I am reposting my "10 Essential Horror Books (by a non-horror reader)" post for this prompt! My knowledge of horror fiction is quite limited, and what little horror I read, I read in September & October.
I do not read horror because I am a chicken, so while all of these books are "horror," they are not gory horror, or really, even, that scary. Most of them are more in the vein of "psychological horror," which might mean "horror for wusses," I don't know. Anyway, here we go:
1. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I read this book almost every October at some time during Halloween bingo, that's how much I love it. Bradbury's language is so evocatively gorgeous that I can almost taste it.
2. & 3. are both by Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House. There's just something about Shirley, you guys. She, like Hill House, is just a bit off - the floors slant and the doors don't close quite right, and she gets right to the heart of the stuff that scares the shit out of me.
4. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters: is it a ghost story or isn't it a ghost story? Is the house haunted or isn't the house haunted? Is the narrator reliable or isn't the narrator reliable. Who the hell knows?
5. Uncle Silas by Sheridan LeFanu: as I said in my review, this book is a heaping platterful of Victorian whatthefuckery. It's awesome.
6. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: what, you say, that's not horror? The fuck it isn't people. A dystopia built around legalized rape and coerced gestation? It's either horror or it's America.
7. Dracula by Bram Stoker: trite, I know. But this book is amazing, and should always be experienced by listening to the full cast audiobook. It will change your perception completely.
8. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews: I read this book when I was an impressionable adolescent and am still creeped out by it. Totally fucked up.
9. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey: "Snap to, Will Henry." This is YA horror, and is gross, terrifying and enthralling. Seriously, I love this book. The rest of the series is pretty good, too, but this book stands alone in awesomeness.
10. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: I know that people think that this book is a romance, but (like in the case of Wuthering Heights) they are WRONG. This book is horror. It's a gorgeously written, utterly engrossing, tale of a woman who is gaslighted by household staff after accidentally marrying a rich man - with a great house - who murdered his wife. I could also put this under the category of suspense, and maybe I will.
I know, this list of essential horror is sadly lacking in *real* horror authors, like Stephen King. But he's way too scary for me!