The Halloween List: 20 Horror novels you probably haven’t read…but should
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.
A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli
A Choir of Ill Children is the startling story of Kingdom Come, a decaying, swamp backwater that draws the lost, ill-fated, and damned.
Since his mother’s disappearance and his father’s suicide, Thomas has cared for his three brothers — conjoined triplets with separate bodies but one shared brain — and the town’s only industry, the Mill.
Because of his family’s prominence, Thomas is feared and respected by the superstitious swamp folk. Granny witches cast hexes while Thomas’s childhood sweetheart drifts through his life like a vengeful ghost and his best friend, a reverend suffering from the power of tongues, is overcome with this curse as he tries to warn of impending menace. All Thomas learns is that “the carnival is coming.”
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
Haunted is a novel made up of twenty-three horrifying, hilarious, and stomach-churning stories. They’re told by people who have answered an ad for a writer’s retreat and unwittingly joined a “Survivor”-like scenario where the host withholds heat, power, and food. As the storytellers grow more desperate, their tales become more extreme, and they ruthlessly plot to make themselves the hero of the reality show that will surely be made from their plight. This is one of the most disturbing and outrageous books you’ll ever read, one that could only come from the mind of Chuck Palahniuk.
The Woods are Dark by Richard Laymon
Neala and her friend Sherri only wanted to do a little backpacking through the woods. Little did they know they would soon be shackled to a dead tree, waiting for Them to arrive. The Dills family thought the small motor lodge in the quiet town of Barlow seemed quaint and harmless enough. Until they, too, found themselves shackled to trees in the middle of the night, while They approached, hungry for human flesh…
Snatchers by Shaun Whittington
Snatchers, is a horror, which sees the slow destruction of mankind, due to an unknown virus that is sweeping the UK, possibly the world. This novel tells the story of characters, trying to survive and coming to terms with the ‘new world.’
The story focuses on a variety of individuals, including, Nurse Karen Bradley, Jack Slade, who is searching for his son, and prison officers and inmates, that have been released, who come together to try and survive the pandemic.
These set of characters are brought together, and find that as time goes by, their quandary becomes tougher by the hour.
Who will survive?
Infected by Scott Sigler
Across America a mysterious disease is turning ordinary people into raving, paranoid murderers who inflict brutal horrors on strangers, themselves, and even their own families.
Working under the government’s shroud of secrecy, CIA operative Dew Phillips crisscrosses the country trying in vain to capture a live victim. With only decomposing corpses for clues, CDC epidemiologist Margaret Montoya races to analyze the science behind this deadly contagion. She discovers that these killers all have one thing in common — they’ve been contaminated by a bioengineered parasite, shaped by a complexity far beyond the limits of known science.
Meanwhile Perry Dawsey — a hulking former football star now resigned to life as a cubicle-bound desk jockey — awakens one morning to find several mysterious welts growing on his
body. Soon Perry finds himself acting and thinking strangely, hearing voices . . . he is infected.
The fate of the human race may well depend on the bloody war Perry must wage with his own body, because the parasites want something from him, something that goes beyond mere murder.
Eat the Dark by Joe Schreiber
Escorted from prison under heavy guard, murderous psychopath Frank Snow is scheduled for an emergency brain scan at Tanglewood Memorial Hospital, an institution that is closing its doors after one final night of operation. But Snow has something far more terrifying planned. And once the lights go out, a fiendish game of hide-and-seek begins.
Alone in the dark with a homicidal madman who knows their fears, their secrets, and their every move, MRI technician Mike Hughes, his wife and child, and the other unlucky souls trapped in the hospital have no choice but to duel with the devil incarnate. If they play by their stalker’s twisted rules, some of them might just survive. But there’s more to Frank Snow than the naked eye can see . . . or the sane mind can bear.
Son of the Endless Night by John Farris
In a peaceful Vermont courtroom, humanity will be called to trial by endless evil. Ancient and implacable — armed with sensuality, delusion and horrible death — it will join itself to human weakness in an unholy alliance.
Against it stand only imperfect human beings, caught in a world-spanning struggle in which they have everything to lose — for all of us — and only human strength to help them.
Not since The Exorcist has there been such a powerful novel of demonic possession as Son of the Endless Night; perhaps never has there been a novel that so weds supernatural horror with human weakness as to make the two inextricably one.
The Dead by Mark E Rogers
A terrible judge comes like a thief in the night. While the world sleeps, everything changes. In the diseased light of a festering sun, planes drop from the sky, machines sputter and stop, and the graves of the shrieking damned burst open. Angels from hell clothe themselves in the flesh of corpses to form an unholy army. Dreaming of his father hammering his way out of a coffin, Gary Holland is jolted awake by the phone to learn that his father is dead. Bickering over infidelity and religion, the family gathers for the funeral… and confronts hell on earth at the Jersey Shore. Hounded from cellar to sewer, the staggering, bloodied survivors of the Holland clan are pushed remorselessly to choose between black despair and hopeless faith.
Furnace by Muriel Gray
Something is being born.
The darkness is its delight, deep and black and hot.
Its growth is unstoppable.
It knows who has summoned it.
It knows that its carrier is aware and afraid.
Its time is drawing near…
When long-distance truck driver Josh Spiller pulls into the small backwater town of Furnace, Virginia, he has a lot on his mind. He’s been driving for thirty-six hours straight after busting up with his pregnant girlfriend; he’s tired and hungry, and all he wants is to get some breakfast and rest up.
But Furnace has something special in store for Josh. Amongst the surprisingly affluent houses, the neat streets and smartly-dressed townsfolk lurks the stuff of living nightmare. A sequence of events is about to be unleashed that will test
Josh to the edge of his endurance. A world of sorcery and malice is waiting to gather him in. For behind the prosperity of Furnace lie terrible secrets; and a terrifying fate in store for those who take an unwarranted interest.
Even now, as Josh searches for a place to stop, his electric-blue Peterbilt roaring through the gears, the eyes of the town are upon him.
The nightmare is beginning…
Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon
After watching his asthmatic daughter suffer in the foul city air, Theodore Constantine decides to get back to the land. When he and his wife search New England for the perfect nineteenth-century home, they find no township more charming, no countryside more idyllic than the farming village of Cornwall Coombe. Here they begin a new life: simple, pure, close to nature — and ultimately more terrifying than Manhattan’s darkest alley.
When the Constantines win the friendship of the town matriarch, the mysterious Widow Fortune, they are invited to join the ancient festival of Harvest Home, a ceremony whose quaintness disguises dark intentions. In this bucolic hamlet, where bootleggers work by moonlight and all of the villagers seem to share the same last name, the past is more present than outsiders can fathom — and something far more sinister than the annual harvest is about to rise out of the earth.
Consumption by Heather Herrman
In the wake of tragedy, John and Erma Scott are heading west in search of a new life. So when car trouble strands them in sleepy Cavus, Montana, they decide to stay for a while, charmed by the friendly residents and the surrounding ambiance. Here, they hope, is the healing balm that their marriage needs.
Then John and Erma find themselves in a fight not just to save their marriage, but their very lives. For this is no ordinary town. Its quiet streets conceal a dark and bloody secret that has slumbered for centuries. Now, that secret is awake . . . and it’s hungry.
Like a slow infection, evil is spreading through Cavus. Soon John and Erma — along with the local sheriff, an undocumented immigrant, a traumatized teenage girl, and an old man with terrible secrets of his own — must join together to battle an all-consuming force that has set its sights on its prey: the entire human race.
Enter Night by Michael Rowe
Welcome to Parr’s Landing, Population 1,528 . . . and shrinking.
The year is 1972. Widowed Christina Parr, her daughter Morgan, and her brother-in-law Jeremy have returned to the remote northern Ontario mining town of Parr’s Landing, the place from which Christina fled before Morgan was born, seeking refuge. Dr. Billy Lightning has also returned in search of answers to the mystery of his father’s brutal murder. All will find some part of what they seek — and more.
Built on the site of a decimated 17th-century Jesuit mission to the Ojibwa, Parr’s Landing is a town with secrets of its own buried in the caves around Bradley Lake. A three-hundred-year-old horror slumbers there, calling out to the insane and the murderous for centuries, begging for release — an invitation that has finally been answered.
One man is following that voice, cutting a swath of violence across the country, bent on a terrible resurrection of the ancient evil, plunging the town and all its people into an endless night.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious–and dangerous–asset.
As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same.
City Infernal by Edward Lee
When Cassie’s twin sister, Lissa, commits suicide, Cassie discovers she can travel to Hell to retrieve her sister’s soul. Cassie thought she knew all about the Hell of legend, but finds Hell has evolved over the millennia into a bustling city full of the damned with looming skyscrapers, crowded streets, systemized evil, and atrocity as the status quo.
Welcome to the Mephistopolis
Hell is a city.
It stretches, literally, without end–a labyrinth of smoke and waking nightmare. Just as endlessly, sewer grates belch flame from the sulphur fires that have raged beneath the streets for millennia. Clock towers spire in every district, by public law, but their faces have no hands; time is not measured here in seconds or hours but in atrocity and despair. In the center of this
morass of stone and smoke and butchery and horror stands the 666-floor Mephisto Building, where Gargoyles prowl the wind-blown ledges and from whose highest garrets the innocent are hung from gibbets and left to rot for eons. The lone occupant of the very top floor looks down upon his dominion and smiles a smile that is brighter than a thousand suns. Here, yes, everyone is dead yet everyone lives forever.
Welcome to the Mephistopolis.
Welcome to the city of Hell.
The Damnation Game by Clive Barker
Marty Strauss, a gambling addict recently released from prison, is hired to be the personal bodyguard of Joseph Whitehead, one of the wealthiest men in the world. The job proves more complicated and dangerous than he thought, however, as Marty soon gets caught up in a series of supernatural events involving Whitehead, his daughter (who is a heroin addict), and a devilish man named Mamoulian, with whom Whitehead made a Faustian bargain many years earlier, during World War II.
As time passes, Mamoulian haunts Whitehead using his supernatural powers (such as the ability to raise the dead), urging him to complete his pact with him. Eventually Whitehead decides to escape his fate after a few encounters with Mamoulian and having his wife, former bodyguard, and now his daughter Carys taken away from him. With hope still left
to save Carys, Marty Strauss, although reluctant to get involved in the old man Whiteheads deserved punishment, decides to get involved and attempt to save the innocent gifted addict from being another victim to the damnation game.
The Elementals by Michael McDowell
After a bizarre and disturbing incident at the funeral of matriarch Marian Savage, the McCray and Savage families look forward to a restful and relaxing summer at Beldame, on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, where three Victorian houses loom over the shimmering beach. Two of the houses are habitable, while the third is slowly and mysteriously being buried beneath an enormous dune of blindingly white sand. But though long uninhabited, the third house is not empty. Inside, something deadly lies in wait. Something that has terrified Dauphin Savage and Luker McCray since they were boys and which still haunts their nightmares. Something horrific that may be responsible for several terrible and unexplained deaths years earlier — and is now ready to kill again …
Swan Song by Robert McCammon
Something flashes in nine-year-old Swan’s brain, telling her that trouble is coming. Maybe it’s her mother, fed up with her current boyfriend and ready to abandon their dismal trailer park and seek a new home. But something far worse is on the horizon. Death falls from the sky — nuclear bombs which annihilate American civilization. Though Swan survives the blast, this young psychic’s war is just beginning.
As the survivors try to make new lives in the wasteland, an evil army forms, intent on murdering all those tainted with the diseases brought by fallout. When Swan finds a mysterious amulet that could hold the key to humankind’s salvation, she draws the attention of a man more dangerous than any nuclear bomb. To rescue mankind, this little girl will have to grow up fast.
The Light at the End by John Skipp and Craig Spector
The newspapers scream out headlines that spark terror across the city. Ten murders on the New York City subway. Ten grisly crimes that defy all reason — no pattern, no m.o., no leads for police to pursue. The press dubs the fiend the “Subway Psycho”; the NYPD desperately seeks their quarry before the city erupts in mass hysteria. But they won’t find what they’re looking for.
Because they all think that the killer is human.
Only a few know the true story — a story the papers will never print. It is a tale of abject terror and death written in grit and steel… and blood. The tale of a man who vanished into the bowels of the urban earth one night, taken by a creature of unholy evil, then left as a babe abandoned on the doorstep of Hell. Now he is back, driven by twin demons of rage and retribution.
He is unstoppable. And we are all his prey… unless a ragtag band of misfit souls will dare to descend into a world of manmade darkness, where the real and unreal alike dwell in endless shadow. A place where humanity has been left behind, and the horrifying truth will dawn as a madman’s chilling vendetta comes to light…
Originally published on Knockin Books — Blog