Can You Guess The Horror Book Based On Its 1-Star Reviews?

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K.W. Colyard


Kristian Wilson Colyard grew up weird in a one-caution-light town in the Appalachian foothills. She now lives in an old textile city with her husband and their clowder of cats. She’s on Twitter @kristianwriting, and you can find more of her work online at kristianwriting.com.

You’ve seen every movie on Shudder and have a whole bookshelf devoted to Stephen King, but can you guess the horror book based on its 1-star reviews? I’ve got 12 of the best-known horror novels waiting for you to flex your guessing muscles below.

Book-lovers aren’t shy with their opinions, and they really shouldn’t be. Honest reviewers write thoughtful criticisms of the books they loved and hated, so that others with similar tastes can read or ignore those titles at their leisure. These people love reading, and they’re not writing to hurt authors’ feelings. In fact, they’re not writing for authors at all!

Then there are the bad faith reviewers. These are the folks who review-bomb books for having marginalized authors and characters, objectionable themes, or gratuitous profanity, sex, and violence. Some of their screeds can be entertaining, in a SMDH kind of way, and some authors have leaned heavily into marketing their books using 1-star ratings from this kind of reviewer. However, many of these reviews are also depressingly vile.

I’ve pulled from both kinds of reviewers here, while taking care to avoid the absolute worst of the latter. Put simply: I read bad reviews so you don’t have to.

So, can you guess these horror books based on their 1-star reviews? Get your guessing brains greased up, folks. It’s showtime.

Gold star confetti spilling out from a glass jar over a red surface

Can You Guess The Horror Book Based On Its 1-Star Reviews?

1. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“If the author’s intent is to shock readers sensibilities [sic], he succeeds. I don’t need this much darkness and depravity in my reading.”

Don’t know what else I should have expected from a professor living in Austin.”

“Spare your soul from this horrible, gratuitous violence. You will not be a better person for it!”

2. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Overly complicated bizzare [sic] horror story. Way too much flux between supposed reality and sci-fi. I just could not connect.”

“I watched the movie years ago when I was a little girl. I thought that maybe the book would be better than the movie so [I] purchased it. I read two chapters before giving up on finishing it. I think the two paragraphs covering how to maintain the heat from the furnace killed it for me. Since I’ve seen the movie I feel that there’s really no need to finish the book. I might finish it one day but right now I’m not too worried about it.”

“I really enjoyed the page that said, ‘The End’.”

3. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“I admit I don’t read a lot of gothic fiction so perhaps I just need to stay away from the genre but this book was never frightening, it was just disgusting. The only real tension or mystery was if and when it would begin to interest me. Spoiler alert: It never did.”

“The scariest part about this book is all the hatred for [E]uropean heritage.”

“Well written but I hate horror.”

4. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“I still don’t know how to identify the *species* of the central character, and while I am supposing this is one of the key reveals that are supposed to draw the reader further into the narrative, I am simply confused.”

“[I]t’s just too ‘wordy’ and unless you have knowledge of, or are interested in medical terminology was very hard to follow.”

Convoluted? Or just my wandering attention?”

5. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“[R]eads like a high school student’s mashup of Twilight and a spaghetti western.”

“I don’t understand rave reviews, must be a bunch of real wimps out there these days. Read Poe or something worth calling horror.”

Who the heck was Charles Stanton?

6. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“I found no horror here. What made this even more bizarre was that when a ‘ghostly occurrence’ or ‘scary’ part would happen, all the characters had the strangest reactions to it. They all laughed hysterically and were giddy the next day, leaving me clueless to comprehend how I was supposed to interpret it.”

“It reminds me of an old Gothic novel written by some neglected and bored spinster looking for something to do.”

“The Netflix series is a million times better and much more creativity. I’m honestly not sure how they made such an amazing show from such a boring book.”

7. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“My lack of knowledge of Japanese culture coupled with the authors [sic] refusal to teach or explain took a lot away from the book.”

“I suspect that this was written as a synopsis for a video game that was never produced.”

“The characters, a group of self-absorbed, shallow, two-dimensional 20-somethings, are unlikeable from the get-go…. I wished the ghost would stop whispering in Japanese and kill them all. At least then they’d shut up!” [This review has since been deleted.]

8. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Oh nononononono. … Oh nonononononoNO.”

“Having sex with an alien is an interesting thought-experiment…. [This] is NOT an interesting thought-experiment.”

“It puts the Steven King IT [sic] sewer orgy to shame.”

9. Click Here To Reveal The Book

Ripping off King, but with more sex, shallower characters, and a Hollywood ending.”

“Long and dull, filled with social/political undertones that I found insulting.”

“I got tired of all the sex and cussing.”

10. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“It’s basically an ego stroke for the author trying to show off his knowledge of horror movies, but ends up looking like a wiki search for popular cult horror films spliced into a weak storyline.”

“[T]hese meta books … are sophomoric at best.”

[W]hat a joke!

11. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“This is a horribly written piece of trash.”

“That quirky and ridiculous type of humor felt absolutely out of place in a supposedly horror novel and made the characters feel like teens rather than adults, who also lacked any characterization depth and could have been killed in the first chapter for all I cared.”

“Didn’t read entire book, plot too creepy and weird, about portals and strange landscapes, unsettling.”

12. Click Here To Reveal The Book

“Once I realized it was a mundane slasher and not paranormal horror I kind of knew it wasn’t for me.”

“I picked this up to read a fun horror novel for Halloween, not have political opinions and stereotypes thrown at me almost constantly. It isn’t difficult to see right through to this agenda.”

“I have a feeling a Harper Teen editor got his or her hands on this book and ruined it.”