Everyone connects horror and Halloween, but summer is the perfect time to give yourself a fright. Summer travels can lead you to places with mysterious pasts, campfires were made for telling ghost stories, thunderstorms abound, and even the most charming B&B can make strange noises in the night.
Horror can run the gamut from generally unsettling to all out terrifying, and you can find titles that suit the type of scare you’re looking for. While there are things to fear in the real world, frightening stories can help us recognize and face those fears, even if they sometimes take on a metaphorical form.
If you’ve enjoyed shows like The Witcher, From, Yellowjackets, Stranger Things, or The Last of Us on your screen, not to mention all the horror films out there (did you know that there have been more than 70 adaptations of Stephen King’s novels and stories?), it’s high time to dive into some spooky tales on the page. You can also combine your exploration with our summer reading program: here are some suggestions for books that can help you fill each category.
The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown. For fans of Alien, this novella pits Captain Jacklyn Albright against a doomed generation ship and something on board that really, really shouldn’t be there.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This reimagining of the classic tale centering the scientist’s daughter offers an atmospheric tale of monsters, colonialism, and romance.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. Known for her eerie and unsettling fiction, Machado turns her pen to the story of her own abusive relationship.
Ghostland by Edward Parnell. Struggling with dark times in his own family, Parnell travels the UK in search of the places that inspired the ghost stories and strange tales of his youth.
Book to screen
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. Bask in the 80s of it all as two best friends face the timeless challenge of something coming between them: demonic possession.
The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. A young girl in a dystopian future slowly discovers who she is, why she is always restrained, and what threats face the wider world around her.
Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell. Following a woman’s death, her young son and his father travel to visit her family and become entangled with a cult, the supernatural, and Argentina’s political turmoil.
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Aḥmad Saʻdāwī, translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright. Under the shadow of war, a junk collector in Baghdad begins collecting body parts that he forms into a new being… that goes missing in search of vengeance.
Bad Cree by Jessica Johns. Bad dreams and frightening omens follow a young woman mourning a recent loss in this story of family and identity.
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. A recluse, a cat, a missing girl, a forest, a serial killer, and a sense of disorientation are some of the things contained in this book. Do you think you can put it all together?
Uzumaki by Junji Itō, translated from the Japanese by Yuji Oniki. Itō has a reputation as a master of visual horror in his manga; this story features a cursed town spiraling into madness.
There are so many more. Explore the catalogs of authors like Stephen Graham Jones, Victor LaValle, T. Kingfisher, Alma Katsu, Josh Malerman, or Isabel Cañas, just to name a very few. There are awards for excellent horror writing, including the Bram Stoker Awards or the Shirley Jackson Awards. Finally, you can find more suggestions in our lists of Folk Horror and Sci-fi, Fantasy & Horror Climate Fiction, or send us a request for personalized suggestions. Will you answer the ominous knock at the door and take a chance on one of these?
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