Gripping Horror: The 20 Best Authors Like Anne Rice

It’s almost hard to think how much has come and gone since Anne Rice passed away at the end of 2021. The author had a massive influence on literature overall, but her standout works were in the horror genre. Through her series The Vampire Chronicles she not only revolutionized the vampire genre, but horror, gothic, and queer literature as well.

Gripping Horror: The 20 Best Authors Like Anne Rice

In the same spirit of her pursuit of honest, daring characters and creeping dread, these authors sought to make terrible, frightening things that could be both erotic and terrifying while also being fragile and broken. Some have taken inspiration from her worldbuilding, or even more served as the inspiration for her stories. Modern novels, classics, and modern classics in waiting are all included here as a tribute to the author and her influence over the years.

The Hell-Bound Heart by Clive Barker

The Hellbound Heart: A Novel

Clive Barker is probably the only other author than Anne Rice to be as equally revered in the horror community as they are in the LGBT community. Sharing the same sense of homoerotic tension as many of Rice’s books, Barker takes a more gruesome approach to things, giving vivid details about dismemberment, gore, and pleasure all in the same breath while interweaving tales of tragic and terrifying romance.

The Hell-Bound Heart was one of his first breakthroughs, garnering critical acclaim and leading Barker to also write and direct the movie Hellraiser, based on the novella. A story of love, blood, and revenge, it brought the character of Pinhead to the mainstream and Barker into the horror hall of legends.

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The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain

While The Strain was adapted into a successful television series, it didn’t quite adhere to the plot of the book trilogy co-written by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Tense and riveting vampire thrillers, following a CDC employee racing against the clock and a supernatural foe to stop vampires from spreading like a literal plague. Apocalyptic horror and vampire conspiracy collide in the best ways. 

Del Toro and Hogan’s vampires are the antithesis of Rice’s though. Lacking any of the charm and erotic tension, these are the pale, fleshy strigoi of folklore, even more terrifying than the civilized vamps in The Vampire Chronicles. The trilogy is taut and violent, with a great sense of overall dread from the moment the outbreak begins in New York.

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11/22/63 By Stephen King

11/22/63: A Novel

Stephen King doesn’t need much of an introduction being an icon of horror all his own, but special attention is deserved by 11/22/63. While not entirely a horror, it does have ties to King’s larger narrative universe and even features the return of a couple of fan-favorite Losers from IT along with a few scenes of existential horror.

The book offers a simple premise, showing one man taking a chance at saving JFK when he finds a portal to the past in an abandoned diner. That’s just scratching the surface though, as it delves further into the life he makes for himself in the past as he witnesses history and the rippling effect anything can have when changed. The real standout though is the love story wrapped into the book, and probably two of the best characters King has written.

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Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt


Hex did the same thing for witches as Interview With The Vampire did for blood-suckers back when it was originally released, taking an old, stale trope of witches that wore hats and rode broomsticks and turning them into what made witches be feared in the first place- absolute horrors beyond all human power to stop.

The book was originally released in Olde Heuvelt’s native Dutch but was later localized to English. It explores a remote northern town cursed by witch hundreds of years ago, and the worst part is she’s still walking around. Hex takes its time building dread and lore while pulling readers steadily into a massive climax that’s unpredictable from start to finish.

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We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Shirley Jackson had already made her mark and departed the world before Anne Rice came on the scene, and was one of the progenitors of her Gothic-inspired romances. We Have Always Lived In The Castle is often referred to as a perfect Gothic horror book, giving the sensation of dread, suspense, and unknowing that Rice would come to shape in her unique form.

The book follows Merricat and the strange situations that lead to most of her family’s death over dinner one night, leading to a terrifying and tense conclusion.

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The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

The Exorcist: A Novel

Another contemporary in the horror genre and a pioneer himself on the front of possession and Christian-guilt-themed horror just like Rice. Though most popular for the movie, Blatty’s The Exorcist is still a chilling read, bringing even more insight into the fear felt by not only Reagen but Father Dimmsdale’s guilt.

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A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Head Full of Ghosts, A

Tremblay plays into that same Christian guilt and fear that plagued authors like Rice and Blatty, turning it into not only a battle of faith but of reliability as the events of a young girl’s possession are retold years later by her sister and a reality television crew that told their story. 

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I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I Am Legend: And Other Stories

Matheson is a godfather of horror and sci-fi between writing his own stories and screenplays for shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. I Am Legend is his calling card, giving an intense look at one man’s life after a devastating vampire apocalypse has taken his family and left him as the last survivor in a world teeming with his former friends and neighbors, now turned to creatures of the night.

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The Descent by Jeff Long

Descent, The

Combining hollow earth theory with Christian dogma, Jeff Long paints a picture of a hell not filled with fire, but dark and cold. When humans find small entrances to an entire subterranean world throughout the earth, it starts an expedition of human curiosity that ends in madness and death for the explorers. Long straps readers in for a dark, taught thriller where anything could happen in the dark.

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The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Shining Girls

The Shining Girls is a mind-boggling slasher/survivor story. Following one girl trying to find the killer that she barely escaped with her life teams up with an old, jaded detective. Thing is, her killer is a time traveler and is on a mad quest to gather items from victims throughout the past. In a race through time, Lauren Beukes crafts a story with a compelling heroine to root for and a villain of absolute evil to rival any of King’s creations.

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The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black

Another Gothic horror classic, Susan Hill released The Woman In Black just a few years after Rice debuted The Vampire Chronicles. Drawing from the same dreary gothic aesthetic, Hill instead tells a small, personal ghost story that gives more whispered and quiet dread than her other contemporaries.

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula: Unabridged and Fully Illustrated

There’s no way to suggest books like Anne Rice without mentioning one of her great influences. Bram Stoker’s novel is still churning out adaptations and various spinoffs. Dracula is a household name, the standard for vampires, and much about Stoker’s work set the stage for Rice to bring in her steamy, sharp-fanged romance.

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Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Let the Right One In

Let The Right One In is a coming-of-age story about a young boy meeting his strange new neighbor. Just so happens that the neighbor is a centuries-old vampire, and the adult posing as their father is murdering people to feed them. The story between the two main characters is touching, which makes the climax of the book so much more brutal and shocking.

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The Fisherman by John Langan

The Fisherman

John Langan’s The Fisherman catapulted him to the top of the horror world on release. Focusing on two men who bond over their respective grief and a love of fishing, there’s a smaller story within about the creation of their fishing spot when the land was being settled. What happens is one of the finest meldings of Lovecraftian cosmic horror and Gothic dread in literature.

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Swan Song by Robert McCammon

Swan Song

Robert McCammon came up around the same time as Stephen King, and though his books have made their impacts he never quite gets the appreciation he deserves. Swan Song is his masterwork, showing a world where the worst of humanity takes over and the United States is turned into a nuclear wasteland. Out of the ashes though, a few survivors with good intentions and a girl with mysterious powers will go against a shape-shifting evil and try to bring life back from the brink. Fantastically real in the beginning before opening supernatural floodgates, it’s a page-turner right from the start.

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The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 1)

There’s a definite possibility that the Sookie Stackhouse Novels wouldn’t exist without The Vampire Chronicles. Taking the mythology of vampires and beyond, the series follows Sookie, a waitress in a southern Louisiana town that falls into a murder mystery. With heavy lore and worldbuilding, Harris shows how a world would react if vampires went public and how it would affect society. The books were adapted into the series True Blood and extend across short stories and novellas for maximum bookshelf space.

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Fevre Dream by George RR Martin

Fevre Dream: A Novel

Yes, the same George RR Martin that’s promised Winds of Winter for years while swimming in a pool of HBO money. Almost ten years before publishing his first Game of Thrones novel, Martin released this horror novel that in his own words was “Dracula meets Tom Sawyer”. Surprisingly accurate, as it follows a steamboat captain in post-Civil War America that gets a strange request to captain a group that may not be what they say. A taut mystery that turns into a prototype for Martin’s take on politics and power struggles, it has a special place among horror and fantasy fans alike.

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Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

Anno Dracula Signed 30th Anniversary Edition

Books like Anno Dracula are so wildly creative while being scarce at the same time. The story is an unofficial sequel/retcon of Stoker’s novel, but with Dracula emerging as the victor after the showdown. From there Newman spins an entire alternate timeline, giving a world where Dracula rules and allows some of the evilest figures from history to run free. A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-esque resistance group emerges, mixing real and fictional historical figures as heroes.

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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere: A Novel

Gaiman is so prolific it’s almost hard to narrow it down to one book, but Neverwhere captures the sense of the supernatural simply existing right below the surface of humanity. The odyssey of a man who gets pulled into a different, magical world unseen by others. There are so many odds and ends of characters and lore here that it’s hard not to get drawn in.

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We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

We Sold Our Souls: A Novel

Just one of Hendrix’s accomplishments, We Sold Our Souls follows a guitarist who finds out her bandmate made a devilish pact for fame by… selling their souls. The devil always comes back for what he’s owed though, and the ride of fame and fortune becomes a fight to survive. This one is more for the Queen of the Damned fans, giving a good heap of horror, humor, and rock and roll just like Lestat.

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While not trying to give away anything, these books will have some aspect to each of them that will raise your pulse out of sheer tension and fear. They present some little bit of Anne Rice as well, whether it be something that inspired her or was inspired by her, from the gothic overtones to intense world-building. Sure, the horror in some might be a little lighter than others, but they’re just as engaging with deep characters and even some comedy here and there.


Who is author Anne Rice?

Anne Rice was a writer and author from Louisiana. Born in 1941, most of her works are inspired by her Catholic upbringing and home state and center around people the author often described as lost souls drawn together. Though The Vampire Chronicles was her breakout hit, Rice also published historical fiction and romance before passing in 2021 at the age of 80.

Which Anne Rice book should I read first?

The Vampire Chronicles is the most recommended of her extensive bibliography. Spanning multiple novels and short stories that follow the lives of vampires from the 18th century to the modern day, and how their interactions lead to tragedy and love.

Does Anne Rice have any movie adaptations?

Absolutely! Interview With The Vampire was the first major film she adapted, writing the screenplay herself, and starred Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. It’s rumored that Tom Cruise gets younger every time someone watches this movie, rendering him effectively immortal just like Lestat.

Did Anne Rice write under any other names?

She used two different pen names throughout her life, publishing two novels as Anne Rampling and four more as A.N. Roquelaure.

Did Anne Rice write any other series?

Rice particularly loved playing with classic monsters during her career and created multiple series such as The Mayfair Witches, The Wolf Gift Chronicles, and Ramses the Dead

What are the most popular horror books of all time?

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
3. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (1971)
4. The Shining by Stephen King (1977)
5. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)
6. Carrie by Stephen King (1974)
7. Pet Sematary by Stephen King (1983)
8. The Stand by Stephen King (1978)
9. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1977)
10. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (1975)
11. It by Stephen King (1986)
12. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)
14. The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (1986)
15. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin (1967)
16. Misery by Stephen King (1987)
17. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (1983)
18. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988)
19. The Demonologist by Gerald Brittle (1980)
20. Ghost Story by Peter Straub (1979)

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