Five of the Most Disturbing Horror Books Ever

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Horror always strives to be scary, but a subset of the horror genre tries to really get under your skin. In this video, we look at five of the most disturbing horror novels ever written.

Sources for the books:

Header (Edward Lee):
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver):
The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum):
Survivor (J. F. Gonzalez):
Shackled (Ray Garton):


Intro music written by Chris Hoole. Used with permission (commissioned 2020 for this channel).

End screen music is “Drake Spectre” written and performed by Keith Lewis. Used with permission.

Phobophile title font is Nosferotica, designed in 2006 by Chad Savage. Used under open license.


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Heavy Mental says:

Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door is basically a regurg of sad, unfortunate Sylvia Likens’ ordeal. Ketchum really just added conversation to the story already there. BTW, if a close family member has been a victim, this type of literary detritus becomes less fascinating. This crap happens in real life, and it’s devastating to all.

Lauren Mansfield says:

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk is hands down one of the most physically repulsive and disturbing book I’ve read so far.
Lord of the flies by William Golding is the most physiologically disturbing book I’ve read solely because of it’s plausibility and it’s accurate social commentary.

EmptyWalletSyndrome says:

The Wasp Factory by Ian Banks stuck with me.

Judy T. says:

Dr. Sleep The Shining. The Gunslinger Series♥️

giovanni ranzo says:

The one that seems more intresting is the girl next door, but ill never read it. When a child is harmed i just cant

Jennifer Saunders says:

Stephen King's The Outsider

Kathi Murray says:

The book version of "Audition" was really good….

Kathi Murray says:

Apparently "Header" was made into a movie..😮😯😮😳

Gerald Balzano says:

Not sure there's a "fine line" between "disgusting" and "disturbing". S. King admits that "going for the gross-out" is the lowest form of horror. If a book mainly "disturbs" me by grossing me out, I'm generally not impressed.

neuromantoo says:

"The Exorcist" by William Peter Blatty , "The Night Shift" short stories by Stephen King,"Blood Meridian" Cormac Mccarthy"

Jane List says:

One word…..Cows.

Gina Shores says:

It's not horror, but The Painted Bird horrified me and stuck with me. It made me profoundly uncomfortable and sick to my stomach.

Toria Mansfield says:

The most disturbing short story has to be "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson.

Juan Valencia says:

Wonderful video! I loved your explanation for each book and the variety of the recommendations. I made a similar video and we only have The Girl Next Door in common, and as you said, I think pretty much everybody does (deservedly so).
I agree entirely with your sentiment that horror should not be the exclusive place we go to in order to find disturbing literature. JG Ballard, Samuel R. Delany, etc. explore much more sci-fi and dramatic genres, yet their literature is some of the most unsettling and cruel.

Meabh De Cleir says:

Cannot believe you didn't add in American Psycho …. THEEEEEEE most mind bending wierd violent and WELL WRITTEN book I ve ever read! It's a work of genius

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