While horror has never gone away (thank you, Stephen King), the category has certainly dropped in popularity in the decades since it had its own shelves in bookstores.
But horror is making a comeback. Sure, it may be a slow, creeping comeback, but that seems appropriate for a category that wiggles under readers’ skin to fill them with foreboding.
Whether they are suspenseful gothic novels or gore-tastic bloodbaths, new novels are arriving this year to deliver plenty of late-night reads. Pick your poison, readers.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Unsettled by a disturbing letter from a newly married cousin, Mexico City socialite Noemí goes to check on her cousin who now lives at a remote estate called High Place. Noemí—who smokes cigarettes, drives a convertible, and knows her mind—discovers that High Place lives in the past: mold runs along the wallpaper, the electricity barely works, and the servants don’t speak. Plus the ancient master of the house has a thing for eugenics, and Noemí’s cousin is clearly losing her mind. And then Noemí begins to hear voices.… While Mexican Gothic is set in the 1950s, Moreno-Garcia has written this creepy, fabulous read for today’s audience. (June 30)
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
The death of Ricky Boss Ribs opens Jones’ chilling novel; but it’s the deaths of elk, slain during an unauthorized Native American hunt, that haunts Lewis—literally. When Lewis sees a ghostly elk corpse on the floor of his living room, he knows the slaughter he took part in almost ten years ago will not be buried any longer. The cover to this book sucked me in, but the writing and the spooky elk appearances are pulling me through this unsettling novel about tradition, identity, and murder. Plus, it’s hard to beat Jones’ author bio on his Amazon Author page: “Blackfeet. Into werewolves and slashers and zombies. Would wear pirate shirts a lot if I could find them. And probably carry some kind of sword.” (July 14)
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
Set in the American south in 1922, Clark’s short, tight novel imagines that monsters called the Ku Kluxes masquerade as Klansmen but are truly beasts with curved ivory claws. Monster hunters Maryse, Chef, and Sadie bring down the Ku Kluxes as they find them, but there’s a greater horror about to hit their world that threatens to destroy all they hold dear. (October 13)
The Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Del Toro is likely better known for his movie-making (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water), but he and Hogan have teamed up before for their Strain trilogy. In The Hollow Ones, rookie FBI agent Odessa Hardwicke has to kill her partner when he attempts to join a killing spree. As he dies, Hardwicke thinks she sees a dark specter leave his body. And when she encounters a man who claims to be hundreds of years old and fighting evil, her eyes will be opened to the horrors that surround her. (August 4)
Devolution by Max Brooks
When Mount Rainier unexpectedly erupts, the small, high-tech community of Greenloop is cut off from civilization, their weekly grocery deliveries, and the internet. And then large, hungry, foul-smelling Sasquatches arrive.... The author of World War Z delivers suspense and gore even as he asks readers to consider how they would react to a crisis. (June 16)
The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
After her divorce, Kara returns home and discovers a bunker hidden behind her uncle’s wall. And from there she finds portals to other realities. But the things that live there thrive on fear and madness. (October 6)
Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay
Poor Massachusetts. First it’s ravaged in the real world by COVID-19, and now Tremblay infects it with a rabies-live virus that turns its human victims into ravenous disease vectors. As a pediatrician and her recently bitten friend struggle toward the hospital to get a life-saving vaccine, they encounter terror beyond imagination. (July 7)
Malorie by Josh Malerman
If you were riveted by either Malerman’s Bird Box or the Netflix version, set time aside in late July to read the sequel, Malorie. Set 12 years after Bird Box, Malorie and her children are still living blindfolded so they won’t go insane; but finally there is hope that the world could change. Unfortunately, that change could make things even worse. (July 21)
From suspenseful gothics to gore-tastic bloodbaths, new novels are arriving this year to deliver plenty of late-night reads.