Critics have observed a horror fiction renaissance in the past decade. While classic skin-crawling elements still abound, you’ll find new, more haunting definitions of horror in these must-read titles.
Andrea is the eldest child of the Perron family of The Conjuring fame. While the 2013 supernatural horror film takes liberties with Perron’s narrative, Perron and her family did oversee the production. But if you want an unabridged account of a demonic haunting and a séance gone wrong, then Perron’s trilogy is for you.
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My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix (2016)
As if coming of age isn’t scary enough, high school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have to contend with one of them apparently becoming possessed by a demon after skinny-dipping in the dark. The A.V. Club has dubbed this novel a “simultaneously heartwarming and terrifying tale of teenage friendship.”
The Passage by Justin Cronin (2010)
Here, we move into painfully familiar territory with a bat-based virus threatening to turn all of humanity into blood-feasting beings. Born out of Cronin’s daughter’s request for a story about a girl who saves the world, The Passage has been called a “dystopian epic” and was praised by the likes of Stephen King and Jennifer Egan.
Zone One by Colson Whitehead (2011)
Zone One is another pandemic-themed novel, but it starts with civilization trying to rebuild itself after things have settled down. Whitehead has stated Stephen King and Isaac Asimov as his influences for this New York Times bestseller.
The Changeling by Victor LaValle (2017)
A man who was abandoned as a child starts his own family, but things are never not complex and eerie in this contemporary fairy tale. A recipient of the Locus Award, American Book Award, and other distinctions, LaValle’s novel has been praised as an ode to marriage, parenthood, immigration, race, and loss.
Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville (2015)
In twenty-eight off-kilter stories about art, an epidemic, the Greek legend of Orpheus, and a variety of other concepts, Miéville impresses critics, including fantasy and sci-fi author Ursula K. Le Guin.
The Hunger by Alma Katsu (2018)
This historical horror reimagines the travels and travails of the Donner Party, unlucky pioneers who had to deal with inclement weather, low food rations, ensuing cannibalism—and even darker things.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (2018)
Ireland creates an alternate timeline where the Civil War is interrupted by a scourge of reanimated corpses. Slavery ends, but African- and Native-American children are trained to combat zombie hoards.
Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys (2017)
In this era of culturally wary readers revisiting the works of Lovecraft and other masters with more skepticism, Winter Tide is required reading for those who want to learn more about systemic prejudice. Emrys subverts the cosmic horror genre by making the Lovecraftian creatures the protagonists and the humans the monsters.
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff (2016)
Ruff’s novel is the basis for the recently released HBO series of the same name. We follow a young black man searching for his father across segregated 1950s America and stumbling into the dark secrets of a town where Lovecraft based many of his eldritch tales.
Take your pick from this list, or leave a comment below for your recommendations. Remember to keep Halloween 2020 fun yet safe!