Stephen King, as one of the most prolific horrors and mystery authors in the business, has a large enough body of work to keep thriller fans busy for a long time. Many who are serious fans of the genre have most likely dabbled in his work, and even those who aren’t fans of King can’t help but come across the characters who have become part of pop culture as a whole.
It’s like a Rorschach exam when it comes to ranking the best Stephen King books. What people reveal as their favourites reveals a lot of who they are—and what they are most afraid of. What scares or unsettles us serves as a path map of what we care for, trust, and enjoy. King’s tales have been a rite of passage for generations since four decades of publication. For many, they’re part of growing up and snooping through his pages as a child always felt like a brave and defiant act. The tales that were part of the coming-of-age era appear to be a little higher on the list.
Many who enjoy reading an author’s entire catalogue can find lots to tick off their list in King’s set. Take a trip into King’s amazing imagination if you’re looking for a new thriller to give you a decent scare. Here is a couple that we think are good places to start.
It is King’s most accomplished work to date. Although it is a controversial novel, it is also one of his most informative, articulate, and timeless works. It might be on par with The Shining and Misery in terms of cultural influence and horror tradition, but its universe-building narratives set it apart. This book could have ranked lower on this list if it weren’t for Pennywise the Dancing Clown’s own origin story. However, its flawless plot, along with King’s incredible ability to weave many coming-of-age tales into one larger tale, sets it apart from the rest.
2. The Shining
Most fans of The Shining choose Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 version of Stephen King’s 1977 novel, but the actual plot is vastly different from the one adapted for the big screen. It follows Jack, Wendy, and Danny Torrance as they head to the Overlook Hotel so that Jack can look after it during the winter. The hotel’s spirits taunt him into slipping back into old and problematic habits as he deals with drug abuse and a history of domestic violence. Although the movie portrays Jack as the hotel’s primary target, the Overlook was really after Danny because of his outstanding ability known as “the shining.” They go after his father when they are unable to possess him. The Shining is one of King’s most enthralling novels, and it has had a huge influence on mainstream culture in the years since its publication.
When Annie Wilkes kidnaps Paul Sheldon, he is compelled to follow her every command or face death. Misery depicts what happens when a fan goes too far with their admiration for a creator and their work, especially when they are unhappy with one of the artist’s products. It demonstrates a person’s bravery and determination in the face of their tormentor’s manipulation. Misery has a good sense of the human spirit, and King makes sure that everyone in the book gets just what they deserve. It’s one of his most upsetting stories, but it’s also one of the most significant since it raises a troubling problem that affects every creative industry.
4. The Dead Zone
Johnny Smith learns he is clairvoyant after waking up from a five-year coma. When a serial killer is on the loose in Castle Rock, Maine, The Dead Zone takes place. The police will be able to catch their murderer faster with Johnny by their side than they would have been able to if he hadn’t awoken in time. The Dead Zone is one of Stephen King’s best science fiction novels. In 1983, it was adapted into a film starring Christopher Walken with the same title.
5. The Stand (1990)
While the 1978 version of The Stand is excellent in its own self, the uncut version is much more accurate and grotesque than its precursor. The original was about 800 pages long. When King set out to write the uncut edition, he added everything he left out of the original, as well as adding new pages, changing the setting to the 1980s, and making it more applicable to the time it was published in 1990. IT used to be his longest book. The Stand has held this title since 1990, outnumbering IT by 14 pages.
6. The Stand by Stephen King
When a flu virus spreads throughout the country, it forces all survivors to seek refuge in their homes in the hopes of preventing a biological assault on the US. The martial rule is declared as the situation soon becomes global, wiping out more than half of the world’s people. Although The Stand was originally King’s vision of a dystopian future brought about by a disease, it now seems more important than ever in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic. It’s one of his most informative books, with a cast of memorable characters and plots. Fans of The Simpsons theorise that the show has predicted many significant historical incidents, and fans of Stephen King theorise that The Stand has the same predictive ability.
Since the publication of Carrie White in 1974, the plot has been adapted and retold many times. It was Stephen King’s first book, and it paved the way for him to become the horror king he is today. Carrie is the storey of a telekinetic young woman who develops her abilities after her first period. It’s told by numerous records discovered during the investigation into the high school fire she started. This novel’s structure is uncommon, and King masterfully employs the detective approach to tell one of horror’s most relevant stories.
8. The Drawing Of The Three (The Dark Tower Book #2)
The Drawing Of The Three is the sequel to The Gunslinger, and it accomplishes what The Gunslinger failed to do. It opens up windows into the lives of people that would have an effect on Roland’s adventures. The Drawing Of The Three succeeds where the first instalment failed to create the multi-dimensional elements of the book series. Following the second book, each sequel has built on the base of otherworldly travel to make The Dark Tower series what it is today.
9. Stephen King: 11/22/63
As a time traveller returns to the day former President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Al Templeton is confronted with the grim reality of tampering with space and time. To stop the murder, he enlists the help of Jake Epping, a high school teacher who has no experience in time travel but decides to help nonetheless. In this historically based sci-fi book, King constructs a future where time travel may be used to right the world’s wrongs, but also stressing the importance of understanding the difficulties of attempting to “fix” a set timeline.
10. Pet Sematary
Louis Creed couldn’t be happier now that he’s moved to the Maine countryside with his wife Rachel and their two twins, Ellie and Gage. When their new friend, Jud Crandall, shows Louis the pet cemetery—on the entrance sign, “Sematary” is misspelt—he informs him of the land’s forces. It is capable of resurrecting the dead. Despite their newfound happiness in Maine, disaster strikes the Creed household, prompting Louis to test the hypothesis that the deceased might return with the aid of the cemetery’s dark sorcery. Pet Sematary depicts the horrors of losing a loved one and the extent to which a human would go to have only one more day with them, with dead animals, vehicular accidents, and a lifetime of torture.