5 Stephen King Novels For People Who Don’t Like Horror

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the horror genre, be it books, movies, or tv. I can’t handle gratuitous violence and gore, or torture and suffering. Yet I am a fan of Stephen King and his extraordinary catalog of work.

As I’ve said before, there’s some of his stuff I can’t handle, a few I haven’t even tried. He’s also written some of my favorite books, including one on the craft of writing.

If you’re passionate about reading, and haven’t read any King yet, you’re seriously missing out. His storytelling skills are practically unparalleled. And his ability to create his own universe is a marvel.

Many people have the misconception that every King book is pure horror. I’ve encountered countless bibliophiles who say No way, I won’t even try it. If that’s your take on King, I beg you to reconsider.

The term horror is certainly subjective. What has scared the crap out of me in King novels, my husband enjoys. And what he has found disturbing, I had read without flinching. (Okay maybe not without flinching – Misery is intense, but I wasn’t nearly as affected by it as he was.)

5 Stephen King Novels For People Who Don’t Like Horror

1. The Eyes of the Dragon

Perfect for readers who enjoy fantasy, and young adult fiction. 

From Amazon: “Once, in a kingdom called Delain, there was a king with two sons….”
Thus begins one of the most unique tales that master storyteller Stephen King has ever written—a sprawling fantasy of dark magic and the struggle for absolute power that utterly transforms the destinies of two brothers born into royalty. Through this enthralling masterpiece of mythical adventure, intrigue, and terror, you will thrill to this unforgettable narrative filled with relentless, wicked enchantment, and the most terrible of secrets….

2. Joyland

Perfect for readers of hardboiled crime fiction, suspenseful mysteries, and young adult fiction.  

From Goodreads: Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

3. The Tommyknockers

Perfect for fans of science fiction.

From Goodreads: Something was happening in Bobbi Anderson’s idyllic small town of Haven, Maine. Something that gave every man, woman, and child in town powers far beyond ordinary mortals. Something that turned the town into a death trap for all outsiders. Something that came from a metal object, buried for millennia, that Bobbi accidentally stumbled across. It wasn’t that Bobbi and the other good folks of Haven had sold their souls to reap the rewards of the most deadly evil this side of hell. It was more like a diabolical takeover…an invasion of body and soul–and mind….

4. The Stand

Perfect for fans of literary fiction, post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. 

From Goodreads: This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen.

5. Different Seasons

Perfect for fans of short stories, literary fiction, mystery and suspense.

From Goodreads: This gripping collection begins with “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” in which an unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge—the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award-nominee The Shawshank Redemption.

Next is “Apt Pupil,” the inspiration for the film of the same name about top high school student Todd Bowden and his obsession with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town. In “The Body,” four rambunctious young boys plunge through the façade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death, and intimations of their own mortality. This novella became the movie Stand By Me. Finally, a disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death in “The Breathing Method.”

“The wondrous readability of his work, as well as the instant sense of communication with his characters, are what make Stephen King the consummate storyteller that he is,”

– the Houston Chronicle about Different Seasons.


When I did some research on “non-horror” writing by Stephen King, I found a baffling amount of discrepancies in recommended titles. What is scary to one person might not have an effect on another. You may choose to read one of the above novels and be horrified (although I sincerely hope not and doubt it!)

You may be taking a small risk on a King novel, and while I can’t guarantee whether or not you will find any of these books “scary,” I can definitely promise you will feel something, or lots of things!




  1. Lea

    October 25, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    Some of my faves are the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and I wouldn’t consider them horror but I can see why they may be classified that way. Any way you slice it, he’s a master at creating worlds and weaving yarns.

  2. Deb

    October 31, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    My favorite non-scary King book is The Colorado Kid (a novella). It’s what the SyFy series Haven was based on.

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