Although Stephen King is broadly considered to be the “Master of Horror,” an often unrecognized truth about the man’s career is that he is simply a great writer, regardless of genre. In fact, many of his best works don’t fit into the horror domain at all. One such example graces our list at #4, The Green Mile —a book that King originally published as six separate paperback volumes to pay homage to the serials he’d enjoyed as a boy.
This powerful tale is narrated by Paul Edgecombe, even though the story really isn’t about Edgecombe at all. Edgecombe tale vacillates between then-present day 1996, where he is an old man, and events that happened back in 1932, when he was the prison block supervisor for the penitentiary’s death row—nicknamed “The Green Mile” because of the color of the floor linoleum.
Presiding over several dangerous inmates awaiting execution, Edgecombe’s life changes forever when the physically powerful but feeble minded John Coffey—an innocent black man convicted of raping and murdering two young white children—is sentenced to death. During the savant’s stay on death row, Edgecombe quickly discovers that there is more to Coffey than meets the eye, as the empathic Coffey has the ability to heal and read minds.
Compelling and gripping in print, The Green Mile was adapted for the big screen in 1999, and remains one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.