As Halloween nears, we’re rounding up the scariest characters found in the pages of a book. Some are the villains we fight alongside our heroes, while others are the stars of their own stories. Here are a few of the most frightening characters in literature. If you think there are some we missed out on, sound off in the comments!

Pennywise the Clown
from It by Stephen King


Stephen King’s infamous Pennywise is essentially the stuff of nightmares. It is evil personified, feeding on innocent, unsuspecting children whose “frightened flesh tastes better.”

The Other Mother
from Coraline by Neil Gaiman


As if the button eyes aren’t enough, Neil Gaiman’s shapeshifting Other Mother will surely give you the creeps, especially when she starts to take on her real, spider-like appearance.

Miss Agatha Trunchbull
from Matilda by Roald Dahl


With her big, intimidating body and her stern disposition, Miss Trunchbull is the embodiment of every child’s worst teacher. Add the Chokey into the equation and you may never want to go to school again.

from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


The fact that Smaug is a fire-breathing dragon that can lay waste to a whole village should be enough to scare you into oblivion.

The Dementors
from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling


These foul, wraith-like creatures literally suck the happiness out of you until you are left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life. Then, they don’t even kill you. They just leave you soulless, stuck with your despair.

from Batman


The scary thing about Batman’s arch-nemesis is that he has no end goal. The thrill of the ride—which includes mass destruction and murder—is the only thing he’s after, so there’s no real way to win. Like Alfred said, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

The White Witch
from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


She’s a queen, an extremely powerful sorceress, and a skilled fighter with superhuman strength. Even without the 100-year-long winter, she can still make the hairs on your body stand on end.

from Carrie by Stephen King


Though she was victimized first, she still killed almost the entire population of her school at prom. Best not to cross this telepathic (and psychopathic) teen.

Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
from Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louise Stevenson


As Dr. Jekyll lost control of himself and slowly succumbed to the impulses of Mr. Hyde, we are reminded that we may all be harboring our own Mr. Hydes deep inside of us, and that should this alter-ego take over, we may never get our life back.

Humbert Humbert
from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov


He’s a delusional pedophile and he can still twist his story to make it seem like he’s the victim. What makes it even worse is that unlike dragons and Dementors, Humbert Humbert can actually be a real person.

from Lord of the Flies by William Golding


You can’t help but cringe as you watch his descent from being a helpless but still civilized child to someone a little less-than-human who’s driven by dark impulses once rules and formal society were out the window.

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