Five horror novels to read now

Why wait until everyone else is looking for ghost stories and horror to enjoy the gothic, the ghoulish and the ghastly? We see a big uptick in horror readers in October, but YOU can get ahead of the curve by diving into horror novels right now, mid April, when the days are getting longer (sunset today is at 7:51 p.m.!) and your body is enjoying replenished stores of vitamin D.

Our librarians chose some recent horror novels, published between 2016 and 2018, for just this purpose. You’ll see how the Donner Party can get even creepier, find out what havoc a Frankenstein-esque mindset can do in Baghdad, and keep the pages turning while the heart is pounding.

The Hunger by Alma Katsu
As if history wasn’t scary enough: Here’s the Donner Party, the famously ill-fated travelers, some of whom resorted to cannibalism, on an 1840s wagon train – now with a supernatural twist. People in the Donner Party begin to disappear and  survivors must wonder if the evil is around them, or was it inside them all along? “Hard to put down, not recommended reading after dark,” says Stephen King. For additional history-turned-more-horrific, try The Terror by Dan Simmons.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy
We would have included this book on the list just to celebrate the author’s last name. Add to that its slim size (a 144-page count can be a just-right quick, horrifying dose) and that there’s a demon deer (a DEMON DEER!) in it, and we couldn’t resist. A teenage runaway ends up in Freedom, Iowa, a town inhabited by squatters and Uliksi, the above-mentioned demon deer. Spare writing; Killjoy does not waste a word.

The Listener by Robert McCammon
From the late 1970s to early 1990s, McCammon was a name horror readers came to crave. He’s been producing chills steadily all these decades, now delivering a fresh Depression-era crime thriller set in New Orleans. With a touch of the supernatural, of course. Says Publishers Weekly: “McCammon conjures believable characters whose sympathetic plight pulls the reader headlong into the novel’s volatile mix of crime and fantasy. Its tense finale, paced at breakneck speed, will have readers turning pages until its surprise-packed end.”

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmad Sa’dawi
In 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. “Blends absurdist horror with a mordantly funny satire about life in a war-torn city where carnage is the norm” says the Irish Times. This book won the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction; translated and published in the U.S. in 2018.

The Job of the Wasp by Colin Winnette
A gothic mystery set at a school for “orphaned boys.” Something sinister is afoot; corpses are also afoot. Kirkus Reviews says, “Winnette has conjured a profoundly unsettling story from the murky depths of his imagination; once it clicks, giggles, and slithers into your mind, it’s nearly impossible to dislodge.” Perfection.

That’s five to get you started. Find 20 more on our new Seattle Picks: Horror list.

 ~ posted by Linda J.

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