Horror Novels That Deserve Adaptations feat
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15 Horror Novels That Deserve Adaptations

There are so many horror-inspired shows airing now - what’s the harm in adding a few more to the mix?
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Stranger Things and Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin are pretty much all I’m seeing on my TikTok feed right now, so, of course, I fell down a horror rabbit hole. Usually, I don’t like horror and thrillers – I’m much more likely to watch crime shows instead. That said, I’ve found some horror novels that I would definitely watch if they were ever adapted into a show or movie. And while they probably wouldn’t top Stranger Things – because what really could? – I think these might novels come pretty close. So, without further ado, here are the 15 novels I would love to see adapted for the screen.

‘The Diviners’ by Libba Bray

The Diviners series covers by Libba Bray
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

This whole series has been long overdue for an adaptation, and that’s precisely why it’s first up on this list. The Diviners is the start of the four-book series where each book is more compelling than the last.

Set in 1920s New York, The Diviners follows Evie as she uses her dangerous powers to hunt down supernatural threats. The rest of the series follows Evie’s journey to fight dark creatures while being thrust into Diviner life.

‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ by Seth C. Adams

Are You Afraid of the Dark by Seth C. Adams
One More Chapter

While it has the same name, Seth C. Adams’s book Are You Afraid of the Dark? has absolutely nothing to do with the Nickelodeon show. While that one can be a bit scary at times, this novel will keep you up at night – or at least need to have a flashlight nearby.

In Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Reggie helps a random man in the forest shortly after his dad dies. But when the stranger turns out to be a killer, he has to decide whether his friendship is strong enough or if he’s going to turn in the murderer.

‘Frightmares’ by Eva V. Gibson

Frightmares by Eva V. Gibson

I’m so glad my summer jobs in high school and college didn’t turn out like Dave’s. If you like R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series or There’s Someone Inside Your House, then this book is sure to keep you interested.

Frightmares follows Dave as his summer acting job goes south, and he finds himself fighting for his life. One night, Dave is at work and finds a dead body – only for it to go missing when he gets help.

‘The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion’ by Margaret Killjoy

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, The Barrow Will Send What It May by Margaret Killjoy

I genuinely don’t know how to explain the Danielle Cain series other than it will keep you on the edge of your seat. And that’s why I need to see it adapted into a TV series that follows Danielle’s every move against demons and evil spirits.

In the first book, The Lion Will Slaughter the Lamb, Danielle just wanted to investigate her best friend’s death. But Freedom, Iowa, isn’t what it appears to be. The residents summoned a protective spirit, but it’s hungry for blood now.

See related: 8 Haunting Books Based on Real Ghost Stories

‘Cherish Farrah’ by Bethany C. Morrow

Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morror

I went into this book blind – I honestly thought it was a summer beach read. I was wrong. What begins as an “innocent” manipulation tactic quickly turns into something sinister.

Farrah and Cherish are best friends, but while Farrah’s parents are wealthy, Cherish’s adoptive parents are filthy rich. To get what she wants, Farrah weasels her way into Cherish’s parents’ good graces, but it comes at a cost for all involved.

‘To Break a Covenant’ by Alison Ames

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames
Page Street Kids

I don’t know why I picked this up; I think it was the description that called it “perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Sawkill Girls.” And since I enjoyed both well enough, I guess I thought, “What’s the harm?”

Before the mine explosion, Moon Basin was well-known for its mining operation. Now, it’s better known for the blast and the ghosts that haunt the underground. When strange things start happening around town, it’s up to four teens to figure out what’s going on.

‘Small Town Monsters’ by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Small Town Monsters by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Looking at the cover, I honestly thought I was about to open a graphic novel. Although I was wrong, the writing in this book was so evocative that I felt like I was watching a movie while reading it.

Small Town Monsters dives deep into cults, sacrifices, and other sinister events in a small town. Vera’s parents are demonologists who deal with the occult; Maxwell is trying to grieve his father’s death when he realizes his mom isn’t who he remembers.

‘The Girls Are Never Gone’ by Sarah Glenn Marsh

The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh

I’ll be honest, I didn’t mean to read this book. I confused it with another title that had a similar cover, but I couldn’t be happier I stumbled across The Girls Are Never Gone. I find myself thinking about it constantly.

In The Girls Are Never Gone, Dare Chase comes face to face with her ghostly skepticism. Her podcast, Attachments, takes Dare to a real haunted house, but she’s determined to debunk the stories. But what she really finds is much scarier than admitting your fear.

‘All These Bodies’ by Kendare Blake

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake
Quill Tree Books

I’ve been a fan of Kendare Blake since Three Dark Crowns. And though that series had elements of horror, this one went a step (or three) further into the darkness. This story takes place in the late 1950s, and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

Last summer, the Midwest had sixteen dead bodies pop up with absolutely no blood in them or around them. Now it’s September, and Marie Hale is the only living (and unharmed) person at the latest murder scene. What follows is her story of what happened that fateful night.

‘The Buried’ by Melissa Gray

The Buried by Melissa Gray

I know people usually say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but this cover is so haunting that I couldn’t help picking it up. And the story on the inside was just what you’d expect. It could put The Haunting of Hill House (the show, not the book) to shame!

In The Buried, the Indigo Falls residents all live in an underground bunker with four strict rules. The first three are easy enough, but the fourth that nobody can ever forget is “never go outside.” It will genuinely make you feel like you’re also stuck in that bunker.

See related: Ranking the Most Iconic Final Girls in Horror History

‘The Initial Insult’ by Mindy McGinnis

The Initial Insult, The Last Laugh by Mindy McGinnis
Katherine Tegen Books

Much like with One of Us Is Lying, I couldn’t read this series fast enough. Currently, there are two books, but I’d love more from McGinnis if they’re this compelling. The Initial Insult is the first in McGinnis’s duology set in small-town Amontillado, Ohio.

In The Initial Insult, Tress is shunned because of her family’s disappearance, while Felicity has everything you could ever want in a small town. But when Tress finally confronts Felicity, things turn a little deadly.

‘Contagion’ by Erin Bowman

Contagion, Immunity by Erin Bowman

Zombies in space! That’s all you really need to know about this series. I genuinely had no idea what this book was going to be about, but even if I had, I would’ve been interested. I had never heard of the concept before, so I’m guessing you hadn’t.

An SOS call is sent out, and the closest crew goes to check it out. But they’re too late. The entire site is deserted – or it seems that way until they come across the dead bodies. And what left the bodies is coming after the crew now.

‘The Girl from the Well’ by Rin Chupeco

The Girl from The Well, The Suffering by Rin Chupeco
Sourcebooks Fire

Of the two books in Rin Chupeco’s horror duology, The Girl from the Well is my favorite. That’s not to say The Suffering is bad by any means; I just found The Girl from the Well more suited to my Supernatural obsession.

In this novel, a boy meets a dead girl, and they’re whisked away on a horror adventure. The dead girl kills murderers (like the one that killed her), while the boy has secrets that could kill. It had me up all night after I finished it.

‘Ten’ by Gretchen McNeil

Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Balzer + Bray

I think I was drawn to this book because of my love for Oxenfree. While there are some similar themes, though, the plots are nearly entirely different. And maybe it’s worse since you’re only reading it – you can’t change anything like in the game.

A retelling of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None but with teenagers, Ten sees ten teenagers head off on a day-two party trip on a deserted island. And things are going great until someone starts picking them off one by one, and they all turn on each other.

‘Clown in a Cornfield’ by Adam Cesare

Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

Since I’m really into Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, right now, as well as several other teen horrors and thriller shows, it’s no surprise I fell in love with Clown in a Cornfield. It has the same kinds of twists and turns that made Pretty Little Liars so popular in the first place.

Kettle Springs used to be a boring, average small town. Until a clown starts killing the teenagers at the local high school – and new girl Quinn Maybrook might be in their crossfire. It’s a novel that will keep you on your toes.

And the second book is coming out on August 23 this year. Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives picks up a year after the first novel and follows the same characters dealing with the fallout. Fame is one thing, but another killer clown isn’t something they were prepared for.