HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
  • LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.

(In Your Opinion) who is the best Horror author?

Thing(amabrarian)s That Go Bump in the Night

Join LibraryThing to post.

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

1ScribbleScribe
Feb 1, 2009, 7:36am Top

the author can be dead or alive.

Personally I think it's Stephen King. Of all the horror authors i've read so far (koontz, keene and King) I've felt his writing to be the best.

He doesnt make his plots cheesy (like keene) or shy away from the supernatural (like koontz) and there's just something about his writing that I cant quite put my finger on that reads like actual literature and not just fiction.

What do you think guys? Who is the best horror author?

and if you care to, just talk about who your favorite author is and why.

My favorite is Dean Koontz. Even though most people on here deem him to be more suspense/thriller than horror.

See? there's a difference for me.

Anyway, in conclusion who do you think is the best author in this genre (and why) and who is your favorite author (and why)

2jseger9000
Feb 1, 2009, 1:17pm Top

I think the best is Stephen King, hands down. The guy is just a damn fine writer no matter what he happens to be writing about. That he likes to tell scary stories is just a bonus to me.

His characters are very well realized and three dimensional. You can see that he has really put some thought and research into what he is writing by all the detail he uses. It makes his works deeper and more believable. Makes you more willing to invest some of your own emotion into the story. That's the stuff that gives King his reputation and his National Book Award. I don't know about individual books, but his body of work overall is literature.

3Scaryguy
Feb 2, 2009, 11:45am Top

King is so prolific. If you hated one, there're probably several more you'd like.

I like MR James's short stories.

*trying to think*

I've (overall) enjoyed Koontz, but still, no Horror author stands out with so much good stuff as King. Even for individual horror novels, I still think King would trump the 'Harper Lee' horror writers out there.

There's honesty in his writing. And damn good stories.

4bibliobeck
Edited: Feb 2, 2009, 11:57am Top

I agree with all the above, especially jseger's comment...

"The guy is just a damn fine writer no matter what he happens to be writing about. That he likes to tell scary stories is just a bonus to me."

I'm still waving the flag for my other favourite though - Jonathan Aycliffe (touchstone doesn't work ~ try Naomi's Room).

5daddygoth
Edited: Feb 2, 2009, 12:53pm Top

Of the authors who are currently writing regularly, I'd go with Brian Keene as my favorite. Graham Masterton is also one of my favorites. However, my all time favorite is still Robert McCammon.

I enjoyed King's early novels (Pet Sematary and prior), but I couldn't get into anything after that until The Dark Tower series, which I thought was great. I tried Just After Sunset recently, and gave up. Night Shift it definitely was not.

I was also a big fan of Koontz in the 80's. I didn't care for his early stuff (The Face of Fear, Whispers, etc.), but really enjoyed Watchers, Strangers, Lightning and others from that era. When he started getting away from horror, I began to lose interest. I didn't care for the first in the Odd series and saw the ending coming well before the ending. The first half of The Taking was classic Koontz, but the second half was a mess. I've read some of his newer ones Life Expectancy, The Husband, etc.) and while they are OK, they aren't up to par with his 80's work, in my opinion.

6jseger9000
Edited: Feb 2, 2009, 1:01pm Top

In order to keep this thread from just being about King, I thought I could talk about some of the runners' up that I enjoy:

Peter Straub - At times he approaches King in his writing talent. He's more intellectual about it for sure. He expects that his readers have a brain and will be able to keep up with him. He isn't afraid of starting you with a large cast of characters on the assumption that you can follow it. But even though his horror is brainy, he doesn't write dry 'quiet horror' (sorry, I know there are some quiet horror fans here). He isn't afraid to kick out the jams in his stories. He's not quite as consistent or prolific as king, but even his lesser novels (The Hellfire Club) I've enjoyed. There's good reason King and Straub have collaborated and gush about each other.

Bentley Little - At his best, there's no one else like him. The problem is that he is so inconsistent. But when he's good, watch out! Some of his books, you read the synopsis and it sounds like a joke (the Ignored, The Store, The Association), but he takes the concept seriously and manages to get me as a reader to buy into it. He has also written some terrific straight-up horror (The Revelation, The Summoning) that is masterful. The problem is that he will dazzle you and then put out something like The Town. Still, even with his misfires, I pick up his books as soon as they are released.

Clive Barker - I was a little iffy here. His six Books of Blood are some of the best horror fiction I've ever read. The problem is that starting with Weaveworld he sort of stepped out of horror and into dark fantasy, which I don't much like at all. Those early books and stories though...

7SuLa
Mar 23, 2009, 11:04am Top

I like the early books by Stephen King - I think I've read almost everything up to "Gerald's Game". After that, I stopped reading King because I became pretty bored with him. Years later I grabbed "Four past midnight" in the bookstore and quite enjoyed it though it didn't have what the older books had. Same with "Cell" - first half was great, then it got boring. I still think King is one of the best horror authors around but he's not my favourite.

Even though they're oldfashioned, I love the books by H. P. Lovecraft - some of them are pretty scary, some are repetetive. But the atmosphere he creates is wonderfully gloomy and brooding. And most of the time, his stories end badly - I kinda like that because in a horror szenario, it's more "realistic" to die horribly at the claws of some beast than to defeat the beast.

Another favourite is Shirley Jackson - Hill House has got to be one of the scariest places in literature. Ever.

A horror writer I never really liked is Dean Koontz- I can't even tell you why. I've only read one book - granted, that's not really enough to judge the guy and his work but that one book just put me off. It didn't scare me at all - and what's the point in reading a horror novel if it doesn't scare you? I can't even remember the title of the book.

One of the worst "horror" novels I've ever read was by John Saul, "The Unloved". It was tedious, I hated the characters and the whole thing felt like a teen slasher movie in the form of a book. One of the main characters kept whining - every second sentence was introduced or ended with "Julie whined". That's just really bad style - I kept wondering if the translation was actually messed up (I read it in German) or if Saul really has such an awful style since I've never read anything by him before. And after this piece of junk, I probably never will.

8MJ_Crow
Mar 23, 2009, 6:15pm Top

I can't narrow it down to just one. Stephen King is both my favorite and most hated horror author depending on which books you are talking about.

I also think Brian Keene is great, along with Jack Ketchum and Gord Rollo (newer writer to me).

9CarlosMcRey
Mar 25, 2009, 9:35pm Top

A lot of good suggestions, so I thought I'd add one:

Thomas Ligotti - With all due respect to Straub, I'd nominate Ligotti as the most literary of the contemporary horror writers. In terms of literary tradition, Ligotti takes more after Borges or Bruno Schulz, so his fiction leans towards the eccentric end of the spectrum. He's a master of nightmarish imagery and disturbing atmosphere.

10saraslibrary
Mar 25, 2009, 10:33pm Top

I don't have one favorite horror writer, but I love the stuff Tanith Lee puts out, especially her Blood Opera Sequence.

11quartzite
Apr 1, 2009, 3:38am Top

We should also pay homage to the great classic authors Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. For the the latter I recommend The Jewel of Seven Stars as an additional example besides Dracula.

But as for best nobody is better than stephen King at his best. Peter Straub is consistently good and often excellent, and of course I have to mention my fave Brit Phil Rickman

12jane1104
Mar 6, 2012, 4:23pm Top

I love the classics AND modern horror (for the most part). My top 3: Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and......Stephen King. I keep coming back to him. Straub is terrifying, at times. Someone else mentioned Shirley Jackson - YES! I found this list of the "best horror authors" and while she's on it, she's not ranked as high as I would think.

http://www.ranker.com/list/best-horror-novelists/book-keeper

Voted her up, just for kicks.

13PJGraham
Mar 6, 2012, 5:49pm Top

Quoth the Raven: "Edgar Allen Poe!"

OK, kidding aside, I do love Poe, but might have to agree on King. I also really like Richard Matheson for this. In a few more years, I might be inclined to add Jonathan Maberry as a contender, but think it's a little early yet.

14quartzite
Mar 6, 2012, 7:50pm Top

Thanks for the link voted for faves an added two to the list. Phil Rickman and Greg f. Gifune

15artturnerjr
Mar 6, 2012, 9:06pm Top

That's a tough one. First of all, I'll assume you're talking about prose fiction only so as not to "muddy the waters" with comics writers, screenwriters, etc.

The horror writer that has given me the most pleasure over the years is definitely Stephen King.

The horror writer whose work was farthest in advance of his peers (inside and outside the horror genre) is Arthur Machen.

The horror writer that was able to most successfully convey his philosophical worldview in his fiction (i.e., so that your worldview is changed by reading him) is H.P. Lovecraft.

Horrror fiction's greatest stylist is almost certainly Clark Ashton Smith.

My favorite writer in any genre or medium is Alan Moore because, for lack of a more articulate way of putting it, he is the William Shakespeare of comics. If there is a living writer possessed of a divine gift, it's him.

16domlancaster
Edited: Mar 7, 2012, 2:24am Top

Of course the over-all top Horror writer has to be Stephen King, I battled with myself to find others that had a better hand in the skills of writing, but came up with a list of nothing. In my opinion King isn't necessarily the most consistent when it comes to making your skin crawl, every inch of your body alive with anticipation and terror, making the hairs stand on end all over as if they are an extra perceptive sense, feeling for the odorless, unseen, and unheard crack of electric tension that the best horror books have. It may sound like I'm giving King bad critique, but I'm not. He doesn't do the above constantly, which is great, you never know to what degree your going to want to check under your bed and in the deepest darkest corners of your once warm and safe house, in this sense each book is suspenseful at least before you even start page 1. But what you can rely on is the fact that you're going to live through the lives of the main characters within each and every story with them, alongside them (growing to love them or despise them), and perhaps the best example I can think of for this is It, I feel like I certainly need to throw in The Stand, Insomnia, Bag Of Bones.
There is one other horror author who can do the same, especially with the readers of his books being able to empathize with his characters, although on a less regular basis in the horror genre, that being Dean Koontz my favorite author, but not my favorite horror author, that goes to Stephen King and is closely followed by James Herbert......what can I say really other than try giving Ghosts Of Sleath a read, along with Sepulchre and Shrine and probably best known for The Fog. Another great horror writer, and I enthuse all horror fans to give him a good read, would be John Connolly, delve into the eerily, spooky and twisted tales that an unwanted imagination can conjure up and make almost believable by adding a bit of realism and depth to mainly one (very dark) key character in a series of books that unnerve, occasionally repulse, and shock with ease, I wont suggest certain books as such, simply start from the beginning with Every Dead Thing and work your way forwards.

17Azeryk
Mar 7, 2012, 6:05am Top

I would have to say that my two favourites are Brian Keene and Jonathan Maberry

I love how all of Keene's books are linked by the labyrinth mythos he's been building up; and the pace of the books and characters and the twists he puts on standard plots are enjoyable.

Maberry's books are all well researched and well written; and his several series (Joe Ledger, Pine Deep and Rot & Ruin) are so different from each other that it stops him from being boring.

18gryeates
Mar 7, 2012, 3:05pm Top

Out of contemporary authors, I would go for Thomas Ligotti - I first discovered him in 2008 and I still love his work and re-read it regularly. He has gone as far as a writer possibly, I think, can in terms of portraying life as a nightmare of atheistic and existential horror.

19paradoxosalpha
Mar 7, 2012, 3:09pm Top

He wasn't a genre author, but William S. Burroughs scared the crap out of me as much as anyone in print ever did.

20bjbookman
Mar 7, 2012, 4:07pm Top

I enjoy the novels of F.G. Cottam, Thomas Emson and Robert McCammon. When their books are published I buy them. I'm not that big of a fan of Stephen King (gasp) I read him but since The Stand I feel his novels have gone down hill.
I am a big fan of Richard Laymon. To me he can make opening a refridgerator scary.

21pollux
Mar 7, 2012, 5:05pm Top

#16 domlancaster
I love me some John Connolly

22pollux
Mar 7, 2012, 5:06pm Top

Sorry touchstone not working with my tablet

23artturnerjr
Mar 7, 2012, 6:22pm Top

>9 CarlosMcRey: & 18

Can't really call him a favorite as I've only read 2 of his stories, but yeah - the Thomas Ligotti stuff that I've read is absolutely top-notch. In terms of just immersing the reader in a world of nightmarish horror, his work is second to none.

24PJGraham
Mar 12, 2012, 5:43pm Top

John Connolly – There you go, pollux. :)

You know, the movies get the Oscars, TV gets the Emmys, music has the Grammys. Why isn't there an awards show for writers? That would so rock!

25magnumpigg
Mar 13, 2012, 3:38pm Top

No King fan here. Verbose. Repetitive.
My favorites by far are Greg F. Gifune and Ronald Malfi. They evoke a mood and a pace that sets well for me. Their writing rings like a fine tune to my ears.

26coachtim30
Edited: Mar 22, 2012, 8:02pm Top

I agree with bjbookman about McCammon, Laymon, and King. They are three of my old standbys.

27Mordecai42
Oct 6, 2015, 4:25pm Top

It's a four way tie between Robert McCammon, Richard Laymon, Gary Braunbeck, and Jack Ketchum. All four are more consistent than King

Jason

28tjm568
Oct 11, 2015, 1:41am Top

Oh, I don't know. I'm not familiar with Gary Braunbeck, but I don't think any of those other three are anywhere near the writer King is. (Of course this is just my opinion, and I have certainly enjoyed books by all of them.) I agree that King hasn't always been consistent as far as the horror factor, but the quality of his writing over all is better than the others.
I am surprised no one has mentioned Dan Simmons. I think he is the best writer of horror out there as far as the writing goes. The guy can flat out write. Like King, not all of his stories are truly terrifying, but the writing is consistently great. And Carrion Comfort is a masterpiece that shouldn't be missed. Summer of Night and Children of the Night are also very good.

29pgmcc
Edited: Oct 11, 2015, 8:41am Top

The horror writers whose work I love reading are:
Thomas Ligotti
Robert Aickman
Dan Simmons
M R James
Stefan Grabinski
Edith Nesbitt
Ray Russell
Walter De La Mare
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
H P Lovecraft
Denis Wheatley
Edgar Allen Poe

I would be loath to rank them because each of them has unique qualities and one would be ranking apples, oranges and brass buttons.

I have been disappointed by Stephen King several times. He is prolific which means his work ranges in quality and can be good and bad. In terms of continuing to produce a varied and enduring cadre of work he must rank very highly. He is a great craftsman in his chosen career.

Others that come to mind and have earned my regard include:
Henry James The Turn of the Screw is a wonderful piece of psychological terror
Walter Macken
William Peter Blatty The movie of The Exorcist provided one sudden fright and one moment of disgust, but Blatty's novel scared the bejaysus out of me.
Bram Stoker and Mary Shelly must, of course, be included.
Algernon Blackwood

I still have to sample many authors and hence the exclusion of one of your favourites in this post could be due to my not having reached that author's work, having not managed to remember the author's work, or I thought their work was not worth mentioning. ;-)

This thread has forced me to realise how many decades I have spent intending to read authors whose work I have not yet managed to read.

ETA: How could I have forgotten to add Poe.

30pgmcc
Oct 11, 2015, 8:40am Top

>28 tjm568: I am very fond of Dan Simmons's work. Carrion Comfort is on my shelves but I have not managed to read it yet.

31ollonois
Oct 21, 2015, 7:54am Top

My favourite Stephen King, the best T.E.D. Klein, in terms of style T.E.D. Klein is superior to King

About

This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.

Touchstones

Works

Authors

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 136,327,331 books! | Top bar: Always visible