For your horror fans out there, we have compiled a list of our favorites published within the past one year. Which one have you missed?
1) The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
Author: Grady Hendrix
Published: April 7, 2020
Hendrix’s newest book, a New York Times bestseller, is a horror mystery centered around themes much deeper than catching the bad guy–or in this case, the serial killer. The narrative, weaving in and around life-like characters, reveals the tale of the women in the Book Club, not just the horror storyline.
Motifs of misogyny, camaraderie, and strength cause readers to sit back and ponder society’s injustices. Hendrix doesn’t shy away from any injustice, addressing the treatment of the Black community in as harsh, honest light as the women. In short, the book is more than a horror/mystery book: it’s one about discrimination, about trust, about courage, all wrapped in a truly Southern setting.
2) If It Bleeds
Author: Stephen King
Published: April 21, 2020
Stephen King: the king of horror. His latest book is a collection of four novellas previously unpublished by the successful author. For Stephen King fans, this book feels more like a homecoming, a nod to King’s classic form. Holly Gibney–a quirky character–makes a return, and the feature story is classic King narrative. The second installment, “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” hearkens back to The Twilight Zone, highlights King’s stance on the damaging impact of cell phones, and imitates King’s older style. The next story, entitled “The Life of Chuck,” represents King’s later fictional writing, told in three distinct parts. The final installment, “Rat,” is King’s attempt at conveying his writing process, and is reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s works. Fans of Stephen King must read If It Bleeds.
3) The Dark Winter: A Supernatural Apocalypse Novel
Author: Flint Maxwell
Published: April 4, 2020
The third book in the Whiteout series, The Dark Winter features realistic characters, a timely setting, and fast-paced storytelling. Many horror books are filled with cliches: static characters making terrible decisions, and so on. But Maxwell’s book explores the characters, bringing them into a reality not often shown in writing. This book, with its many references to Stephen King–is one of those that keeps readers turning pages: each page is riveting, the characters true to life. The supernatural and natural join forces in Maxwell’s books, making The Dark Winter–and the Whiteout series–a must read.
4) Dark Celebrations
Author: Calvin Demmer
Published: March 13, 2020
Calvin Demmer is a master of horror and flash fiction: his work is revered in horror and short story circles. This book, a compilation of twelve short stories revolving around–you guessed it–celebrations, zaps with the energy horror readers have come to expect of Demmer. The beauty of Demmer’s latest novel? Each story is different, and each story caters to a different, unique reader. From government cover-ups to natural disasters, this collection checks off all the boxes, and for many, Demmer’s books are a must-read. Whichever sub-genre of horror you’re into, Dark Celebrations is guaranteed to deliver.
5) The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Published: February 18, 2020
Is this book James showing off? Probably. Spanning two settings and 35 years, James’s latest book, The Sun Down Motel, is a psychological thriller at its finest. Nostalgia? Check. Entertaining? Check. The masterfully-crafted settings drop readers into a believable world, where ghosts roam among the living. As if propelled by ghosts, these pages turn themselves. From the first page, you forget the real world, diving deeper into the masterful writing, making friends with the incredibly-realistic protagonists. This book delivers on all fronts: it is spooky, supernatural, and riveting.
6) The Deep
Author: Alma Katsu
Published: March 10, 2020
This period piece, set on the fated ship the Titanic, follows a young, tormented protagonist across the ocean, through flashbacks, and into the supernatural. Katsu weaves a narrative of historical horror that keeps readers fascinated. Every scene is researched and rendered in spectacular, vibrant color that leaves no stone unturned. As the plot dives deeper into the protagonist’s past, readers take the plunge, experiencing a world only revealed by Katsu’s writing. Though the famous, fated ending looms in the last pages of the book, the flow of the book paired with Katsu’s calculated diction keep readers riveted until the last page.
7) Until Summer Comes Around
Author: Glenn Rolfe
Published: May 21, 2020
Vampires – a common topic in the horror genre. For fans of the trope, Rolfe’s book is a must-read. The tale is a classic one: a girl falls for a vampire, is forced to choose between her normal life or him. Rolfe leans on the familiar characters in vampires, expecting readers to understand and recognize these traits, a welcome detour from narrative over-explaining. This teen horror novel appeals to those fascinated with vampiric culture: love, intrigue, bloodlust, and horror come together, under Rolfe’s pen, to create a familiar yet refreshing novel.
8) Dead Daughters
Author: Tim Meyer
Published: April 16, 2020
Meyer’s latest book is an instant must-read. The first page lures readers in, unable to put the book down. This psychological thriller centers around a father and daughter, but it’s so much more than that. The plot grows with the page count, as does Meyer’s creativity: each scene is crafted with impeccable detail and storytelling, leaving you with no choice but to read until the last word. In addition to the story being just plain good, readers get a rare front-row seat to characters’ inner thoughts as they wrestle with moral and ethical decisions. This thriller combines all the best elements of mystery, thriller, and creative fiction a reader could ask for.
9) Lullabies For Suffering: Tales of Addiction Horror
Author: Caroline Kepnes, Kealan Patrick Burke, Gabino Iglesias, John FD Taff, Mark Matthews, Mercedes M Yardley
Published: January 4, 2020
This book is a collection of stories, written by many authors. In its 258 pages, it presents six different stories of addiction, each that affect readers on a deep, personal level. This is not a book to read lightly: it deals with addiction on its many fronts, from a soft lullaby to a heart-wrenching tragedy, and is not for the weak of heart. The stories told in the volume cause readers to sit back, close the cover, and process a fiction which sometimes doesn’t seem so much like fiction. Prepare to be glued to the words on each page, and affected by each story in this masterful collection.
10) The Midwives: A Gripping Folk-Horror Thriller
Author: Duncan Ralston
Published: February 24, 2020
Ralston’s most recent book is a nod to classic horror: blood, guts, and terror. This book meets every expectation of the genre, a genre Ralston thrives in. The characters come alive in his writing, crouching next to readers as they run from their pasts. The antagonist surprises, the plot captivates, the endless twists and turns keep readers on their toes from page one. Ralston is no newcomer to the world of horror, and he doesn’t disappoint in this thrilling adventure of fear, sacrifice, and family.
11) The Institute: A Novel
Author: Stephen King
Published: September 10, 2019
Stephen King isn’t the king of horror for nothing: it’s no surprise another of his books made the list. In any of King’s writing, readers see glimpses of their reality: The Institute is no exception. This novel, a thrilling tale following the lives of brilliant children in an institution, alludes to something everyone knows: Auschwitz. King weaves a narrative of false hope, survival, and bravery. It asks all the right questions, forcing readers to examine themselves and the culture around them as they turn the pages of this intense, surprisingly timely thriller. King manages a riveting narrative and contemporary commentary, creating an unsettling sense of familiarity.
12) Imaginary Friend
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Published: October 1, 2019
From the author who brought the world The Perks of Being a Wallflower comes a surprise: a thriller, hair-raising to the core. At over 700 pages, this novel is the first since Chbosky’s Wallflower, and is well worth the wait. The book enters a world of the imaginary and the real, in a very Stranger Things manner. The protagonist and reader watch the real world unravel as Chbosky weaves a narrative of small-town life and suffering. This book, which provides no lack of scenes true to its horror genre, also provides a glimpse of humanity and relationship. Chbosky’s voice is prevalent in this book, like his last, and keeps readers turning pages, even past 700.
13) A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror
Author: John Hornor Jacobs
Published: October 8, 2019
Jacobs forces readers to face the unknown in this book. His latest work comprises two stories (like the title suggests), each providing hair-raising narratives that will make readers squirm. Each story, though set in different times and places, tells a beautifully-crafted story of loss and terror that leaves readers trembling. Jacobs doesn’t shy away from the “cosmic horror” genre, weaving a narrative of the mysterious, creating lifelike characters in two very different, equally spooky stories. Fans of horror and fantasy alike will enjoy this book: Jacobs has a way of keeping readers turning the pages, and sleeping with the lights on.
14) Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell
Author: Nathan Ballingrud
Published: April 9, 2019
Ballingrud is no stranger to horror, and his latest book does not disappoint. True to the genre, this collection is a nod to classic horror–even the cover of the book is eerie. Ballingrud’s detailed depictions of gore may surprise some readers, but each is crafted to perfection, and each story evokes a strange sense of beauty, even in these grotesque scenes. The stories are shorter, but gripping: if the titles don’t make your hair stand on edge, the plots will. Ballingrud’s style and voice shines in this display of classic horror that is sure to create a scare.
15) The Girl in Red
Author: Christina Henry
Published: June 18, 2019
From bestseller Christina Henry comes a surprisingly timely book, entitled The Girl in Red. This post-apocalyptic novel hits close to home in today’s climate: people live in fear of a virus and each other. In a plot that reminds some of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, Henry takes readers on a journey along with the protagonist, trekking alongside the fearless adventurer as she faces inner demons and a reality that seems to come from science fiction. This carefully crafted novel earns its place in the horror genre, but it doesn’t seem too far from reality.
16) A Spectral Hue
Author: Craig Laurance Gidney
Published: June 18, 2019
Gidney’s first novel, A Spectral Hue, is a modern story in a hybrid form of horror, one that mingles with fantasy, folklore, and magical realism. This book spans decades, its many characters and settings spun into a gripping narrative. Gidney tackles current issues in today’s culture, bringing this book into focus as characters take on issues of race and sexual orientation amid a fantastical plot. This book forces readers to ponder their own opinions and beliefs while drawing them in with well-organized jumps through time. Gidney’s novel is a wonderful mix of genres, and of creativity that so many readers crave.
17) Full Throttle: Stories
Author: Joe Hill
Published: October 1, 2019
Hill’s second collection of short stories, Full Throttle reveals the author’s coming-of-age, of stepping out of Stephen King’s shadow into his own. The son of the King of horror, Hill proves in this novel that the horror genre has many voices, even if his famous father did co-write a number of the stories featured in Full Throttle. Many of the tales in the book feature a more fantastical plot, and though some plots become predictable, the book as a whole is definitely worth reading. Written over a thirteen year period with care and dedication, Hill’s latest collection is a refreshing read: Hill may yet earn his father’s title.
18) Camp Ghoul Mountain Part VI: The Official Novelization
Author: Jonathan Raab
Published: February 18, 2019
This book, written from the long-running of the same name, covers more than just the plot of the movie. Many script novelizations are average, some even boring, but Raab’s writing takes leaps and bounds above this standard, creating more depth and energy than the series has. The footnotes lining nearly every page bring clarity and comparison from the book to the series, filling in gaps that those who haven’t been following the series missed. Raab dives deeper into the canon of the series, revitalizing a world as layered as any horror story.
19) The Luminous Dead: A Novel
Author: Caitlin Starling
Published: April 2, 2019
This book, written in the third-person limited perspective, is a true science-fiction thriller: trapped in the protagonist’s head, readers struggle through the dark, unable to put the book down. But this book isn’t just about monsters: it’s about the slow unraveling of a relationship, of facing inner demons and secrets, and of surviving. Starling’s use of the single character allows readers to become completely immersed, sharing the shoes of the protagonist explorer. This is one of those books that truly transports its reader to a different, terrifying world, free of distractions.
20) Petra’s Ghost
Author: C.S. O’Cinneide
Published: August 13, 2019
O’Cinneide makes a thrilling debut with the book Petra’s Ghost. Travel journal meets mystery and thriller, the book follows one character on an emotional journey. Centered around grief, the story instantly gains a darker note, and the mystery of the story keeps readers glued to the pages. O’Cinneide’s writing brings the fiction into reality, and though the book may struggle with pacing in a few places, its original plot and emotive writing create a work worthy of reading. It isn’t a classic horror tale, but readers walk alongside the protagonist in a tale that contains all the draw of a thriller/mystery.