This article from The Onion may give you a hint as to who's in the lead so far.
So far I've read:
Salem's Lot, by Stephen King - This one got TWO recommendations: sonotstraight and Eevam
Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami - Peepster
The Ruins, by Scott Smith - The Boss of Me
They Thirst, by Robert McCammon - Shannon
Shadowland, by Peter Straub - Paul
I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson - CNN.com's list of "Scariest Books of All Time" (October, 2000), and
The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty - Papa Schuetter
Left on my list are: (Hey, I warned you I love to draw out Halloween for as long as possible! And you thought I was kidding (or at least exaggerating!)!)
The Shining, by Stephen King - Marc
Weiland, by Charles Brockdem Brown - Brittany sonotspears
Dracula, by Bram Stoker - Nancy W.
The Trial, by Kafka - OrangeGuru
"The Monkey's Paw," by W.W. Jacobs - Em
"Miriam," by Truman Capote - Chuffed
Seven Gothic Tales "...or something like that," by Isak Dinesen - Neil
Poe's short stories (I've chosen four: "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "Murders in the Rue Morgue," and "The Premature Burial" - Mu
So if you haven't guessed already, Papa Schuetter is firmly in the lead with The Exorcist. I'd read it before, so I wasn't expecting to be surprised, much less frightened. Turns out I was both! This is not only an incredible work of horror, but an extremely well-written, well-developed book with believable characters and a story line that takes its time without losing your interest for a second. To say Blatty did his homework is the understatement of the year. The interplay between the demon with Karras - a Jesuit priest and a psychiatrist - is amazing. Sure, we little Catholics are told that demons are liars and are clever, but Blatty SHOWS us this through his demon "Enoonmai" ("I am no one"). My biggest gripe with the writers of horror is that they try to tell the reader how to feel: "She was scared," "He hadn't been that frightened since he was 5 and he had to go into the basement for a jar of peas and..."
Blatty shows the reader, through the characters, the fear, confusion, pain, agony, and, from the demon itself, a hatred so pure that it is all the more terrifying in that there is no organic cause for it, no madness or psychological disturbance in young Regan that can account for everything that occurs.
Though Fr. Damien Karras sure does try to prove otherwise.
Add to that the juxtaposition of Merrin with his simple steadfast faith and Karras with his constant search for an organic cause - not, it turns out, because he needs proof for the Church in order to get permission to perform an exorcism - the Council gives it to him readily.
Karras' search for proof of Regan's posession is carried out to dispel his own painful, crippling lack of faith.
And the demon knows this. And plays upon it. And feeds it.
Next year I'll make it clear in my "rules" that I won't allow for rereads because, even though I still have 11 books/stories left to read, and some of them may be really excellent, I'm pretty sure Papa Schuetter's cinched this contest.
And he's wily. He knows that if he recommends The Exorcist every year, he'll WIN every year. I can't believe how much better it was with the second reading. I'd totally missed the demon's toying with Karras the first time 'round. The movie is excellent, but the book....wow.
I've already got a couple of books lined up for next year so maybe for once I can get a head start! Which is good, because the first one is like 17,000 pages long.
The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub - The Boss of Me
On the Beach, by Nevil Shute - CNN.com's list of "Scariest Books of All Time." (Yes, I will send CNN a treat if they win.)