Reading Comprehension: Horror Book review

About this exercise

  • Type: Reading Comprehension
  • Time: 10 Minutes.
  • Topic: Horror vocabulary / Graded readers / Book review
  • Instructions: Read the article and then answer the questions below.
  • Disclosure: This article includes links to the recommended books on Amazon. makes a commission for purchases made through the following links.

Why choose a “Graded Reader”?

What better way to improve your English than to enjoy a good book? Unfortunately, reading in a new language can be extremely challenging, frustrating and sometimes just not very enjoyable. A simple solution to this issue is to look for “graded-reader” editions of books. Graded readers are special editions of books, edited for language learners. The benefit of this is that learners can enjoy books written in a way that is clear and consolidates grammar that is important to that student’s level. That is to say that a B1 English graded reader will be specially adapted to be accessible to a B1 level student. In this article we’re going to recommend some graded learner editions of some classic horror novels and short-story collections to give you a treat this halloween. With a variety of levels and themes to choose from there’s something for everyone in this selection.


Steven King needs no introduction, known as the master of horror he has written more than 64 titles, many of which have been adapted into enormously successful films. To date he has sold more than 350 million copies. Misery is a great example of King’s work,  itself a best selling novel and the inspiration for the box office hit film of the same name, which tells a darkly psychological horror story that is guaranteed to keep the reader turning the pages in anticipation of what lies ahead.

The book, set in contemporary times, tells the story of Paul Sheldon, a romance author who plans to kill off the main character of his romance series and start a new, more serious series of crime novels which he hopes will win him the recognition and literary acclaim that eluded him as a romance writer. After crashing his car, Paul awakes to find that he was rescued by and has now become a patient of former nurse and super fan of his romance books, Annie Wilkes. As she nurses him, he allows her to read the final book of his romance series as well as the manuscript for his new novel. Annie discovers that Paul has killed off her favourite literary character and abandoned the romance genre in favour of what is in her opinion, a vulgar and violent work.

Paul realises that his super-fan captor is actually quite mentally disturbed and plots to escape, Annie however, will stop at nothing to prevent him from either leaving or abandoning the novels and character that she loves so much. The book contains some of the most gruesome scenes in horror literature, without any need to invoke anything supernatural or spooky, just pure human misguided evil. 

This Edition

This graded reader edition of the original novel is adapted to level 6 of Pearson’s reading scale, which corresponds to the C1 level in the CEFR and comes with an MP3 audiobook included, which is extra useful to students to help them with intonation and pronunciation as well as a great way to enjoy the tale. Misery is a little different to the other titles in this review as there is no supernatural element to the story, but with such a monstrous villain as this book features, there is no need for King to bring ghosts or ghouls into the mix. The realistic setting makes the horror of this story of obsession and violence all the more disturbing.

A well recommended read for high level students who want to take their English to the next level and enjoy a truly captivating story! 


Another iconic horror character makes his debut in this classic novel. Told through a series of journal entries and letters, Bram Stoker’s Dracula follows the adventure of solicitor Jonathan Harker, Professor Van Helsing and their colourful band of vampire slayers in the fight against evil incarnate in the form of count Vlad Dracula.

The story is certainly full of gruesome and bloody scenes, meaning that this isn’t a novel for the faint of heart!The narrative of Dracula is told through a series of journal entries, letters and other documents which come together to give an overarching story of how Vlad Dracula goes about realising his plans to feed on, kill and enslave his victims starting in his native Transylvanian castle and spreading his wings further afield as he voyages to England where conflict with those who have come together to stop him comes to a bloody head and a violent finale.

This Pearson graded reader edition of the novel is adapted to level 3 on Pearsons scale, which corresponds to the A2 level of the CEFR. It also includes a bonus CD of MP3 audio so that readers can enjoy the audiobook version. This makes this a very accessible read and will help learners with some common verbs and sentence structures. A word of warning though, due to the graphic violence described in the book, this really isn’t suitable for children or the faint of heart.


Frankenstein tells the story of how an aristocratic scientist, the titular Dr. Frankenstein, who learns how to create life. After successfully creating a humanoid creature from body parts of dead people taken from the local cemetery. On seeing the horror of his creation, Dr. Frankenstein flees in terror. The creature, angered by his torturous existence takes revenge on his creator by killing various members of his family and framing others for the murders. He confronts Dr. Frankenstein and demands that the scientist create a partner for him, a female creature who being equally hideous will not be afraid of him and will provide him with the company that he is not able to find among humans. Frankenstein consents but later changes his mind, so the creature threatens to see him again on his wedding night.

How does it end? You’ll have to read it to find out! This Macmillan graded reader edition is adapted for readers at A2 level and includes a bonus CD with an audiobook version and additional learning exercises.

Ghost Stories

M. R. James was by day a medievalist scholar but in his spare time turned to his passion for literary horror. From the mind of this quiet academic, sprang terrible tales that have gone on to become classics of the genre.

This Penguin Reader Edition of M. R. James’ Ghost Stories is somewhat different to the other books in this review in as much as rather than being a single novel is a compendium of four short stories; A strange whistle, a dangerous curse, a buried crown and a hotel without a room 13.

These stories were revolutionary at the time of publication in that they abandoned the conventions of gothic horror and set the tale s in what were then contemporary times. 

This graded reader version of the classic stories has been adapted for readers at A2 level of the CEFR (pre-intermediate) or level 3 in Penguin’s own rating system. The text gets readers used to dealing with sentences with multiple clauses, first conditional sentences and tenses like the present perfect and past continuous.

This Penguin reader book is a special edition written for English-learners. As well as illustration on almost every page, each chapter has reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary and exam preparation exercises. This edition maximises value by including access to online material to really get the most out of the experience.

More great horror related resources from Onlearn English

Now check your comprehension with this interactive exercise.

Select the correct answer. You can navigate between the questions with the numbered buttons below. When you have finished click “finish”, to see the solutions, click “view questions”.

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