BODY HORROR: 13 Books That Will Seriously Mess You Up

Body horror is a sub-genre of horror fiction that, uh, memorably explores the graphic and almost always painful destruction of the human body. What gives these novels their maximum nightmare points is that awful skquicky feeling you inevitably get in the pit of your stomach, when you realize that the object of horror being described on the page is the one thing you can’t ever escape: yourself. Below are 13 of our must-read body horror novels--they'll get under your skin, literally:

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1. THE TROOP by Nick Cutter

The inspiration for this post and also the novel that "scared the hell" out of Stephen King. Nick Cutter (a pseudonym) takes old school horror--a boy scout troop isolated on an island, an unexpected intruder who is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry--and writes a novel that will gruesomely make you lose your appetite.

2. BLACK HOLE by Charles Burns

The graphic novel by Charles Burns that describes (with DETAILED visuals) the physical mutations that happen within a group of teenagers after they infect one another with "The Bug," a sexually transmitted disease. The metaphors abound, and the mutations cannot be unseen.

3. SLITHER by Edward Lee

From the book's description: "The trichinosis worm is one of nature's most revolting parasites. Certain types of this tiny worm alter a host's DNA by injecting a virus which mutates the reproductive system. This forces the host to bear the worm's young. Typically these worms are never longer than a few millimeters. But guess what? Now there's a subspecies that's thirty feet long..." 'nuff said.


This book is about a huge, invisible spider that just might be living in your head, controlling your nerve endings, deciding what you see and breeding away like it's going out of style. #nope

6. GYO by Junji Ito

The warning on the cover of this horror manga series that begins when a strange, legged fish appears in Okinawa says it all: explicit content is inside, so those prone to nightmares, consider this your warning.

7. BOOKS OF BLOOD by Clive Barker

Really, you could read anything by Clive Barker and probably never sleep again. This collection is an excellent place to start though, sorry not sorry.

8. DREAMCATCHER by Stephen King

We could make an entire list just dedicated to body horror in Stephen King novels (and we hope someone does!), but right now we're recommending the book that disturbed us the most. Why? Go ahead, imagine what a "sh*t weasel" is/does. Oh god oh god oh god.

9. ED THE HAPPY CLOWN by Chester Brown

Clowns, pygmy cannibals, vampires, extreme graphic violence, a guy who can't stop pooping, a president's head on, um, another kind of head. Trust us, read this and you'll never be the same again.

12. UZUMAKI by Junji Ito

Another manga horror classic from Junji Ito (Mr. Ito, are you ok?). This time Ito takes us to Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan. The town is haunted--but by an uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people's bodies, and the madness it brings is contagious...


Because kids should experience the twisted joy that is body horror too. The 53rd book in the delightfully scary Goosebumps series combines Kafka with Old McDonald Had a Farm and it's just fantastic.

Have fuuuuuuuun!