Author: Joseph Conrad
Genre: Action-adventure; psychological thriller
Sometimes, the most effectively disturbing stories don't feature any ghouls, goblins, or boogeymen. After all, the scariest monster of all is man, and that's a truth driven home with psychological devastation in Joseph Conrad's seminal adventure novel, Heart of Darkness.
In it, the fearless narrator, Marlow, travels deep into the Congo River to apprehend Mr. Kurtz, a megalomaniacal man who's turned a village of tribesmen and women into his subservient followers. Enter its opening pages looking for a robust thriller, and close the book after its final words scarred by its bleak outlook on humanity.
Fun Fact: Though Marlon Brando's interpretation of Kurtz, in director Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979), is the most widely regarded one, both Boris Karloff and John Malkovich have played the character, as well, in a 1958 episode of the CBS anthology series Playhouse 90 and a 1993 made-for-TNT cable movie, respectively.