Top 5 Horror novels – as chosen by Charles Lambert

Vampires, gothic castle and stomach-turning mob rule – the prize-winning novelist picks his five favourite spooky stories

IN THE PENAL COLONY
Franz Kafka

One of the most haunting stories ever written. A description of a device intended to torture and execute criminals by carving their crimes into their skin, the tale prefigures the mechanisation of death perfected by Nazi Germany.

THE MONK
Matthew Lewis

Possibly the greatest and certainly the goriest Gothic novel, this has everything – if your idea of everything is depravity, ghostly nuns, incarceration, sex, sadism and, yes, the Spanish Inquisition! Coleridge called it ‘poison for youth’.

INCARNATE
Ramsey Campbell

A great horror writer, Campbell should be better known. This novel plays with reality and dream in an increasingly unsettling way and has one of the most memorably disturbing and, well, slimy climaxes I’ve ever read.

EAT HIM IF YOU LIKE
Jean Teulé

Based on a true story, this account of the death of a well-meaning young man in a 19th-century French village tells us more about populism and mob rule than any political treatise. It’s stomach-turning, gory, with the inexorableness of the best horror.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
John Ajvide Lindqvist

Vampires have come in many guises since Dracula first swooped into Whitby, but this tale of the friendship between Oskar, a bullied 12-year-old on a Swedish housing estate, and his new neighbour, Eli, must be the most touching, and disturbing. Attention to social issues like alcoholism only intensifies the darkness.

Two Dark Tales by Charles Lambert is out now (Aardvark Bureau, £8.99)