Everyone who loves Stephen King is, more or less, a horror and dark fantasy fan. We all like the creepy and intense atmosphere in his books, but not only that – King’s narration is dynamic and it causes some kind of addiction – you just can’t stop reading it! The feeling reminds me of some TV shows we can’t stop binge-watching, even when we see it’s 3 AM and the alarm clock will ring in a few hours! When you finally take a break and go to do something else, you can’t wait to get back to the story.
In this article, we are going to recommend more writers like Stephen King with similar intense fantasy horror stories that make us read the novels page by page, chapter by chapter, without a break. You may already know about some, or all of them, but you also may find someone you haven’t discovered yet so, without further ado, check out our list of writers like Stephen King.
The most similar author to Stephen King is – Stephen King. We’re not joking. King didn’t write all his books under a name familiar to everyone, even those who are not his fans. Some were published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. We all know he writes a lot. If you own all of his books, you need a bookshelf for them only. During the early stages of Stephen King’s career, publishers held the belief that authors should only release one book per year, as exceeding this frequency would be unacceptable to the readership. So he used another name to publish more. If you haven’t read Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork, or The Running Man, it’s time to explore these early King’s works.
We believe you have read at least some of his books because Ray Bradbury is one of the most famous fantasy and horror writers. His most renowned novel is probably Fahrenheit 451, a dystopian exploration of a future American society where critical thinking is forbidden. The novel itself doesn’t have a Stephen King vibe, but if you are looking for that you should check out Something Wicked This Way Comes! Nightmarish atmosphere, mystery, kids who play in the yard one day and face strange and evil people and things in another – it’s all there. And you can’t stop reading, the story drags you in and you want to follow the characters all the way to the end.
We also highly recommend Bradbury’s short story collection Dark Carnival and dare you to try and take a break between – we could not. We wanted to read the next one, and one more, and just one more seriously, well the next one is really short so why not take a look at it…
Stephen King’s main characters are often writers, as you know. Well in Kill Creek Scott Thomas put a group of horror authors in a haunted house for a Halloween night. In Violet, the main character meets an imaginary friend from childhood as an adult. Of course, in both novels, things go sideways, or else we certainly wouldn’t recognize King’s influence in the story about having a fun night in a haunted house or having a lovely chat with your imaginary friend. Thomas himself says that Stephen King is one of his biggest influences so that should definitely mean something. This author deserves to be in our list of writers like Stephen King for many reasons and these are just some of them.
Do you love how Stephen King makes a unique scary atmosphere? Mira Grant, who uses this pseudonym for writing horror and SF, is good at doing that too. If you are a fan of psychological horror, we’re quite sure you’ll really like Parasite. The novel will keep you engaged from the begging and it’s a fairly easy read. If we are right, you will have reading material even when you close this book because there are two more. Parasite is the first novel in the trilogy called Parasitology and you should definitely check the Symbiont and Chimera to wrap up the story.
We advise you to read Carmen’s debut short story collection Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked. Reading short stories is a good way to see if you like someone’s writing because if you don’t, you can easily give up. But if you like it, you are sure you want to dive into the author’s other works. So, if you like Christina Carmen’s horror, suspense, and dark fantasy story collection that won the 2018 Indie Horror Book Award for Best Debut Collection, you will want to explore more of her work, like The Daughters of Block Island. The novels are not exactly the same as Stephen King work but they are quite similar.
If Stephen King himself recommended Alma Katsu, why wouldn’t we do that too? She portrays historical events from a different angle, adding a supernatural twist to them. King did something similar in 11/22/63, except he didn’t add supernatural but science-fiction elements like time traveling. In her novel The Hunger, Katsu skillfully reimagines one of America’s most tragic and intriguing historical events, the Donner Party, making it gripping and tense with supernatural elements. We recommend you check out her work not just because of its similarity to King’s novels but also because of interesting historic What ifs that are always interesting to read about.
Koontz incorporates in his books everything you can find in Stephen King’s novels – horror, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, not forgetting about satire too. He also writes a lot, like King. Now, we must say that we don’t think writing too many books is necessarily a good thing. It is on the edge of impossible to keep a high level of quality if a writer does that. As a matter of fact, we think that some of King’s novels are not particularly good – but that is understandable considering the number of books that he published. However, this can be a problem for the reader who is about to begin exploring the writer’s work because it is hard to decide where to start. So here’s a little help for those who haven’t read Koontz’s books yet – you may start with The Silent Corner and The Whispering Room, considered one of his best horror books. If you like it, check The Forbidden Door or The Crooked Staircase as well.
Interesting fact: Stephen King mentions Koontz in one oh his novels, Doctor Sleep. But he doesn’t name the book, he just says that Abra’s mother Lucy chooses one of the older Koontz’s books.
Stephen King once said that A Head Full of Ghosts was a book that scared the Master of Horror himself. Check out why. Paul Tremblay tends to start with a nice idyllic atmosphere just to destroy that atmosphere and turn it straight into a grim-dark fantasy setting. One might argue that it is something that Terry Goodkind did in his novels, especially in the first part of the Sword of Truth series, Wizard’s First Rule. King uses the same trick, and it works every time. This doesn’t mean that Tremblay just copies King’s style of making a story, this guy has his own style which is the reason why he is on our list.