Not all horror has supernatural causes. Realistic horror can be the most frightening because it is plausible that the events could happen, or have happened, in real life. Nothing is quite the same as reading about the twisted deeds of humans in realistic detail. While monstrous creatures, magical beings, and urban legends are scary, humans can truly be the most terrifying monster of all.
The human mind is full of ideas, and some are dark and deadly. There are serial killers, murderers, kidnappers, and more who commit crimes off the page in cities and communities we know and live. However, they look and often act just like everyone else. That’s part of what makes realistic horror so…horrifying.
If you love the anticipation, the thrill, or just plain like to be scared, try out some of our realistic horror picks.
DB 108690 The girl next door by Jack Ketchum
"Suburbia. Shady, tree-lined streets, well-tended lawns, and cozy homes. A nice, quiet place to grow up. Unless you are teenage Meg or her sister, Susan. On a dead-end street, in the dark, damp basement of the Chandler house, Meg and Susan are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons and finally the entire neighborhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make." -- Provided by publisher. -- Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 1989.
DB 103614 The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky
Scholarship student Rachel keeps to herself at Manchester Prep, preferring the company of horror films to trust fund babies. When a prank puts her on the radar of a mysterious student society, the Mary Shelley Club, they subject her to escalating Fear Tests that catch the attention of a serial killer. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2021.
DB 55397 In the forest by Edna O’Brien
In this novel based on a true crime in Ireland, the author explores the damaged mind of Michen O'Kane, searching for the trigger that sent him on a killing spree. She delves into the psychological make-up of both the killer and his victims. Violence and strong language. 2002.
DB 92788 A noise downstairs by Linwood Barclay
When professor Paul Davis surprises a murderer disposing of two bodies, he nearly dies and is left with physical and mental issues. His wife brings home a vintage typewriter to encourage him to write. But Paul swears the typewriter is possessed and tied to the murders. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2018.
DB 103845 Survive the night by Riley Sager
1991. After the murder of her best friend by a serial killer, called the Campus Killer, college student Charlie shares a drive home to Ohio with Josh, whom she met through the college's ride board. The more Charlie learns about Josh, the more she wonders if he's the Campus Killer. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2021.
DB 19378 Psycho by Robert Bloch
The classic thriller that inspired the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name. A young woman who has just stolen a lot of money has the bad luck to stop at a secluded motel run by a painfully shy manager with a fatal mother fixation. Some descriptions of violence.
DB 44239 Implant by F. Paul Wilson
New doctor Gina Panzella returns to Washington, D.C., hoping to work with the congressional medical ethics committee. She also moonlights with friend Duncan Lathram, a former vascular surgeon. Duncan is now a plastic surgeon, and odd things are happening to his congressional patients. Strong language, violence, and explicit descriptions of sex.
DB 98302 Unspeakable things by Jess Lourey
Minnesota, 1983. Thirteen-year-old Cassie sleeps in her closet or under her bed, because she's scared to death of her drunken artist father, whom her teacher mother refuses to divorce. But now there is another type of monster to consider--someone is assaulting the boys in her school. Some violence and some descriptions of sex. 2020.
DB 27020 The silence of the lambs by Thomas Harris
Clarice Starling, a young FBI agent, tracks down a serial killer, known as Buffalo Bill, who preys exclusively on overweight women. He flays the victims' bodies and deposits the remains in rivers. The only clues are provided by another sociopathic killer, psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, who practices cannibalism. Violence, strong language, and descriptions of sex. Bestseller.