48 Must Read 2021 Horror Books!

Hi everyone,

I’M BACK, BABY!

Yes you read that right, my blog is back! After a few months break where I didn’t really rest at all, I have decided to get back to my blog. However, I will definitely be taking it a little more slowly this time and so hopefully things will be a bit more relaxed so I’m not stressing to get 3-4 posts up every single week, which is what I was doing previously.

My first post back is one I’ve been so excited for since I started writing it before my break. I have been loving horror so much recently, and there are a lot of really amazing horror books coming this year and I wanted to talk about them all! I take a fairly loose definition of horror, so expect to see lots of variety here, from gothic fantasy to thriller to paranormal to dystopias, all with a horror twist!

Adult

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Let’s start with what is quite possibly my most anticipated horror book of the year! (Or maybe joint most anticipated with YA horror The Taking of Jake Livingston, which you can find out about later in the post!) This gorgeous cover was just recently revealed as well, and look how chilling and gothic it looks?!? Summer Sons is a queer Southern gothic novel mixed up with a Fast and Furious movie, and follows a man whose best friend commits suicide and leaves him with a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that keeps speaking of revenge. (September 28)

Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six month later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Another absolutely stunningly creepy cover from Tor Nightfire! This sounds like such a creepy book, based on Japanese folklore and set in an unsettling house which stands on the bones of a bride and has walls packed with remains of girls who were sacrificed to keep her company. AMAZING RIGHT?! (October 19)

Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth is a gorgeously creepy haunted house tale, steeped in Japanese folklore and full of devastating twists.

A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.

It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends.

But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.

And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia has THREE, yes, THREE book releases this year. Certain Dark Things is a rerelease of her vampire novel, Tor are blessing us by bringing it back in a new edition. And I can’t express how excited I am to see a vampire novel set in Mexico from the author of my favourite book of 2020, Mexican Gothic. (September 7)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore.

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

The Route of Ice and Salt by José Luis Zárate

Continuing on with the year of the return of the vampire, The Route of Ice and Salt is a translated Dracula retelling, published by Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s mini-press. It’s a reimagining of Dracula’s voyage to England, and follows the captain of the ship bringing him to England as he begins to sense that someone is stalking his ship at night. (January 19)

A reimagining of Dracula’s voyage to England, filled with Gothic imagery and queer desire.

It’s an ordinary assignment, nothing more. The cargo? Fifty boxes filled with Transylvanian soil. The route? From Varna to Whitby. The Demeter has made many trips like this. The captain has handled dozens of crews.

He dreams familiar dreams: to taste the salt on the skin of his men, to run his hands across their chests. He longs for the warmth of a lover he cannot have, fantasizes about flesh and frenzied embraces. All this he’s done before, it’s routine, a constant, like the tides.

Yet there’s something different, something wrong. There are odd nightmares, unsettling omens and fear. For there is something in the air, something in the night, someone stalking the ship.

The cult vampire novella by Mexican author José Luis Zárate is available for the first time in English. Translated by David Bowles and with an accompanying essay by noted horror author Poppy Z. Brite, it reveals an unknown corner of Latin American literature.

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

Next on the vampire trend, this time we have a retelling of Dracula’s brides in a queer, poly masterpiece, A Dowry of Blood. I’ve read this absolute stunning novel (you can read my review here!) and it is hard to put into words how much I adored this. It’s so rich and decadent with absolutely beautiful prose and is such a brilliant examination of trauma and abuse. (January 31)

A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A DOWRY OF BLOOD is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation.

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets.

With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death. 

The Blood Prince of Langkasuka by Tutu Dutta

YES, we have more vampires in 2021!! Can we talk for a minute about how all of these vampire novels are either by authors of colour or queer authors or both? White, cishet vampires are DEAD and they are being resurrected a million times better by marginalised authors! The Blood Prince of Langkasuka is a reimagining of the Raja Bersiong legend, a Malaysian coming-of-age story about a young prince who is turned into a vampire. (February 1)

The monster is not always who you expect it to be… a reimagining of the Raja Bersiong legend; a coming-of-age story of an angst-ridden young man turning into a vampire, while confronted with a chilling murder-mystery.

Raja Perita Deria is a carefree and arrogant seventeen-year-old; and his story begins with a seemingly ordinary night out with his close friends. However, a chance encounter with a bewitchingly beautiful woman in an abandoned temple, almost ends his life and changes him irrevocably. After an incident involving the cook and a dish of bayam tainted with blood, he discovers that he needs blood to heal and for sustenance. As heir to the throne of Langkasuka, the prince is also caught in the larger political struggle surrounding the kingdom which is being watched by the two powers of 12th Century Southeast Asia – the Sri Vijaya Empire and the Khmer Empire. Sri Vijaya courts Langkasuka by offering the prince, the hand of a Sri Vijayan princess, while the Khmer Empire seems curiously aloof. To everyone’s surprise, Raja Perita is drawn to the princess, and agrees to marry her. However, a spate of violent deaths in the palace of Langkasuka point towards the prince and his close friends and Raja Perita is slowly driven to breaking point. When the most powerful shaman in the kingdom is murdered while attempting to commune with the Rice Spirit, the countryside is in an uproar. Her death sets off a witch hunt for a killer who could be a vampire… Could it be one of the prince’s beloved friends, or perhaps Raja Perita himself?

Vampire: The Masquerade: Walk Among Us by Cassandra Khaw, Caitlin Starling and Genevieve Gornichec

STILL NOT DONE with the 2021 vampires!! Walk Among Us is a trio of three horror novellas set in the world of the role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade (which is also getting a new video game coming this year too if you’re interested, with Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2). This is also an audio-first collection which is very exciting! (June 16)

One of the most popular role-playing properties in the world gets new life with this trio of horror novellas set in Vampire: The Masquerade‘s World of Darkness by three brilliant talents: Genevieve Gornichec, Cassandra Khaw, and Caitlin Starling

The subtle horror and infernal politics of the World of Darkness are shown in a new light in Vampire: The Masquerade: Walk Among Us, an audio-first collection of three novellas that show the terror, hunger, and power of the Kindred as you’ve never seen them before.

In Genevieve Gornichec’s A SHEEP AMONG WOLVES, performed by Erika Ishii, depression and radicalization go hand-in-hand as a young woman finds companionship in the darkness…

In Cassandra Khaw’s FINE PRINT, performed by Neil Kaplan, an arrogant tech bro learns the importance of reading the fine print in the contract for immortality…

And in Caitlin Starling’s LAND OF MILK AND HONEY, performed by Xe Sands, ideals and ethics bump heads with appetite on a blood farm.

Three very different stories from three amazing, distinct voices, but all with one thing in common: the hunger never stops, and for someone to experience power, many others are going to have to feel pain.

Star Eater by Kerstin Hall

Ahem. A government of nuns who engage in ritualistic cannibalism? And sexually transmitted zombieism? And a group of bisexual disasters? Sign me the fuck up immediately!!! God, everything about this book sounds fucked up and messy and absolutely amazing. (June 22)

All martyrdoms are difficult.

Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost.

So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed.

A phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power, Star Eater takes readers deep into a perilous and uncanny world where even the most powerful women are forced to choose what sacrifices they will make, so that they might have any choice at all.

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Caitlin Starling is the author of one of my favourite horror books, The Luminous Dead! In 2021, she is back with another gothic horror (with an absolutely terrifyingly creepy cover – look at the way the thread is sewed into the skin!!!). The Death of Jane Lawrence, inspired by Crimson Peak, is about a marriage of convenience and 1800s surgical practices (which means lots of fucked up shit I assume!) (October 19)

Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him.

By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to. Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished. 

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

A combination of a horror novel and book publishing? WHAT A DELIGHT. The Other Black Girl is described as Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada which sounds so fantastic I can’t even express it in words. It follows a Black publishing employee who begins to receive threatening notes demanding she leave the company. (June 1)

Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

From one of the most exciting voices in SFF, behind the The Deep and The Unkindness of Ghosts, is a new genre-bending novel, Sorrowland. Horror novels have really got the best covers in 2021!! Sorrowland is about a pregnant woman who escapes a cult and gives birth to twins in the woods. But then, her body begins to change and she can unleash brutality far beyond what a human should be able to do. (May 4)

A triumphant, genre-bending breakout novel from one of the boldest new voices in contemporary fiction

Vern – seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised – flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future – outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

I’m pretty sure I first saw this book after one of my favourite authors, Victoria Lee, tweeted about how awesome it was (although I can no longer actually find that tweet so who knows if I just imagined that!) But, I know it’s going to be incredible! It’s about a serial killer and a girl who grows up in the wake of her sister’s disappearance and moves into a house next to who she suspects was the murderer to watch him. (September 28)

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is one of the best authors in horror right now, and as I’m writing this post, I’m currently reading The Only Good Indians, a creepy, gorey horror novel about a group of Blackfeet men who are haunted by an elk they killed a decade ago. His next novel, My Heart is a Chainsaw, follows a half-Indian woman obsessed with horror movies who is convinced her own town is living through it’s own horror movie. (August 31)

In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

“Some girls just don’t know how to die…”

Shirley Jackson meets Friday the 13th in My Heart Is a Chainsaw, written by the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians Stephen Graham Jones, called “a literary master” by National Book Award winner Tananarive Due and “one of our most talented living writers” by Tommy Orange.

Alma Katsu calls My Heart Is a Chainsaw “a homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.” On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life.

Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.

Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges…a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.

When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen

When the Reckoning Comes sounds like it will be a really rough, but necessary, read, tackling one of contemporary America’s truly horrific ideas: plantation weddings. The book is set during a plantation wedding, on a plantation haunted by the spirits of slaves. (August 3)

A haunting novel about a black woman who returns to her hometown for a plantation wedding and the horror that ensues as she reconnects with the blood-soaked history of the land and the best friends she left behind.

More than a decade ago, Mira fled her small, segregated hometown in the south to forget. With every mile she traveled, she distanced herself from her past: from her best friend Celine, mocked by their town as the only white girl with black friends; from her old neighborhood; from the eerie Woodsman plantation rumored to be haunted by the spirits of slaves; from the terrifying memory of a ghost she saw that terrible day when a dare-gone-wrong almost got Jesse—the boy she secretly loved—arrested for murder.

But now Mira is back in Kipsen to attend Celine’s wedding at the plantation, which has been transformed into a lush vacation resort. Mira hopes to reconnect with her friends, and especially, Jesse, to finally tell him the truth about her feelings and the events of that devastating long-ago day.

But for all its fancy renovations, the Woodsman remains a monument to its oppressive racist history. The bar serves antebellum drinks, entertainments include horrifying reenactments, and the service staff is nearly all black. Yet the darkest elements of the plantation’s past have been carefully erased—rumors that slaves were tortured mercilessly and that ghosts roam the lands, seeking vengeance on the descendants of those who tormented them, which includes most of the wedding guests. 

As the weekend unfolds, Mira, Jesse, and Celine are forced to acknowledge their history together, and to save themselves from what is to come.

Goddess of Filth by V. Castro

Possession novella but make it possession by an ancient Aztec goddess thirsting for sins?! Yes please. (March 30)

“Five of us sat in a circle doing our best to emulate the girls in The Craft, hoping to unleash some power to take us all away from our home to the place of our dreams. But we weren’t witches. We were five Chicanas living in San Antonio, Texas, one year out of high school.”

One hot summer night, best friends Lourdes, Fernanda, Ana, Perla, and Pauline hold a séance. It’s all fun and games at first, but their tipsy laughter turns to terror when the flames burn straight through their prayer candles and Fernanda starts crawling toward her friends and chanting in Nahuatl, the language of their Aztec ancestors.

Over the next few weeks, shy, modest Fernanda starts acting strangely—smearing herself in black makeup, shredding her hands on rose thorns, sucking sin out of the mouths of the guilty. The local priest is convinced it’s a demon, but Lourdes begins to suspect it’s something else—something far more ancient and powerful.

As Father Moreno’s obsession with Fernanda grows, Lourdes enlists the help of her “bruja Craft crew” and a professor, Dr. Camacho, to understand what is happening to her friend in this unholy tale of possession-gone-right.

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

I love books with odd Victorian professions and this one follows a silhouette artist whose clients keep being murdered, so she goes to a spirit medium to try contact the dead to find out who killed them. (January 21)

As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another… Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them.

But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

The Upstairs House by Julia Fine

The combination of horror with pregnancy and motherhood is always such an interesting and captivating combination. And I’m sure The Upstairs House is going to continue that trend! This is described as Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening about a woman who has recently given birth and is left alone with the newborn when her husband travels for work. She begins to see the ghost of a children’s book author whose entwined in a power struggle with the ghost of her former lover. (February 23)

A provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown.

There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her.

Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature.

Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown—author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle—and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger.

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce

A serial killer horror novel is always a terrifying ordeal, but this one sounds more interesting than most as it’s about one of the most prolific female serial killers in America’s history, the Widow of La Porte! (January 19)

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte. The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

Dead Space by Kali Wallace

I really enjoyed Kali Wallace’s 2020 horror, Salvation Day, which was a space horror set on an abandoned spaceship. In her next space thriller/horror, Dead Space, we follow an investigator who survived a terrorist attack and must now solve the murder on an asteroid mine of a fellow survivor of the attack, as well as discovering the truth behind the attack itself. (March 2)

An investigator must solve a brutal murder on a claustrophobic asteroid mine in this tense science fiction thriller from the author of Salvation Day.

Hester Marley used to have a plan for her life. But when a catastrophic attack left her injured, indebted, and stranded far from home, she was forced to take a dead-end security job with a powerful mining company in the asteroid belt. Now she spends her days investigating petty crimes to help her employer maximize its profits. She’s surprised to hear from an old friend and fellow victim of the terrorist attack that ruined her life–and that surprise quickly turns to suspicion when he claims to have discovered something shocking about their shared history and the tragedy that neither of them can leave behind.

Before Hester can learn more, her friend is violently murdered at a remote asteroid mine. Hester joins the investigation to find the truth, both about her friend’s death and the information he believed he had uncovered. But catching a killer is only the beginning of Hester’s worries, and she soon realizes that everything she learns about her friend, his fellow miners, and the outpost they call home brings her closer to revealing secrets that very powerful and very dangerous people would rather keep hidden in the depths of space.

Getaway by Zoje Stage

Getaway sound’s like it’ll have the same claustrophobic tension as one of my favourite horror novels, The Luminous Dead, but instead of being set in a space caving system, it’s set in the Grand Canyon, and follows a group of friends on a hike as their supplies start dissappearing… (August 17)

It was supposed to be the perfect week away

Imogen and Beck, two sisters who couldn’t be more different, have been friends with Tilda since high school. Once inseparable, over two decades the women have grown apart. But after Imogen survives a traumatic attack, Beck suggests they all reunite to hike deep into the Grand Canyon’s backcountry. A week away, secluded in nature . . . surely it’s just what they need.

But as the terrain grows tougher, tensions from their shared past bubble up. And when supplies begin to disappear, it becomes clear secrets aren’t the only thing they’re being stalked by. As friendship and survival collide with an unspeakable evil, Getaway becomes another riveting thriller from a growing master of suspense and “a literary horror writer on the rise”.

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi

I really enjoyed Helen Oyeyemi’s book White is for Witching last year, so I’m keen to explore more of her work, and luckily, she’s got a new book coming in 2021! Peaces is set on a mysterious sleeper train, and has a PET MONGOOSE. Say no more, I shall read it for the mongoose. (April 6)

The prize-winning, bestselling author of GingerbreadBoy, Snow, Bird; and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a vivid and inventive new novel about a couple forever changed by an unusual train voyage.

When Otto and Xavier Shin declare their love, an aunt gifts them a trip on a sleeper train to mark their new commitment–and to get them out of her house. Setting off with their pet mongoose, Otto and Xavier arrive at their sleepy local train station, but quickly deduce that The Lucky Day is no ordinary locomotive. Their trip on this former tea-smuggling train has been curated beyond their wildest imaginations, complete with mysterious and welcoming touches, like ingredients for their favorite breakfast. They seem to be the only people onboard, until Otto discovers a secretive woman who issues a surprising message. As further clues and questions pile up, and the trip upends everything they thought they knew, Otto and Xavier begin to see connections to their own pasts, connections that now bind them together.

A spellbinding tale from a star author, Peaces is about what it means to be seen by another person–whether it’s your lover or a stranger on a train–and what happens when things you thought were firmly in the past turn out to be right beside you.

The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whitely

Another rerelease, this horror novella is set in a world where people shed their skins every 7 years, and change everything about you, from your life, who you love, and who you are. Sounds creepy, right?! (February 23)

A gripping and strange story of shedding skins, love and moving on from the award-winning author of The Beauty. Includes an exclusive short story set in the world of The Loosening Skin.

Rose Allington is a bodyguard for celebrities, and she suffers from a rare disease. Her moults come quickly, changing everything about her life, who she is, who she loves, who she trusts.

In a world where people shed their skin, it’s a fact of life that we move on and cast off the attachments of our old life. But those memories of love can be touched – and bought – if you know the right people.

Rose’s former client, superstar actor Max Black, is hooked on Suscutin, a new wonderdrug that prevents the moult. Max knows his skins are priceless, and moulting could cost him his career.

When one of his skins is stolen, and the theft is an inside job, Max needs the best who ever worked for him – even if she’s not the same person.

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

I love this book already because it it has The Blair Witch Project as a comp, which has a special place in my heart as the only horror movie I could ever get through as a teen! Because I was (and still am) a wimp when it comes to horror films. Thus, I’m very interested in The Lost Village which follows a documentary filmaker who is obsessed with an old mining town where people keep vanishing. Obviously, she decides to make a film and EVERYTHING GOES WRONG *evil laughter* (March 23)

The Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar in this brilliantly disturbing thriller from Camilla Sten, an electrifying new voice in suspense.

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?

Near the Bone by Christina Henry

Christina Henry is known for her horror retellings of fairytales, from Peter Pan to Alice in Wonderland to Red Riding Hood. This year, she has a new horror book about monsters on a mountain and the woman trying to survive them. (April 13)

A woman trapped on a mountain attempts to survive more than one kind of monster, in a dread-inducing horror novel from the national bestselling author Christina Henry.

Mattie can’t remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that they’re not alone after all.

There’s something in the woods that wasn’t there before, something that makes strange cries in the night, something with sharp teeth and claws.

When three strangers appear on the mountaintop looking for the creature in the woods, Mattie knows their presence will anger William. Terrible things happen when William is angry.

All’s Well by Mona Awad

Mona Awad is the brain behind the weird and wonderful Bunny, and her next novel looks to be just as strange and dark and disturbing. It follows a theatre professor with chronic pain on the verge of losing her job and explores the way female pain and trauma is invalidated by society. (August 3)

From the critically acclaimed author of Bunny, a darkly funny novel about a theater professor suffering chronic pain, who in the process of staging a troubled production of Shakespeare’s most maligned play, suddenly and miraculously recovers.

Miranda Fitch’s life is a waking nightmare. The accident that ended her burgeoning acting career left her with excruciating, chronic back pain, a failed marriage, and a deepening dependence on painkillers. And now she’s on the verge of losing her job as a college theater director. Determined to put on Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the play that promised, and cost, her everything, she faces a mutinous cast hellbent on staging Macbeth instead. Miranda sees her chance at redemption slip through her fingers.

That’s when she meets three strange benefactors who have an eerie knowledge of Miranda’s past and a tantalizing promise for her future: one where the show goes on, her rebellious students get what’s coming to them, and the invisible, doubted pain that’s kept her from the spotlight is made known.

With prose Margaret Atwood has described as “no punches pulled, no hilarities dodged…genius,” Mona Awad has concocted her most potent, subversive novel yet. All’s Well is the story of a woman at her breaking point and a formidable, piercingly funny indictment of our collective refusal to witness and believe female pain.

Red X by David Demchuk

This sounds like such an interesting exploration of the relationship between horror and queerness, following the Toronto queer community across the decades as gay men keep vanishing. Until the community realises that whoever or whatever is taking the men has been doing so for longer than humanly possible. (August 31)

A hunted community. A haunted author. A horror that spans centuries.

Men are disappearing from Toronto’s gay village. They’re the marginalized, the vulnerable. One by one, stalked and vanished, they leave behind small circles of baffled, frightened friends. Against the shifting backdrop of homophobia throughout the decades, from the HIV/AIDS crisis and riots against raids to gentrification and police brutality, the survivors face inaction from the law and disinterest from society at large. But as the missing grow in number, those left behind begin to realize that whoever or whatever is taking these men has been doing so for longer than is humanly possible.

Woven into their stories is David Demchuk’s own personal history, a life lived in fear and in thrall to horror, a passion that boils over into obsession. As he tries to make sense of the relationship between queerness and horror, what it means for gay men to disappear, and how the isolation of the LGBTQ+ community has left them profoundly exposed to monsters that move easily among them, fact and fiction collide and reality begins to unravel.

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente

First of all, how gorgeous is this cover?! Second of all, this is Gone Girl x Spinning Silver?! How amazing does that sound?! This thriller novella follows Sophia, and her strange husband who works too hard, doesn’t answer her questions and keeps a basement locked where she isn’t allowed to enter. (October 26)

A terrifying new thriller from bestseller Catherynne M. Valente, for fans of Gone Girl and Spinning Silver

Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. She can feel it in her bones. He is perfect. Their home together in Arcadia Gardens is perfect. Everything is perfect.

It’s just that he’s away so much. So often. He works so hard. She misses him. And he misses her. He says he does, so it must be true. He is the perfect husband and everything is perfect.

But sometimes Sophia wonders about things. Strange things. Dark things. The look on her husband’s face when he comes back from a long business trip. The questions he will not answer. The locked basement she is never allowed to enter. And whenever she asks the neighbors, they can’t quite meet her gaze…

But everything is perfect. Isn’t it?

Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn

As always, Tordotcom Publishing is absolutely killing it with novellas. Flowers for the Sea is described as a gothic Rosemary’s Baby meets Octavia Butler, which sounds epic?! It follows refugees from a flooded kingdom, one of whom is pregnant with a child that might not be human. (September 19)

Flowers for the Sea is a dark, dazzling debut novella from Zin E. Rocklyn that reads like Rosemary’s Baby by way of Octavia E. Butler

We are a people who do not forget.

Survivors from a flooded kingdom struggle alone on an ark. Resources are scant, and ravenous beasts circle. Their fangs are sharp.

Among the refugees is Iraxi: ostracized, despised, and a commoner who refused a prince, she’s pregnant with a child that might be more than human. Her fate may be darker and more powerful than she can imagine.

Zin E. Rocklyn’s extraordinary debut novella is a lush, gothic fantasy about the prices we pay and the vengeance we seek.

Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body by Megan Milks

Well this just sounds bloody incredible! A queer and trans, genre-bending coming-of-age story about a 90s girl group mystery series set at a haunted eating disorder treatment centre in a dystopian, mutant world?! What the fuck but also this sounds amazing?! (Date unconfirmed)

Lambda-nominated writer and critic Megan Milks’s MARGARET AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BODY, a genre-bending queer and trans coming-of-age story that combines a ’90s-era girl group mystery series with a haunted eating disorder treatment center and a surreal mutant body-world.

The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings

We don’t know much about The Women Could Fly yet, but what we do know is this:

a) Megan Giddings had a phenomenal horror debut with her book exploring medical experimentation on Black people in Lakewood

b) the one description I’ve found for The Women Could Fly sounds epic: pitched as reminiscent of Kelly Link and Ottessa Moshfegh, about a Black, bisexual woman on a journey to come to terms with the loss of her mother, who disappeared mysteriously when she was a teenager, and set in a world where witches are real (Date unconfirmed)

YA

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

Victoria Lee is the author of my favourite book, The Fever King, so of course I am INORDINATELY excited for her next DARK ACADEMIA, SAPPHIC THRILLER. It’s going to be so fucking good, I already know it. (August 3)

For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past.

Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.

Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.

Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.

And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

This is my joint most anticipated YA horror book of the year (along with the above Victoria Lee book). Just look how creepy that cover is!! This follows a boy called Jake who starts getting haunted by the ghost of a school shooter. (July 13)

Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee.

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Darling by K. Ancrum

This is the first darker retelling of Peter Pan, by two of the best writers in YA this year! K. Ancrum is one of my auto-buy authors, I do not care what she writes, I WILL READ IT. And I just can’t wait to read this really dark Peter Pan thriller, reimagined to be set in today’s world. (June 22)

A teen girl finds herself lost on a dangerous adventure in this YA thriller by the acclaimed author of The Wicker King and The Weight of the Stars—reimagining Peter Pan for today’s world.

On Wendy Darling’s first night in Chicago, a boy called Peter appears at her window. He’s dizzying, captivating, beautiful—so she agrees to join him for a night on the town.

Wendy thinks they’re heading to a party, but instead they’re soon running in the city’s underground. She makes friends—a punk girl named Tinkerbelle and the lost boys Peter watches over. And she makes enemies—the terrifying Detective Hook, and maybe Peter himself, as his sinister secrets start coming to light. Can Wendy find the courage to survive this night—and make sure everyone else does, too?

Acclaimed author K. Ancrum has re-envisioned Peter Pan with a central twist that will send all your previous memories of J. M. Barrie’s classic permanently off to Neverland.

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

And onto the SECOND dark Peter Pan retelling, we are blessed this year! What a gorgeous cover too, the colouring is so, so pretty. This Peter Pan retelling follows Wendy years after her and her brothers went missing in the woods, and now other children are starting to disappear. (March 23)

When children go missing in the small coastal town of Astoria, people look to Wendy for answers.

It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.

Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don’t do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Gothic books are one of my favourite genres and so I loved this dark gothic fantasy when I read an ARC earlier this year (and I will have a review coming very soon now that my blog is up and running again!) It also has body horror (EYE HORROR specifically), medical magic, a bisexual heroine, a creepy, chilling castle and a gorgeous enemies to lovers relationship. (March 2)

He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.

Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.

The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.

With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Love makes monsters of us all.

The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska

I adored Alicia Jasinska’s debut The Dark Tide, a sapphic enemies to lovers witchy book! This paranormal book promises to be just as amazing – two sapphic monsters are competing for the heart of a prince. But then they realise they might be falling for each other.

The Wicked Deep meets House of Salt and Sorrows in this new standalone YA fantasy set in a snow-cloaked kingdom where witches are burned, and two enchantresses secretly compete for the heart of a prince, only to discover that they might be falling for each other.

It’s Karnawał season in the snow-cloaked Kingdom of Lechija, and from now until midnight when the church bells ring an end to Devil’s Tuesday time will be marked with wintry balls and glittery disguises, cavalcades of nightly torch-lit “kuligi” sleigh-parties.

Unbeknownst to the oblivious merrymakers, two monsters join the fun, descending upon the royal city of Warszów in the guise of two innocent girls. Newfound friends and polar opposites, Zosia and Marynka seem destined to have a friendship that’s stronger even than magic. But that’s put to the test when they realize they both have their sights set on Lechija’s pure-hearted prince. A pure heart contains immeasurable power and Marynka plans to bring the prince’s back to her grandmother in order to prove herself. While Zosia is determined to take his heart and its power for her own.

When neither will sacrifice their ambitions for the other, the festivities spiral into a wild contest with both girls vying to keep the hapless prince out of the other’s wicked grasp. But this isn’t some remote forest village, where a hint of stray magic might go unnoticed, Warszów is the icy capital of a kingdom that enjoys watching monsters burn, and if Zosia and Marynka’s innocent disguises continue to slip, their escalating rivalry might cost them not just the love they might have for each other, but both their lives.

What Big Teeth by Roze Szabo

Another stunning cover, YA horror covers are so beautiful this year! What Big Teeth follows a family of monsters and the girl trying to hold them together. It’s dark, it’s gothic, and looks absolutely fabulous! (February 2)

Rose Szabo’s thrilling debut is a dark and thrilling novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.

Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.

Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go.

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

From the author of the Anna Dressed in Blood duology comes a new horror book! It follows a series of murders in the 1950s, with victims being found drained of blood, and the girl who’s found at the scene of one of the murders, covered in blood that isn’t hers. (September 21)

Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation.

Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained, but with no blood anywhere.

September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers.

Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap, or that he would be pulled into the investigation, when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to.

As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

This is going to be an absolutely stunning queer, Jewish, gothic novel! It’s set during the 1893 Chicago World Fair and follows Alter when he becomes possessed by the dybbuk of his best friend. (September 7)

Death lurks around every corner in this unforgettable Jewish historical fantasy about a city, a boy, and the shadows of the past that bind them both together.

Chicago, 1893. For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he’ll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania.

But when Alter’s best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World’s Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov’s dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows.

Now, with only days to spare until the dybbuk takes over Alter’s body completely, the two boys must race to track down the killer—before the killer claims them next.

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

This gothic retelling sounds absolutely amazing: goodbye original Jane Eyre, hello Ethiopian-inspired fantasy Jane Eyre!! Complete with a very creepy house trying to destroy everyone inside, one of my favourite gothic tropes! (November 9)

What the heart desires, the house destroys…

Kiersten White meets Tomi Adeyemi in this Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire. 

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

I honestly cannot quite get over how gorgeous horror covers are this year. Look how beautiful this is?! This horror novel is set in a town where teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, with it all seeming linked to some ghost hunters who have recently returned to town. Also, it’s VERY LESBIAN. (August 3)

Courtney Gould’s thrilling debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places―and people―you didn’t expect.

The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer.

Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames

Another gorgeous cover!! To Break a Covenant is set in a mining town, haunted since an explosion that killed sixteen people. When strange things start happening to the townfolk, including sleepwalking and night terrors, a group of friends decide to enter the mine to find out what’s happening. (September 21)

Debut voice Alison Ames delivers with a chilling, feminist thriller, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Sawkill Girls.

Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold on everyone who lives there.

Clem and Nina form a perfect loop—best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Which is why the girls decide to enter the mine themselves.

Poison Priestess by Lana Popović

This is book 2 in the Lady Slayers series, which started with Blood Countess last year, a book about the most prolific female serial killer of all time. The great news is you don’t need to read these in order, as each book focuses on a different female killer! Popović is back and book 2 is about French murderer and fortune teller Catherine Monvoisin, who ends up playing twisted games that pits French nobility against each other and ends in murder. (April 6)

Book 2 in the Lady Slayers series, about French murderess and fortune teller Catherine Monvoisin

In 17th-century Paris, 19-year-old Catherine Monvoisin is a well-heeled jeweler’s wife with a peculiar taste for the arcane. She lives a comfortable life, far removed from a childhood of abject destitution—until her kind spendthrift of a husband lands them both in debt. Hell-bent on avoiding a return to poverty, Catherine must rely on her prophetic visions and the grimoire gifted to her by a talented diviner to reinvent herself as a sorceress. With the help of the grifter Marie Bosse, Catherine divines fortunes in the IIle de la Citee—home to sorcerers and scoundrels.

There she encounters the Marquise de Montespan, a stunning noblewoman. When the Marquise becomes Louis XIV’s royal mistress with Catherine’s help, her ascension catapults Catherine to notoriety. Catherine takes easily to her glittering new life as the Sorceress La Voisin, pitting the depraved noblesse against one other to her advantage. The stakes soar ever higher when her path crosses with that of a young magician. A charged rivalry between sorceress and magician leads to Black Masses, tangled deceptions, and grisly murder—and sets Catherine on a collision course that threatens her own life.

Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin

This YA gothic novel is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, following a sister trying to break her sister’s curse that turns her into a beast and makes her kill people (whilst also helping control who her sister kills by marking the perfume they buy with a scent designed to attract the beast). (September 14)

A gothic YA fantasy debut about a young woman striving to break her sister’s curse and stop the killing in her small French town

Seventeen-year-old Marie mixes perfumes to sell on market day in her small eighteenth-century French town. She wants to make enough to save a dowry for her sister, Ama, in hopes of Ama marrying well and Marie living in the level of freedom afforded only to spinster aunts. But her perfumes are more than sweet scents in cheap, cut-glass bottles: A certain few are laced with death. Marie laces the perfume delicately—not with poison but with a hint of honeysuckle she’s trained her sister to respond to. Marie marks her victim, and Ama attacks. But she doesn’t attack as a girl. She kills as a beast.

Marking Ama’s victims controls the damage to keep suspicion at bay. But when a young boy turns up dead one morning, Marie is forced to acknowledge she might be losing control of Ama. And if she can’t control her, she’ll have to cure her. Marie knows the only place she’ll find the cure is in the mansion where Ama was cursed in the first place, home of Lord Sebastien LeClaire. But once she gets into the mansion, she discovers dark secrets hidden away—secrets of the curse, of Lord Sebastien . . . and of herself. 

Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap

I’m not usually hugely keen to read short story collections, which means this one sounds extra specially amazing to make it to my most anticipated horror list! This is a collection of stories mostly based off Filipino mythology and folklore and they promise to all be absolutely gorgeously written! (February 23)

“Am I dead?”

Mebuyen sighs. She was hoping the girl would not ask.


Spells and stories, urban legends and immigrant tales: the magic in Isabel Yap’s debut collection jumps right off the page, from the joy in her new novella, ‘A Spell for Foolish Hearts’ to the terrifying tension of the urban legend ‘Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez’.

Our Last Echoes by Kate Alice Marshall

One of the first YA horror books I read after I got into the genre a few years ago was Kate Alice Marshall’s Rules for Vanishing, and it was so so creepy!! I really loved the way she used documents/video transcripts etc to help tell the story, it’s one of my favourite horror writing styles. This one sounds just as creepy, it’s about a girl who has memories of drowning and her mother disappearing during it, but she has never been in the ocean and her mother died in a hospital. And this one uses a similar writing style to Rules for Vanishing too!

Kara Thomas meets Twin Peaks in this supernatural thriller about one girl’s hunt for the truth about her mother’s disappearance.

Sophia’s first memory is of drowning. She remembers the darkness of the water and the briny taste as it fills her throat. She remembers the cold shock of going under. She remembers her mother pulling her to safety before disappearing forever. But Sophia has never been in the ocean. And her mother died years ago in a hospital. Or so she has been told her whole life.

A series of clues have led Sophia to the island of Bitter Rock, Alaska, where she talked her way into a summer internship at the Landon Avian Research Center, the same center her mother worked at right before she died. There, she meets the disarmingly clever Liam, whose own mother runs the LARC, as well as Abby, who’s following a mystery of her own: a series of unexplained disappearances. People have been vanishing from Bitter Rock for decades, leaving only their ghostly echoes behind. When it looks like their two mysteries might be one and the same, Sophia vows to dig up the truth, no matter how many lies she has to tell along the way. Even if it leads her to a truth she may not want to face.

Our Last Echoes is an eerie collection of found documents and written confessionals, in the style of Rules for Vanishing, with supernatural twists that keep you questioning what is true and what is an illusion.

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino

Nothing excites me more than reading ‘accidentally releasing a demon’. Which is what this book is all about! It follows a teen who’s working at the school library over the summer and an intolerable patron after they accidentally release a demon from a grimoire.

Tess Matheson only wants three things: time to practice her cello, for her sister to be happy, and for everyone else to leave her alone.

Instead, Tess finds herself working all summer at her boarding school library, shelving books and dealing with the intolerable patrons. The worst of them is Eliot Birch: snide, privileged, and constantly requesting forbidden grimoires. After a bargain with Eliot leads to the discovery of an ancient book in the library’s grimoire collection, the pair accidentally unleash a book-bound demon.

The demon will stop at nothing to stay free, manipulating ink to threaten those Tess loves and dismantling Eliot’s strange magic. Tess is plagued by terrible dreams of the devil and haunting memories of a boy who wears Eliot’s face. All she knows is to stay free, the demon needs her… and he’ll have her, dead or alive.

Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

And for the last horror book on the list, let’s end on a LoveOzYA one! (For those who haven’t heard that term before, LoveOzYA is an initiative set up in Australia to support local Australian YA authors). I love gothic books so I have very high hopes for this gothic fantasy book about monsters and magic and a cursed lake!

A lush gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake. Perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Brigid Kemmerer.

There are monsters in the world.

When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.

There are monsters in the woods.

As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…

There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.

Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.

And there you have it! Some of the amazing horror books we have coming in 2021. What horror book are you most anticipating this year? And do you have any recommendations I’ve missed? I would love to hear in the comments!

Book review: A Dowry of Blood by S.T Gibson

Title: A Dowry of Blood by S.T Gibson

Publisher: Nyx Publishing

Publication date: 31 January 2021

Genre: Adult | Horror | Fantasy

Rep: All bi cast, polyamorous (m/f/f/m)

Page extent: 248 pages

Rating:

A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A DOWRY OF BLOOD is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation.

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets.

With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death.

Content warnings from the author: emotional, verbal, and physical intimate partner abuse, gaslighting, war, famine, and plague, blood and gore, consensual sexual content, sadomasochism, self harm, body horror, violence and murder, alcohol use, depression and mania, sexual assault (not directed at any named character), drug use, drowning

Some books just leave you a shuddering, incomplete creature, unsure of how to go on in the world after you read them. This is A Dowry of Blood. There is such beauty and reverence in this prose that, sitting here after immediately finishing and trying to write this review, I find myself unsure of how the world works anymore, unsure of what to do next, longing to just sit and contemplate the words I just read.

A Dowry of Blood is a reimagining of Dracula’s brides, written from the point of view of Constanta, one of his brides, through the form of letters written to Dracula. She tells of their life together, how they came to be joined with his other brides, Magdalena and Alexi, and how they began to discover his dark secrets.

Blood has never been sexier. From the very first pages, this book just oozes with lust and desire, the prose so sumptuous and rich and decadent. It is like drowning in chocolate or wine, pleasure mixing with pain so intimately that you can’t separate one from the other. The fire with which desire floods this book is uncontrollable and obsessive: the way Gibson has written desire as something so deeply embedded in religious worship is so stunning that nothing I can say in this review will ever do it justice. Reading it feels like an awakening: you are as enraptured in the desire as Constanta, Magdalena and Alexi are. This book is a work of art, one that could not more perfectly explore the darkness and danger in desire. The way desire is represented through this sense of worship and faith is unlike anything I’ve read before, and yet so powerful and so beautiful that it feels like nothing will compare to it ever again.

These characters were just as perfectly rendered as the prose. The constant sense of foreboding, that sharp inhale of breath you and his brides take whenever Dracula, unnamed throughout the book but so breathlessly there in every sentence, walks into a room. The power he breathes into this book to have such presence in a world where he is not even named, where Constanta purposefully leaves him nameless to remove his power from her story. Constanta herself, the first of his brides, begins her story in these letters with her guilt and fear of him, but she gathers such strength as she writes her story. She gathers the love he brought into their lives in the form of Magdalena and Alexi and uses them against him. It is her love and pure, protective ferocity that brings about his downfall, that reveals his dark secrets, her fear of seeing them hurt anymore that seals his fate.

Then there’s Magdalena, a glowing, shining light of energy and passion and cleverness, subtly manipulating the room from her very first pages. Her change across the book feels most noticeable, as it leaves the most vivid hole in its wake, as her shining desire for life and freedom is brutally torn apart. And finally, the last of the brides, Alexi. He is the fire and brimstone, the terror who won’t go down without fighting, who will tear away from Dracula’s grasp even as he is strangled by it. These characters are so intricately woven together, their horrors shared together in Dracula’s control as he exerts his manipulation over them, elaborately ensuring they see that no matter what he does, they will shatter into even more pieces without him there. It digs so deeply and hauntingly into that slow journey from love to brutality in abusive relationships that the book feels as raw and bruised as anything I’ve ever read.

A Dowry of Blood is a book full of worship, telling a story about the way pain and pleasure, abuse and desire, can be so intricately wrapped that the unravelling can take centuries and break you in the process. It is a work of art, a book that has prose so beautiful that you come out of the book in a haze, wondering how you can return to the beauty beholden in its pages.

My favourite horror (and favourites of the future)

Hi everyone,

A few weeks ago I made about a post about some of my favourite gothic novels, and also featured some of the gothic novels releasing in the future. I really liked doing it so I’m thinking I might make a regular feature of it? 5 favourites and 5 future? I need to think of a better name… But since it’s Halloween this week, I thought I’d do one on horror! So here are five of my favourite horror books, and five I’m excited to read in the next few years!

Five favourites

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

I read Into the Drowning Deep during spooky month last year. It was my first adult horror and I absolutely fell in love. This book was just so terrifying?! It’s about a company who send a bunch of scienctists to investigate the existence of mermaids after a ship and all its crew members are mysteriously (and gruesomely) killed. Of course when they find the mermaids, they aren’t like the fairytales: these mermaids will literally tear off your face and eat it. This is a very sciencey heavy book, but I loved that about it as it really added a layer of reality to it which I think really helps make books scarier.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

The Luminous Dead is very much a psychological horror/thriller novel. It’s set inside a caving system, where a woman, Gyre, gets trapped. The entire novel takes place inside this caving system as Gyre tries to escape; the only other character is her handler, Em, who is looking after her suit and body from the outside. But Gyre keeps discovering more and more lies from Em, and then she finds bodies….and soon she doesn’t know whether what’s happening is real or not. It’s such a brilliant book, and the use of the unreliable narrator here is excellent, as see Gyre descend further and further into madness, the longer she is trapped alone, underground. It’s such a phenomenally creepy novel, and I finall picked up a hard copy of it last month so I can’t wait to reread it!

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Okay yes, I had Mexican Gothic on my gothic list as well, but it is also very much a horror novel and it is so thrillingly creepy that I had to mention it again this week in case anyone was still unaware that I adore it. It’s about a woman who goes to rescue her cousin from an old manor house in Mexico and gets trapped there herself in a very fucked up mushroom world.

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

Definitely on the lighter side of horror, The Scapegracers is a witchy sapphic delight with one of the best portrayals of female friendship I’ve ever read in YA. It follows Sideways, an outcast lesbian teen who is paid to perform some magic at a party thrown by three popular girls. But instead of being the usual bitchy girl trope, Sideways is welcomed into their group and they form their own coven as they try to fight off attacks from witch hunters.

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

The Year of the Witching was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and it certainly lived up to everything I dreamed of it! It’s so dark and full of evil, set in a puritannical, cult like society called Bethel. A young woman, the daughter of a witch, finds herself being called to the dangerous woods, where the witches live. She tries to hold them off but as she discovers move about the church and the history of Bethel, she’s unsure she even wants to hold the witches back… It’s dark and bloody and gorey and so so witchy, I love it!!

Five future releases

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce

A book about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history? Yes please. Pub date: 19 January 2021

Synopsis: An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte. The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin

If I had to choose only one single book that has been announced that I want to read immediately, it would be this one. The level of excitement I have for this knows no bounds. Pub date: 2022

Synopsis: Gretchen Felker-Martin’s MANHUNT, about trans women scavenging for estrogen in a post-apocalyptic world where a viral plague has transformed all cis men into feral monstrosities, fighting tooth and nail against a menace they’ll join if they miss a dose, and on the run from an authoritarian faction of cis women who see them as a dangerous liability, pitched as a trans woman’s response to Y: THE LAST MAN, plus another standalone horror novel, to Kelly Lonesome at Nightfire, in a very nice deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in March 2022, by Connor Goldsmith at Fuse Literary (world).

Jake in the Box by Ryan Douglass

This is a horror written by a queer Black man about a queer Black kid who is being haunted by the ghost of a school shooter! And it sounds so phenomenal. Pub date: 13 July 2021

Synopsis: It’s hard being the one of the few Black kids at St. Clair Prep, especially when you’re routinely harassed by the dead. This year, sixteen-year-old loner Jake Livingston plans to make real friends, which means paying less attention to dead world and more to reality.

But when a series of murders breaks out in Jake’s neighborhood, he discovers they may be linked to Sawyer Doon—a vengeful spirit who carried out a school shooting a year prior and then killed himself. Sawyer is back, determined to wreak havoc on new targets from beyond the grave.

Now, Jake’s home isn’t safe. School isn’t safe. The more he tries to ignore Sawyer, the more he feels the ghost boy’s impact on his psyche. And the closer he comes to understanding who Sawyer was, the more he realizes how similar he may be to the boy once bullied relentlessly for his sexuality, now hell-bent on taking power back from a world that took it from him.

To protect himself from possession, Jake will have to master his power over both dead world and reality and discover his own reason to live.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

So obviously since my favourite book of the year was Mexican Gothic, I am extremely excited for the release of Moreno-Garcia’s vampire horror duology by Tor next year! Pub date: 11 May 2021

Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore.

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

Dead Silence by S.A Barnes

I was mega excited for a horror spaceship book this year and it really did not live up to what I hoped so I am crossing all my fingers that this one gives me the terrifying spaceship horror of my dreams! Pub date: February 2022

Synopsis: At the edge of the solar system, no one can hear you scream.

The Aurora, a luxury space-liner destined for a cruise of the solar system, has been missing for twenty years. Among the hundreds of presumed dead were passengers from society’s finest – celebrities, tech giants, influencers. Every last one… vanished.

So when Claire’s crew picks up an emergency signal in deep space, the long-lost Aurora is the last ship they expect to find. The salvage claim could be their best chance at extraordinary wealth, but it might mean missing their transport back home, and nobody can stand another minute out in the darkest corner of the universe – nobody, except Claire.

Once onboard the ship, the crew realizes something is terribly wrong. Unspeakable horrors lurk in every shadow of the massive ship, and soon they each start experiencing violent hallucinations.

Claire must fight to keep her sanity and get her crew back to safety – before they all meet the same ghastly fate as the Aurora passengers.

Blessed we are by the new Tor Nightfire horror imprint that is bringing us diverse horror!! I can’t wait for all their books (Manhunt, Certain Dark Things and Dead Silence are all being released under this imprint). What horror books are you looking forward to reading soon? Let me know in the comments!

My favourite gothic fiction

Hi everyone,

Since I’m in the middle of participating in Gothtober, the readathon all about gothic fiction, I thought it the perfect time to talk about some of my favourite gothic fiction! I’ve loved gothic fiction since I was a teen. I always gravitated to the gothic classics both in and out of school, my favourites being Dracula and Wuthering Heights. The combination of creepy, mysterious settings with powerful romance, the supernatural, the constant sense of fear, foreboding and suspense just combines all my favourite things to read about. So I’ve picked out five of my favourite recent(ish) gothic releases alongside twelve I’m highly anticipating that will be released in the next year! It was supposed to be five as well, but 2021 is so full of gothic books and I’m incapable of narrowing down options. I don’t know what is driving this trend but I wholeheartedly approve.

Favourites

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

How could I start with anything other than my favourite book of the year, Mexican Gothic? This book is just the best, most fucked up gothic book I’ve read in years. It has all the most terrifying features of gothic fiction: the damp, mouldy house with walls that seem to move if you stare at them too long; the dark and dangerous fog covered cemetery with figures in the distance; the constant feeling that you’re being watched; mushrooms…. It is such a twisty, dark ride, and one that cemented Moreno-Garcia on my list of must-buy authors! The atmosphere is so full of suspense that reading this book is just an absolutely terrifying experience, do not read it at night as I did! Get ready to have your mind just scream WHAT THE FUCK.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

Not only is The Animals at Lockwood Manor one of the most gorgeous physical books ever (especially as I got a special edition with stunning endpapers and sprayed edges), but it’s also just an amazing book, especially because at the centre of this gothic book is a brilliant sapphic relationship! It really is full of all my favourite gothic romance tropes: women fainting at the slightest thing, lounging indecently on chaise lounges, ruffled satin gowns and delicate touching of fingers on wrists. It’s BEAUTIFUL. The Animals at Lockwood Manor is of course a complete piece of gothic fiction with the creepy manor house, the ghostly figure in white who keeps appearing around the house, and a special ingrediant to make the environment even more creepy: taxidermied animals!

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Mercies is definitely not a traditional gothic book. It has no creepy manor house for one. But I really feel like this has the emotional intensity, the romance, the gloomy atmosphere, and the dark fear and suspense that is inherent in all gothic fiction. So whilst at first glance this might not seem to fit the mould of a traditional gothic classic, I do think it deserves to be on this list! Instead of an English manor house, The Mercies is set in a small fishing village in Norway, in a rough and unforgiving landscape that becomes even more unforgiving when a witchhunter is brought in to bring a group of women back under control.

Blood Countess by Lana Popović

One of my favourite elements of gothic fiction is the beautiful and haunting romances. There’s just something about the writing style in gothic books that allows for such beautiful expression of desire. Blood Countess does this so extremely well, it has one of my favourite sapphic relationship developments of any book. The language is just absolutely stunning and the yearning is incredible. Not only that, it’s also inspired by Countess Elizabeth Báthory who is considered to be the most prolific female serial killer ever.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Yes, this is the reason for the “recent(ish)” at the start of the post. White is for Witching released in 2009, but I only just read it recently (I literally finished it this morning) but I enjoyed it so much I added it to this post on my lunch break! I cannot express how absolutely incredible the atmosphere in this book is, oh my god. It’s sinfully dark and delightful, very strange at times but so foreboding and filled with such thrilling suspense. There is such a sense of malevolency throughout, as it’s all about a house that is haunting four generations of women in a family. It never wants to let them go, so keeps them in the walls of the house. And if creepiness isn’t enough, to make it even more perfect, it has a sapphic relationship too!

Anticipated gothic releases

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Synopsis: A gorgeously gothic, deeply romantic YA debut fantasy about two enemies trapped inside a crumbling mansion, with no escape from the monsters within.

Honor your oath, destroy your country.

Wren Southerland is the most talented healer in the Queen’s Guard, but her reckless actions have repeatedly put her on thin ice with her superiors. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate to cure his servant from a mysterious disease, she seizes the chance to prove herself.

When she arrives at Colwick Hall, Wren realizes that nothing is what it seems. Particularly when she discovers her patient is actually Hal Cavendish, the sworn enemy of her kingdom.

As the snowy mountains make it impossible to leave the estate, Wren and Hal grow closer as they uncover a sinister plot that could destroy everything they hold dear. But choosing love could doom both their kingdoms.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched, gothic, romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Synopsis: Light a fire they can’t put out…

For 150 years, above the Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises a future where its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.
Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher, is the first new hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose feels overwhelmed in the face of this elite establishment, but soon after her arrival she begins to understand that she may have more to fear than her own ineptitude.
When Rose stumbles across the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor – a woman whose ghost lingers over everything and who no one will discuss – she realises that there is much more to this institution than she has been led to believe.
As she uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, Rose becomes embroiled in a battle that will threaten her sanity as well as her safety…

A brooding, mesmeric novel with a feminist kick, perfect for fans of Naomi Alderman, Madeleine Miller and Margaret Atwood.

The Upstairs House by Julia Fine

Synopsis: Julia Fine, author of the “surreally feministic tale” (Family Circle) What Should Be Wild, returns with a provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown.

There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her.

Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature.

Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown—author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle—and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger.

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Synopsis: As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another… Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them.

But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Synopsis: A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins’s The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending? 

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Synopsis: MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN MEETS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN THIS HAUNTING STORY OF ONE GIRL’S ATTEMPT TO RECONNECT WITH HER MONSTROUS FAMILY.

Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather’s tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak.

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. “I read this in the cards,” her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn’t see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help.

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Synopsis: Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six month later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Synopsis: A genre-bending work of gothic fiction that wrestles with the tangled history of racism in America and the marginalization of society’s undesirables.

Vern, a Black woman with albinism, is hunted after escaping a religious compound, then she discovers that her body is changing and that she is developing extra-sensory powers.

Alone in the woods, she gives birth to twins and raises them away from the influence of the outside world. But something is wrong – not with them, but with her own body. It’s itching, it’s stronger, it’s… not normal.

To understand her body’s metamorphosis, Vern must investigate not just the secluded religious compound she fled but the violent history of dehumanization, medical experimentation, and genocide that produced it. In the course of reclaiming her own darkness, Vern learns that monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire histories, systems, and nations.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Synopsis: *THE MUST-READ GOTHIC THRILLER OF 2021 FROM THE SHIRLEY JACKSON AND AUGUST DERLETH AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF LITTLE EVE AND RAWBLOOD *

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Synopsis: Author of THE LUMINOUS DEAD Caitlin Starling’s THE DEATH OF JANE LAWRENCE, pitched as a Crimson Peak-inspired gothic horror about a young woman who makes a marriage of convenience and soon finds herself trapped in her new husband’s decrepit and possibly haunted mansion, and spirals down a dangerous path of ritual magic in an effort to save them both, to Sylvan Creekmore at St. Martin’s Press, in a very nice deal, at auction, by Caitlin McDonald at Donald Maass Literary Agency (world)

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, this queer Jewish gothic fantasy follows a young immigrant, Alter, who is possessed by the dybbuk of his murdered best friend and is thrust into a deadly hunt for a serial killer.

Wuthering Heights by Tasha Suri

Synopsis: Tasha Suri suggested she revamp Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights after Settle approached her to reclaim a different classic. “Tasha didn’t feel she was the right author for that book, but she did have an exciting idea for Wuthering Heights,” the editor said. “She proposed focusing on how, when the British colonized India and white men traveled there and had children with Indian women, if the children passed as white, they were then sent back to England to be integrated into ‘proper’ white society. Tasha had a brilliant plan for weaving that little-known part of history into Wuthering Heights.”

Suri called the classic novel a favorite of hers, “a strange and polarizing book: dark and gothic, passionately romantic and pointedly cruel. It’s also the story of the destructive influence of a boy who doesn’t belong: a boy who looks ‘foreign’ without having any particular history of cultural identity; a monstrous boy who has no place, no family, no right to want things, and wants them anyway. I want to write a reclamation that says: everyone comes from somewhere, and colonialism may try to make us its monsters, but we don’t have to let it. I hope my re-imagining will also help make readers a little more aware of the long, long history of South Asians in Britain. There’s so much history that we’re not taught that young readers deserve to know about.”

I hope you enjoyed this list of gothic books, and are as excited as I am about 2021! It is the year of the gothic book and I don’t know why we’re having such a big push for gothic novels, but I am so happy we are! Do you have any favourite gothic books? Let me know in the comments!

48 diverse horror books you can read instead of books by old, white racists!

Hi everyone,

We’re onto week 3 of my SFF extravaganza and I’m here today to tell you that there are horror books you can read that aren’t by Stephen King. This week I’m talking all about horror and bringing you a list of 48 diverse horror books you can read instead of books by old, white racists! Horror is a genre I’m very new to: until last year, I was a total and complete wimp when it came to horror. But I took a chance on one book and absolutely fell in love. And I fell in love with the genre through the wonderful and diverse horror books on this list, not the authors so often held up as idols in the genre. There are books for everyone here, from absolutely terrifying monster horror to more psychological thrillers, from books with ghost romances to those with lots of gore, from literary fiction to scifi so I hope you can fall in love with this genre too!

If you’d like to find out more about why I’m doing this series, here’s the explanation from my first post!

You may have heard of the mass abuse and harassment revelations in the SFF community over the past few months, from very well-known and very well protected cishet male authors. I’ve already pretty much given up reading books by cishet men, particularly in SFF where there is such a history of misogyny, racism, homophobia and abuse. So I decided now would be a great time to celebrate the lesser-heard voices in the community, namely from marginalised authors of colour, authors in the LGBTIQA+ community, or from disabled or neurodivergent authors. So for the next 5 weeks, I will be posting a list every Thursday celebrating 5 different segments of the SFF community: adult fantasy, adult sci-fi, horror (combined adult + YA), YA fantasy, and YA sci-fi.

This series also seems rather timely (completely a coincidence) after the absolute disaster of the Hugo Awards last weekend, where some old white men decided to be horrifically rude and racist, spending the whole evening praising racist old white dudes from years ago instead of pronouncing the names of the winners and nominees (aka their fucking job) correctly.

If you’re interested, do check out the other posts in this series!

Published books

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Killer mermaids. That is all. Yes we’re starting this list with my two favourite horror novels, and first up is Into the Drowning Deep, which I’m pretty sure is going to remain the scariest book I have ever read until the day I die. These mermaids are just so fucking scary. There is so much tension and fear and stalking and gore and I just adore everything about this book.

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

And here is my second favourite horror novel!! Mexican Gothic is the amazing gothic horror from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the author who can literally write in every single genre possible. And, we’re getting a fucking TV show!!!! This book is just so incredibly creepy and fucked up and I love everything about it.

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico. “It’s Lovecraft meets the Brontës in Latin America, and after a slow-burn start Mexican Gothic gets seriously weird” (The Guardian).

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

Oh my god, this book!!! It is fucking terrifying. This book is a work of absolute genius: it’s set entirely in a caving system where a caver gets trapped, and there’s only two characters, the caver and her handler. Just the sheer ability to create such an engrossing, terrrifying work in such a close setting and with so few characters is genius.

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.

Instead, she got Em.

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.

But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Rory Power’s debut Wilder Girls rocked the world last year. And whilst it might not quite be the book to read in the current climate (given it’s about a deadly plague…), it’s definitely a great read once in a better headspace!! The body horror in this book is just exceptional (and also so so fucking gross).

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

Blood Countess by Lana Popović

This is the dark sapphic retelling you’ve always wanted! Blood Countess retells the story of Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who’s credited as being the most prolific female serial killer of all time (and also the inspiration for Countess Dracula).

A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula.

In 16th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

If you’re looking to dip your toes into horror for the first time, definitely check out this one because as a novella, you will be able to try out horror in miniature to check if you’ll enjoy the genre! This is a retelling of Lovecraft’s The Horror at Red Hook which I have not a single iota of a clue about because Lovecraft was a racist fuck and I haven’t read a single thing by him. But LaValle’s version reimagines Lovecraft from the perspective of a mixed race horror nerd who grew up reading Lovecraft and is inspired by his now very conflicted feelings for the author.

People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

This YA horror takes place on a creepy island where female friendships are pitted against each other and a mysterious evil keeps stealing away girls.

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.


Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Burn the Dark by S.A Hunt

This new series from Tor is everything we love about this publisher: super gay, and scary. This series follows a witchhunter who has a YouTube show about her hunting down and killing witches. But her followers don’t realise the series is REAL!

Supernatural meets Stranger Things in award-winning author S. A. Hunt’s Burn the Dark, first in the Malus Domestica horror action-adventure series about a punk YouTuber on a mission to bring down witches, one vid at a time.

Robin is a YouTube celebrity gone-viral with her intensely-realistic witch hunter series. But even her millions of followers don’t know the truth: her series isn’t fiction.

Her ultimate goal is to seek revenge against the coven of witches who wronged her mother long ago. Returning home to the rural town of Blackfield, Robin meets friends new and old on her quest for justice. But then, a mysterious threat known as the Red Lord interferes with her plans….

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

I have had such a run of amazing gothic horror novels this year, it has completely rejuvenated my love for this genre! As a teen, I really loved gothic lit, it was the genre I always chose to study in my dissertations across school (hi hello yes I did write my final year English dissertation on sex in Dracula and Carmilla). Catherine House is set at a mysterious liberal arts college where students get free tuition and board but have to give up three years of their life, completely away from the outside world.

A seductive, gothic-infused tale of literary suspense — the debut of a spectacular new voice — about a dangerously curious young undergraduate whose rebelliousness leads her to discover a shocking secret involving an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

You are in the house and the house is in the woods.
You are in the house and the house is in you . . .


Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, pills, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. The school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves and their place within the formidable black iron gates of Catherine.

For Ines, Catherine is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had, and her serious, timid roommate, Baby, soon becomes an unlikely friend. Yet the House’s strange protocols make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when Baby’s obsessive desire for acceptance ends in tragedy, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda that is connected to a secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

Combining the haunting sophistication and dusky, atmospheric style of Sarah Waters with the unsettling isolation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a devious, deliciously steamy, and suspenseful page-turner with shocking twists and sharp edges that is sure to leave readers breathless.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

Another novella, this one about a queer punk rocker trying to find out hwy her best friend committed suicide and the spirit who has started to turn on a squatter community in Iowa.

Danielle Cain is a queer punk rock traveller, jaded from a decade on the road. Searching for clues about her best friend’s mysterious and sudden suicide, she ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. All is not well in Freedom, however: things went awry after the town’s residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner.

Danielle shows up in time to witness the spirit—a blood-red, three-antlered deer—begin to turn on its summoners. Danielle and her new friends have to act fast if they’re going to save the town—or get out alive.

Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed

This is a horror novel all about the monsters! Beneath the Rising follows two kids who are stuck in the middle of a war after they accidentally awaken ancient monsters.

A coming-of-age story about two kids in the middle of a war of eldritch horrors from outside spacetime…

Nick Prasad and Joanna “Johnny” Chambers have been friends since childhood. She’s rich, white, and a genius; he’s poor, brown, and secretly in love with her.

But when Johnny invents a clean reactor that could eliminate fossil fuels and change the world, she awakens the primal, evil Ancient Ones set on subjugating humanity.

From the oldest library in the world to the ruins of Nineveh, hunted at every turn, they need to trust each other completely to survive…

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

I just finished this beauty and it was AMAZING (you can check out the full review I posted for it Tuesday here!) It is such a dark and witchy book full of horrors and gore and blood and four plagues that have come to punish the town of Bethel.

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

This novella has one of the most exciting and interesting pitches on this list. Every time Molly bleeds, a murderer is born!!! And that murderer happens to be another Molly hellbent on killing her.

Every time she bleeds a murderer is born. Experience the horror of Tade Thompson’s The Murders of Molly Southbourne.

The rule is simple: don’t bleed.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?

The Deep by Alma Katsu

Haunted Titanic anyone?!? Yes please.

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

This sounds just as amazing as that incredibly striking cover. It’s about a father trying to save his son in a world full of racism by considering a new medical procedure that would turn his son white.

A bold, provocative debut for fans of Get Out and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout , about a father who will do anything to protect his son–even if it means turning him white.

How far would you go to protect your child?

Our narrator faces an impossible decision. Like any father, he just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is growing larger by the day. In this near-future society plagued by resurgent racism, segregation, and expanding private prisons, our narrator knows Nigel might not survive. Having watched the world take away his own father, he is determined to stop history from repeating itself.

There is one potential solution: a new experimental medical procedure that promises to save lives by turning people white. But in order to afford Nigel’s whiteness operation, our narrator must make partner as one of the few Black associates at his law firm, jumping through a series of increasingly surreal hoops–from diversity committees to plantation tours to equality activist groups–in an urgent quest to protect his son.

This electrifying, suspenseful novel is at once a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. Writing in the tradition of Ralph Ellison and Franz Kafka, Maurice Carlos Ruffin fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love. 

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

This YA sounds so terrifying, I’ve always been just so scared of paranormal horror. It’s about a ghost hunter who is tracking down a ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood who kills everyone who enters the house she called home.

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist

And here’s to the first zombie horror on this list, by the author who wrote one of my favourite YA fantasies, Missing, Presumed Dead.

Life out here is hard.
So you have to be harder.

Willie has always survived. No matter what life in Glory, Texas, has thrown at her. The sickness that swept through the state and turned most living creatures into terrifying shakes. Her own mother succumbing to the disease. Her father disappearing into saloons and gambling and liquor. Willie survives. And she’ll make sure her younger brothers and sister do, too.

Then her good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most merciless shake hunters in town, and Willie is on the hook for his debt. With two young hunters as guide, Willie sets out across the desert to find him, and make him pay up.

But the desert holds many dangers—and the shakes are only a few of them. This is no place for the weak.

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

A book about the daughters of a serial killer who now get a taste for murder?!? This sounds like a book for anyone who ordered the Hanniball TV series!

Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.

It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire – the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities.

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich

Pretty much one of the creepiest YA books ever, this one follows three different timelines and one creepy house.

Before the birth of time, a monk uncovers the Devil’s Tongue and dares to speak it. The repercussions will be felt for generations…

Sixteen-year-old photography enthusiast Zoey has been fascinated by the haunted, burnt-out ruins of Medwyn Mill House for as long as she can remember–so she and her best friend, Poulton, run away from home to explore them. But are they really alone in the house? And who will know if something goes wrong?

In 1851, seventeen-year-old Roan arrives at the Mill House as a ward–one of three, all with something to hide from their new guardian. When Roan learns that she is connected to an ancient secret, she must escape the house before she is trapped forever.

1583. Hermione, a new young bride, accompanies her husband to the wilds of North Wales where he plans to build the largest water mill and mansion in the area. But rumors of unholy rituals lead to a tragic occurrence and she will need all her strength to defeat it.

Three women, centuries apart, drawn together by one Unholy Pact. A pact made by a man who, more than a thousand years later, may still be watching…

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

This witchy dark horror tackles sexual assault and the power and strength women can wield in the most horrific of circumstances to save those they love.

Five boys attacked her.
Now they must repay her with their blood and flesh.


Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her.

One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers.

She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn.

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Anything comped to Dexter is going to excite me, even more so it’s when by the absolutely amazing Rin Chupeco, author of The Bone Witch and The Never-Tilting World! The Girl From the Well follows a dead girl who hunts murderers.

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Yessss time for more creepy forests, which I think is probably my favourite horror setting. In these woods, there is a beast. And in the town on the edge of the woods, there are five teens who can wreak havoc and destruction.

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

This ghosty novel is inspired by ancient Chinese mythology and customs, and follows Li Lan, a woman who becomes a ghost bride for a wealthy family and who is drawn into the world of the Chinese afterlife.

“One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”

Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeymi

And we’re back to my second favourite horror setting, creepy houses! This gothic novel is about who can sense spirits and one day dissappears to join them.

In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the hole punched into its heart. Lily is gone and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband, the gentle Luc, mourn her absence with unspoken intensity. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and grumbles and malignly confuses visitors in its mazy rooms, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. Generations of women inhabit its walls. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is more attuned to them than she is to her brother and father. She is leaving them slowly –

Slipping away from them –

And when one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.

“Miri I conjure you “

This is a spine-tingling tale that has Gothic roots but an utterly modern sensibility. Told by a quartet of crystalline voices, it is electrifying in its expression of myth and memory, loss and magic, fear and love. 

As I Descended by Robin Talley

Robin Talley is known for her amazing queer historical fiction but she also has a horror novel! This is a queer, sapphic horror Macbeth retelling!

“Something wicked this way comes.”

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor

This horror is on the literary fiction side, and was recently longlisted for the International Man Booker! This translated fic tion is about the murder of a witch in Mexico.

The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse—by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals—propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumors and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.

Like Roberto Bolano’s 2666 or Faulkner’s greatest novels, Hurricane Season takes place in a world filled with mythology and violence—real violence, the kind that seeps into the soil, poisoning everything around: it’s a world that becomes more terrifying and more terrifyingly real the deeper you explore it.

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi

A Frankenstein retelling sit in Baghdad with a scavenger who collects human body parts? Holy shit this sounds good.

From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive–first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path. A prizewinning novel by “Baghdad’s new literary star” (The New York Times), Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humor the surreal reality of contemporary Iraq. 

Affinity by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters is the queen of lesbian fiction and I am have so many of her books on my TBR right now! This gothic horror/mystery is about a woman recovering from suicide who visits a women prison as part of her charity work and is fascinated by an innocent spiritualist who killed a woman during a séance.

An upper-class woman recovering from a suicide attempt, Margaret Prior has begun visiting the women’s ward of Millbank prison, Victorian London’s grimmest jail, as part of her rehabilitative charity work. Amongst Millbank’s murderers and common thieves, Margaret finds herself increasingly fascinated by an apparently innocent inmate, the enigmatic spiritualist Selina Dawes. Selina was imprisoned after a séance she was conducting went horribly awry, leaving an elderly matron dead and a young woman deeply disturbed. Although initially skeptical of Selina’s gifts, Margaret is soon drawn into a twilight world of ghosts and shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions, until she is at last driven to concoct a desperate plot to secure Selina’s freedom, and her own.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Certain Dark Things, from the author of one of my favourite books (and one that started this list) Mexican Gothic, is bringing back vampries! This book was out of print but has been picked by Tor and will be rereleasing with its sequel next year!

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore.

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all? 

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

This ownvoices Native American horror novel follows four men who fucked up in their youth and now have an entity from the culture they left behind hellbent on killing them.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

This collection of stories comes from the author of the incredibly powerful memoir In the Dream House. This collection bends and rewrites the horror, fantasy and science fiction genres to explore the violence inflicted on the female body.

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction. 

The Merry Spinster by Daniel M Lavery

Another collection of short stories, The Merry Spinister takles classic fairytales and adds a horror twist to them.

From Daniel M. Lavery comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from his beloved “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” series, The Merry Spinster takes up the trademark wit that endeared Lavery to readers of both The Toast and his best-selling debut Texts from Jane Eyre. The feature become among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a perfect vehicle for Lavery’s eye for deconstruction and destabilization. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

Readers of The Toast will instantly recognize Lavery’s boisterous good humor and uber-nerd swagger: those new to Lavery’s oeuvre will delight in his unique spin on fiction, where something a bit mischievous and unsettling is always at work just beneath the surface.

Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

Bedtime will never be the same.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

In a dystopian world, the rich are need bodies to harvest and do so from the helpless and poor so one woman bargains with gods to fight back.

The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.

She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

The Red Tree by Caitlín R Kiernan

In this book we combine creepy houses and forests with an old house in Rhode Island that has an ancient oak in the garden that has links to legends of magic and murders.

Sarah Crowe left Atlanta–and the remnants of a tumultuous relationship–to live in an old house in rural Rhode Island. Within its walls she discovers an unfinished manuscript written by the house’s former tenant–an anthropologist obsessed with the ancient oak growing on a desolate corner of the property.

Tied to local legends of supernatural magic, as well as documented accidents and murders, the gnarled tree takes root in Sarah’s imagination, prompting her to write her own account of its unsavory history.

And as the oak continues to possess her dreams and nearly almost all her waking thoughts, Sarah risks her health and her sanity to unearth a revelation planted centuries ago…

Exquisite Corpse by Bobby Martin

This book is almost as old as me! But it sounds so horrifically gorey as fuck. Exquisite Corpse follows a serial killer who moves to the US to improve his “art” (yes the art of killing people…) Please note the author transitioned since the book was published and now goes by Bobby Martin and not the name on the cover.

To serial slayer Andrew Compton, murder is an art, the most intimate art. After feigning his own death to escape from prison, Compton makes his way to the United States with the sole ambition of bringing his “art” to new heights. Tortured by his own perverse desires, and drawn to possess and destroy young boys, Compton inadvertently joins forces with Jay Byrne, a dissolute playboy who has pushed his “art” to limits even Compton hadn’t previously imagined. Together, Compton and Byrne set their sights on an exquisite young Vietnamese-American runaway, Tran, whom they deem to be the perfect victim.

Swiftly moving from the grimy streets of London’s Piccadilly Circus to the decadence of the New Orleans French Quarter, and punctuated by rants from radio talk show host Lush Rimbaud, a.k.a. Luke Ransom, Tran’s ex-lover, who is dying of AIDS and who intends to wreak ultimate havoc before leaving this world, Exquisite Corpse unfolds into a labyrinth of murder and love. Ultimately all four characters converge on a singular bloody night after which their lives will be irrevocably changed — or terminated.

Poppy Z. Brite dissects the landscape of torture and invites us into the mind of a killer. Exquisite Corpse confirms Brite as a writer who defies categorization. It is a novel for those who dare trespass where the sacred and profane become one.

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

This translated novel will probably be one of the literary fictions of the year. It sounds so messed up but also so incredibly interesting. Tender is the Flesh is set in a world where a virus made animal meat poisonous to humans and so now other (human) meat is sold instead.

Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans—though no one calls them that anymore.

His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.

Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.

His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler

Dahlia Adler is the queen of anthologies and in His Hideous Heart, she brought together some of YA’s best authors to reimagine Edgar Allan Poe stories.

Thirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation.

Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in 13 unique and unforgettable ways.

Contributors include Kendare Blake (reimagining “Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morge”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).

Future releases

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

Night of the Mannequins is a new novells from the author of The Only Good Indians (which you may have noticed earlier on the list!) This book, unsuprisingly, has a mall mannequin which some teens use to prank a theatre manager as revenge for punishing them for sneaking into the theatre without tickets. The prank, obviously, goes very wrong. (Release date: September 1)

Stephen Graham Jones returns with Night of the Mannequins, a contemporary horror story where a teen prank goes very wrong and all hell breaks loose: is there a supernatural cause, a psychopath on the loose, or both?

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth

This is one of my most anticipated books still to release this year! It’s from the author behind of the biggest sapphic YA books ever, The Miseducation of Cameron Post. This time, Danforth is making her adult debut with a gothic horror about a film crew filming at a school where several murders took place years ago. (Release date: October 20)

The award-winning author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post makes her adult debut with this highly imaginative and original horror-comedy centered around a cursed New England boarding school for girls—a wickedly whimsical celebration of the art of storytelling, sapphic love, and the rebellious female spirit.

Our story begins in 1902, at The Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it The Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, The Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever—but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way.

Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer, Merritt Emmons, publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” Gilded-Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, opposite B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern heroines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled—or perhaps just grimly exploited—and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.

A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period illustrations, Plain Bad Heroines is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction that manages to combine the ghostly sensibility of Sarah Waters with the dark imagination of Marisha Pessl and the sharp humor and incisive social commentary of Curtis Sittenfeld into one laugh-out-loud funny, spellbinding, and wonderfully luxuriant read.

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Well this is definitely going to be one of my favourite covers of 2021. This YA horror is about a family of monsters and the girl who needs to join forces with her grandmothers ghost to keep the family alive. (Release date: February 2021)

MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN MEETS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN THIS HAUNTING STORY OF ONE GIRL’S ATTEMPT TO RECONNECT WITH HER MONSTROUS FAMILY.

Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather’s tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak.

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. “I read this in the cards,” her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn’t see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help.

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

This translated novel is a dark fairytale exploration of abuse and power in families and follows Natsuki, a girl who might be a witch or an alien and who is separated from her best friend and cousin. (Release date: October 1)

Natsuki isn’t like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what.

Now Natsuki is grown. She lives a quiet life with her asexual husband, surviving as best she can by pretending to be normal. But the demands of Natsuki’s family are increasing, her friends wonder why she’s still not pregnant, and dark shadows from Natsuki’s childhood are pursuing her. Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains of her childhood, Natsuki prepares herself with a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it?

Jake in the Box by Ryan Douglass

This is going to be one of my most anticipated books of 2021, it sounds AMAZING! This YA horror is about the ghost of a school shooter who has come back to wreck havoc. (Release date: 2021)

It’s hard being the one of the few Black kids at St. Clair Prep, especially when you’re routinely harassed by the dead. This year, sixteen-year-old loner Jake Livingston plans to make real friends, which means paying less attention to dead world and more to reality.

But when a series of murders breaks out in Jake’s neighborhood, he discovers they may be linked to Sawyer Doon—a vengeful spirit who carried out a school shooting a year prior and then killed himself. Sawyer is back, determined to wreak havoc on new targets from beyond the grave.

Now, Jake’s home isn’t safe. School isn’t safe. The more he tries to ignore Sawyer, the more he feels the ghost boy’s impact on his psyche. And the closer he comes to understanding who Sawyer was, the more he realizes how similar he may be to the boy once bullied relentlessly for his sexuality, now hell-bent on taking power back from a world that took it from him.

To protect himself from possession, Jake will have to master his power over both dead world and reality and discover his own reason to live.

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames

Queer horror is the best horror, we all know it. To Break a Covenant is set in an old mining town where people start sleepwalking and hearing voices. (Release date: 2021)

Alison Ames’s THE HAUNTING OF MOON BASIN, a queer horror pitched with shades of SAWKILL GIRLS, in which the people of an old mining town begin experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices only they can hear—prompting four teen girls to investigate, to Ashley Hearn at Page Street, for publication in spring 2021.

Children of the River Ghost by Alexandra Aceves

One of my favourite YA fantasies, and one of my favourite books of 2019, Missing, Presumed Dead, had an f/f ghost romance and now there’s another f/f ghost romance coming, we are BLESSED. (Release date: 2021)

A YA horror novel in which 16-year-old Katie, reeling from bullying after her last relationship, moves to New Mexico and falls for a mysterious, beautiful girl who may be the ghost La Llorona.

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Caitlin Starling is the the author of one of my favourite horror novels, The Luminous Dead, which I spoke about near the start of this post. In 2021, we have a new Crimson-Peak inspired gothic horror filled with haunted mansions and ritual magic. (Release date: 2021)

Author of THE LUMINOUS DEAD Caitlin Starling’s THE DEATH OF JANE LAWRENCE, pitched as a Crimson Peak-inspired gothic horror about a young woman who makes a marriage of convenience and soon finds herself trapped in her new husband’s decrepit and possibly haunted mansion, and spirals down a dangerous path of ritual magic in an effort to save them both, to Sylvan Creekmore at St. Martin’s Press, in a very nice deal, at auction, by Caitlin McDonald at Donald Maass Literary Agency (world). 

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gold

More queer horror for 2021! This one with a demonic presence terrorising a small town… On Twitter, the author described this as “the daughter of TV ghosthunters moves to a small town where a dark entity wreaks havoc and must (reluctantly) help the town golden girl save the day”.

A debut supernatural thriller about two girls who fall in love when they team up to stop an evil demonic presence from terrorizing their small town.

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin

I have very much left the best to last. If I had to pick just one book from every single book I currently know of that’s been announced that I was most excited to read, it would be this one. Because it sounds fucking amazing. (Release date: 2022)

Gretchen Felker-Martin’s MANHUNT, about trans women scavenging for estrogen in a post-apocalyptic world where a viral plague has transformed all cis men into feral monstrosities, fighting tooth and nail against a menace they’ll join if they miss a dose, and on the run from an authoritarian faction of cis women who see them as a dangerous liability, pitched as a trans woman’s response to Y: THE LAST MAN, plus another standalone horror novel, to Kelly Lonesome at Nightfire, in a very nice deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in March 2022, by Connor Goldsmith at Fuse Literary (world).

Pheeew, for a list that was shorter than both my fantasy lists, I expected this to take much less time but it did not. I hope you found some great books to read! Do you read horror already? Let me know your favourites in the comments!

Book review: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Title: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Publisher: Ace

Publication date: 21 July 2020

Genre: Adult | Horror | Witches

Page extent: 368 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

Content warnings: blood, animal death, ritualistic animal sacrifice, self-harm, rape, paedophilia, child abuse, domestic abuse, starvation, death, gore, dead bodies, misogyny, racism

Welcome to spooksville, population one coven of terrifying witches threatening to destroy a community of sexist menfolk! The Year of the Witching was one of my most anticipated books of the year, promising all of the dark, spooky, filled with blood and gore magic that I desired, and it definitely lived up to my expectations! Combining the kind of puritan society seen in The Handmaid’s Tale, with the dark blood magic seen in horror brings a wonderful (and very dark) witchy book to our shelves. Like seriously. It’s so fucking witchy.

The Year of the Witching is set in Bethel, a small community barred to outsiders. There, they are led by the church of The Father, with a Prophet and his apostles who look after their Bethelen flock. But all is not well: in this society, women are treated as cattle, carved with a symbol of marriage on their foreheads, Outsiders who skirt the borders of Bethel are treated with disgust and disdain, and Immanuelle, who’s mother attempted to kill the Prophet himself, is desperately trying to live a life without sin to avoid others claiming she’s a witch thanks to her mother’s blood. But then Immanuelle ends up in the dangerous woods by accident, where she sees some strange witches cavorting together and now four plagues have come upon the town and Immanuelle will do everything in her power to stop it.

The list of things I loved about this book is huge so let’s just dive straight in because this review is likely going to be biiiiiiig.

The witches

Oh my god the witches!! They were just amazing. I loved everything to do with them, from Lilith with her stag head, to the sigils used to carve curses, to the extracts from Immanuelle’s mother’s diary. The four witches are just thrillingy creepy. Can you actually imagine how terrifying a female body with the skull of a stag would be?! The way the other witches are described is just as terrifying: each of them are quite clearly dead, bodies brokenly moving and twitching, eyes dead and staring, I thought they were expertly detailed to be as scary as possible.

And the four plagues these witches brought were so much fucking fun!! (Yes I realise I’m saying four world destroying plagues were FUN but that is why we read HORROR). These plagues were just so dark and creepy, water turning to blood, the blight making people smash their own heads against walls?! But it was so interesting to explore how these plagues actually impacted the day to day lives of people. Usually we see the world sort of stop and everyone panics (which, to be fair, does seem to be the way humans would react given *gestures to coronavirus*) But I liked that this book took a different approach, here we saw everyone needing to get on with life and do their best – it explored what actually would happen if all the water turned to blood. From the crops failing, to animals dying of thirst, to stored reservoirs of water, to using the rain, I just found it really interesting to explore how people were getting on with life in a plague as opposed to seeing the usual sense of despair and panic.

Worldbuilding

The history and worldbuilding is so detailed and in-depth and just absolutely fascinating. I really love books about puritanical societies that actually delve into how the society got there and why they act the way they do. I find it fascinating to explore how humans can come to do such terrible things, what actually takes a society from what we know to something so much worse, it’s why I love books that explore villainy. And The Year of the Witching gave us so much backstory to Bethel, how it came to be, the religion that started the war between the witches and Bethel. I adore SFF books with religion, and I loved it even more than usual in The Year of the Witching. Like all books about puritanical societies, plagues, end of the world dystopias, they feel particularly scary in the current world climate. The essence of misogyny that runs deep through Bethel’s community, the way the community targets women and girls and uses them to give themselves power is just terrifyingly good. That sliver of pure evil throughout just fills me with so much rage and anger, and I love books that just overtake my emotions like that.

The unexpected romance

Ezra and Immanuelle?! I didn’t expect there to be a hint of romance in the book but it was so lovely and unexpected. I loved that they were both such loyal friends first and foremost, before romance. Their loyalty and strength is really magical to read about. Every time they’re on page together there is such a beautiful sense of friendship before anything. It’s like these two teens are faced with such evil and horrors in the rest of their lives but then with each other they just have this sweetness and innocence which I loved.

Family

I really liked Immanuelle’s close relationship to her family, particularly the love she and her grandfather have. He doesn’t spend much time on page, but I really felt every moment he was because there is so much emotion in his pages. I very much appreciated the importance put on familial love in this book. Despite the flaws of Immanuelle’s family (hi Martha and your punishment), they still have so much love and support for each other? Martha and Anna and Abram clearly have so much love for their children. It would have been so easy to turn Immanuelle’s family against her, for them to be as evil at heart at The Prophet and his apostles, but they had such strength and love for each other that was really nice to see in this very dark book. Even when looking at the other families, there is such a strong connection beween Ezra and his mother Esther, between Leah and her unborn child, between Vera and Sage. It brought a lightness and comfort to a very dark book.

The ending

Please note, the following paragraph has some spoilers for the ending so skip ahead to past the nachos if you don’t want to know about it! I wanted to talk about the ending because it’s the reason I didn’t give this a full five stars.

However, I actually think it could’ve been a touch more dark. I KNOW, I’m the worst. It just felt a little incomplete, like we were just waiting for Immanuelle to say fuck this shit and blast everyone. And I think it would have been really interesting to see her descent into darkness. It’s a book about overthrowing a society and building from the ground up. Except for a person who spends the whole book wanting to change things, when she gets the chance, she says nah actually I’ll let the Prophet remain in charge and keep carving girls thanks? The ending (the epilogue in particular where it talks about what has actually happened since the events of the book), just felt a bit like a different story. I wanted dark Immanuelle. And if she wasn’t willing to be dark, I at least wanted her to overthrow the society and make some change. What was the point of everything then?

Okay spoilers over.

Please don’t take that to mean I don’t love it! Because I really enjoyed this book. I had an absolute ball reading it, it’s by far the most engaged I’ve felt in a book in a little while. The worldbuilding and religion was so interesting and detailed and I loved exploring these four very dead, creepy witches!

My most anticipated books still to come in 2020

Hi everyone,

This was both so fun and so difficult to write because today I’m talking all about my most anticipated books still to come in 2020. And I have so many. Initially I was going to keep to just 10 books as I did in my favourite books of the year so far list, but I just couldn’t do it. And you’ll see why when I tell you about these books because they all sound equally awesome!

I’m going to be looking at my 15 most anticipated books releasing in the second half of 2020, so July – December. To help me out with narrowing it down, I decided to not include any books which I have received an ARC for since technically I’m no longer anticipating them. This really helped me narrow the list down, but I do want to shout out the books that would’ve made this list had I not got an ARC:

As you can see, that is quite a few books and thus if I had included them in my list below, I would have failed even more badly to narrow this down. So without further ado, here are my 15 most anticipated books releasing in the rest of 2020!

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Release date: July 21

This is a horror novel everyone has been screaming about how scary it is and thus I am so incredibly excited to read this even if it terrifies me. The Year of the Witching is a feminist horror fantasy novel about a woman living in a Handmaid’s Tale esque, cult-like society and what happens when she discovers her mother consorted with witches.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Release date: August 4

I’ve only read Emezi’s young adult novel, Pet, so far, but I loved it so much and I’m hoping to get to their adult novel Freshwater very soon as well. Their third book, The Death of Vivek Oji, promises to be every bit as lyrical and powerful as Pet. It follows the life of Vivek Oji and their relationships with friends and family before their death.

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

Release date: August 25

It’s so close!!!!! 40 days if we’re being exact but who’s counting… Darius the Great Deserves Better is the sequel to one of my favourite books, Darius the Great is Not Okay. Darius is back in the US, now has a boyfriend and an internship at his favourite teashop, but something still seems to be missing.

Transcendant Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Release date: September 1

Another of the few literary fiction novels that made it onto this list, Transcendent Kingdom follows a Ghanian family in Alabama, specifically Gifty, a young neuroscience student who is researching addiction and depression as she attempts to find answers for her brother’s overdose and suicidal mother. But as she explores the hard sciences, Gifty also reaches back to her childhood faith for answers.

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez

Release date: September 15

Not only does this have one of my favourite covers on this list, it also has one of the most exciting pitches! Crosshairs is set in a near future dystopian world where anyone “other” is rounded up into camps. So a group of queer allies, lead by a queer Black performer, team up against the regime.

Who I Was With Her by Nita Tyndall

Release date: September 15

Any contemporary that makes it onto this list is surely going to be incredible, because it takes a lot for this fantasy lover to be this excited over contemporary books. Who I Was With Her follows closeted bi girl, Corinne, after her girlfriend dies and she has to learn to deal with her grief without anyone knowing, except the one person she really shouldn’t be leaning on for support: her dead girlfriend’s ex.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Release date: September 15

Having just read Ninth House, I am here for more secret societies at university, and in Legendborn this is combined with a society descended from King Arthur! But also it’s like super super queer too. Legendborn follows Bree as she attends a residential camp for bright high school students at the local university. But on her first night on campus, she witnesses a demon attack and ends up embrolied with a secret society who claim to be descendants of King Arthur working to prevent a magical war.

These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever

Release date: September 15

The Secret History but make it queer?! I haven’t even read The Secret History and I know this is the vibe I need in my life. These Violent Delights follow Paul and Julian who meet at university in the 70s and whose obsession with each other leads to a shocking act of violence.

The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis

Release date: September 22

Bisexual vampires is all I need to say for this one, right? Set in a Prague where monsters exist, this book follows a vampire hunter and his relationship with a widowed noblewoman (and secret vampire).

The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J Hackwith

Release date: October 6

If you read my post all about my favourite reads of 2020 so far, you would have seen the first of this series there, The Library of the Unwritten which has to be one of the most fun fantasies I’ve ever read. The Archive of the Forgotten continues the story of Claire, Brevity and Hero as books begin to leak a strange ink that could alter the afterlife forever.

Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald

Release date: October 13

Chaos lesbian alert! Beyond the Ruby Veil is a dark YA fantasy about Emanuela, a girl who accidentally kills the only person who can create water in her town and now has to find a way to make water herself before the entire town dies of thirst.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth

Release date: October 20

This is the adult debut from the author who wrote The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which I admit I haven’t actually read, but Plain Bad Heroines just sounds so amazing this book made it onto my most anticipated list! This is described as a horror comedy set at a girls boarding school in New England which closed after a series of terrible murders. But now the doors are reopening as a Hollywood cast prepares to create a film about what happened. But soon it isn’t clear where Hollywood ends and the curse of the boarding schools begins…Insert ominous drum roll.

The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar

Release date: November 3

Moving into literary fiction realms again, The Thirty Names of Night follows three generations of Syrian Americans and a mysterious bird that ties them all together. This is ownvoices trans and Syrian-American rep, and explores the history of queer and trans communities in the Syrian community and promises to be an entrancing read.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Release date: November 17

If you haven’t seen Chloe Gong’s hilarious videos marketing this book, first of all where have you been?! And second of all, go check out her Twitter because she is hilarious. These Violent Delights is a Romeo & Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, yes we’re really getting a book that sounds THAT AWESOME in 2020.

The Burning God by R.F Kuang

Release date: November 26

The finale to R.F Kuang’s Poppy War series is almost here and it promises to be as destroying as the first two in this series! I’m not going to say too much about this one to avoid any spoilers for those still reading The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic, but suffice to say, I am ecstatically excited to find out what happens to Rin, Nezha and Kitay.

And that’s my 15 most anticipated releases for the rest of 2020! What’s your most anticipated release still to come? Let me know in the comments below.

Book review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Title: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Publisher: Del Rey

Publication date: 30 June 2020

Genre: Adult | Horror | Gothic

Page extent: 352 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico—“fans of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca are in for a suspenseful treat” (PopSugar).

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. 

Mexican Gothic is the kind of book that will haunt you for years to come. It’s the kind of book that will make you yearn for a feeling like that again. It is dark, it is twisted and it is so entralling and bewitching that it is hard to put into words. It’s the book I will spend all year thrusting desperately into people’s hands while screaming READ IT. It’s a book I wish I could read for the first time again, because the horror and shock and awe was captivating.

So what’s it all about? Noemí receives a frantic and odd letter from her cousin, Catalina, full of frantic pleas to help her as she thinks her husband is trying to poison her. In a bid to find out exactly what the fuck is going on Noemí travels to High Place, the mysterious mansion where Catalina now lives with her husband and his odd, dysfunctional family. In this damp and mould covered house, Noemí is met with fierce disapproval and downright hatred from all except one, Francis, who she enlists in her attempts to work out what’s going on.

And boy, it’s a fucking ride. This book is so delightfully twisted and creepy. At first glance, this evokes the feelings of classic gothic novels: the fog, the house, the wilderness encroaching on the humanity and living. But Moreno-Garcia has brought an entirely modern twist to the genre, blending elements of the supernatural with science and academia, creating a book that is both a love story to classic gothic and embraces modern dark academia. In daylight, it is a gothic mystery, but at night, through Noemí’s disturbing and dark dreams, we see the other side of this novel. Moreno-Garcia’s language is stunningly horrific and distburbing – at many points it makes you sick to the stomach, and you dare not turn your eyes away from the page so desperate to see what the everloving fuck is happening.

And let’s talk about Noemí herself! Some books you read just the first few pages and know it’s going to be bloody excellent. Mexican Gothic was one of those for me. And it’s usually down to the ease and strength of the character voice. Noemí really shone in this novel. Her voice was so clear and immediately engrossing: she is both capable and independent, flirty and kind. And we see this strong, capable woman descend into horrors across the book and it is the strength of Noemí’s voice at the start which makes me care so much for her and be so passionate and mad as this house destroys such a wonderful character.

The other characters we meet are:

  • Virgil: the new husband to Noemí’s cousin, cold and calculating and cruel, with a vicious grasp on Noemí, able to spark deep rage and passion in her
  • Florence: an Aunt who runs the household, even more unfeeling than Virgil, strict beyond measure and deeply unkind
  • Howard: the patriarch of the family, slowly dying and around whom all revolve in this household
  • Catalina: Noemí’s cousin who frantically wrote a letter to save herself, and seems constantly seesawing between peaceful and well, and utterly mad
  • Francis: the one individual in the house who dares to be kind to Noemí, sweet and unsure but ruled with an iron fist by Howard, Florence, and Virgil.

These characters revolve around each other in an uneasy fashion, lies around every corner and horrors hiding in the dark, mould invested mansion of High Place. Mexican Gothic is a twisted, fucked up book that will surprise you at every turn. It combines all my favourite elements of gothic suspense but brings the genre into the modern age with glimpses of horror and dark academia. It is the book I am going to gift to pretty much everyone I know because I adored this so much. It gave me disturbing dreams, my heart raced as I read, and I never wanted to stop reading it.

30 Days of Pride: The rise of the queer novella

Hi everyone,

Happy Day 24 of Pride! Today I’m talking about a type of book I’ve only very recently started reading (just this year!) but have been overwhelmed with the brilliance of writing we’re seeing: the queer novella.

Novellas (generally books under 200 pages) are short, quick reads that I really feel are becoming more common and visible in the mainstream. Which is great, especially when so many of them are incredible, diverse books that kick as big a punch as books 500 pages long do. And what’s more, whilst I couldn’t tell you the name of a single cishet novella, I am hearing about a ton of queer novellas! They really seem to be leading the charge in this new wave of publishing, so here’s a few of my favourites and some I haven’t read yet but which sound pretty fucking epic. And because there’s so many, the list is longer than the 10 I’ve tried to keep the rest of this months posts at, for which I am not even the tiniest bit sorry for how this may affect your TBR. And I apologise to any contemporary fans – every single one of these is spec fic. I’m sorry, I have a type when it comes to books clearly.

The Seep by Chana Porter

If you want a kickass trans woman who stomps about in big black boots and leather, then this is the book for you! This is a weird and wonderful science fiction novella about an alien invasion. The alien seeps in through the water supply and into the human brain. In The Seep, everything and everyone is connected: so capitalism breaks down, barriers are thrown away. Anything is possible, as long as you can imagine it. Trina and her wife, Deeba, have been living under The Seep, until Deeba wishes to be reborn as a baby. And of course, The Seep can grant her that wish. This is a very odd, surreal book, that combines both deep social commentary on issues like bodily autonomy, capitalism, death and grief, alongside a humourous and punky writing style.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Rivers Solomon is an absolute pioneer of speculative fiction and their novella The Deep is no different to their novels. This is a book about the water-breathing descendants of African slave women who were thrown overboard, called wajinru, who have built their own society in the ocean waters. In order to cope with the trauma of their past, one wajinru, a historian, holds the memories of their history so the others do not have to. Yetu is given the honour of being historian, but the role is destroying her and so she runs away to the surface, leaving the other wajinru trapped remembering all the memories that have burdened Yetu for years. This is a novella about intergenerational trauma and a community who come together to survive that trauma, and about Yetu, a young woman trying to find out who she is outside of her community. It’s a powerful and moving novella that brings hope to those suffering from a dark and traumatic past.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

The first of the Sarah Gailey novellas on this list, Upright Women Wanted is set in a Western style dystopia, full of queer librarian spies killing fascists. It’s a story of found family and rebellion. Esther is a stowaway who has snuck into the back of a librarian’s wagon in the hopes of escaping her town, where her girlfriend has just been executed for treason. But when she travels with the librarians, she realises not everything she’s been told about them is quite true. The whole ‘distributing illegal material and killing fascists across America’ thing was a bit of a surprise. This is an absolute bundle of fun, I adored it and am absolutely dying for more books set in this unvierse. Each and every one of the characters is a DELIGHT, though I particularly loved Cye, a rough and tumble nonbinary librarian who’s tasked with watching over Esther to make sure she doesn’t get up to any mischief whilst they travel across the US. It’s action packed, has a wonderful slowburn romance and is just so fucking cool.

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

If Upright Women Wanted didn’t convince you that Sarah Gailey writes epic Western-style speculative fiction, then maybe River of Teeth will! River of Teeth is a historical fantasy that imagines what would happen if the US government decided to import and raise hippos in the South in the early 20th century. In hindsight, this was a terrible plan because now they’ve had to hire a group of hippo ranchers to deal with all the feral hippos killing people. The fact that is based on an actual idea the US government had is even better.

Finna by Nino Cipri

Trying to beat “queer librarian spies” for most awesome pitch is Finna, a book where two queer IKEA employees are ordered into the multiverse by their capitalist overlords to hunt down a missing customer. Oh, and these two employees just broke up a week ago so this is going to be an absolute riot of fun for them both. Not. This is such a bundle of fun, all the different IKEAs are so creative (my personal favourite being the one where you have to pay in blood). It’s a humorous take down of capitalism wrapped up in a fun queer adventure with two individuals who don’t want to be anywhere near each other in the normal world, let alone in several murderous parallel universe IKEAs. A sequel to this novella has already been announced and I am ecstatic!

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

One of the most talked about books of 2019, This is How You Lose the Time War is an epic sapphic time travel war story about two agents on opposite sides of the time war who start corresponding through letters to each other. At first, it begins as humourous, battlefield taunts, but develops into an intense and personal relationship that will change the direction of the very war they fight.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

This novella combines so many elements which I love: period drama check! Asian inspired check! A take on an Atwood story check! Talking animals check! Angry empress check! Nonbinary main character check! Does that not sound incredible? The Empress of Salt and Fortune is powerfully told in just 112 pages. Chih, a cleric documenting a coup, meets an elderly woman, called Rabbit, who narrates to him the story of the Empress In-Yo, to whom Rabbit was a personal handmaiden. Combining the feminist powerhouse writing seen in the comparison to Atwood, with high fantasy and a harsh critique of monarchy, The Empress of Salt and Fortune is not to be missed!

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

Dark and gorey, this is a novella full of murder and revenge! The city of Elendhaven has been wracked with a plague, industry has vacated the town, and they have been forgotten and left to die. But the monsters of Elendhaven want their revenge. This is a bloody gothic horror about a magician who loves murder and monsters and yes, that does sound brilliant.

Silver in the Woods by Emily Tesh

Silver in the Woods is the first in a novella duology about Greenhollow, about a mysterious and not-quite-normal man called Tobias who lives near the woods. When he falls in love with the handsome stranger, Henry, who moves there, Tobias must reckon with secrets about the forest and himself. Lyrical and fairytale-esque, this is the start of a lush debut which continutes in….*drum roll*

Drowned Country by Emily Tesh

In this follow up to Silver in the Woods, Tobias’ mother is calling for him and so he and Henry must journey to Rothport, a town where the ancient forest that used to be there was drowned by the sea. Along with some monsters and a missing girl, this continues a beautiful, unique and mythical world.

The Order of Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

This gorgeous novella just published yesterday and I was so excited to read it (and not just because of that stunning cover). This is a found family wuxia fantasy about a nun who joins a group of bandits, with a focus on identity and spirituality and with a nonbinary lead, yas!

Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling

I hope you’re ready for this incredible novella coming from the author who brought us one of my favourite horror novels, The Luminous Dead. A reviewer on Goodreads described this as if Mexican Gothic, which is pretty much my favourite book of the year so far (and so fucked up, it’s amazing), had a baby with The Monster of Elendhaven, so gorey murdery monster goodness. Thus, this sounds incredible. It’s coming out in September, and follows a shipping magnate, who has a ship where the crew is coming down with a mysterious illness – one that causes obsessive behaviour and then catatonic stupor, and it all seems to be focused on her. She escapes to her family’s estate, but the sick are coming for her and she needs to work out how this illness is connected to her before it destorys everything she’s built.

To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Sci-fi extraordinaire Becky Chambers of the Wayfarers series has now released this fantastic novella, not set in the series, but still a very fun space romp. In To Be Taught If Fortunate, instead of humans terraforming planets to be suitable to them, they terraform their bodies, changing them to be suited to each new environment. Adriane is an explorer, she goes to sleep during the travel between planets and wakes up changed. It also has a whole cast of queer characters, including trans, ace, bi/pan and poly rep.

A Glimmer of Silver by Juliet Kemp

This novella is described as what happens after first contact: when the humans have colonised a far away planet, what happens next? On this world, Ocean is alive. If Ocean talks to you before you turn 16, you become a communicator. Jennery does not want to be a communicator, xe wants to be a musician. But Ocean is angry about the humans colonising the planet and Jennery must decide whether to listen or not.

The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang

The is the fourth installment of the Tensorate novella series, but this one features a sapphic villain romance which is just amazing. It follows the series villain, and a courtesan she had a relationship with. So read the first three to get this, or just give this one a go!

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I haven’t actually read any of Seann McGuire’s very popular Wayward Children series but I’ve read her work as Mira Grant and adore it so I’m pretty confident these will be just as brilliant when I finally get around to reading them. These are set at a home for wayward children, who sometimes disappear in a magical land and come back changed.

The Four Profound Weaves by R.B Lemberg

This book is publishing in September this year and I am very excited to have an ARC for it. This is a trans epic fantasy, set in a world with very strict gender roles and a man who has changed between them and struggles to embody the masculinity required of his new role after years performing the life of a woman.

Thank you Tor.com for your help in pushing novella publishing into the queerest realms possible. I’ve been really enjoying reading lots of novellas, but I do admit, I often fall in love with the world so much I want full books set there! Do you prefer to read novellas or novels? Do you have any favourite queer novellas I didn’t feature on this list? Let me know in the comments!

30 Days of Pride: Science fiction & fantasy

Hi everyone,

I’d like to start again by directing you to the Black Lives matter carrd to continue efforts to sign petitions and donate money to support protestors. If you’re Australian, we have a number of protests this weekend in state capitals across the country, to lend our voices and support to Bla(c)k Australians, so please check out if you have any near you! For fellow Melbournians, event info can be found here.

Today’s post is pretty much just a list of my favourite books. Science fiction, fantasy, horror and all that comes under the SFF heading are by far my favourite genres and I read so much of it, so today’s list of ‘queer speculative fiction’ ended up basically just being a list of all my favourite books. I hope you find a few books at least to add to your TBR!

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree is the only book on today’s list that I haven’t read yet (although at time of posting, I’m 300 pages in!), and that’s because I couldn’t talk about queer speculative fiction without mentioning the powerhouse that is Priory. Priory is a hefty, high fantasy involving dragons, assassins and queens. As word of the Nameless One’s return takes root, Queen Sabran the Ninth, unwed and with no heir, must birth a daughter. Assassins circle around her whilst her lady-in-waiting, Ead, works to protect the queen by using forbidden magic. Not only that, the world has zero homophobia AND has an f/f relationship. A slow burn, epic fantasy at its best, The Priory of the Orange Tree is not to be missed.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

A surprise to none to see this title on my favourite queer speculative fiction, as The Fever King is my favourite book. Alongside the sequel, The Electric Heir, this series blew me away unlike any other. Set in a dystopian universe where the world has been ravaged by a virus, those who survive have magic. In Carolinia, Noam, a technopath, is trained by none other than Calix Leher, ex-King of Carolinia. Alongside a group of trainees, Noam vows to take down the current regime who terrorise the refugee and immigrant population in Carolinia. This is a series about trauma, how to survive, and finding the strength to fight back against abuse by the powerful. You can read my full reviews here for The Fever King and The Electric Heir.

The Fifth Season by N.K Jemisin

The Fifth Season is the first book in one of my favourite fantasy trilogies. If you haven’t heard of N.K Jemisin, firstly, maybe think about correcting that, because her work is outstanding. The worldbuilding, the plot, the sheer geological magnitude of it all, makes The Fifth Season the powerhouse of SFF that it is. I’m very close to rereading this whole trilogy so maybe at some point this month I’m going to end up saying ‘fuck it’ to all my other books and reread this trilogy. This is a story with several POVs, set in a world with dangerous and regular seismac events. It follows several Orogenes, individuals who can control thermal energy and help with the aforementioned terrible seismic events. We have: Essun, told in second person POV, a woman who’s trying to track down her daughter and husband (who just killed her son). Demaya, a young girl who grew up in an abusive household and has been given to the Fulcrum, to train her Orogene powers. And Syenite, who is an adult in the Fulcrum and has been asked to have a child with one of the most powerful Orogene. This book is just full of twists and turns and is one of the most clever and wellcrafted novels I’ve ever read.

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J Hackwith

The Library of the Unwritten is one of the most fun fantasy novels I’ve ever read. Hell’s Library is the place where all unwritten manuscripts are housed. But sometimes the books come alive. When a character goes missing from one of the books, Claire, the Head Librarian, must track down the character on Earth but somehow ends up in the midst of a battle between Heaven and Hell as each searches for the Devil’s Bible. This book is an absolute riot of fun, full of snark and sass and with the first on-page pansexual rep I’ve ever read! You can read a full review here.

The Unpoken Name by A.K Larkwood

One of my more recent favourites, I read The Unspoken Name earlier this year. This is an expansive and detailed slow burn portal fantasy about an orc named Csorwe. She is destined to be sacrificied to her god on her fourteenth birthday. Instead, on the day of her death, she runs away with a wizard who trains her up to be his sword. She must then embark on a quest to find an ancient artifact holding powerful knowledge. This has a huge number of my favourite things in fantasies: necromancers, powerful god magic, wizards, all powerful women losing complete control, different worlds and peoples. It’s a huge story, and I absolutely loved it. You can read my full review here.

Witchmark by C. Polk

Witchmark is one of the most magical books I’ve ever read! Set in a world similar to Edwardian England, Miles is a doctor, using his healing magic to treat soldiers with PTSD after a world war. But his past is bound to catch up with him: Miles ran away to war to escape his noble family, where he would be enslaved to provide his sister with a source of power for her magic. When a fatally poisoned patient reveals Miles magic to a handsome stranger, Miles must investigate the murder, with the help of a handsome stranger, all while trying to stay free from his family’s influence. There is a really sweet romance in this, as well as lots of action, and a fascinating world that reimagines an Edwardian England with magic.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

Now onto The Scary One on this post. The Luminous Dead is a terrifying horror sci-fi about being trapped in a caving system and trying to make it out alive. Told in only one setting, and with just two characters, The Luminous Dead is absolutely remarkable for such a small cast and setting. I thought it might get a little repetitive given the small setting, but it really doesn’t. It is a terrifying descent to madness, psychological horror at its best, as you never know if the main character is experiencing reality or hallucination. You can check out my full review here.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

I absolutely adored this YA fantasy when I read it last year, and I really need to read the sequel! This is a book set in Medio, an island world where women are trained to be Primera (wives to help running the household) or Segunda (wives to have the kids). Dani and Carmen are rivals at the prestigious school and have been chosen to marry the same man. So of course they go and fall in love with each other instead of their husband. But Dani has a secret. When she was young, her parents forged papers and snuck her across the border wall into Medio. When she is asked to spy on her husband for a resistance group, Dani needs to decide whether to keep the privilege her parents sacrifice gave her, or to fight for a free Medio for all. It’s such a relevant book, the similarity to the US/Mexico border is undeniable. This is a book about resistance and fighting for what’s right, and is definitely one I wish more people were reading because it is fantastic. You can read my full review here.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Erin Morgenstern is well known for her beautiful, artistic, poetic style of writing. The Starless Sea is no different to her debut, The Night Circus, in this regard. The Starless Sea follows Zachary, after he picks up a library book and finds himself in the story. Except the book has missing pages so he doesn’t know how his story is going to finish. As he tries to track down the origins of the book, he crosses paths with Dorian, a storyteller Zachary is immediately drawn to, and Mirabel, a door maker. And if you believe enough, if you long enough for something, then Mirabel’s doors might just lead somewhere. (The somewhere being a magical library). At it’s heart, The Starless Sea is a book about readers and their longing to escape reality. You can read my full review here.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

A Memory Called Empire is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read, and certainly the most unique science-fiction novel I’ve read. It’s a genre-blending novel crossing hard sci-fi, murder mystery, political thriller and a English Literature thesis on poetry. A Memory Called Empire follows Mahit, an ambassador to a small mining station. She is called to the Texicalaan Empire when her predecessor is murdered. As she tries to discover who killed her predecessor, she is embrolied in complex political battlefield. The writing style of this novel could be difficult to get into – as I mentioned above, it’s almost like a thesis on poetry as in Texicalaan, the language is poetry. Alongside the memory melding technology (whereby Mahit’s predecesor’s memories and voice are embedded in her mind), this makes for a complex, unique book, but one that is absolutely outstanding. You cna read my full review here.

Jade City by Fonda Lee

I read Jade City, and it’s sequel Jade War, at the start of the year and adored them! I cannot wait for the finale. These are huge, epic political fantasies, set on an Asian inspired island nation called Kekon, where jade is mined and can give individuals magic abilities. It follows the Kaul family, who are one of two major clans in the capital city. This follows their battles with the opposing Ayt clan to win control of the city, and is an epic tale of politics, family and honour.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

The only YA on this list, and it’s a good one! Wilder Girls was the first horror novel I’ve read (I used to be a real horror wimp), and this book really pushed me to expand my reading and I’m so glad I did, because some of my favourite books in the past year have been horror. Wilder Girls opens in the midst of a virus outbreak, at a quarantined school. The virus has mutated in the girls, causing deformations in the girls and death in the teachers. When Hetty’s best friend goes missing, she ventures outside the quarantine into the dark and haunting woods, where creatures and reality is twisted from the virus, to find her. A disturbing start to my journey into horror! You can read my full review here.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

If The Library of the Unwritten is the most fun fantasy novel I’ve read, then The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is the most fun sci-fi I’ve ever read. This book follows the spaceship Wayfarer, a tunnelling ship which travels space and ‘punches’ holes to create tunnels for other ships to travel along. It’s set in the future, after humans have had to leave Earth and take to the skies. As they travelled across the universe to find a place to live, they met other species living in the universe, joining the Galactic Commons. The Wayfarer crew is therefore filled with different, unique alien species, similar to TV series like Star Trek. The characters really shine in this book, from Ashby, the human captain, to Rosemary, the young, inexperienced clerk escaping from her past on Mars, to Corbin, the grumpy and kind-of-a-jerk human who ended up being one of my favourites, to Sissix, an Aandrisk, a reptilian-like species with different social language compared to the humans. This book is just an absolute joy to read! You can read my full review here.

The City We Became by N.K Jemisin

I only finished this book on Sunday so hastily added it to the list before posting because it is a masterpiece. The City We Became is Jemisin’s newest book, released earlier this year. In this world, cities can become alive when they develop a particualrly unique culture and reach a great size. But the act of their awakening is destructive and dangerous to other parallel worlds around them. New York has just awakened, but because of the size and uniqueness of each of the boroughs, six people (five for each of the boroughts, and one for New York itself) have awoken and been tasked with fighting of The Enemy who is trying to kill the city. It’s a complex book and idea to get your head around (which is probably why I’ve done such a terrible job at explaining it). Just know this book is incredible, it is so alive and real, I feel like I know New York even though I’ve only ever spent 5 days there. It also doesn’t shy away from talking about race, racism, and expertly entwines discussions of racism and microaggressions into a powerful fight to save the city. I’ll be posting a full review of this book tomorrow so check back in to find out more about it.

Have you read any of these? What’s your favourite queer SFF book? I am always looking for new ones to add to my TBR!