Columns > Published on October 15th, 2015

The Best Horror Book Covers. Ever!

The best horror book covers. Ever.

How can I deliver on my pitch without upsetting a ton of people while doing it? It's impossible. Part of me just wants to post some really goofy 90s paperback covers and call it a day, but I have to be brave. These are my choices for best horror book covers of all time.

Here goes. Witness me.

1. "The Children of Old Leech" edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele

If there's one thing I hate, it's faux-pulp covers. There's nothing easier or lazier than aping those old paperbacks. Whatever's bad about the cover, you can claim its part of the charm; you did it on purpose.

Matthew Revert on the other hand, is a master of his art. His book covers look like the real deal. Where others slap on some folded paper textures and call it a day, Revert's work just looks real. As if you're somehow holding a book that came out in 2015 and at the same time in 1975.

[amazon B00LHDTDGG inline]


2. "Haunted" by Chuck Palahniuk

I mean, I don't know if it's a horror book per se, and I already went with a vintage-style cover for #1, but I have to go with my gut. Palahniuk's books have always had good designers, but the UK edition of this book is my favorite. This is actually a pretty good depiction of my expression while reading some of the stories in Haunted.

[amazon 1400032822 inline]


3. "The Ritual" by Adam Nevill

One of the most terrifying novels I've read in the last few years, Adam Nevill's The Ritual has one of my favorite covers ever (well, duh). I believe this is the first edition cover for the UK. The new US and UK versions aren't as good.

This book takes place in my backyard, so it made for some sleepless nights.

[amazon 978-0230754928 inline]


4. "It" by Stephen King

And here's an actual vintage cover. I can't decide if I like it for the actual design or just because of nostalgia. If you've read the book, the cover is visceral. I can't comment on how good it is for the heathens who've never read it. But you knew a King book was going to make this list. It was either going to be this one, the cover for Night Shift or Doctor Sleep. It won. It always wins.

[amazon B002SR2PKG inline]


5. "Dark Harvest" by Norman Partridge

Coincidentally, the best Halloween novel ever. Norman Partridge is extremely underrated. The art is great, and unlike most book covers, some thought went into fitting the title design in there. Art by Jon Foster.

[amazon B002MT2EQA inline]


6. "Horrorstör" by Grady Hendrix

As far as clever book covers go, it doesn't get better than this. Found out about this book by clicking on it and wondering why Amazon was trying to sell me IKEA catalogues. Designed by Andy Reid, interiors by Michael Rogalski.

[amazon B00JCRXBSU inline]


7. "Borderlands" edited by Thomas F. Monteleone

Dave McKean needs no introduction. Borderlands however, might. Borderlands was a series of anthologies published by an imprint of White Wolf (makers of the Vampire: The Masquerade roleplaying game). They still hold up as some of the best weird anthologies I've ever read, and the art on all of them is superb.

[amazon 1565041070 inline]


8. "This Book is Full of Spiders" by David Wong

For some reason, good, unique design is rare in mass market paperbacks. Wong's previous novel is an exception (his latest one is pretty cool too!). You rarely see this kind of creativity, unless your name is Murakami.

[amazon 1250036658 inline]


9. "The Gospel of Z" by Stephen Graham Jones

I love typography-based covers, but I know very little about the subject, so I all I can say here is, I really like this one. The faux-leather cover isn't always a big hit for me, but it works so well here.

[amazon B00ER55JZK inline]


10. "Drood" by Dan Simmons

I'll be honest: the book put me to sleep a bunch of times. But the cover stuck with me long after. Sometimes design needs to be simple to be effective. 

[amazon 9780316007030 inline]

I know you're shaking your head. Judging me. Go ahead then, tell me I'm wrong in the comments.

About the author

George Cotronis lives in the wilderness of Northern Sweden. He designs book covers and sometimes writes. His stories have appeared in XIII, Big Pulp and Vignettes from the End of the World. He is also the editor in chief at Kraken Press and Aghast: A Journal of the Darkly Fantastic. You can see his work at or read his rants over at his blog.

Similar Columns

Explore other columns from across the blog.

Book Brawl: Geek Love vs. Water for Elephants

In Book Brawl, two books that are somehow related will get in the ring and fight it out for the coveted honor of being declared literary champion. Two books enter. One book leaves. This month,...

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Books That Should Be Box Office Blockbusters

It seems as if Hollywood is entirely bereft of fresh material. Next year, three different live-action Snow White films will be released in the States. Disney is still terrorizing audiences with t...

Books Without Borders: Life after Liquidation

Though many true book enthusiasts, particularly in the Northwest where locally owned retailers are more common than paperback novels with Fabio on the cover, would never have set foot in a mega-c...

From Silk Purses to Sows’ Ears

Photo via Moviegoers whose taste in cinema consists entirely of keeping up with the Joneses, or if they’re confident in their ignorance, being the Joneses - the middlebrow, the ...

Cliche, the Literary Default

Original Photo by Gerhard Lipold As writers, we’re constantly told to avoid the cliché. MFA programs in particular indoctrinate an almost Pavlovian shock response against it; workshops in...

A Recap Of... The Wicked Universe

Out of Oz marks Gregory Maguire’s fourth and final book in the series beginning with his brilliant, beloved Wicked. Maguire’s Wicked universe is richly complex, politically contentious, and fille...

Learning | Free Lesson — LitReactor | 2024-05

Try Reedsy's novel writing masterclass — 100% free

Sign up for a free video lesson and learn how to make readers care about your main character.

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.