FORGOTTEN BOOKS #278: HORROR: 100 BEST BOOKS Edited by Stephen Jones & Kim Newman

horror 100 best books
Horror: 100 Best Books was published in 1988. The attraction of the book for me is the commentary on the choices by writers like Stephen King, Dan Simmons, Harlan Ellison, Suzy McKee Charnas, Joe R. Lansdale, and dozens of other authors you’ll instantly recognize. Just check out the Table of Contents below for both the 100 selections but also the writers commenting on the selection. It doesn’t get much better than this. There was a sequel to Horror: 100 Best Books but friends tell me it is far inferior to the original. How many of these horror books have you read?
Foreword By Ramsey Campbell
Introduction by Stephen Jones & Kim Newman
1. Clive Barker on Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe (c. 1604)
2. John Blackburn on The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare (1606)
3. Diana Wynne Jones on The White Devil, by John Webster (1612)
4. Scott Bradfield on Caleb Williams, by William Godwin (1794)
5. Les Daniels on The Monk, by Matthew Gregory Lewis (1796)
6. John Sladek on The Best Tales of Hoffman (1814-1816)
7. David Pirie on Northhanger Abbey, by Jane Austen (1817)
8. John Yolen on Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1818)
9. Peter Tremayne on Melmoth the Wanderer, by Charles Maturin (1820)
10. Garry Kilworht on The Confessions of a Justified Sinner, by James Hogg (1824)
11. John M. Ford on Tales of Mysery and Imagination, by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)
12. Edgar Allan Poe on Twice-Told Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1838)
13. Thomas Tessier on The Black Spider, by Jeremias Gotthelf (1842)
14. Thomas M. Disch on The Wandering Jew, by Eugene Sue (1844-1845)
15. Michael McDowell on The Confidence Man, by Herman Melville (1857)
16. M. R. James on Uncle Silas, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1864)
17. Jack Williamson on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
18. Tim Stout on She, by H. Rider Haggard (1887)
19. H. P. Lovecraft on The King in Yellow, by Robert W. Chambers (1895)
20. Gene Wolfe on The Island of Doctor Mareau, by H. G. Wells (1896)
21. Colin Wilson on Dracula, by Bram Stoker (1897)
22. R. Chetwynd-Hayes on The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James (1898)
23. Douglas E. Winter on Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad (1902)
24. Richard Dalby on Jewel of the Seven Stars, by Bram Stoker (1903)
25. Geoff Ryman on Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, by M. R. James (1904)
26. T. E. D. Klein on The House of Souls, by Arthur Machen (1906)
27. Hilaire Belloc on John Silence, by Algernon Blackwood (1908)
28. David Langford on The Man Who Was Thursday, by G. K. Chesterton (1908)
29. Terry Pratchett on The House on the Borderland, by William Hope Hodgson (1908)
30. Milton Subotsky on The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1909)
31. Mike Ashley on Widdershins, by Oliver Onions (1911)
32. Basil Copper on The Horror Horn, by E. F. Benson (1912-1934)
33. George Hay on A Voyage to Arcturus, by David Lindsay (1920)
34. Steve Rasnic Tem on The Trial, by Franz Kafka (1925)
35. Robert E. Howard on Something About Eve, by James Branch Cabell (1929)
36. Karl Edward Wagner on Medusa, by E. H. Visiak (1929)
37. Marvin Kaye on The Werewolf of Paris, by Guy Endore (1933)
38. Jessica Amanda Salmonson on The Last Bouquet, by Marjorie Bowen (1933)
39. Robert Bloch on The Cadaver of Gideon Wyck, by Alexander Laing (1934)
40. Hugh Lamb on A Second Century of Creepy Stories, ed. Hugh Walpole (1937)
41. Lionel Fanthorpe on The Dark Tower, by C. S. Lewis (1938)
42. Denis Etchison on Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo (1939)
43. Donlad A. Wollheim on The Outsider and Others, by H. P. Lovecraft (1939)
44. Harlan Ellison on Out of Space and Time, by Clark Aston Smith (1942)
45. Gerald W. Page on Conjure Wife, by Fritz Leiber (1943)
46. Maxim Jakubowski on Night Has a Thousand Eyes, by Cornell Woolrich (1945)
47. Graham Masterton on The Lurker at the Threshold, by H. P. Lovecraft (1945)
48. Forrest J. Ackerman on Deliver Me from Eva, by Paul Bailey (1946)
49. David G. Hartwell on And Darkness Falls, edited by Boris Karloff (1946)
50. Peter Haining on The Sleeping and the Dead, edited by August Derleth (1947)
51. Robert R. McCammon on Track of the Cat, by Walter van Tilburg Clark (1949)
52. Suzy McKee Charnas on The Sound of His Horn, by Sarban (1952)
53. Joe Haldeman on Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (1954)
54. Richard Christian Matheson on I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (1954)
55. Joe R. Landsdale on The October Country, by Ray Bradbury
56. Stephen Gallagher on Nine Horrors and a Dream, by Joseph Payne Brennan (1958)
57. Hugh B. Cave on Psycho, by Robert Bloch (1959)
58. Stephen Laws on Quatermass and the Pit, by Nigel Kneale (1959)
59. Michel Parry on Cry Horror!, by H. P. Lovecraft (1959)
60. Lisa Tuttle on The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson (1959)
61. Tad Williams on The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, by Philip K. Dick (1964)
62. Jack Dann on The Painted Bird, by Jerzy Kosinski (1965)
63. Craig Shaw Garner on The Crystal World, by J. G. Ballard (1966)
64. Colin Greenland on Sub Rosa, Robert Aickman (1968)
65. Brian Aldiss on The Green Man, by Kingsley Amis (1969)
66. Neil Gaiman on The Complete Werewolf, by Anthony Boucher (1969)
67. Dan Simmons on Grendel, by John Gardner (1971)
68. F. Paul Wilson on The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty (1971)
69. John Skipp on The Sheep Look Up, by John Brunner (1972)
70. Frances Garfield on Worse Things Waiting, Manly Wade Wellman (1973)
71. Stephen King on Burnt Offerings, by Robert Marasco (1973)
72. Al Sarrantonio on ‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King (1975)
73. Craig Spector on Deathbird Stories, by Harlan Ellison (1975)
74. Brian Lumley on Murgunstrumm and Others, by Hugh B. Cave (1977)
75. Charles L. Grant on Sweetheart, Sweetheart, by Bernard Taylor (1977)
76. David J. Schow on All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By, by John Farris 91977)
77. Peter Straub on The Shining, by Stephen King (1977)
78. William F. Nolan on Falling Angel, by William Hjortsberg (1978)
79. Charles de Lint on The Wolfen, by Whitley Strieber (1978)
80. Shaun Hutson on The Totem, by David Morrell (1979)
81. Peter Nicholls on Ghost Story, by Peter Straub (1979)
82. Christopher Evans on The Land of Laughs, by Johnathan Carroll (1980)
83. David S. Garnett on The Cellar, by Richard Laymon (1980)
84. Chet Williamson on Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris (1981)
85. J. N. Williamson on The Keep, by F. Paul Wilson (1981)
86. Samantha Lee on The Dark Country, by Dennis Etchison (1982)
87. Ramsey Campbell on In a Lonely Place, by Karl Edward Wagner (1983)
88. John Clute on The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers (1983)
89. Brian Stableford on The Arabian Nightmare, Robert Irwin (1983)
90. Malcolm Edwards on The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks (1984)
91. Thomas F. Monteleone on The Ceremonies, by T. E. D. Klein (1984)
92. Michael Moorcock on Mythago Wood, by Robert Holdstock (1984)
93. Ian Watson on Who Made Stevie Crye?, by Michael Bishop (1984)
94. Edward Bryant on Song of Kali, by Dan Simmons (1985)
95. Adrian Cole on The Damnation Game, by Clive Barker (1985)
96. R. S. Hadji on Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd (1985)
97. Robert Holdstock on A Nest of Nightmares, by Lisa Tuttle (1986)
98. Guy N. Smith on The Pet, by Charles L. Grant (1986)
99. Eddy c. Bertin on Swan Song, by Robert McCammon (1987)
100. Jack Sullivan on Dark Forces, by Ramsey Campbell (1987)
Notes on Contributors
List of Recommended Reading

29 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #278: HORROR: 100 BEST BOOKS Edited by Stephen Jones & Kim Newman

    1. george Post author

      Sergio, I like the choices in this volume as well as the wonderful commentators. And copies are available online for a pittance.

  1. Prashant C. Trikannad

    George, the cover is enough to make me want to go straight to the contents page and scan the choices. Thanks for reproducing it. I read horror occasionally; in fact, I just finished reading Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror.” But there is just so much in the genre that I haven’t read. This list seems like a good place to start.

    1. george Post author

      Prashant, you’re right about HORROR: 100 BEST BOOKS is a great place to start your reading plan for this genre. You’ll really enjoy the knowledgeable essays, too.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    Really good list from a historical point of view. I think I’ve read 35.

    Years ago we visited Guy N. Smith at his home near the border of Wales. He was selling books – his and others – out of the house and showed me his newly purchased gun. (Can’t remember what it was exactly but it was 19th Century.) His wife told us her travails dealing with Smith’s senile mother (she believed they were on a cruise ship and was always demanding to see the captain.)

    Of course he is the author of some of Bill Crider’s favorite books like the series that started with NIGHT OF THE CRABS and – especially – the immortal THE SUCKING PIT.

    Gotta check this out.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I had plenty of Guy N. Smith’s horror novels. Now they reside at SUNY at Buffalo. NIGHT OF THE CRABS and THE SUCKING PIT are classics!

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    OK, I take back that last sentence.

    I checked and I did read this. In my defense it was in 1992 and those brain cells have had a lot of work since then.


  4. Art Scott

    Surprised to learn that Dr Faustus was written during the Truman Administration (It’s that curved keyboard you use, George, it warps time).

  5. Jeff Meyerson

    I remember buying a Four Square paperback of CALEB WILLIAMS in England that touted the book as the first “real” mystery.

    I never read it so can’t say if it belongs in the mystery or horror genre.

  6. Art Scott

    On a non-typographical note, I was a bit surprised that a collection of the stories of “Saki” isn’t among those listed. I haven’t read much in the horror genre, but I recall that his stories, like “Sredni Vashtar” and “The Open Window”, were staples of horror/macabre short story anthologies.

    1. george Post author

      Art, I’m with you on Saki. But not only does Saki not appear in this HORROR: 100 BEST BOOKS collection, Saki doesn’t appear in the sequel: HORROR: ANOTHER 100 BEST BOOKS which came out in 2005.

      1. george Post author

        Todd, like you and Art I’m a fan of Saki’s work. There was definitely a thread of horror in his works.

  7. Beth Fedyn

    I never thought of The Painted Bird as horror but it certainly qualifies.

    I haven’t read much in this genre but some of these commentaries could tip the scales. Thanks for discovering this one, George.

    1. george Post author

      Beth, I’m going to order about a dozen of the books recommended in HORROR: 100 BEST BOOKS. The commentaries really motivate buying!

  8. Jerry House

    A great choice, George! I go back to this volume every once in a while to remind me how little I’ve read. (I’m up to 52 now and hope to complete the list before I am shot and killed at age 104 by a jealous husband,) There are several odd choices here but as far as I can tell every book is a winner.

  9. Richard R.

    I wouldn’t classify over half, maybe two-thirds, of the books listed as “horror” These anthologies that try to cover the ages are usually failures in my opinion. They’d have been better off just focusing on the 20th century, at least.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, the bulk of the 100 titles are from the 20th Century. I’m tempted to include the sequel, HORROR: ANOTHER 100 BEST BOOKS, as a future FFB.

  10. John

    If it weren’t for this book I would never have discovered DELIVER ME FROM EVA. Truly an obscure book but one I’m so glad I found and read. Loopy and fun and definitely horrific (in more ways than one)! While I disagree with about 50% of the content of the book (some I don’t consider horror at all and some aren’t even books, they’re plays!) it’s always interesting to read why a certain work is considered to be definitive or a “must read’, especially when an established and respected writer is doing the explaining. I’ve now read 38 of the titles mentioned in this book. I’ve read many of the short stories in other books but not the actual collection listed here as in SUB ROSA and WORSE THINGS WAITING. Also, I’ve seen some movie versions, but still not read the book (THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, PSYCHO, BURNT OFFERINGS, THE EXORCIST among others).

      1. Todd Mason

        I was puzzled that Bloch should choose that particular book…but it did mean he didn’t have to slight any of his (relatively few) peers…

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