If You Like ’The Exorcist,’ You’ll Love These 8 Horror Books

January 11, 2024

Do y’all think those who made The Exorcist back in 1973 knew how iconic the porridge with green food coloring would become? Yeah, me neither. But here we are 50 years later!

That’s right. The Exorcist celebrated its half-century birthday on December 26, 2023 and the bone-chilling classic continues to hold its own in the horror genre. Not only did it break box office records, it shattered all expectations by earning 10 Academy Award nominations and winning 4 Golden Globes. Decades later, it continues to be a touchstone for Horror-genre lovers around the world.

While The Exorcist first came to our attention as a 300+ page novel, it was the film’s impact that truly influenced generations of writers to eagerly try and capture the same bone-chilling fear on the page. That’s why I’ve pulled together a shortlist of 8 novels you can pick up right now if you’re still not done with spooky season.

Bonus selling point? This book contains some uber talented writers of color proving we have been in this genre and will be until the sun explodes.

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The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper (2013)

The Demonologist follows Professor David Ullman, an expert in John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost,’ who is drawn into a supernatural journey after his daughter is abducted during a research trip to Venice. As he battles demonic forces and confronts his own beliefs, the novel weaves a gripping tale of horror, theology, and the power of the written word.

Out There Screaming anthology edited by Jordan Peele (2023)

Out There Screaming is an anthology curated by the Black king of Horror, Jordan Peele. The book features a collection of short stories that delve into the realms of horror, speculative fiction, and a chilling exploration of the unknown. You’ll recognize some of the juggernaut names like N.K. Jemisin and will be delighted to experience other wildly talented voices such as Rebecca Roanhorse.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (2015)

The Barrett family are at the center of this novel and their lives are upended when their teenage daughter, Marjorie, begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. Told from multiple perspectives, the novel blends psychological horror with a commentary on the media’s influence as it explores the fine line between possession and mental illness. A Head Full of Ghosts has been compared to Stephen King’s The Shining and—wait for it—William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist.

White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (2009)

‘Ties that bind’ get taken to a new level in White Is for Witching, a haunting narrative focusing on the Silver family and their home that literally turns evil against outsiders. The novel is a meditation on race, nationality, and family legacies and blends psychological horror with elements of Gothic fiction. White Is for Witching won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award, a British literary prize that aims to enable young writers to enrich their work by gaining experience in foreign countries.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman (2014)

Try to set aside all of the memes you know from the Netflix movie and pick up Malerman’s Bird Box. As a refresher, this story set in a post-apocalyptic world where people are driven absolutely mad upon seeing a mysterious creature. Malorie carries much of the story as a mother navigating this new world with her two children to reach a rumored safe haven. Oh, yeah. They’re totally blindfolded, too.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2020)

Noemí is a socialite who travels to a remote mansion to potentially rescue her cousin from a husband she’s convinced is trying to poison her. Set in the 1950s, Mexican Gothic has been praised for its sense of dread while interweaving gothic horror—shocker!— with the misery of familial secrets. The book also won 3 out of 8 nominations in 2021.

The Passage by Justin Cronin (2010)

Want to span time and genres in an epic novel? The Passage will scratch that itch for you. You want vampires? It’s got that, too. And a highly contagious virus? Child, pull up a chair! The Passage follows various characters as they navigate a post-apocalyptic world and dives into themes of survival, government conspiracies, and this silly little thing called humanity.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (2007)

For any music lovers, you’ve found your next favorite read. Heart-Shaped Box follows an old rock star, Judas, who purchases a haunted suit that brings funked up horrors into his life. With each page, readers get to see Judas get confronted with the past. Through this crazy suit, he’s forced to now deal with the consequences of his own actions. In addition to its title, the 4 sections within are all named after songs: “Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana, “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin, “Ride On” by AC/DC, “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails, and “Alive” by Pearl Jam.

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