Horror BooksMuch like Catherine Morland, the protagonist of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, was fascinated by the "seven horrid novels" (Castle of Wolfenbach; Clermont, a Tale; The Mysterious Warning; The Necromancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest; The Midnight Bell; Orphan of the Rhine; and Horrid Mysteries), among other works of Gothic literature, so have myriads of readers been entranced by the suspense, thrill and sheer terror of horror books. The first Gothic novel is arguably The Castle of Otranto, which initiated a genre that has in one way or another inspired and influenced several generations of horror writers, such as Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King.
While some now classic horror authors have had a lasting impact in the field with just one work, others were more prolific if not as celebrated during their lifetimes. Two superb examples of the first category are Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Frankestein: or, The Modern Prometheus) and Bram Stoker (Dracula). Both drew inspiration from an already established cache of knowledge (Greek mythology and European history), but were able to infuse enough creativity into their works so as to give them a life of their own. On the second category we can find writers like Poe and Lovecraft, who explored the depths of the human mind as well as created vast worlds that haunt their cult following to this very day.
There are other authors who have sent a chill down readers' spines more recently like William Peter Blatty and Stephen King. The former has secured his place in the annals of horror lore with the ominous oeuvre The Exorcist, which was successfully adapted into a film of the same name that has itself become a staple of popular culture. The latter is probably the most profitable modern horror writer, whose bibliography includes the novels Carrie, Cujo, It, and The Shining.