellas and short stories – have always
been worth the pain-inducing look for any fledgling or seasoned horror fan. His first published work, 1985’s The Damnation
Game – is a Faustian foray into the themes that Barker has become so synonymous for – pain,
desire – the true reflections of the human soul, which have meandered their way through
nearly 30 years of horror fiction. In actual fact, no one has really ever came
close to comparing to Barker, and his unique perception of pleasure and pain – whilst admittedly
isn’t for everyone – has become a household name for horror fandom. Coming in at Number 3 – Joe Hill And while I rightly said Stephen King wouldn’t
be making this list – it seems that his son will be taking up the King of Horror’s mantle,
because in recent years – Joe Hill has quickly become one of my favourite modern horror writers,
all the while breaking out of the daunting shadow of his old dad. Well, after first taking on the horror world
in 2005 with his incredible short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts – it wasn’t until the
release of his terrifying 2007 novel, Heart-Shaped Box – that Joe Hill actually publicly announced
that he was indeed the son of Stephen King. In Hill’s own way – he wanted to carve a
path based upon his own merit, rather than riding the coattails of his legendary father. And, really – we have to deride that accolade
– because Hill definitely stands up as an incredible horror writer in his own right. His 2010 novel, Horns, which later went on
to be adapted onto the silver screen starring Daniel Radcliffe – is an incredibly original
modern horror tale, that manages to blend the familiarity of our world with that of
the demonic and the supernatural. Just like his dad though, Joe Hill seems to
be pumping out gems of horror fiction on a near monthly basis – and some of his short
stories, as well as his comic book appearances, are absolute mind-numbing terror. He’s one for the ages. Next up at Number 2 – Peter Straub There is perhaps no other modern horror novelist
as decorated as the legendary Peter Straub, author of 1979’s Ghost Story – who has carved
a career that has spanned decades, which has – in my opinion – never at all had a low point. The standard that Straub has maintained ever
since his first novel, 1973’s Marriages – is, in all fairness, a feat in and of itself
– and thankfully for us, he’s showing no sign of slowing down. Throughout his career, Straub has picked up
an insane amount of literary honors, including the highly coveted Bram Stoker Award, the
World Fantasy Award, the International Horror Guild Award, as well as the August Derleth
Award. This man’s accolades are stacked – but that
kind of contemporary clout doesn’t come without having the penmanship to back it up
– and Peter Straub has that in spades. Seriously – if you’ve never read Ghost Story
– read it now, because it’s perhaps one of the finest examples of horror in the written
form – but Straub also has a trick up his sleeve, with 1984’s The Talisman – which
was written in collaboration, alongside the man himself, Stephen King. Another notable entry into his arms-length
list of novels is 1999’s Mr. X – which is pretty much a love letter to Lovecraft’s
bleak misery – Straub has created a legacy as the horror writer that builds a world of
such richly detailed beauty and majesty – and then burns the whole thing to the ground by
the end of the novel. Peter Straub is awesome – and you should read
his work. And finally – coming in at our Number 1 spot
– Shirley Jackson Because, this list is personal – and in my
opinion, Stephen King aside – Shirley Jackson is the greatest horror writer of the 20th
century. Also, her literary accolades aside – she was
a woman that just straight up lived and breathed everything horror and horror fiction, with
a deeply tragic personal life that would put the likes of Lovecraft and Poe to shame. Shirley Jackson understood horror at an intrinsic
level – she understood the nuances of human behaviour, she understand the slights of emotion
that would resonate through the human brain – the kind of stuff that would keep you awake
at night, sweating – clawing at the walls. Shirley Jackson penned the kind of horror
that didn’t need ghosts to make it horrifying. But – when she did do ghosts, it was some
of the best damn horror fiction ever written. Her 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House
– is the best damn haunted house story in literature. Period. Although her body of work wasn’t as extensive
as some of the writers on this list – it was in the quality of the literature that she
produced where Jackson truly shined. 1954’s The Bird’s Nest is psychological
horror at its peak – and 1962’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the hallmark
of existential isolation. And of course, we have The Lottery – I don’t
really have to say much about that one. Shirley Jackson inspired some of horror fiction’s
greatest writers, the legendary Neil Gaiman and Stephen King included – but in her own
right, she was a shining, terrifying diamond of horror fiction – that definitely left her
mark on this world. Cheers Shirley. Well – there we have it horror fans – our
list for the Top 5 Scariest Horror Fiction Writers – with certain self-imposed limitations,
of course. Why don’t you let us know your thoughts,
as well as any choice picks in the comment section down below. Also, why don’t you throw out some horror
based questions while you’re at it – and I’ll try my best to answer them all in our
next video. Unfortunately folks, that’s all we’ve
got time for in today’s video – cheers for sticking around all the way until the end. If you were a fan of this video, make sure
to hit that thumbs up button – as well as that subscribe bell – and we’ll be seeing
you in the next one. As per usual, I’ve been your horror host
Jack Finch – you’ve been watching Top 5 Scary Videos – and until next time, you take
it easy.

99 Replies to “Top 5 Scariest Horror Fiction Writers

  1. Cool now I have new authors to check out! Have you ever read Bentley Little, if not give it a try ,I promise you won't be disappointed. Also there is John Saul, Dean Koontz, also pretty good. Cheers!😉

  2. I love Joe Hill, especially since he is starting to elude to his dad's universe. I loved how the map in NOS4R2 mentions pennywise's circus.

  3. Richard Laymon, Bentley Little, Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, Kealan Patrick Burke, Ania Ahlborn 👈👈👈my list of fave authors. Laymon is number one ☝️👏🏼👏🏼

  4. Thank you! This list woudn't be complete without the under appreciated Peter Straub! Next list… Ramsey Campbell, Harlan Ellison, Anne Rice, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

  5. Hey Jack!
    Idk how they come up with a lot of their stories. But hey keep them coming! They can scare the bejesus of out me and I’ll love it!

  6. Jack–I love, love, LOVE Joe Hill's writing, and how he weaves the supernatural in with the horror or vice versa. From Horns, to The Fireman, to NOS4A2, I have read all of his work and loved every page! As a huge fan of Stephen King, thanks for introducing a few "new" names into my reading repertoire! Cheers!

  7. What about R.L Stine. Not just for goosebumps but his young adult books, Fear Street. They are super underrated and a few of them made me lose sleep. Anyway love the videos keep it up

  8. yes! more books for me to read >:D i love this channel you guys introduced me to so many good horror movies and stories. Wish i could kiss that bald head!

  9. I'd like to express how disappointed I am I didn't hear mention of Poppy Z. Brite anywhere. Yes she isn't as prolific as the others on the list but what I e read of here is phenomenal.

  10. Wow, I am so thankful for this list, I never heard of these writers and am excited to get reading!!!!! Thank you!!

  11. The Lottery is like standard freshman English required reading. I didn't realize until I got older and read some more of Jackson's work how truly dark that story is.

  12. Yo Jack if you had to recommend one horror story other than a king novel what would it be? Love your work.

  13. Is the Shadow on the moon ment to be a Mortal Kombat reference? I'm new so I don't know the inside details yet.

  14. I picked up Clive Barker’s Cabal in a bargain bin at a bookstore chain. Would consider it one of my favourite books to this day.

  15. I saw Ghost story in the movies, when I was 15. I then read it. I was fucked up for months!! I Loved It!!!

  16. Sad that dean koontz wasn't on the list. Darkfall is one of my favorite books. Check it out if you haven't.

  17. For Pt. 2, I'd vote for Dean Koontz, always a pleasurable read, Bentley Little, for creating a completely unique concept in most of his novels, and John Shirley, if for no other reason, because he wrote a collection of short stories called "Black Butterflies" that was, by far, the most horrific book I've ever read.

  18. Wow, Jack! Perfect list! I was all ready to add Straub and Jackson in the comments thinking they wouldn't make the list but you nailed it! Great stuff, cheers!

  19. I'd like to see a video with the top literary influences of H.P. Lovecraft, because there are some really great writers, such as Poe, Machen, Dunsany, James, Bierce & Blackwood among them.

  20. Do something with the love death and robots. There is a couple of episodes that are full on mad

  21. Great list. You should debate who is better, King or Lovecraft. Would be intense. As for this list, Barker should be higher on the list i.m.o. Straub is amazing as well.

  22. Part 2 or the cute little bunny gets it! Secondly, can you find room for Mr. Brian Keene. By far one of the most underrated awesome horror authors. If you don’t believe me just read The Rising or City of the Dead. Books that stayed in my mind for weeks.

  23. James Herbert is on of my favourite horror writers. “The Rats” still makes me shudder and “ The Dark” is one of my favourites. If you haven’t read anything by him I recommend him! The Fog was also great.

  24. woah this is weird says 142 comments and how many can I see on my laptop screan? 0 not even kidding I see zip in terms of comments showing up O. o alrighty then?

  25. Love how passionate you are about horror books, movies, etc. You have definitely given me good advice and I absolutely love the book ❤️ "Ghost Story". I'm not a big fan of slash and gore horror, more of the suspense thriller with huge twisted ending or ones based on a true story.

  26. Reading Haunting of Hill House I was so engrossed in the scary scenes and my dad knocked on my door. The book went flying and I was screaming.

  27. Yes! Very good. Please do more. So many out there. Glad you have Joe and Peter on here. Straub has also written with SK. But there is John Saul and Dean Koontz! And in a slightly different vein of horror don't forget TABITHA KING. Yes SKs wife! The fam is all about scary guys! She has written some very fine novels. Very fine. Not sure but I think even Owen might write…thanks Jack!🤘😉😘

  28. The works of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley are by no means scary. Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein did help lay the foundations for horror literature, but they were the pop-culture, radio friendly stories of their day where the true horror was being driven by such works as The Castle of Otranto and Vathek.

    (and i have accomplished my goal of sounding like a horror snob for the day.

    Have a classy day, my fellow youtubers!)

  29. I love Peter Straub, especially Ghost Story and The Talisman with SK. Jack, you seem happier these days. Thanks for another great one. 👌☠️

  30. On the next top 5 scariest horror fiction writers, can you add John Saul and Barbara Michaels? Thank you.

  31. Your rules but naming authors NOT on your list-
    Dan Simmons
    "Summer of Night"…."The Terror"…"Carrion Comfort"
    Bentley Little "The Association"…'The Store"…"The Resort"…"The Summoning"
    Ronald Malfi " The Narrows"….Snow….Bone White
    Robert R McCammon "Stinger….They Thirst"…
    Brian Keene "Earthworm Gods"…"Ghoul"
    Ray Garton "Darklings"…."Live Girls"

  32. Need a Part 2. You missed James Herbert, Graham Masterton, Robert McCammon, and Robert Bloch.

  33. You have all my love for putting the amazing Shirley Jackson at #1! While Poe is my personal #1 of any writing list, especially horror, I appreciate setting him, Lovecraft, and King to the side for this list to give these other horror fiction icons some well deserved attention. Shirley Jackson and The Haunting of Hill House will always be at the top of horror fiction!

  34. Ghost Story is an amazing read, one of only a handful of books I have read more than once.
    Also, Peter Straub is an extremely nice guy 🙂

  35. I absolutely had to pause this for a moment. Just to say how incredibly ironic it is that i am watching this, while The Haunting of Hill house is playing in the background. Totally not intentional. But still very cool.

  36. One of my favorite horror writers has to be …Poppy z Brite.

    "Exquisite corpse " was a fantastic book , there is a scene in this book that reminded me of something that actually happend in de life of Jeffrey Dahmer.
    It is about a boy nearly escaping Dahmers horror house and finding a policeman, who sends him right back!

  37. Thank you, thank you, for Shirley Jackson on this list. My favorite horror novel ever is We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

  38. Definitely need a Part 2 (and Part 3) to this… James Herbert, Brian Keene, Bentley Little, Jack Ketchum, and Dean R. Koontz just to name a few.

  39. Not trying to start anything truly just curious….. But do you all not like Ann Rice? Her books on the witches is pretty creepy 'Taltos'. All things Louisiana based have an are of the kind of creepy

  40. imo
    Damn good vid though I strongly disagree about King, a hell of a writer (obviously) but much of his work seems repetitive and bores me.
    I think it's just a different strokes for different folks thing.
    imo

  41. Really surprised Dean Koontz didn't make your list. I know his writing can be rather cliche' (odd man out and dog — almost always) and some of it very lackluster (77 Shadow Street) but he has some extraordinarily good reads is in his bibliography (the Odd Thomas series, the Chris Snow/Moonlight Bay series, Midnight.

  42. The first paragraph of “The Haunting of Hill House” is a masterpiece!
    Greetings, fellow Jackson fan!

  43. Shirley Jackson definitely deserves the number 1 spot, Haunting Of Hill House is a classic & is one of my favourite ghost stories along with Susan Hill's The Woman In Black. Another great horror writer not mentioned on this list is Jonathan Aycliffe, I started reading a lot of his work when I was about 11or 12 and they are some of the scariest books I've read, especially Naomi's Room, I've still never been able to bring myself to go back and read the whole book again since I first read it as a kid.

  44. Great writers!! If you do a part 2, here are a few suggestions: John Saul, Dean Koontz, Brian Lumley, Robert R. McCammon, Ray Bradbury, Ramsey Campbell, and of course Mary Shelley!!! Thx and keep up the awesome hosting!!! cheers

  45. Why doesn't anyone talk about Robert MCammon? They Thirst, Wolf's Hour, Swan Song(puts the Stand to Shame) are all amazing works. But one of his best was Usher's passing a modern version of Poe's classic tormented family.

  46. Still working my way through the backlog here but have some suggestions!
    Christopher Pike was always a favorite of mine, he could write a mean story involving all sorts of supernatural entities, but a lot of his stories were also frightening because of the lack of supernatural. There's something that's even more deeply unsettling and frightening when it's something that could actually happen… When the scary monster of the story is the best friend, the lover, or that stranger you keep seeing on the beach….
    Also, surprisingly, RL Stine! Goosebumps are a great way for kids to get into horror, but have you read some of his Big Kid stuff? There's some of his short stories that will haunt me for ages!

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