When The Fear Is Real: Exploring The Scariest Non-Fiction Paranormal Books  

Proving truth can be scarier than fiction

Explore the scariest non-fiction paranormal books with Fiona Dodwell, revealing that truth can often be stranger and scarier than fiction.

The fiction world is flooded with a huge amount of scary literature, with the horror genre becoming increasingly popular over the years.

We have the modern giants of our nightmares, such as Stephen King (IT) and Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas), as well as the more subtle and classic ghostly chillers brought to us from the likes of Susan Hill (The Woman In Black) and Henry James (The Turn Of The Screw). In fictional tales, we have the safety of knowing that no matter how dark the plot turns, none of it is real. We are secure, and the monsters are created in the imaginations of those penning the frightful tales.  

What, then, of the vast array of frightening paranormal books available that are non-fiction, and very much written based on true life events? When reading such material, it becomes slightly harder to put the book down and feel at ease. Is there a reality to the paranormal and/or demonic encounters described in the following books? If so, then such publications can teach us a lot about ourselves and the unanswered questions regarding the world around us.  

Here for GhostMag, I have selected some of the best non-fiction paranormal books that are currently available. If there are any that are not in this list and you think others need to hear about, feel free to comment your book recommendations in the section below… 

A list of our favourite Non-Fiction Paranormal Books

Hostage To The Devil (1976, Malachi Martin)

Hostage To The Devil is a full and in-depth account of five contemporary cases of alleged demonic possession written by a Catholic priest. The subject of possession is a scary one at the best of times, but these five cases, having allegedly happened to real people who sought out a priest’s help, make compelling and terrifying reading. What is particularly good about this book is that there is no flair for the dramatic in each case description; if anything, the chills are found in the everyday details of the victims lives and experiences.  

Hostage To The Devil is brilliantly written and tackles a very difficult and creepy topic with respect. After a solid introduction, Malachi Martin then goes on to explore the five cases of possession and explains why he believes they fit the criteria for the Catholic rite of exorcism.  

An especially creepy thing about this book is in the reviews. If you take a solid read through the many reviews of the book on Amazon, there are more than a few people who felt they experienced paranormal events in their home during the time they read it. One person even threw their copy away. I highly recommend you read this book, but perhaps only in the daylight hours… 

Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans
  • Martin, Malachi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 512 Pages – 10/01/1992 (Publication Date) -…

This House Is Haunted (1984, Guy Lyon Playfair)

This House Is Haunted is an in-depth account of one of the most infamous hauntings to ever be documented – the Enfield Poltergeist of 1977. Guy Lyon Playfair was a parapsychologist and ended up helping the family in question as they experienced paranormal phenomena in their home. Playfair – who had experienced loss himself – found the case very intriguing and stayed with the family, documenting everything that he witnessed and heard during his time there. 

His experience with the family led him to eventually pen his book, This House Is Haunted, which is a detailed account of everything that went on during the poltergeist case. The family lived in a council house and began hearing knocking and banging, which eventually went on to more physical interference and sights. The family became to frightened they went to the press, pleading for help. The case went on to become so famous that it eventually inspired the Hollywood movie, The Conjuring 2, starring Patrick Wilson.  

This House is Haunted: The True Story of the Enfield Poltergeist
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Playfair, Guy Lyon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 296 Pages – 04/20/2011 (Publication Date) – White…

The Dark Sacrament (2007, Christina McKenna and David M. Kiely)

The Dark Sacrament is one of the most chilling and unnerving non-fiction books available on the subject of demonic possession. Released in 2007, this hefty volume explores several cases of alleged possession said to have occurred in modern day Ireland. Each case is explored in its own section and delves into the lives and characters of those involved. It is a truly engaging read, yet a very unsettling one, as several of the cases are genuinely quite frightening.  

There are an impressive ten modern cases examined in this release. Not just focusing on those who experienced the possession, the book also studies the work of the priests involved in delivering the sacred rite to victims.  

It’s hard not to come away from this book feeling vulnerable, because if these accounts show us anything, it is that if possession is a reality, it could happen to any one of us. The question is – do you believe?  

The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism
  • Kiely, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 398 Pages – 10/07/2008 (Publication Date) -…

The Exorcism Of Anneliese Michel (2005, Felicitas D. Goodman)

The Exorcism Of Annaliese Michel is probably one of the most famous cases of alleged documented possession to ever be reported. It’s a controversial case, in which a young student in the 1970s began to experience a vast array of shocking symptoms which led her family – and Michel herself – to believe she was possessed by an entity.  

The case became so famous it made worldwide headlines when sadly the young woman died, and reports came in that implied she was not given the medical help she deserved. Many sceptics said she was not possessed and that she was likely epileptic or mentally unwell, whilst others ardently defended the possession label she’d been given.  

The case went on to inspire a major motion film – Emily Rose – as well as several books and online documentaries. The book here is extremely detailed and pulls apart all of the events and experiences that led this young woman to face the rite of possession. It’s a scary yet sobering read, and whether you believe in possession or not, it’s a book most will find fascinating.  

The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel
  • Goodman, Felicitas D. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 282 Pages – 11/01/2005 (Publication Date) -…

The Black Monk Of Pontefract (2019, Richard Estep and Bil Bungay)

The Black Monk of Pontefract - Paranormal Book
Is this the Black Monk of Pontefract, described in the book ‘The Black Monk of Pontefract’?

‘The Black Monk of Pontefract: The World’s Most Violent and Relentless Poltergeist’ is one of the most fascinating and rigorously detailed accounts of a haunting I’ve come across. Written by paranormal author Richard Estep alongside the current owner of the property, Bil Bungay, this hefty book explores the case of 30 East Drive of Pontefract exceptionally well. 

It’s a scary case and one you’ve likely heard of – the well-documented poltergeist activity and sightings of a scary, looming Black Monk on the property lend a lot of credibility to the stories you’ve likely heard about the place. This book helps readers to delve into the history of the location and examines some of the most amazing phenomena to occur in East Drive.  

It’s certainly a frightening book to read, especially when everything explored within is said to have really happened. This book is definitely one to add to your Want List.  

The Black Monk of Pontefract: The World’s Most Violent and Relentless Poltergeist
  • Estep, Richard (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 365 Pages – 11/05/2019 (Publication Date) -…

The Sallie House Haunting (2010, Debra Pickman)

The Sallie House Haunting is frightening, there’s no doubt about this. What’s especially interesting about this book is that it’s written by Debra Pickman herself – the woman who owned the property and experienced the frightening activity on a regular basis.

The case is well-known and you’ve likely heard of it – Debra moved into the house with her husband and began to see the ghost of a young girl who began to exhibit frightening behaviour and phenomena, which eventually included moving furniture, hurting the family pet and scratching members of the family. Was the ghost really a young girl, or was it a demon hiding hiding behind the innocent guise? 

The book is written really well, with every detail and occurrence well documented and explored. Although at times the book can be quite repetitive, there is plenty to keep it engaging and intriguing. This book is a non-fiction favourite for those interested in the paranormal, and if you give it a go, you’ll see why.  

The Sallie House Haunting: A True Story
  • Pickman, Debra Lyn (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 08/08/2010 (Publication Date) -…

If you have enjoyed this article, you may want to check out Fiona’s article on the scariest horror films based on true stories!

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