Staff Picks

Books That Go Bump in the Night

I have loved horror stories since I was a little monster.

I cut my baby fangs on R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books before ripping through the stories of Shirley Jackson and H.P. Lovecraft. I murdered most of Dean R. Koontz's novels before devouring all the works of Stephen King.

Like a ravenous vampire, I'm always thirsting for more, and I lap up horror stories like, well, like a small pool of blood collecting in the hollow of a throat.

Horror fiction isn't to everyone's taste, but those of us who enjoy a good scare know that horror comes in many flavors.

Not everything in horror is about blood and monsters, sometimes fear resides in the unknown and the unexplaineable.

Stephen King once wrote that horror is about the unnatural, but terror is about when "...you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there's nothing there...

With that in mind, I'm offering up my unlucky list of thirteen scary books you might not have heard about.

They aren't the usual burnt offerings, but - at the risk of beating one more horror metaphor to death - why not take a stab at something new?

The Historian

The Historian

Elizabeth Kostova

This super creepy and atmospheric story follows a young historian searching for her father - who mysteriously disappeared while researching the real life Dracula. The author slowly ramps up the suspense to the horrorfying conclusion.

Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country

Matt Ruff

This mind-bending novel traces the experiences of an African-American family's brush with Lovecraftian creatures. In a meta twist, the story cleverly turns the tables on horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, a virulent racist and anti-Semite in his time.

Something Red

Something Red

Douglas Nicholas

Vivid characters and an authentic historical setting make this supernatural tale of a group of travellers trapped in a castle with a very scary shapeshifting killer entirely too believable.

13 Bullets: a vampire tale

13 Bullets: a vampire tale

David Wellington

State troopers and the FBI vs an outbreak of vampirism. These vampires don't sparkle. They are scary: snaggletoothed, craven, fast and hungry.

The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger

Sarah Waters

A decaying mansion in the English countryside, a family shattered by war and their lovestruck family doctor cope with a malevonent spirit. If Downton Abbey was haunted and a lot less grand, there might have been an episode like The Little Stranger.

Ararat

Ararat

Christopher Golden

The remains of a huge ship is found on Mount Ararat. When a team of scientist are sent to investigate they find a strange coffin with the mumified remains of something with horns. Then someone - or something - begins to kill the expedition members off one by one.

The Grip of it

The Grip of it

Jac Jemc

A young couple with martial problems decide to uproot their lives and buy an old Victorian house in a small town. The author takes a familiar premise with the usual horror tropes and updates it in a fresh and decidely weird way.

My Best Friend's Exorcism

My Best Friend's Exorcism

Grady Hendrix

Best friends Abby and Gretchen learn that high school really is hell when Gretchen becomes possessed by a demon. Set in 1988, this darkly humorous novel is as full of as many 80's pop culture references as it is genuine frights. Tubular! Grody to the max! As if.

The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror

The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates really zeroes in on the terrors of the real world in this collection of short stories. The monsters here are all of the human variety, and all the more dreadful for it. Psychological suspense in the hands of a master storyteller.

Bird Box

Bird Box

Josh Malerman

A woman takes shelter in a boarded up house with her two children and a few surviors of an unknown disaster. No one can venture outside the house without first being blindfolded, for one glimpse of whatever is outside the house will drive anyone into an insane, violent killer. They can't stay in the house forever, but how can they find their way to safety while remaining in darkness? 

House of Leaves

House of Leaves

Mark Z. Danielewski

This unusually formatted book with a cult following manages to be both frightening and experimental at the same time. There are multiple narrators, a film transcript, editors' notes and footnotes. A challenging read and not for everyone. Nevertheless, it was a bestseller.

Zone One

Zone One

Colson Whitehead

Zombies in Manhattan. Need I say more? How about this: A smart zombie novel written by Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad, the brilliant 2016 bestselling novel that sent escaped slaves in the Antebellum South on a harrowing journey through a literal underground railroad.

The Dark, Dark: stories

The Dark, Dark: stories

Samantha Hunt

This collection of ten short stories has been called "wonderfully spooky." Samantha Hunt blends the fantastically weird with everyday life in playful prose that will continue to haunt you long after you've read them.

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