Do you think of King as horror?

  • New to the board or trying to figure out how something works here? Check out the User Guide.
  • The message board is open 8:30am ET Tuesdays to 4pm ET Thursdays. Posts cannot be made outside of board hours.

    As always, the Board will be open to read and those who have those privileges can still send private messages and post to Profiles.


Well-Known Member
Aug 9, 2016
Today I started...and finished...a book by Jack Drew called The Takeover. As I stated before about authors, there are two selections in this referring to other writers. ..King and Bentley Little. If you have not read Little, I would recommend him as well. He is Macabre/Suspense, with a twist.



Jul 17, 2015
No I do not think of a Stephen King novel in the way one might think of the plot. Yes he is horror. However I challenge anyone to read not just the Telltale heart but some of the poetry by Poe and not come away breathless. He had some of the most heart wrenching tales and yet they were told in a language that was as far as I'm concerned beautiful beyond description. Odd as Hemingway is the opposite in almost every sense and he is one of my favorite writers as well.

On short I do not think of King as horror because when I think horror I think total trash devoid of any deeper life truths. Not to be a snob but I do enjoy reading things that have some lasting meaning and impact. King always delivers that which is why I love reading him so much. I could do without the gross out factor he uses in many of his books but if someone likes that there is certainly nothing

The Nameless

M-O-O-N - That spells Nameless
Jul 10, 2011
The Darkside of the Moon (England really)
What is horrifying? It's different things to different people. In IT the most horrifying scene for me is
Tom savagely beating up bev's friend
Because that can and does happen.

I would say that Stephen falls into the category commonly considered as horror - ghosts, monsters, vampires, demons etc, especially his early works but he has always been about more than just that. Things like the long walk was written before he blew up as the king of horror, and that's not traditional horror.

Surely these days though horror writer is the wrong description for him. Since the years began with 2 he has completed a fantasy western series, a time travel thriller, a crime/detective trilogy, a retro pulp fiction, I'd say he is just as much a thriller writer now as he is horror - which he clearly still loves and does great.

Alexandra M

Well-Known Member
Mar 12, 2015
Kelowna, B. C., Canada
I pretty well agree with The Nameless. In the early days, to me, his books were strictly horror. I know they scared
the crap out of me. After those few books, I started looking at SK books as Thriller. I know that he is the only writer
of books I have read that I feel like I am inside the story, walking along side quietly observing the story unfold. It's
a great ride each and every time. There have been so many happy hours/days reading his books, they is no way
to put in words thanks for all he has given as a Writer.


Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2007
I have to more properly read through this thread, it is a great topic...but for now, allow me to make one quick comment that perhaps has already been covered. In regard to the following:

There's often a literary quality
If I'm thinking of the same definition as literary as you are (and I probably am), let me say, yes, I agree, he can write in that manner, but I think he mostly chooses not to, and I think the majority of his prose is decidedly non-literary, the so-called Big-Mac/fries analogy. That's what made him popular, I think. However, one might argue that some of his more recent stuff, especially perhaps some of the shorter tales, leans more toward that style. Granted, there are probably passages in 'Salem's Lot and It that are very literary in style, but somehow, even they come off as appealing to a wider audience than the literary genre implies (I'm thinking in particular of one example: the section in 'Lot about the town knowing darkness...there's both a New Yorker-quality about it, and there's not, the equivalent of a Schrodinger's-Cat collection of letters).


Well-Known Member
Aug 20, 2016

I mean sorta but I consider him mostly a speculative fiction/drama writer of sorts. All my favorite books of his are the ones that stray from what he's known for.

So all the ones not considered horror.

The Talisman, DT, 11/22/63 etc

Though I've always found horror a somewhat subjective thing. You'll get people saying "Ugh, I can't deal with ghost and vampire stuff."

Scary to some? Sure, I totally get it!

But fear and horror comes with every moment in life and in every genre in fiction. Death, losing loved ones, facing your fears or enemies, chasing your dreams (both exciting and scary), gunfights or being shot at, space travel and all sorts of things are just as scary. Its all in how its written of course but everything comes with some level of fear even if its not horror.


Just moseyin' through...
Oct 9, 2013
Interesting question(s). I can't say I've ever been seriously scared by anything SK has written - disquieted, certainly, but not scared in the truest sense. Off the top of my head, I'd say the closest he came was in Pet Sematary.
Does that mean he's failed in his 'quest'? Not at all, because I'm pretty damn hard to scare anyway and his stories have touched me in other ways. (I agree on the point re: is it even possible to scare someone with a book. You can certainly create tension or even unease, but genuine horror, fright? I have my doubts.)
Is he a horror writer, though? Well, yes, in the sense that much of his work wears the robes and follows the tropes of horror (though not always too closely!)...but that's not all he is. There's often a literary quality about his work that some writers of literary fiction (which is, after all, really just another genre) would kill for a tenth part of.
For me, SK is primarily a writer who captures ordinary people wrapped up in extraordinary events. As such, he gets to one or several essential truths, and his worst 'bad guys' are usually human (arguably the worst 'bad guy' being a woman), and so to a greater or lesser extent his work sits outside of the mainstreams of genre.
If you like, his stories bend genre(s) to their (or his) will rather than allowing themselves to be bent by the rules and restrictions of genre, and it's for that reason that I think SK will go down as one of the great American writers - and a key figure in the English (language) literary canon. (Where 'literary' is used in the broad sense of 'all literature', rather than the more narrow one of 'writer of literary fiction' - if there really is such a beast. Even Austen was basically a writer of romance. ;))


Speed Reader
Sep 3, 2016
he has that label because a large chunk of his work tends towards supernatural occurrences. some, like tommyknockers and dreamcatcher are more like straight up sci fi. the stand starts out sort of sci fi but gets mystical in the end though. it, needful things, desperation, the regulators, dark half, christine, salem's lot, the list goes on. even a lot of the dark tower has supernatural elements, even if the overall story reads like fantasy. also, it seems most of his short stories fall into the supernatural as well. interestingly enough, dean koontz has voiced this thought regarding his own works, and with him i tend to buy into the mislabeling more than with king, because he dabbles in horror, but the bulk of his stuff is more mundane evil such as human killers, or sci fi like phantoms and strangers. it's hard to classify writers sometimes, unless they dedicate themselves to a series of books with the same characters, or always do crime thrillers no matter what characters they use. writers like king and koontz who have a rather large variety of stories and themes are harder to nail down. horror works as well as anything. fans will always know not to put them in such a limiting box though
The Institute - Coming September 10th, 2019 Flight or Fright - Now Available in Trade Paperback!