You have been warned: These novels are bound to make you check over your shoulder in the middle of the day.
“The Haunting Hill House” by Shirley Jackson
Hailed as the greatest haunted house story ever written, it was the first story that involved attractive men and women spending time in a house, having sex and getting killed one by one. Jackson understood that there was a fine line between fear and hilarity, so she had her characters crack jokes to ease their anxiety. Here is the opening: “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.”
“The Shining” by Stephen King
The king of horror writing, this one is very different from the film. The Overlook isn’t just a house, but is a place more thoroughly haunted than any other house you can compare to. No one who has read the shining can forget the images it paints in their imaginations. The two girls at the end of the hallway, the elevator, the blood smeared walls, the woman in the bathtub. Stephen King is behind many nightmares.
“The House of Leaves” by Mark Danielewski
The haunted house genre works best when the haunted house is the scariest character. The Navidson family returns from a trip, but immediately notices something is just not right with their home. Doors have suddenly appeared, secret passageways have been put inside by someone, and staircases lead nowhere.
“The Shining Girls” by Lauren Beukes
Harper Curtis is a serial killer not bound by time. He can move through the present past and future, planting memories in his victims and killing them gruesomely in the future. And the mechanism for his time travel is a house. A house that urges Harper to kill, and give in to his bloodlust.