It is often said that the greatest works of fiction linger long in readers’ minds after they have finished reading the book itself.
Whether this is down to a particularly memorable plot, characters that create fandom, or the setting of the story that is able to transport its readership away from the real world and into an imagined place and time.
However, there is perhaps one genre that is able to do this more than any other due to the infiltration of the subconscious and the strength of feelings and emotions it is able to evoke; paranormal.
These tales are part of the wider culture and form part of every country’s identity with its myths, legends, and history.
In fact, some believers would go so far as to say that paranormal stories are not strictly works of fiction but are in fact a combination of a very real ghostly other realm and the actual world we inhabit.
But what does it take to write a great paranormal book and who does it better than anyone else?
In this article, we will be taking a look at some of the best paranormal authors, the works they have created, and what makes them so successful.
This list of 9 of the best paranormal authors contains:
- H P Lovecraft
- Stephen King
- Edgar Allen Poe
- Anne Rice
- Shirley Jackson
- Dean Koontz
- Neil Gaiman
- Richard Matheson
- Peter Straub
H P Lovecraft
Author H.P. Lovecraft is renowned for his significant contribution to the horror genre through his most memorable work, “The Call of Cthulhu.” Published in 1928, this short story introduced the Cthulhu Mythos, a cosmic horror universe characterized by ancient, god-like entities and the insignificance of humanity.
Lovecraft’s exceptional ability to evoke fear through the unknown and the unfathomable created a new standard for horror literature.
“The Call of Cthulhu” effectively merged science fiction and horror, establishing a unique atmosphere that continues to inspire modern writers and artists.
Lovecraft’s emphasis on cosmic dread and his development of an intricate mythos solidify his lasting impact on the paranormal genre.
Stephen King is maybe the most famous author on this list and his work has certainly carried over into the wider culture, with various adaptations of his writing into both film and TV.
The Shining, which many consider to be his seminal work, was published in 1977 and masterfully mixes psychological horror with supernatural elements, chronicling the descent into madness of a family isolated in an eerie hotel during winter.
King’s skillful character development and the portrayal of the hotel as a malevolent entity contribute to the novel’s chilling atmosphere.
“The Shining” is celebrated for its exploration of domestic terror, the fragility of sanity, and the interplay between human fears and otherworldly forces.
King’s ability to blend a psychological thriller and supernatural horror solidifies his place as a preeminent paranormal author.
Edgar Allen Poe
Renowned author Edgar Allan Poe is best remembered for his iconic poem “The Raven.” Published in 1845, this haunting narrative follows a mourning man’s encounter with a mysterious raven that utters the word “Nevermore.”
Poe’s mastery lies in his evocative use of language, rhythm, and symbolism, which intensify the poem’s eerie ambiance.
“The Raven” is a quintessential example of Poe’s ability to explore themes of grief, loss, and the macabre within a concise yet impactful framework.
Through its mesmerizing verses and psychological depth, Poe’s work epitomizes the allure of the paranormal, setting a precedent for the genre’s exploration of the uncanny and the mysterious.
Anne Rice is celebrated for her most noteworthy work “Interview with the Vampire,” published in 1976.
This novel reinvigorated vampire literature by introducing a new level of introspection and sensuality to the genre.
Through the protagonist Louis’s recounting of his immortal life, Rice delves into themes of morality, identity, and the existential challenges of eternal existence.
Her vivid and opulent prose combines the telling of a supernatural tale with an intimate, human touch.
“Interview with the Vampire” is a cornerstone of modern paranormal fiction, which helped to usher in a new wave of more complex portrayals of the undead.
No list would be complete without mentioning Shirley Jackson and her iconic novel “The Haunting of Hill House,” published in 1959 and recently turned into a Netflix series.
This famous work of horror fiction expertly employs psychological terror to create an unsettling atmosphere. The story follows four individuals invited to investigate paranormal activity in a notorious mansion.
Jackson is regarded by critics as having an exceptional command of suspense and her skillful exploration of the characters’ psychological states contribute to the novel’s enduring impact.
By blurring the lines between the supernatural and the human psyche, “The Haunting of Hill House” transcends traditional ghost stories, leaving readers haunted by the unknown and fulfilling the criteria of making a last impression, as we touched upon earlier.
Dean Koontz has made a significant mark on the paranormal genre, most notably with his novel “Watchers,” published in 1987.
This work is considered a triumph due to its fusion of science fiction and horror, centering on a genetically-engineered dog of extraordinary intelligence and a telepathic human.
Koontz managed to create a story that seamlessly blends suspense and heartwarming companionship.
The novel is also known for its clever exploration of ethical dilemmas, the potential of genetic manipulation and the blurred boundaries between human and non-human entities, all adding extra layers which contribute to making it such a well rounded and complete work of fiction.
Neil Gaiman has one of the more recent works on our list, with “American Gods” being published just over the turn of the century in 2021.
This modern classic weaves myth, folklore, and the contemporary world into one story that again was such a success it was subsequently turned into a TV series.
The story follows Shadow Moon, a man drawn into a conflict between old gods and new deities born from modern obsessions.
Gaiman has a natural ability to meld various mythologies while addressing themes of belief, cultural shifts and the power of stories, all of which combine to make “American Gods” a thought-provoking deep dive into the supernatural.
Author Richard Matheson is celebrated for his influential work “I Am Legend,” published in 1954. This novel redefined the vampire genre by introducing a post-apocalyptic world where a lone survivor battles a new breed of vampire-like creatures.
Matheson’s tale delves deep into themes of isolation, the thin line between humanity and monstrosity, and the psychological toll of being the last human alive on planet Earth.
The story’s impact has carried over into the mainstream culture, especially after Will Smith starred in a film adaption of the same name.
Peter Straub rounds out our list, in large part due to one of his most famous works, the novel Ghost Story published in 1979.
This story has a great mix of supernatural horror and psychological suspense, as it follows a group of elderly men who are haunted by secrets from their past whilst at the same time a malevolent entity threatens their town.
Straub was known for his character development and exploration of fears that carry across generationally in an almost hereditary manner.
Straub’s ability to create an eerie atmosphere in his books whilst also zooming in on personal dynamics and relationships earmarks him as one of the pre-eminent paranormal writers of our time.
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