Top 10 Most Disturbing Novels List


Written by : Marquis de Sade
Justine Marquis de Sade
Upon anonymous publication, this book so scandalized France that Napoleon ordered the arrest of the author, stating that book was “the most abominable book ever engendered by the most depraved imagination”. The plot concerns Justine, who is presented with vice and abuse everywhere she turns. For example, she seeks refuge and confession in a monastery, but is forced to become a sex-slave to the monks, who subject her to countless orgies, rapes and other kind of abuses. This is a must-read for anyone interested in French literature, the history of sadism, or disturbing literature.
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Written by : Patrick Suskind
Perfume By Patrick Suskind
In 18th century France, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, born with no scent of his own, but with with a supernatural ability to detect the scent of others is driven to murder in order to create the perfect perfume. The book is a bizarre tale, but it is also hypnotic and lyrical –almost a fairy tale of terror. The ending is utterly vile and if you like disturbing literature, that alone makes this book worth a read. You won’t be disappointed, I bet you.
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Written by : Stephen King
Misery Stephen King
Anyone who has read this book will appreciate its inclusion here; if for no other reason than the axe scene
( the protagonist chops off one of his feet with an axe – this is the hobbling scene in the movie). That scene aside, the pages upon pages of descriptions of the pain suffered by the bedridden main character, coupled with the psychological torment as he tries to move through the house unnoticed, make this a much deserved entry.
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American Psycho
Writtenby : Brett Easton Ellis
American Psycho Book
This is one of the only books that I have not finished reading. I was so horrified by a scene early in the book (involving a dog, a bum, and a very sharp knife) that I could not go on. It was my first introduction to truly disturbing writing. I have since learnt to cope better and will, eventually, give this book another go. In this novel, people are sawed in half, gutted, sliced, diced and quartered in every imaginable form. What is striking about this novel’s violence is how emotionally unattached the protagonist is to all of it , he has lost all feeling for anything but the thrill of the taboo. This book will make a great impact on you !
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The Painted Bird
Written by : Jerzy KosiƄski
The Painted Bird
The ‘Painted Bird’ is a holocaust novel that mentions the concentration camps only in passing, and rarely details the Nazis and their terrible work. This is the story of a young boy who gets separated from his parents when they send him to the (perceived) safety of the countryside when World War II breaks out in Eastern Europe. What happens to the boy – the things that are done to him, the things he sees and endures – is staggering. It’s a shocking description of hell on Earth. This book is a carnival of torture.
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Geek Love
Written by : Katherine Dunn
Geek Love Katherine Dunn
Straddling the borderlands between realism, fantasy and horror,this novel deals with the remarkable Binewski carnival family: Arturo the Aqua-Boy, born with flippers but no limbs; the musical Siamese twins Electra and Iphigenia; the telekinetic boy-wonder Chick; and the long-suffering Olympia, our narrator, who is a bald hump-backed dwarf. The story progresses through the family’s relatively innocent conception into much darker territory, primarily concerning Oly’s megalomaniac brother, Arty, and eventually culminates in a catastrophic event which claims the lives of all but a few Binewskis.
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The Wasp Factory
Written by : Iain Banks
The Wasp Factory
The book is told entirely by Frank, a 17 year old who manages to sound perfectly sane and rational as he explains how he killed 3 people while he was still just a child or as he performs the rituals of the Wasp Factory (bizarre rituals that need to be read to be believed). The casualnes with which violent and unpleasant events are described is possibly more horrible than the events themselves and the irony that Frank considers himself the sanest person he knows is understated throughout. “I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped. I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me.”
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We Need To Talk About Kevin
Written By : Lionel Shriver
We Need To Talk About Kevin Book
Kevin is a 15 year old mass murderer; a child who’s been emotionally unstable throughout his life. This book is written from the perspective of his mother, Eva. She, too, is emotionally very disturbed. Shriver does do a creepily good job of highlighting all of the real school shootings that have taken place in America in the last few years, making We Need to Talk About Kevin not just disturbing in the far-off sense, but in the sense that although this particular story isn’t real, Eva could be any number of mothers in this country whose children have done the unthinkable.
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Written by : Brett Easton Ellis
Glamorama Picture
I normally restrict these lists to one book per author. Today I am breaking that rule. Glamorama definitely needs to be on this list (along with the other Easton Ellis book, American Psycho) because of the gut churning violence depicted throughout the entire second half of the novel. There is a poisoning scene which you will reman in your mind forever, a scene involving dismemberment (and described in every detail as is always the case with this author), and a plane crash. This book does have many elements of humor (for example, the main character, a male model, thinks that Global Warming is a type of shampoo) and I found it to be an enjoyable read, but it is definitely up there as one of the most disturbing books I have ever read.
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Written By : Chuck Palahniuk
Haunted Chuck Palahniuk
Haunted is truly a disturbing but entertaining book of short stories. The first story is about a guy who loses some of his organs – it is the perfect example of “disturbing” literature. This is possibly the most blatantly twisted of Palahniuk’s novels; Haunted pushes the borders of what is considered socially acceptable. The book tells the story of 18 or so struggling writers who sign up for a “workshop” that involves being locked inside a dilapidated mansion for several days to develop story ideas. The chapters are the consequences of their brainstorming. One review sums up the gruesomeness of this book : “I thought that if I made it through story #1 (eating your way through your own prolapsed rectum) that I could get through anything, but I was wrong.”
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