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Scariest Summer Horror Thrillers

The Top 10 horror books that take place in the summer, in balmy hot weather. If the killer doesn't make you sweat, the heat will. Even if it's winter where you live, you may want to warm up with some heated horror books.


1 - It by Stephen King. 

Taking place over two summers in 1958 and 1985, seven friends (known as the Losers) must contend with a demonic clown —Pennywise— and his evil power that seems to emanate from the small town of Derry, Maine. When they get older, they return to Derry to face the clown again. This time they want to end his reign of terror, and they set out to face him where he began, his or its origins, which leads them to a hot cave.  It's a showdown between good and evil that spans over nine hundred pages. As novels go, this was one of King's best character-driven plots. As always, the individual foibles of each protagonist take center stage.


2 - On Gravedigger Road by Rod Little. 

In a hot swamp in the Louisiana bayou, things get sticky when four students happen to see a man in costume bury a kid alive. They are then chased all night through a swamp, where more than deadly snakes and gators stalk them — two killers are on the hunt and won't let them leave alive. This mysterious small-town road harkens to the style of Stephen King and sets up a suspenseful page-turner that keeps you glued till the end! A few surprises are so well crafted you won't see them coming. On Gravedigger Road is a triumph of modern horror. The same author crafted the brilliant thriller, The Whisper Killer. Two thumbs up for this sweaty hot horror treat.


3 - Strangers by Dean Koontz. 

One hot summer night at the Tranquility Motel, a series of strangers come together for a night of terror. Each of these strangers has a unique illness or malady, such as somnambulism, among others, and they are drawn to the hotel by this connection, not by accident. Next to The Good Guy, this is certainly one of Koontz' best novels. It's good reading for a hot summer night, or a rainy day you wish were warmer. There's an interesting reveal at the end that made for a satisfying conclusion. 



4 -  The Fog by Dennis Etchison. 

On the 100-year anniversary of San Antonio Bay, California, a ship returns in a fog to get revenge on the descendants of the six conspirators who stole their gold one hundred years ago to start their new town. Chills set in despite the heat surrounding the cove. The novelization of the John Carpenter movie was deftly written and is a good, short read. Dennis Etchison never disappoints.


6 - Jaws by Peter Benchley. 

The ultimate summer threat, a great white shark. Made famous as a film, but not a bad book, either. The mall coastal town of Amity is about the have a summer to remember when a large shark starts feeding on its swimmers, both tourists and locals. When a bounty is placed on the shark, our three main characters will face it head on.


7 - Crab's Moon by Guy N. Smith. 

At an ocean resort, you can guess why the guests are disappearing. The crabs are coming! It sounds hokey, but it's very well written. Smith was a great writer. Also: Night of the Crabs by Smith. There's good suspense in this short novel.


8 - Cujo by Stephen King. 

Mr. King seems to prefer winter to horror in his book settings, but this one was on a hot summer day. A woman and her son are trapped in a hot car with a rabid dog waiting outside the car to get them. It's no fun afternoon and it's no picnic. Dehydrated and fatigued, the two wait for help, trapped alone with a monster facing them — and only a thin windshield between it and them. 

8 - Ocean Grave by Matt Serafini. 

From dogs to sea creatures ... On their honeymoon in tropical Madagascar, a couple get caught between a killer pirate and an ocean creature thought long dead. Surprisingly engaging and full of heat. It's straightforward and to the point — no twists in this one — but it's a fun read.

10 - Summer of Night by Dan Simmons. 

The summer of 1960, at the start of summer vacation, one of the students vanishes. From there, the tale begins to unfold with more mysteries that are connected. A good reveal and a solid payoff (not something you always get with Simmons) but this one is worth reading.


Honorable mention: Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon. The apocalypse takes place over a long year, but most of the novel is in the sweltering heat, made worse by the thermal blast that brings about the end of the world. Also by McCammon, A Boy's Life is primarily in summer.

Recommended summer reading, even if it's not summer yet. These are the hottest books in the warmest weather we could find.


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