The Omen by David Seltzer (1976)
Seltzer got this novella of the Oscar-winning demonic film into bookstores two weeks before its theatrical release (he also wrote the screenplay), and the story is just as chilling in print as it is on screen. Evil forces are at play when a father secretly swaps his own baby, who died in childbirth, for an orphan. His wife, none the wiser, is raising the boy as her own. Devilish dogs and a murderous nanny protect the child from nosy photographers, godly priests and his own fearful parents on his quest to conquer the world (as realized in a plethora of sequels).
The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
The undisputed father of scary stories told in the dark, Poe is also the inventor of the detective mystery and inspired shrewd writers like Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. These collected stories include “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (solved by the genius Dupin), along with other spine-chilling moments such as “The Fall of the House of Usher,” in which an eerie Gothic mansion hides a family’s excursion into madness, and ” The Mask of the Red Death, where plague survivors discover there is no safe place to hide from the Grim Reaper.
I will be gone in the dark by Michelle McNamara (2018)
This bestseller is a fascinating insight into the impact of violence, especially in women’s lives. McNamara details a series of unsolved rapes and murders that took place in California in the 1970s and 1980s as he works obsessively to uncover clues to the deadly predator’s true identity through interviews and historical research. A highly suspenseful story that makes a great companion to the HBO documentary series of the same name, which follows the final capture of the Golden State Killer (as he was known), a resolution tragically met by McNamara, who died in 2016. I won’t experience it.
Sadicism Triumphatus: Or, a complete and simple proof concerning witches and apparitions by Joseph Glanville (1681)
Glanvill, chaplain to King Charles II, died in 1680, but his stories continue to form the basis of horror on screen today. In this terrifying collection of local lore, he tells of a dark world filled with devils, wizards and evil witches. Paranormal investigations revealed drumming poltergeists, a ghost woman exposing her killers, and ghosts tugging at bed sheets in the dark of night. And it includes a pro tip from the past: Glanville shares the recipe for an enchanted witch’s flask (made from household ingredients) to prevent visits from naughty apparitions.