Capes and Tights is headquartered in an area (Bangor, Maine) known globally for a few things one being the home of Paul Bunyan and the other being the home of Stephen King. While the former is immortalized by a large statue on Maine Street, the latter is a larger than life figure continues to writer stellar novels to this day.
While King now spends most of his time away from his 47 West Broadway home, he still is consider by most our neighbor. When we were discussing horror novels during Horror Week at Capes and Tights, we felt it only fitting to countdown our favorite horror novels by the New York Times bestselling author and our spiritual neighbor, Stephen King.
King is the author over over 60 novels and many more short stories, so nailing down 15 horror novels wasn’t easy, but here they are.
Located off a desolate stretch of Interstate 50, Desperation, Nevada has few connections with the rest of the world. It is a place, though, where the seams between worlds are thin. Miners at the China Pit have accidentally broken into another dimension and released a horrific creature known as Tak, who takes human form by hijacking some of the town’s residents. The forces of good orchestrate a confrontation between this ancient evil and a group of unsuspecting travelers who are lured to the dying town. This rag-tag band of unwilling champions is led by a young boy who speaks to God.
Find Desperation on Amazon.
A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.
In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs—including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.
Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of 13, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.
This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe.
Find Revival on Amazon.
13. Bag of Bones
Several years after his wife’s death, novelist Mike Noonan still suffers writer’s block. A dream inspires him to return to the couple’s summer retreat in western Maine, a lakeside house called Sara Laughs. Shortly after arriving, Noonan is caught in the middle of a custody battle involving the daughter of an attractive young widow and the child’s enormously wealthy grandfather. He also discovers that Sara Laughs is haunted and that his late wife, Joanna, still has something to tell him.
Find Bag of Bones on Amazon.
12. The Outsider
An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.
As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.
Find The Outsider on Amazon.
The Cambers’ once-friendly St. Bernard turns into a killer after being bitten by a rabid bat. Donna Trenton’s husband is in New York trying to contain a disastrous ad campaign. Feeling abandoned by her workaholic husband, who is frequently out of town, Donna Trenton embarks on an affair with a local handyman. Left to fend for herself, she takes her ailing Pinto to Joe Cambers’ garage for repairs only to be trapped with her son Tad in the sweltering car by the monstrous dog.
Find Cujo on Amazon.
10. Gerald’s Game
Gerald and Jessie Burlingame have gone to their summer home on a warm weekday in October for a romantic interlude. After being handcuffed to her bedposts, Jessie tires of her husband’s games, but when Gerald refuses to stop she lashes out at him with deadly consequences. Still handcuffed, she is trapped and alone. Painful memories from her childhood bedevil her. Her only company is a hungry stray dog and the sundry voices that populate her mind. As night comes, she is unsure whether it is her imagination or if she has another companion: someone watching her from the corner of her dark bedroom.
Find Gerald’s Game on Amazon.
Artist Clayton Riddell had been in Boston negotiating a successful deal to sell his comic book project. His joy at finally hitting it big is shattered by an event called The Pulse which causes all those who were using their cell phones at the time of The Pulse to become zombies attacking and killing anyone in their way. Fortunately for Clay, he does not own a cell phone. In the panic to get out of Boston and find his way home to his wife and son in Maine, he is joined by Tom McCourt, a man he meets in the meleé immediately following The Pulse and a young girl, Alice, who they rescue from being killed by one of the “crazies.” The story follows their terrifying journey, avoiding capture—and worse—by the “crazies” who are beginning to “flock” and are led by one they call Raggedy Man as they attempt to reach Maine and a place called Kashwak which they hope will be their salvation.
Find Cell on Amazon.
8. Pet Sematary
The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed’s rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.
Find Pet Sematary on Amazon.
7. The Shining
Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, and their young son Danny move into the Overlook Hotel, where Jack has been hired as the winter caretaker. Cut off from civilization for months, Jack hopes to battle alcoholism and uncontrolled rage while writing a play. Evil forces residing in the Overlook – which has a long and violent history – covet young Danny for his precognitive powers and exploit Jack’s weaknesses to try to claim the boy.
Find The Shining on Amazon.
6. The Dark Half
For years, Thad Beaumont has been writing books under the pseudonym George Stark. When a journalist threatens to expose Beaumont’s pen name, the author decides to go public first, killing off his pseudonym. Stark isn’t content to be dispatched that easily, though. Beaumont’s alter ego comes to life and begins to stalk those responsible for his demise. The police suspect Beaumont is responsible for these violent crimes.
Find The Dark Half on Amazon.
The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peers at school, her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom.
Find Carrie on Amazon.
A promise made twenty-eight years ago calls seven adults to reunite in Derry, Maine, where as teenagers they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Unsure that their Losers Club had vanquished the creature all those years ago, the seven had vowed to return to Derry if IT should ever reappear. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that summer return as they prepare to do battle with the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers once more.
Find It on Amazon.
3. The Stand
One man escapes from a biological weapon facility after an accident, carrying with him the deadly virus known as Captain Tripps, a rapidly mutating flu that – in the ensuing weeks – wipes out most of the world’s population. In the aftermath, survivors choose between following an elderly black woman to Boulder or the dark man, Randall Flagg, who has set up his command post in Las Vegas. The two factions prepare for a confrontation between the forces of good and evil.
Find The Stand on Amazon.
Bestselling novelist Paul Sheldon thinks he’s finally free of Misery Chastain. In a controversial career move, he’s just killed off the popular protagonist of his beloved romance series in favor of expanding his creative horizons. But such a change doesn’t come without consequences. After a near-fatal car accident in rural Colorado leaves his body broken, Paul finds himself at the mercy of the terrifying rescuer who’s nursing him back to health—his self-proclaimed number one fan, Annie Wilkes. Annie is very upset over what Paul did to Misery and demands that he find a way to bring her back by writing a new novel—his best yet, and one that’s all for her. After all, Paul has all the time in the world to do so as a prisoner in her isolated house…and Annie has some very persuasive and violent methods to get exactly what she wants…
Find Misery on Amazon.
1. ‘Salem’s Lot
Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem’s Lot in hopes that exploring the history of the Marsten House, an old mansion long the subject of rumor and speculation, will help him cast out his personal devils and provide inspiration for his new book.
But when two young boys venture into the woods, and only one returns alive, Mears begins to realize that something sinister is at work.
In fact, his hometown is under siege from forces of darkness far beyond his imagination. And only he, with a small group of allies, can hope to contain the evil that is growing within the borders of this small New England town.
With this, his second novel, Stephen King established himself as an indisputable master of American horror, able to transform the old conceits of the genre into something fresh and all the more frightening for taking place in a familiar, idyllic locale.
Find ‘Salem’s Lot on Amazon.