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13 Horrifying Apartment Buildings in Fiction


You are never alone in an apartment building. There are always people above. Below. Next door. And with horror, there is always the possiblity of them being in the walls. With so many lives intersecting, you never know what those around you might be going through. In these buildings, though, what you do or don't know just might be you're undoing.


Here are 13 chilling novels featuring absolutely terrifying apartment buildings.



Nestlings by Nat Cassidy (Tor Nightfire, 2023)


From the publisher:


"Ana and Reid needed a lucky break.


The horrifically complicated birth of their first child has left Ana paralyzed, bitter, and struggling: with mobility, with her relationship with Reid, with resentment for her baby. That’s about to change with the words any New Yorker would love to hear—affordable housing lottery.


They’ve won an apartment in the Deptford, one of Manhattan’s most revered buildings with beautiful vistas of Central Park and stunning architecture and disturbing gargoyles.

Reid dismisses disturbing events and Ana’s deep unease and paranoia as the price of living in New York—people are odd—but he can’t explain the needle-like bite marks on the baby."


Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims (Gollancz, 2020)


From the publisher:


"A dinner party is held in the penthouse of a multimillion-pound development. All the guests are strangers – even to their host, the billionaire owner of the building.


None of them know why they were selected to receive his invitation. Whether privileged or deprived, they share only one thing in common – they’ve all experienced a shocking disturbance within the building’s walls.


By the end of the night, their host is dead, and none of the guests will say what happened.


His death has remained one of the biggest unsolved mysteries – until now.


But are you ready for their stories?"


When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole (William Morrow, 2020)


From the publisher:


"Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.


But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.


When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?"


Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill (Pan Macmillan, 2010)


From the publisher:


"Some doors are better left closed . . .


In Barrington House, an upmarket block in London, there is an empty apartment. No one goes in, no one comes out. And it has been that way for fifty years. Until the night watchman hears a disturbance after midnight and investigates. What he experiences is enough to change his life forever.


A young American woman, Apryl, arrives at Barrington House. She's been left an apartment by her mysterious Great Aunt Lillian who died in strange circumstances. Rumours claim Lillian was mad. But her diary suggests she was implicated in a horrific and inexplicable event decades ago.


Determined to learn something of this eccentric woman, Apryl begins to unravel the hidden story of Barrington House. She discovers that a transforming, evil force still inhabits the building. And the doorway to Apartment 16 is a gateway to something altogether more terrifying . . ."


Lock Every Door by Riley Sager (Dutton, 2019)


From the publisher:


"No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind. As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story…until the next day, when Ingrid disappears. Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s sordid past and into the secrets kept within its walls. What she discovers pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent."


The Complex by Brian Keene (Deadite Press, 2015)


From the publisher:


"There was no warning. No chance to escape. They came suddenly. Naked. Bloodthirsty. Sadistic. They descended upon the Pine Village Apartment Complex, relentlessly torturing and killing anyone they could find.


Fearing for their lives, the residents of the complex must band together. A young trans woman, a suicidal middle-aged writer, a lonely Vietnam vet, a newlywed couple, an elderly widow, a single mother and her son, two on-the-run criminals and the serial killer known as The Exit. Eleven strangers. The only thing they have in common is the unstoppable horde that wants to kill them. If they are to make it through the night, they must fight back."


77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz (Bantam Books, 2011)


From the publisher:


"Welcome to the Pendleton. Built as a tycoon’s dream home in the 1880s and converted to luxury condominiums not quite a century later, the Gilded Age palace at the summit of Shadow Hill is a sanctuary for its fortunate residents. Scant traces remain of the episodes of madness, suicide, mass murder—and whispers of things far worse—that have scarred its grandeur almost from the beginning. But now inexplicable shadows caper across walls, security cameras relay impossible images, phantom voices mutter in strange tongues, not-quite-human figures lurk in the basement, elevators plunge into unknown depths. With each passing hour a terrifying certainty grows: Whatever drove the Pendleton’s past occupants to their unspeakable fates is at work again. And as nightmare visions become real, as a deadly tide begins to engulf them, the people at 77 Shadow Street will find the key to humanity’s future . . . if they can survive to use it. Includes the bonus novella The Moonlit Mind—first time in print."


The Cipher by Kathe Koja (Dell, 1991)


From the publisher:


""Black. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you look at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive." When a strange hole materializes in a storage room, would-be poet Nicholas and his feral lover Nakota allow their curiosity to lead them into the depths of terror. "Wouldn't it be wild to go down there?" says Nakota. Nicholas says, "We're not." But no one is in control, and their experiments lead to obsession, violence, and a very final transformation for everyone who gets too close to the Funhole."



The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike (Thomas Dunne Books, 1988)


From the publisher:


"One of the most popular writers working in Japan today, Mariko Koike is a recognized master of detective fiction and horror writing. Known in particular for her hybrid works that blend these styles with elements of romance, The Graveyard Apartment is arguably Koike’s masterpiece. Originally published in Japan in 1986, Koike’s novel is the suspenseful tale of a young family that believes it has found the perfect home to grow into, only to realize that the apartment’s idyllic setting harbors the specter of evil and that longer they stay, the more trapped they become.


This tale of a young married couple who harbor a dark secret is packed with dread and terror, as they and their daughter move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard. As strange and terrifying occurrences begin to pile up, people in the building start to move out one by one, until the young family is left alone with someone... or something... lurking in the basement. The psychological horror builds moment after moment, scene after scene, culminating with a conclusion that will make you think twice before ever going into a basement again."


Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber (Berkley, 1977)


From the publisher:


"Fritz Leiber may be best known as a fantasy writer, but he published widely and successfully in the horror and science fiction fields. His fiction won the Hugo, Nebula, Derleth, Gandalf, Lovecraft, and World Fantasy Awards, and he was honored with the Life Achievement Lovecraft Award and the Grand Master Nebula Award. One of his best novels is the classic dark fantasy Our Lady of Darkness, winner of the 1978 World Fantasy Award.


Our Lady of Darkness introduces San Francisco horror writer Franz Westen. While studying his beloved city through binoculars from his apartment window, he is astonished to see a mysterious figure waving at him from a hilltop two miles away. He walks to Corona Heights and looks back at his building to discover the figure waving at him from his apartment window—and to find himself caught in a century-spanning curse that may have destroyed Clark Ashton Smith and Jack London."


High-Rise by J.G. Ballard (Henry Holt & Co, 1975)


From the publisher:


"Within the concealing walls of an elegant forty-storey tower block, the affluent tenants are hell-bent on an orgy of destruction. Cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on ‘enemy’ floors and the once-luxurious amenities become an arena for riots and technological mayhem.


In this visionary tale of urban disillusionment society slips into a violent reverse as the isolated inhabitants of the high-rise, driven by primal urges, create a dystopian world ruled by the laws of the jungle.


This edition is part of a new commemorative series of Ballard’s works, featuring introductions from a number of his admirers (including Iain Sinclair, Ali Smith, Neil Gaiman and Martin Amis) and brand-new cover designs."


The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz (Simon & Schuster, 1974)


From the publisher:


"Aspiring model Allison Parker finally moves into her dream apartment: a brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. But her perfect home quickly turns hellish.


The building is filled with a cast of sinister tenants, including a reclusive blind priest, who seems to watch her day and night through an upstairs window. Eventually, Allison starts hearing strange noises from the empty apartment above hers. Before long, she uncovers the building’s demonic secret and is plunged into a nightmare of sinful misdeeds and boundless evil."


Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin (Random House, 1967)


From the publisher:


"Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor husband Guy move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and mostly elderly residents. Neighbors Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome the Woodhouses to the building, and despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband takes a shine to them. Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant—and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare. As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to suspect that the Castavets' circle is not what it seems..."



[Image Credit: photo by Alexander Zvir via Pexels]



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