The scary clown craze has always existed in literature

The creepy clown craze has officially taken over as scary clown sightings pop up all over the United State. Instead of devouring the bizarre news stories, check out these seven tales of freaky clowns that have wreaked havoc in literature for decades.

It by Stephen King

“Is this just viral marketing for the new It movie?” has been a go-to Twitter joke about these creepy clown sightings, proof of how deeply the Stephen King novel embodies our cultural fear of clowns. The book’s monster takes many forms, but Pennywise the clown is its most memorable, and most terrifying. We all float down here. –Christian Holub

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love follows the saga of the Binewskis, a carnival family whose heads, Al and Crystal Lil, work to produce their own brood of “freaks” for their traveling show. However the creepiness of the National Book Award-winning novel doesn’t result from its setting or its central characters’ physical deformities, but rather from the familial love they feel for one another. In this way Dunn’s debut is easily a spiritual parent to American Horror Story: Freak Show—minus one Twisty the Clown. –Nivea Serrao

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Rad Bradbury


Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland

The Joker has been the dominant creepy clown in pop culture for the past few years, thanks to high-profile movie adaptations by the likes of Heath Ledger and Jared Leto. Most modern versions of the Joker derive their power from this 1988 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, which took great pains to make the Clown Prince of Crime scary again after decades of gleeful, low-stakes, clown-themed hijinks. Instead of pranking Batman and Commissioner Gordon, this time the Joker tried to drive them insane – first by shooting Batgirl, then by taking the elder Gordon on a nightmarish bondage carnival ride. Bolland’s painterly illustrations make for some horrifying visuals that sear themselves into your dreams. –Christian Holub


Twilight Eyes by Dean Koontz

Slim MacKenzie has special powers that allow him to see evil goblins that exist only to torture humans. He vows to kill them, and when he joins a carnival, the grounds provide a creepy backdrop for his goblin hunting. Soon, he enlists his fellow carnies for the chase. –Madeline Raynor

Full Tilt by Neil Shusterman

In this book, all the amusement park rides are death traps — literally. A group of friends discover a mysterious amusement park that’s only open at night. Once they enter, however, they realize they’re trapped. The only way out is to survive seven of the deadly rides by morning.–Madeline Raynor

The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliot

After Jamie almost hits a clown in the middle of the road, three sadistic clowns begin stalking him. He’s soon told, “You have two days to pass your audition. You better pass it, feller. You’re joining the circus. Ain’t that the best news you ever got?” Jamie has to pass the audition or else — and that’s only the beginning of the clownish horrors that await readers in Elliot’s award winning horror novel. –Allie Sadlier