Horror & Thriller Book Cover Design Ideas: 20 Examples

Horror & Thriller Book Cover Design Ideas: 20 Examples

We’ve rounded up the best ideas for your horror & thriller book cover design. From screaming faces to bloody axes and knives, here are the best tips and tricks that will make your design stand out. 

Keep reading, and find out how to:

  • choose the images that will give your readers goosebumps;
  • make anybody break out in cold sweat from just taking a quick look at your horror fonts;
  • turn your color palette into a creepily creative design tool;

Warning: Leave the lights on!

Horror & thriller book cover design ideas

Scroll down to learn how to choose perfect images, fonts, and colors that will send some chills down your reader’s spine. We’ve put together a list of hair-raising ideas for your next horror or thriller book cover design.

Tips on spine-tingling imagery

There’re a few popular design techniques that’ll help evoke the desired emotions when it comes to imagery for your horror or thriller & suspense book covers. Let us show you how to grab your readers’ attention at the very first glance.

Concentrate on typography

A large number of thriller book covers turn typography into the main element of the design. This strategy works best if you need to keep the mystery, build tension, and avoid revealing too many plot details. When the title and author name are the centerpiece of the project, you have plenty of space for creativity and can add special effects to your fonts. You might want to try illustrated typography, experiment with different font colors, or add special effects to your letters, like blurs, glows, sparkles, or even blood drops.

Take a closer look at our mysterious book cover designed for “Little Brother Lost” by J. A. Ford.

  • Striking, bold, and stylistic typography represents the mystique mood of the writing;
  • Book cover layout represents the crime and thriller genre;
  • The deep blue font color brings out a suspense vibe.

 Would you follow the butterfly?

Blurred and faded images

If you aim to highlight the unknown and play with your readers’ minds, you might want to use blurred and faded images in your book cover design background. This technique helps you to hint at a twisted reality or distorted perception. It fits well psychological thrillers, where the main topic revolves around madness and instability.

Create a creepy setting by blurring the protagonist, a monstrous form, or a scary object that plays a significant role in your plot. This way, you’ll leave the readers guessing about what’s going on in the story, and at the same time, provide them with small details that can help solve the riddle.

Hold your breath, and let’s take a closer look at the book cover design for “The Feeder” by Gayle Siebert.

  • The blurred and faded background is a typical feature of the thriller genre that adds some extra layer of mystery to the book cover;
  • Distinctive typography is a supportive factor that builds tension and sets the mood;
  • An excellent choice of the blue color palette on the cover hints to the plot details; 

Can you guess where the murder scene takes place?

Follow the protagonist

One of our favorite thriller and suspense techniques is to use images with a unique perspective. The idea is simple: make the readers follow the main protagonist down the path. All you have to do is make the character’s silhouette facing backward the central element of your book cover design. It’ll help you pique the reader’s interest, create the urge to accompany the hero, and discover what adventures are waiting ahead.

Would you dare to knock on the door of the “Hanging House”?

  • Bold yellow typography stimulates the imagination and arouses interest;
  • The imagery reveals a few details about the plot, and at the same time, preserves the mystery;
  • The dark color palette hints at the mystery and suspense genre;

Rich imagery

If you’d like to show the readers that what they’re looking at is a true horror story, feel free to use some shocking and outrageous images. First of all, this technique sends a clear, direct message of what is happening in the story. No tricks or secret agendas. Let your readers feel uneasy from looking at the monster figure, blood, creepy limbs, etc. 

Ready or not, take a look at these horrifying book covers.

Jokes aside, can you even get your eyes off “The Nightmare of Eliot Armstrong”?

  • The combination of red and black communicates the idea that the book is going to send shivers up your spine;
  • Clean and straightforward typography without extra flourishing elements appeals to sensitivity;
  • Juicy images reveal some plot details and pique the interest;

Creepy is in the eye of the beholder.

Focus on the face

Another excellent idea for your horror and thriller book cover design is to concentrate on the face. Remember how we talked about evoking the right emotions? Could you think of a better and easier way to achieve this task than literally showing the desired mood and sensation through a person’s face? Spoiler alert: you might want to use a female face for your book cover design. It’s been a very popular and effective trend for ages. No need to reinvent the wheel. Keep in mind that a direct frightened look captivates the readers, and a half-face design is all about highlighting the mysterious vibe.

Let’s take a closer look at “She Said Three Said”, a psychological thriller written by David B Lyons.

  • The blue and grey color palette elicit a sense of anxiety and suspense;
  • The size and color of the fonts correctly communicate the genre;
  • The face focal book cover design evokes fear and pain;

What could possibly go wrong?

Now, it’s time to take a closer look at the best typography ideas for your next horror & thriller book cover design. Try not to scream!

Creepy fonts for your horror book cover design

The typography in your horror and thriller book cover design should match and represent the novel’s general mood. Let’s take a closer look at the spooktacular font ideas.

To put it simply, there are two main typography options when it comes to horror.

You can go with uneven, chaotic letters and add special effects that won’t leave the potential readers doubting what genre they are looking at. Best font inspirations, in this case, would be:

  • Violence
  • Chiller
  • Feral
  • Boycott

Another idea is to use simple, bold typography that will leave some space for imagination. In this case, you get to experiment with the font colors, shapes, density, and angles to end up with unique cover text. Here are some font ideas for your inspiration:

  • Ravenscroft 
  • Scream real 
  • Akoom 
  • Showcard Gothic
  • Dharma Gothic 

Last but not least, we’re going to show you how to master the color theory in horror & thriller book cover design. 

Buckle up!

Best color combinations for spooky book covers

Let’s try to dig into color theory and psychology to figure out which colors suit the horror and thriller genres the best. 


Black color symbolizes secret desires, denial, rebellion, and mystery. It’s the color of the night, terrifying nightmares, and mourning. In the horror and suspense genre, designers will use black to symbolize the unknown, pain, death, and bad luck. 


Red is one of the most attractive and mysterious colors of all. It accelerates the rhythm of respiration and heartbeat, increases blood pressure and muscle tone, and boosts energy levels. Red is associated with blood, fear, and power, thus increasing popularity in horror and thriller book cover design. 


Some shades of blue can cause apathy, alienation, and depression. Dark blue has an even more negative connotation. In our subconscious, it is associated with the restless sea waves that can cause danger and threat to life. Also, there are many tales of so-called “blue demons”, insidious creatures from the other world, that bring suffering and bad luck in folklore.

Designers use blue in horror and thriller book cover design to describe scenes that involve water (mystic rivers, deadly waves, bathtub scenes, tears, etc.)

Wrapping up

You are now one step closer to the mysteriously spooky horror & thriller book cover design that will make anybody’s blood run cold.

Which book cover design impressed (read: scared) you the most? What other tips and tricks on horror & thriller book cover design would you like to learn?

Drop your questions in the comments section below, and we’ll be right back with you.

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