Whether you are looking to a book for a good scare or to get lost in suspense for hours, this is the list for you. Stephen King is a novelist that covers the genre gamut making one list of the best Stephen King novels nearly impossible. Continue reading for 13 of the best Stephen King novels that will capture your attention from beginning to end. Or at least scare you into finishing them.
Table of Contents
The 13 Best Stephen King Novels
1. The Stand
A list of the best Stephen King novels is not complete without The Stand. This book is at the forefront not only for its incredible suspense, but for the storyline. A patient escapes from a biological testing facility unknowingly carrying a mutated strain of the super-flu that when released, will wipe out 99% of the world’s population in a matter of weeks. Yikes. Talk about being relevant to current day!
2. ‘Salem’s Lot
Only his second book published, ‘Salem’s Lot is one of the best Stephen King novels for its ability to paint a perfect picture of an age old ghost story. Two boys go into the woods and only one makes it out. Is there someone evil hiding out in those woods? Or is something more sinister at work? A psychological thriller from start to finish, this is a great book to read during the Halloween season.
3. The Shining
“Heeeeeeerrree’s Johnny!” Couldn’t resist. This is one of the best Stephen King novels that was made into a movie staring Jack Nicholson and shot in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. The book places Jack Torrance, the main character, at the Overlook Hotel as the off-season caretaker. Unfortunately, something sinister starts creeping into the hotel and Jack’s winter takes a drastic turn. With only a 5-year-old observing these changes, the reader is in for a wild ride.
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The most recent and one of the best Stephen King novels, The Institute begins with a murder and a kidnapping. From there, the novel takes the reader on a wild ride involving imprisoned gifted children and unlikely heroes. With suspense from start to finish, Stephen King takes the reader on a psychological fast paced ride that won’t soon be forgotten.
Based around the assassination of President Kennedy, 11/22/63 this is one of the best Stephen King novels due the author’s ability to engulf the reader into a historic place and time. Jake Epping, the main character, travels back to a particular day in 1958 through a portal in a diner. The diner’s owner has made it his mission to stop the assassination of JFK. Jake continues this mission by creating an alternate identity in the past. If you like history and suspense, you can not pass up this book!
6. Dr. Sleep
As if you still weren’t loosing sleep over The Shining, a list of the best Stephen King novels wouldn’t be complete without its sequel, Dr. Sleep. Dan, the 5-year-old from the first novel, is now grown up and using his paranormal abilities to comfort the dying earning him the nickname “Dr. Sleep”. Everything is great until one of his patients, a 12-year-old girl, showcases abilities stronger than his. Bringing back demons from his past, Dan’s adult story is almost scarier than the one from his past.
Misery is one of the best Stephen King novels now more than ever due to its storyline being around a man who is social distancing. Not from a pandemic – but to recover from a car accident. The man, who is an author, quickly learns that his nurse is his biggest fan. A fan overly invested in the fate of her favorite fictional characters. What’s wrong with using a little torture to influence the ending of your favorite book? Spoiler alert: She thinks it’s perfectly fine.
Inspiring the film that starred Tom Hanks, The Green Mile is the beautiful and dramatic story of the characters at Cold Mountain Penitentiary. Home to convicted killers awaiting the electric chair (“Sparky”), each man eventually takes his turn walking the “Green Mile” to his death. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe is changed forever by the stay of John Coffey, a giant of a man with the mind of a child. Beliefs are shaken and minds are blown as the story unfolds.
Can’t get much creepier than a clown. Except when that clown is murderous and lives in a sewer. For this and so many other reasons, IT is one of the best Stephen King novels written. Hiding in the sewers of a small, idealic town, IT takes on the shape of the town children’s nightmares. Years pass and the children, now grown, go back to their home town to confront IT re-animating old fears and bringing new fears to the surface.
For his debut novel, Stephen King released Carrie, the story of an outcast high schooler who takes revenge on her classmates. Both a blessing and a curse when trying to socialize with high schoolers, Carrie has the unique gift of moving things with her mind. This gift shifts into a weapon by the story’s conclusion giving revenge a new role model.
11, 12, 13. The Dark Tower Series
An 8 book series, The Dark Tower has a cult following making it objective which in the series qualifies as the very best of the best Stephen King novels. For this reason, the first three novels are listed below and the entire series is linked above. All 8 books revolve around the story of Roland the Gunslinger, a lone hero who is in constant struggle with good and evil and journeys to the dark tower of his dreams.
Asking an avid fan to list the best Stephen Kings novels is next to impossible. The author has written over 60 novels covering fantasy, horror, drama, and suspense. If you are new to Stephen King, start with the top and work your way down the list – you will not be disappointed. But you might be scared to turn out the light and sleep at night…
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