Have you ever come across a line in a book that just shakes you to your core? Maybe it gets under your skin and sits there, tickling the back of your neck…or maybe it haunts you with memories of something past, or something gone, or something to come…
Lucky for you, I’ve collected a handful of good ones just in time for Halloween! From the age-old wisdom of Alfred Lord Tennyson to the sage words of Stephen King, here are 20 terrifying lines from literature.
20 Terrifying Lines from Literature
The man screamed and clawed frantically, like a drowning swimmer. The screaming filled the universe.
–Ray Bradbury, Kaleidoscope
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London that a young, healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or broiled.
–Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal
The last man on earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.
–Fredric Brown, Knock
I thought that Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman. I thought so right up to the moment that I cut his throat.
–Truman Capote, In Cold Blood
Since it’s Sunday and it’s stopped raining, I think I’ll take a bouquet of roses to my grave.
–Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Someone Has Been Disarranging These Roses
You can’t run away from this. The evil is already inside you.
–Danielle Vega, The Merciless III
Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren’t.
–Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone, in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.
–Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The monsters that rose from the dead, they are nothing compared to the ones we carry in our hearts.
–Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
I lay in bed and thought about how easy it was to hurt a person. It didn’t have to be physical. All you had to do was take a good hard kick at something they cared about.
–Jack Ketchum, The Girl Next Door
My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape.
–Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho
Do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
Here is a small fact: You are going to die.
–Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
‘I swear on my mother’s grave.’
‘Does she have a grave?’ asked Coraline.
‘Oh yes,’ said the other mother. ‘I put her in there myself. And when I found her trying to crawl out, I put her back.’
–Neil Gaiman, Coraline
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly
Till her blood was frozen slowly
And her eyes were darken’d wholly.
–Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.