Top 30+ Best Stephen King Books Ranked From Worst To Best [ecis2023]

Do you need a horror novel recommendation? Why stop in one when you could have 21 out of Stephen King the bestselling author? Check out the Best Stephen King Books Ever Written, Ranked By Horror Readers.

About Stephen King

Stephen King’s stories were adapted for television series and film, and his books have been sold more than 350 million copies.

You are reading: Top 30+ Best Stephen King Books Ranked From Worst To Best [ecis2023]

His stories can be found in Esquire and The New Yorker. They are also on the New York Times Bestsellers List. It feels like there is a new film or television adaptation of his work every few months.

Stephen King is a master of literary terror. His 61 books have been published and transcend the realms of belief. They contain tales of the paranormal as well as Stephen King’s best stories of the haunting, strange, and murderous. His name became one of the most well-known horror authors in 1974 when he published Carrie.

Director Brian De Palma quickly picked up Carrie to be made into a film starring Sissy Spacek as Carrie White. Stephen King has been an author of great horror stories, with new stories appearing every year from his mind. But how does this compare to each other?

Stephen King has written over 200 stories and novellas in his nearly 50-year career, as well as 61 novels. Carrie was King’s first movie adaptation. But it wasn’t his last. Stanley Kubrick transformed The Shining into a major motion picture, with Shelley Duvall playing Wendy Torrance and Jack Nicholson portraying Jack Torrance.

The Stephen King movies are made at the same rate as his literary stories. At least one movie adaptation has been released every year since 1980. There are currently 14 Stephen King stories that are being developed for a series or movie. Stephen King often collaborates with other authors; over the years, he wrote screenplays alongside his son Joe Hill (of Locke & Key fame and NOS4A2 fame) and co-authored a novel called Sleeping Beauties with Owen King.

Stephen King quickly became the literary horror king, and his legacy could be the epitome of the genre. Stephen King has written 61 novels, although some of his writings are short story collections (the most recent being 2020’s If It Bleeds). Stephen King will release his next full-length novel, Later in 2022, under the Hard Case Crime company. While each of his novels is excellent in its own right, some are better than others. Here are every Stephen King’s best books without further ado, excluding short story collections ranked from worst to best.

Top Rated Stephen King Novels Of All Time

‘Salem’s Lot

Stephen King’s second book cemented his place as the master of terror. Inside, Ben Mears returns to Jerusalem’s Lot to find inspiration for his novel and perhaps exercise some demons. But, two young boys enter the forests, and just one comes out alive. Something sinister is afoot, and it is around Mears and his allies to include it.

The Outsider: A Novel

This best of King’s supernatural baddies showed an 11-year-olds boy’s corpse showing up in a playground, and all evidence points to a beloved citizen and Little League coach Terry Maitland. He is quickly detained, but he has an alibi. The thriller twist in this one is going to take your breath away because merely Stephen King’s imagination can.

Night Shift

Night Shift

This selection of short stories provides Stephen King’s bone-chilling creations in bite-sized bundles. It features stars such as Children of the Corn and deeper cuts such as Gray Matter, wherein a reclusive alcoholic begins to change horribly.

King’s short fiction is some of his best work. However, list-making is a bloodsport, and you should only read one of his many extensive short stories collections. The highlights include “Salem’s Lot,” a great homage to H.P. Lovecraft also serves as a prequel for King’s novel ‘Salem’s Lot. “Graveyard Shift” finds workers at a textile plant facing a growing number of mutant rats. “The Last Wrung on the Ladder,” a heartbreaking tale of quiet family turmoil with no supernatural horror elements, is also included.

Doctor Sleep

This sequel sees readers reconnect with Dan Torrance, who was once a young boy in “The Shining” but is now a middle-aged man living everyday life. Dan’s coined “Doctor Sleep,” using his paranormal abilities and helping the dying when he takes a New Hampshire nursing home job. However, a few paranormals out there travel and kill ghostly children to get their energy. Danny Torrance is forced to rescue Abra, 12 years old with the same gift when he meets her. This sequel is both psychologically and grotesque, which will be a massive delight to “The Shining” fans.


Stephen King’s 1986 book caused more people to dread clowns than any film, book, or TV series ever. It is an epic narrative, spread across three years, about many Maine buddies that struggle with a demented clown named Pennywise who resides in their city’s sewers. It is distinguished by King’s fantastic ability to combine several coming-of-age stories into one story and its excellent storyline.

Adults now, with their own success stories, one of the “Losers Club” asks the gang for help to end the evil creature’s reign. Stephen King employs dual timelines from 1958 to 1985 and chilling descriptions to create unique characters and explore deeper themes that extend far beyond the traditional horror genre. They believe that they killed him in the 1950s, but 30 decades later, they’re made to go back for the last battle. In 1,142 pages, it is one of Stephen King’s greatest novels, but many men and women find themselves studying it in a few days.

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger

Another Stephen King novel that turned into a significant motion picture, this first episode from The Dark Tower series introduces readers to Roland of Gilead: The Last Gunslinger. His universe reflects a haunting mirror of ours, through which he tracks The Man in Black. The whole show is much more than just worth a read. Roland Deschain, one of the last remaining gunslingers, was introduced. He must navigate a fantasy world full of demons, monstrous creatures, and many other dangers.

The Stand

The Stand’s1978 uncut edition is excellent in its own right, but the uncut version of the story is much more detailed and gruesome.

Every time the deadly flu wipes out 99% of the world’s population, the natives are shell-shocked. Randall Flagg, or The Dark Man, appears as a representative of chaos and devastation prepared to benefit from this instability. However, Mother Abigail recommends peace, and also a dreadful choice shortly emerges. This dystopian suspense equally feels to be an escape and present. Whether they are Stephen King fans or not, many readers have voted The Stand to be the most excellent post-apocalyptic book of all time (debatable).

The Stand remains a remarkable odyssey, still relevant four decades later.

The Green Mile

“The Green Mile” was a series originally published one volume at a given time in 1996. Each installment landed on the “New York Times Best-Seller List of six installments.” It is now a single volume. It follows Paul Edgecombe as a prison guard at Cold Mountain Penitentiary, where convicted killers await to walk the “green mile” on death row to the electric chair. Paul has seen almost everything, but his interactions with John Coffey are unlike any other.

John, an odd inmate, is convicted for a terrible crime even though he appears to have the mind and abilities of a child. This novel is thought-provoking and emotionally charged. It’s a believable story with shocking elements that fit Stephen King’s horror style. Each character has its own edge, and you hate the bad guys.

The Dark Tower (Dark Tower Book #7) Final Book

The Dark Tower’s seventh edition, The Dark Tower, features Stephen King, once again, as a secondary character. Jake saves Stephen King from the van that almost killed him in 1999. It’s a fascinating read that showcases the author’s ability to weave his personal stories into larger narratives of his horrific and fantastical tales. The book has many good points, but the overall series becomes a little more complicated than it needs to be. Roland is an epic hero, and this series is a testament to Stephen King’s masterful characterization and world-building.

The Institute: A Novel

Stephen King is now in his seventies but still does a great job writing about children. Although some pop culture references may feel forced to show Stephen King’s youth, he still captures the essence of childhood curiosity, insecurity, and optimism. The Institute, as the title suggests, is a dark site that experiments on psychic children. It is Stephen King’s finest work in many years.

Under the Dome: A Novel

On an otherwise normal day at Chester’s Mill, Maine, an invisible dome abruptly seals off the town from the rest of the world. Nothing could go out or in, and cars burst into flames upon contact. A team of intrepid citizens try and work out how to take care of it, even though a crooked politician would like to hold onto his power at any price. “Under the Dome,” while a thriller of science-fiction violence, is also filled with dark humor, strong characters, and profound messages about modern society.

Rose Madder: A Novel

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One of the best Stephen King books – Rose Daniels has barely survived an abusive marriage for 14 decades, but she eventually manages to flee. Her ex-husband Norman is not just a psychotic monster. He is also a cop. A feeling of foreboding pervades the entire narrative, and you also won’t have the ability to put it all down.

11/22/63: A Novel

This time travel adventure novel tells the story of Jake Epping, a high-school teacher who is brought to 1958 via a portal and embarks on a mission against the JFK assassination. Jake takes on a new identity and tests the rules of the time travel story. He discovers the consequences of failing to do so in the present. Stephen King biggest fan will enjoy a thrilling historical fiction story with minimal horror if any. It also features time travel, which allows for the exploration of fascinating “what ifs.”

Stephen King’s time-travel story is original because of its imprecise method of entering the past (a supernatural tear through the fabric of reality). Jake Epping, a school teacher, can’t simply quantum leap to the date John F. Kennedy was killed. He is placed in 1958 every time he uses the portal, so he must live in the past for five more years to reach the moment he wants to stop in American history.

The Dead Zone

Johnny Smith wakes up from a five-year coma to discover that he is clairvoyant. Stephen King wrapped up his unbelievable streak of 1970s books together with The Dead Zone, the narrative of Johnny Smith, a schoolteacher who awakens from a coma with psychic abilities. If he meets a deranged politician destined to become president, he confronts the horrible decision about whether he must assassinate him. It is a riveting story, and in 1983, it became a film of the same name starring Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen.

Greg Stillson will be one day president. Johnny knew after shaking his hand at the rally that he would also cause a global nuclear conflict. Johnny Smith wakes up to discover that he is clairvoyant.

Finders Keepers: A Novel

The next installment from the Bill Hodges trilogy covers the murder of a reclusive author by an obsessed lover, who squirrels his idol’s set of laptops before becoming locked up for some other horrible offense. However, if he gets out 35 decades after, he discovers someone has stolen his haul. It is up to Hodges and the team to stop his revenge.

Misery: A Novel

After celebrating the release of a new novel, when Annie Wilkes comes to nurse that the writer Paul Sheldon returns to health, she brings not only her healthcare expertise but also an obsession with all Sheldon’s work. She did not enjoy how Sheldon murdered off his main character, Misery, and desires him to make it appropriate. And she has some horrible approaches to convince him.

Different Seasons was Stephen King’s attempt to show that he was not just a horror writer. Misery focuses on what happens to romance novelists who try to do the same. “Number One Fan” of Paul Sheldon the disturbingly chipper nurse Annie Wilkes, don’t like it. Although she is thrilled to have saved him from a snowy accident, he is now her prisoner. She is prepared to use any form of torture to make him her muse.

Fandoms today are becoming more like Misery‘s vicious Annie Wilkes. Social media mobs have been savagely attacking franchises like Star Wars and Marvel as they try to improve their storytelling. Annie Wilkes was the original troll who wanted to kill the writer she loved rather than change.

Different Seasons

These novellas’ Different Seasons have been made into two of Stephen King’s most notable film adaptations: The Shawshank Redemption (Stand By Me). Each of the novellas is a masterpiece in its own right. “Rita Hayworth” and The Shawshank Redemption are among King’s most inspirational works, while “The Body,” his best portrayal of childhood, is “The Body.” The collection also includes the chilling “Apt Pupil” and the sweet but not too disturbing “The Breathing Method.”


Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher combines some of the terrifying elements of science fiction such as alien invasion and body horror. The story takes place in Derry, Maine. This is another fictional town Stephen King created to illustrate his literary multiverse.

Dreamcatcher can be captivating in instances but leads to underwhelming scenes and dialogue that could’ve been bettered had its plot not been reliant on so many sub-genres meshing together. Even though it is very close to the source material, the movie adaptations are still regarded as one of Stephen King’s worst.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

People are frequently surprised the Shawshank Redemption was adapted from a 1982 Stephen King novella: It goes contrary to the overall perception Stephen King writes horror novels about serial killer clowns, haunted hotels, and super viruses. However, is there anything more frightening than the prospect of being sentenced to life in prison for a crime you did not commit?

Throw into a sadistic warden and prison rapists, and you have got a living nightmare. In his novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne is brief, and his friend Red is Irish, but Hollywood had a different idea for those memorable characters. Initially, the version crushes; however, it’s become regarded as one of the most moving movies of its time.

“It always comes down to just two choices. Get busy living, or get busy dying.” – Stephen King

Pet Sematary: A Novel

Ironically, King’s most excellent novel is the one he claims he doesn’t like. He says it’s too hopeless, and he’s correct about that. The inevitable end is coming for all of us, but Pet Sematary understands that our deaths are far less painful than losing all we love, specifically our beloved pet.

Louis Creed moved to Maine with Rachel, his wife, and their two children Ellie and Gage. Jud Crandall, their neighbor, showed Louis the pet cemetery, misspelled “Sematary” by the sign. He told him about the power the land holds. It brings back the dead. Despite the new, peaceful life they have created in rural Maine and its happiness, tragedy soon follows the Creed family and Louis.

This causes Louis to question the theory that the cemetery’s dark magic can bring the dead back. Pet Sematary is a collection of dead animals, vehicular accidents, and a lifetime of pain. It shows the horrors of losing loved ones and the extremes that people will go to to be with them for one more day.

Pet Sematary offers us the thrill of creepy ruins and friendly old neighbors in the woods. It also gives us the chance to touch an alien realm that is just out of our reach. It’s too close.

Many of the events that occur in this story happened to Stephen King and his young family. The worst-case scenario realization of these incidents makes it a story that bothers the author.

Pet Sematary is the most severe book by Stephen King. It’s full of grief and sadness. This book is a King’s work that haunts you and whispers truths about the unavoidable.

The Dark Half

Stephen King is an expert at taking real-life stories from his life and turning them into frightening tales like The Dark Half. The novel follows Thad Beaumont, who is an author who has a life-like persona. It was written just after Richard Bachman was exposed. The Dark Half reflects nearly everything Stephen King used to kill Bachman. It is a fascinating glimpse into the author’s inner workings and the characters he created to publish more than one novel per year.

Needful Things: A Novel

Needful Things A Novel

Nothing at all. The small curiosity shop owned by Leland Gaunt comes with a price tag, but what is available. Maine, the inhabitants of Castle Rock, can locate anything they need in Needful Things to get just a little cash and a great deal of menace. Along with also the deals the residents will probably create will turn your blood cold.

Leland Gaunt, the owner of Needful Things, knows that every customer will find what they are looking for in his shop. Leland requests that a small prank be performed on his behalf. This creates chaos in a small town. The story is captivating as the characters become obsessed with possessions and blinded by greed. They are willing to kill for their objects. Stephen King’s novel is a thrilling thriller, horror, and fantasy element with a small-town feel.

The Shining

The Shining fans will recognize The Shining’s 1980 Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation as the better of the 1977 novel. However, the original story is very different from the one made for the big screen. When Jack Torrance gets the opportunity to move his family into the scenic Overlook Hotel for winter, it looks like the ideal opportunity to work on his book when taking care of a gorgeous location. However, the hotel has its schedule, along with also his five-year-old son Danny is the first to feel it. This classic haunted house tale has been thrilling to readers for almost 50 years.

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If you enjoyed the iconic Nicholson film, you would love the book it was based on. It is mentioned in many popular TV shows, including Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Hotel. It could be called the best, and it is likely to be for some. But there is one book that is far superior to all of them.


Carrie White, a teenage girl who her classmates pick on. Unluckily for her, or fortunately for them, she has telekinetic powers that lead to a prom-night massacre. This classic horror novel is also an anti-bullying guide. It contains a frightening mix of fundamental and supernatural elements, making it a fast read.

Carrie was Stephen King’s first novel success. He wrote the story in his trailer’s closet. It’s a classic Stephen King book, easy to read, and has a well-written narrative. Stephen King’s later book, Firestarter, used a similar concept of a girl who can start fires with her mind, but Carrie is the OG. You can also read our list of the top classic horror films and books.


Firestarter is about hallucinogenic drugs and their long-lasting effects on the body. It also explores pyrokinetic abilities. This sci-fi horror novel is supported by government conspiracies and is among King’s most significant works. It is also filled with real-life collaborations, actual events, and other details that make the story even more enjoyable. Universal and Blumhouse have been working together to bring Firestarter to life as a full feature for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Lisey’s Story

Stephen King’s favorite book changes from time to time. Lisey’s Story is often regarded as the best because of his connection. This novel is about Lisey’s life after the death of her husband. Now, she must learn how to navigate the world and cope without her husband. Her perception of her husband is forever changed by new information.

The title character is the widower of a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. It was partly inspired by Stephen King’s near-death in 1999 when he was hit by a van while walking along a country road. He pictured his wife during his recovery. Tabitha as he could not deal with his overflowing desk, he asked her what she would do.

Lisey’s Story is inspired by Stephen King’s reflections on a car accident that almost cost him his life. This is Stephen King’s way of asking himself what his family would have looked like if he had not died that day. It’s a sad, melancholy, and dark story.

Gwendy’s Button Box

Gwendy’s Box of Button is considered a novella but is still listed in Stephen King’s bibliography. Richard Chizmar co-wrote the story. It tells the story of Gwendy Peterson (a young girl who lives in Castle Rock, Maine). Castle Rock, another fictional town of Stephen King, was the focus of the Hulu original series Castle Rock. This isn’t an extraordinary story. It’s made up of fragments from each author that combine into an account that only reinforces Castle Rock’s mythos rather than Gwendy’s own experiences in the town.

Duma Key

Stephen King’s novels are usually set in the Midwest or Northeastern, but Duma Key is his first trip south to Florida and north to Minnesota. The story centers on Edgar Freemantle, who loses his right arm and must learn to navigate the world after severe brain damage.

He decides to relocate to Florida because he believes his past artistic interests will help him find joy again. As his story weaves into one of the past, Edgars begins to experience an otherworldly phenomenon, making Duma Key a tragic tale about overcoming one’s circumstances.

The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass

Book in a sci-fi, horror series

The fourth installment of The Dark Tower, Wizard and Glass, is the best book in the entire series.

Dark Tower mainly occurs at Mid-World, the decayed remains of a once-great empire in which a Gunslinger called Roland is trying to get to the remote titular Dark Tower. The fourth book in the series premiered in 1997, and it concentrates mainly on Roland’s teenage years and his doomed romance with Susan Delgado.

The last Dark Tower series book was composed before Stephen King’s van crash, which motivated him to immediately complete the series by composing the past three novels all in a row. The last books felt somewhat rushed and anti-climactic to some fans, plus they watch Stephen King novels four as the finest of this sequence. They see book four as the best of the series.

The Long Walk

King’s most disturbing novel, The Long Walk, is one of many Stephen King books originally published under the pseudonym, Richard Bachman. The Long Walk was published in 1979. It depicts a dystopian future where 100 young men participate in a continuous walking contest. The first prize is not wanting for anything. Death is the second prize. The military stages the spectacle by giving three warnings to Walkers about slowing down. The race ends when the last walker is left alive.

It evokes Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” It is a preludeSuzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games exploring the extremes in a zero-sum culture, in which empathy and mercy are gradually discarded in favor of animalistic survival instincts.

The Drawing Of The Three (Dark Tower Book #2)

The Drawing Of The Three, the second installment of The Dark Tower series, accomplishes what The Gunslinger couldn’t. It opens doors to other lives that will have an impact on Roland’s adventures. The Drawing Of The Three perfectly establishes the multidimensional elements of this book series. The first installment failed to do so. Every subsequent installment has used its foundation of otherworldly traveling to make The Dark Tower series what they are today.

Full Dark, No Stars (2010)

Stephen King began writing novellas and short stories, just like most authors. Stephen King is a master at packing a punch in just a few pages. Full Dark and No Stars is an assortment of four novellas that focus on the dark side of human nature and retribution. It is easier to read shorter stories grounded in the real world, especially for those new to the horror genre or sci-fi genre.

Titles include 1922 (about the murder of his wife), Big Driver, a car accident that ended in tragedy, and Fair Extension (a man agrees with the devil), as well as A Good Marriage. (I’ll let you guess). Each story is filled with page-turning violence, gruesome situations and makes you wonder, “How did this guy come up with this?” The Bazar of Bad Dreams was originally published later in 2016.

It contained 21 of his most famous short narratives. But that wasn’t anything new. It is, however, a good book showcasing his shorts. Are you looking for more such books? We’ve also found the best actual crime books.

The Talisman

Peter Straub co-written the Talisman. It is a harrowing tale about a boy’s struggle to save his mom from cancer. Jack Sawyer is on a quest to find “the talisman,” a crystal that can do magical things, such as cure cancer. His adventure turns unexpectedly, and he finds himself in a parallel universe.

Stephen King is known for his fascination with parallel universes, science fiction elements, time travel, and multiverses. The Talisman is a fantasy story by Straub that captures Jack Sawyer’s feelings of empathy and desire for his mother to be saved.

Bag Of Bones

Mike Noonan is left in writer’s block that he is desperate to break free from after his wife, who is pregnant, unexpectedly passes away. He begins to hallucinate after he has tried to isolate himself to bring back his authorial spark. This paranormal tale is captivating, but it leaves many questions unanswered. Its epilogue is also rather abrupt. Stephen King’s supernatural horrors are far more complex and complete than Bag Of Bones.


Stephen King is a master at writing stories about a haunted car, as demonstrated in his novel Christine. A young man named Arnie purchases a 1958 Plymouth Fury. He is not popular but hopes the vehicle will attract some attention. The true nature of Christine, the beloved car, is revealed as the novel progresses. John Carpenter, the Halloween legend, adapted the story.


Cujo is another Castle Rock, Maine tale. However, instead of the town’s usual killer or a nefarious character it features, its malevolent force turns out to be a rabid dog. Cujo, once calm, is infected with rabies by a bat, the once well-tempered dog goes on a killing spree.

Other Stephen King Novels Considerations

  • King’s Mr. Mercedes Trilogy
  • Gerald’s Game
  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon – favorite player, Tom Gordon
  • Roadwork (Bachman Books)
  • The Regulators (Bachman Book)
  • Black House
  • The Colorado Kid
  • The Waste Lands – The Dark Tower Third Book
  • The Running Man – Game-Show Story
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (inspiring budding and aspiring writers)
  • Dolores Claiborne – adapted into a movie starring Kathy Bates
  • The Eyes Of The Dragon – classic tale battle between good and evil

Hope that the above article will satisfy you guys with this bestselling horror writer – Stephen King’s works ever written.

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Category: Author

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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