13 Must-Read Authors Like Stephen King

These writers will keep you reading well past the witching hour, just like the King of Horror.

In 1974, a 26-year-old Stephen King published his first novel, Carrie. Today King stands as a living literary legend with a devout audience that spans the globe. The award-winning and internationally bestselling author is known for his influential contributions to horror, yet his storytelling accomplishments span a wide range, from dark fantasy and hardboiled mystery to supernatural thrillers and heart-pounding suspense.

Whether you’ve worked through King’s towering body of work — no small feat, with more than 60 titles to his name — or are a King superfan looking to add some kindred authors to your shelf, we’ve compiled a list of must-read authors like Stephen King that you’re sure to enjoy.

Kaitlyn Johnston

The Shadows

By Alex North

King excels at infusing his otherworldly tales with all-too-human realities. Themes of childhood trauma, aching memories, and being plagued by one’s past course through King classics like Carrie, Pet Sematary, or Doctor Sleep. Alex North explores similar territory in his dark thrillers. The bestselling author’s serial killer–focused book The Whisper Man is sure to delight King fans with its multigenerational tale of a predator haunting a small English village.

We also recommend North’s follow-up, The Shadows, for its deliciously eerie plot and King-esque examination of the lasting impact of childhood trauma. An “absorbing…play on classic horror with an inventiveness of its own” (New York Times Book Review), The Shadows follows Paul Adams as he returns home to care for his ailing mother. Paul left his hometown in a desperate attempt to flee the nightmares of his youth — among them, the memory of his childhood friend Charlie Crabtree murdering a classmate. But now Paul is back, and it isn’t long before the darkness of yesteryear returns to terrorize him anew.

The Maidens

By Alex Michaelides

Entranced by King’s hypnotic tales of obsession and dangerous devotion? Then you’re sure to enjoy Alex Michaelides, whose bestselling psychological thrillers will mess with your head just like Misery, Revival, or The Stand. Michaelides proved his pulse-pounding chops with his blockbuster debut, The Silent Patient. In The Maidens, the author reveals a sinister murder mystery set at Cambridge University, where a group of students known as The Maidens is disconcertingly devoted to charismatic Greek tragedy professor Edward Fosca. When murder strikes the campus, brilliant but troubled therapist and Cambridge alumna Mariana Andros is convinced Fosca is to blame — and she’s willing to risk everything to prove his guilt.

Cover of.Korelitz's book The Plot, which features a blue background with a white book and text THE PLOT superimposed onto the image

The Plot

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

Although King is a legendary monster-maker, some of his most memorable characters have careers as writers, from Thad Beaumont/George Stark in The Dark Half to Paul Sheldon in Misery and the rattled Mort Rainey in the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden. If you enjoy King’s meta chillers, check out Jean Hanff Korelitz’s bestselling literary psychological thriller The Plot, which King himself hails as “insanely readable.” Like King, Hanff Korelitz excels at crafting fully realized, deeply flawed characters who elicit sympathy and anger in equal measure. In The Plot, she introduces us to Jacob Finch Bonner, a once-promising author now struggling to make ends meet while teaching at a third-rate writing program. When Jake’s arrogant MFA student Evan dies before publishing his “sure thing” debut novel, Jake can’t let the plot go. So, he steals the idea and claims it as his own. But when a shadowy figure emerges and threatens to expose the author’s duplicity, Jake must race to unearth the truth about Evan and where his killer plot really came from.

The Shining Girls

By Lauren Beukes

Award-winning author Lauren Beukes is known for her nerve-jangling narratives rich with twisted characters, razor-sharp plots, and healthy doses of fright. Any of her books would make the perfect next read for an avid King fan. For some King-size malevolence and 11/22/63-style inventiveness, check out Beukes’ time-hopping occult horror novel The Shining Girls. The book tracks Harper Curtis, a serial killer who travels through time and murders to appease a sinister house in Chicago.  But when one of Curtis’s would-be victims survives her attack and vows revenge, Curtis’s twisted game gets flipped, and the time-traveling killer becomes the target.

The Good House

By Tananarive Due

Tananarive Due is an American Book Award-winning author who teaches Black Horror at UCLA and is an executive producer of Shudder’s Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. Similar to King, she transcends genre, drawing on sci-fi, horror, mystery fiction, and supernatural suspense to construct her dazzling narratives. Due’s The Ancestors, My Soul to Keep, or The Between are sure to satisfy King fans, but we’re recommending The Good House for its haunting storyline and King-like setting of a small town plagued by eternal darkness. The novel centers on Angela Toussaint, who returns home after years away to reckon with her son’s death and uncover the truth about her mysterious grandmother, a woman rumored to possess magic powers. Could Angela have inherited her grandmother’s otherworldly abilities? And could they help save her hometown from descending into oblivion?

Survivor Song

By Paul Tremblay

Bestselling author Paul Tremblay’s uncanny narratives have earned him a slew of awards and praise from notable authors, including Stephen King himself. Many King readers are likely familiar with Tremblay’s deeply human horror novels A Headful of Ghosts and A Cabin at the End of the World, both of which were recommended by Stephen King. If you loved the apocalyptic scope and emotional heft of King’s The Stand, then you’re sure to enjoy Tremblay’s creepy new deadly-virus suspense book, Survivor Song. In it, a highly infectious rabies-like virus spreads through Massachusetts with catastrophic speed, laying waste to the Commonwealth. Dr. Ramola Sherman, a pediatrician, is determined to guide her pregnant and infected friend Natalie through the escalating chaos to find a vaccine and save the life of Natalie’s unborn child.

The Boys of Summer

By Richard Cox

If you tore through King’s coming-of-age horror masterpiece IT, then you’ll love The Boys of Summer by Richard Cox. Cox skillfully utilizes a number of King’s favorite techniques and themes in this character-driven supernatural thriller. The novel is set in Wichita Falls, Texas, where a massive tornado devastates the town and leaves young Todd Willis in a mysterious coma. Five years later, Todd emerges, dazed yet strangely alive. He makes new friends, and together they experience an extraordinary summer of love, betrayal, and one terrible incident that they desperately try to forget. Twenty-five years later, however, a churning darkness returns to Wichita Falls, and Todd and his friends must reunite to confront it. Cox’s House of the Rising Sun and Thomas World are sure to satisfy King fans as well, but The Boys of Summer is what you’d get if King wrote a season of Stranger Things.

The Burning Girls

By C. J. Tudor

The Daily Mail hailed C. J. Tudor as Britain’s answer to Stephen King, and it’s easy to see why: Tudor’s sharp and twisty narratives brilliantly explore the darkest corners of the human psyche. The author has delivered a number of spine-tingling scary books that King fans are sure to enjoy, from The Other People and The Hiding Place to The Chalk Man. We suggest The Burning Girls for its delectable dose of supernatural chills suffused with dark religious themes, reminiscent of King’s Revival or Salem’s Lot. The novel is set in Chapel Croft, an isolated English village with a long history of horrific happenings. When Rev. Jack Brooks arrives and his daughter begins seeing specters of girls burning, the he must exorcise the ghosts of the town’s cursed and bloody past.

The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan

By Caitlin R. Kiernan

Award-winning author Caitlin R. Kiernan is a leading figure in dark fantasy and horror, and she shines at crafting otherworldly short stories that will scare your socks off. If you loved collections like Night Shift or Nightmares & Dreamscapes, then you’re sure to enjoy The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan. In it, Kiernan crisscrosses genres from fantasy to horror to sci-fi as she examines themes of gender, morality, and sexuality. Each tale is beautifully written, wonderfully strange, and thrumming with a dark human heartbeat.

White is for Witching

By Helen Oyeyemi

Acclaimed author Helen Oyeyemi is known for her rich and disquieting narratives. She’s published short fiction and full-length novels that examine the human condition through a haunted lens, from the beguiling short story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours to the dark fairy-tale magic of Gingerbread. For readers who enjoyed the gothic atmosphere and creeping dread of King novels like The Dark Half or The Shining, we recommend Oyeyemi’s White Is for Witching. Four generations of Silver women have lived in the family’s strange, cavernous home in Dover, England. But when Miranda’s mother suddenly passes, Miranda begins suffering from mysterious ailments. Then Miranda brings home a friend — and the house itself seems to turn on the outsider.The Only Good Indians

The Only Good Indians

By Stephen Graham Jones

Bestselling writer Stephen Graham Jones is a literary force to be reckoned with. Like King, he’s a scarily prolific author who subverts genre conventions to produce singular works of horror and dark fantasy. Black-humored chillers like Night of the Mannequins, The Last Final Girl, and Mongrels all deserve a spot on anyone’s TBR list. We recommend The Only Good Indians for its haunting atmospherics and King-like attention to the everlasting horror of past traumas. The novel follows four Native American men and their families, all united by a disturbing event from their youth, who must reckon with what they’ve done and who they are when a sinister entity emerges and craves revenge.

Dark Corners

By Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell is known the world over for her superb Chief Inspector Wexford murder mysteries and masterfully crafted psychological thriller books. She excels at ratcheting up the suspense; indeed, King himself has said that “no one surpasses Ruth Rendell when it comes to stories of obsession, instability, and malignant coincidence.” If you’re a fan of tense King narratives like Dolores Claiborne or Rose Madder, then Rendell’s Dark Corners is sure to get your pulse racing. When Carl Martin inherits his late father’s home, he rents out the upstairs room and sells off his father’s strange collection of homeopathic medicines without much thought. But when the buyer of the medicines turns up dead, Carl’s new housemate begins to play an escalating game of blackmail and psychological coercion, pushing Carl to the very brink.

The Devil in Silver

By Victor LaValle

Shirley Jackson Award–winning author Victor LaValle explores themes of race, faith, class, and madness in his fantastical works. He shines at blending genres and drawing on the literary works of the past to craft his darkly atmospheric modern narratives. King fans are sure to devour The Ballad of Black Tom, LaValle’s radiant novella that reenvisions Lovecraftian horror and the Cthulhu mythos. For a full-length novel that boasts a King-like band of misfits squaring off against an ancient evil in one very creepy setting, we recommend The Devil in Silver. Pepper finds himself locked inside a crumbling mental institution — even though he isn’t mentally ill and has little memory of the crime he’s accused of committing. On his first night inside, Pepper encounters a terrifying creature with the body of an old man and the head of a bison. The vision is no nightmare; this devil is real, and it prowls the halls of New Hyde Hospital. Now Pepper and a ragtag group of patients must band together to save themselves from the horror that stalks them.

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