As a self-proclaimed literature nerd with a demanding job, I am torn between my desire to be well-read and getting enough sleep. I wish I had more time to devote to reading, especially as it concerns horror novels and short stories. It’s an exciting genre, and if you can wade through the not-so-great books and find the provocative, imaginative, and truly disturbing reads, it’s a rewarding endeavor.
I am sick of not reading enough horror.
Consequently, I decided that one of my New Year’s Resolutions would be, you guessed it, to read more horror. And so I did a little research and compiled a list of 13 highly anticipated 2017 horror novels to share with you! The list includes some tried-and-true horror veterans, like Caitlin R. Kiernan and Josh Malerman, but it also includes some shiny new debuts.
So if you want to read more horror as well, or if you just want an interesting book to read, check out my list!
1. Little Heaven by Nick Cutter (January 10, 2017)
“From electrifying horror author Nick Cutter comes a haunting new novel, reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and Stephen King’s It, in which a trio of mismatched mercenaries is hired by a young woman for a deceptively simple task: check in on her nephew, who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven. Shortly after they arrive, things begin to turn ominous. Stirrings in the woods and over the treetops—the brooding shape of a monolith known as the Black Rock casts its terrible pall. Paranoia and distrust grips the settlement. The escape routes are gradually cut off as events spiral towards madness. Hell—or the closest thing to it—invades Little Heaven. The remaining occupants are forced to take a stand and fight back, but whatever has cast its dark eye on Little Heaven is now marshaling its powers…and it wants them all.”
Nick Cutter is famous for his novel The Troop, which blew readers away with its updated and somehow more twisted take on The Lord of the Flies. Cutter has a real knack for crafting “a fresh twist on horror conventions, while also writing a story that delivers the bodies.” With him, we get literary style without sacrificing horror and terror. His stuff is always solid, and you can’t go wrong with Cutter.
2. Under a Watchful Eye by Adam Nevill (January 30, 2017)
“Seb Logan is being watched. He just doesn’t know by whom.
When the sudden appearance of a dark figure shatters his idyllic coastal life, he soon realizes that the murky past he thought he’d left behind has far from forgotten him. What’s more unsettling is the strange atmosphere that engulfs him at every sighting, plunging his mind into a terrifying paranoia.
To be a victim without knowing the tormentor. To be despised without knowing the offense caused. To be seen by what nobody else can see. These are the thoughts which plague his every waking moment.
Imprisoned by despair, Seb fears his stalker is not working alone, but rather is involved in a wider conspiracy that threatens everything he has worked for. For there are doors in this world that open into unknown places. Places used by the worst kind of people to achieve their own ends. And once his investigation leads him to stray across the line and into mortal danger, he risks becoming another fatality in a long line of victims . . .”
Named “Britain’s answer to Stephen King” by the Guardian, Adam Nevill is the author of eleven novels. Three of his novels won the August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel from the British Fantasy Awards—The Ritual, Last Days, and No One Gets Out Alive. He’s also got mad wheeling and dealing skills, since at least SIX of his works are in development for television and film. So he’s kind of a big deal. He’s a contemporary horror literature staple and you should definitely add this book toy our Amazon cart.
3. The Twenty Days of Turin by Giorgio De Maria (February 2017)
“Written during the height of the 1970s Italian domestic terror, a cult novel, with distinct echoes of Lovecraft and Borges, makes its English-language debut.
In the spare wing of a church-run sanatorium, some zealous youths create ‘the Library,’ a space where lonely citizens can read one another’s personal diaries and connect with like-minded souls in ‘dialogues across the ether.’ But when their scribblings devolve into the ugliest confessions of the macabre, the Library’s users learn too late that a malicious force has consumed their privacy and their sanity. As the city of Turin suffers a twenty-day ‘phenomenon of collective psychosis’ culminating in nightly massacres that hundreds of witnesses cannot explain, the Library is shut down and erased from history. That is, until a lonely salaryman decides to investigate these mysterious events, which the citizenry of Turin fear to mention. Inevitably drawn into the city’s occult netherworld, he unearths the stuff of modern nightmares: what’s shared can never be unshared.”
Does this novel not sound scarily relevant and timely? Damn, who knew something published in Italy over 40 years could resonate so clearly with the current American cultural landscape? It also promises to create a uniquely fearful experience: “a mute, palpitating dread that seeps into every moment of daily existence.” With its themes of neo-fascism, terrorism, social media and the internet, The Twenty Days of Turin seems to have been decades before its time.
Give it to me!
4. The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn (February 7, 2017)
“Ten-year-old Stevie Clark of Deer Valley, Ore., is a word-salad stutterer with one friend in the world: his older cousin Jude. When Jude goes missing, Stevie is the only one who takes it seriously, and he knows the creepy house in the woods must be involved. Despite an uninterested town and his own fear, Stevie embarks on an investigation that convinces him there’s a monster lurking in the woods. The real horror comes when Jude abruptly returns and Stevie must accept that he may still have lost his friend.”
I’ve never read anything by Ania Ahlborn, but she sounds great and this novel sounds like something right up my alley! I love psychological horror and I love interesting points of view in fiction. How would a ten-year old process the sudden disappearance of his only friend, and under such dark circumstances? Even though this summary makes it sound like there may or may not be supernatural forces at work, it probably doesn’t matter in the end. Trauma can be its own unsolvable mystery. That’s what draws me in.
5. Universal Harvester by John Darnielle (February 7, 2017)
“The book opens at the Video Hut in late-’90s, small-town Iowa, where twentysomething Jeremy rides out his days manning the counter, blissfully unaware of the forces (Hollywood Video, DVDs, the Internet) conspiring to make his job representative of a very specific cultural moment. What Jeremy is aware of is a series of customers returning video tapes with complaints that something’s wrong with them—that, for instance, She’s All That is interrupted by four minutes of grainy, homemade, black-and-white footage that is distinctly creepy-as-hell—there’s a darkness there, an overwhelming sadness. She’s All That is the most popular tape affected, but not the only one. Jeremy would prefer not to have to get to the bottom of the disturbing videos, but that, of course, was never a real possibility . . .”
John Darnielle is a musician in the band The Mountain Goats and a novelist. His debut, Wolf in White Van, was a trippy, provocative novel about a disfigured game designer guarding a traumatic secret about his past. Wolf in White Van touched on many pop culture elements for Generation X, as it seems Universal Harvester will do. When speaking about his latest novel, Darnielle explained that he is “Really super proud of [Universal Harvester]; I think it hits that sad/frightening axis that I’ve always found most inspiring in the writers I like best.”
The literary part of me loves that self-assessment, while the 90s kid in me really wants to know what’s on that She’s All That tape.
6. Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman (March 2017)
“The Danes—the band known as the ‘Darlings of Detroit’—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.
Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.
Part Heart of Darkness, part Lost, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking new novel plunges us into the depths of psychological horror, where you can’t always believe everything you hear.”
Josh Malerman wrote Bird Box, which received tons of critical acclaim and notice for its chilling story. He’s been compared to Stephen King (doesn’t it seem like literally everyone gets compared to Stephen King?). Although I think, given just as long and prolific a career, Malerman could give King a run for his money.
Bird Box was crazy, Black Mad Wheels sounds crazy, and I can’t wait for this book.
7. Dear Sweet Filthy World by Caitlin R. Kiernan (March 2017)
“What exactly is the difference between a love letter and a suicide note? Is there really any difference at all? These might be the questions posed by Dear Sweet Filthy World, Caitlín R. Kiernan’s fourteenth collection of short fiction, comprised of twenty-eight uncollected and impossible-to-find stories.
Treading the grim places where desire and destruction, longing and horror intersect, the author rises once again to meet the high expectations she set with such celebrated collections as Tales of Pain and Wonder, To Charles Fort, With Love, and the World Fantasy Award-winning The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories. In these pages you’ll meet a dragon’s lover, a drowned vampire cursed always to ride the tides, a wardrobe that grants wishes, and a lunatic artist’s marriage of the Black Dahlia and the Beast of Gévaudan. You’ll visit a ruined post-industrial Faerie, travel back to tropical Paleozoic seas and ahead to the far-flung future, and you’ll meet a desperate writer forced to sell her memories for new ideas. Here are twenty-eight tales of apocalypse and rebirth, of miraculous transformation and utter annihilation. Here is the place where professing your undying devotion might be precisely the same thing as signing your own death warrant—or worse.”
I profiled Caitlin R. Kiernan in my Female Horror Writers post last year, and thus I’m excited to read her new collection. Kiernan is an established horror author, and an acclaimed one at that. She’s won multiple International Horror Guild Awards, multiple Bram Stoker Awards, and multiple World Fantasy Awards. She’s perhaps most famous for The Drowning Girl, a wonderful mix of grim and disturbing and mythical. Continuing that arc, Dear Sweet Filthy World sounds like an exquisite collection of pretty little horror and dark fantasy gems.
8. The Girl From Rawblood by Catriona Ward (March 7, 2017)
“Born in England in 1899, Iris Villarca, the principal narrator of Ward’s superb debut, grows up without human company, except for Tom Gilmore, a farmer’s son with whom she forms a secret bond, and her father, Alonso, the only other surviving Villarca. She believes that a rare disease necessitates their seclusion at Rawblood, their Dartmoor estate, but as she matures, Alonso reveals the truth: isolation is the only way to save Iris from a ghostly presence that destroys the Villarcas when they fall in love, marry, or have children. As WWI begins, Iris violates her father’s interdictions with horrific repercussions for both of them.”
YAAAAAS! A period piece horror story with resounding gothic influences! I live, I die, I live again!
Sorry, I’m just excited. I’ve been itching for a modern twist on gothic horror, and I hope from the buzz surrounding this book that it scratches my itch. Gothic horror can be so amazing.
9. Beneath by Kristi de Meester (April 2017)
I haven’t been able to track down much information about this book, but Litreactor says that, “Beneath is about a reporter investigating a snake-handling cult in rural Appalachia.”
Honest to God, that good be really, really good. How aren’t there more horror stories about snake handling churches? That shit is wild! Check out this video to learn more (and enjoy the cheesy intro):
I just wish we had more information! I do know that Kristi de Meester is an accomplished short story writer and has been featured in many collections and anthologies. Beneath is her first novel.
10. Ararat by Christopher Golden (April 18, 2017)
“Christopher Golden’s Ararat is the heart-pounding tale of an adventure that goes wrong…on a biblical scale. When an earthquake reveals a secret cave hidden inside Mount Ararat in Turkey, a daring, newly-engaged couple are determined to be the first ones inside…and what they discover will change everything.
The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses. Inside the coffin they find an ugly, misshapen cadaver—not the holy man they expected, but a hideous creature with horns. Shock and fear turn to horror when a massive blizzard blows in, trapping them thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain. All they can do is pray for safety. But something wicked is listening to their prayers…and it wants to answer.”
I will admit that I did not know who Christopher Golden was until I drafted this post. But since then, I’ve learned he’s a big deal. He has written for comics and graphic novels like Hellboy, The Punisher, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (among many others). He has written tons of novels and edited and contributed to a lot of horror anthologies.
With his horror pedigree, Golden’s latest novel sounds promising. Surprisingly, I really dig the Old-Testament–meets-the Thing-and-Alien angle, and I think Ararat has all the makings of a great horror-thriller.
11. In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson (June 6, 2017)
“Haunted by his past, Travis Stillwell spends his nights searching out women in West Texas honky-tonks. What he does with them doesn’t make him proud, just quiets the demons for a little while. But after Travis crosses paths one night with a mysterious pale-skinned girl, he wakes weak and bloodied in his cabover camper the next morning with no sign of a girl, no memory of the night before.
Annabelle Gaskin spies the camper parked behind her motel and offers the cowboy a few odd jobs to pay his board. Travis takes her up on the offer, if only to buy time, to lay low and heal. By day, he mends the old motel, insinuating himself into the lives of Annabelle and her ten-year-old son. By night, in the cave of his camper, he fights an unspeakable hunger. Before long, Annabelle and her boy come to realize that this strange cowboy is not what he seems.
Half a state away, a grizzled Texas Ranger is hunting Travis for his past misdeeds, but what he finds will lead him to a revelation far more monstrous. A man of the law, he’ll have to decide how far into the darkness he’ll go for the sake of justice.
When these lives converge on a dusty autumn night, an old evil will find new life–and new blood.”
This Texas girl is excited for In the Valley of the Sun, because who doesn’t want to read a vampire novel set in the Texas desert and influenced by both Cormac McCarthy and Anne Rice? No one I know! I’m also getting a strong Near Dark vibe from the synopsis. As far as debuts go, this one has definitely piqued my interest.
12. Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (July 11, 2017)
“1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven’t seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she’s got Sean, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arkham, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter’s been dead for years.
The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.”
I’ve never heard of Edgar Cantero, but has he sucked me in with the blurb for this Scooby-Doo-meets-It-meets-Lovecraft novel synopsis. I won’t lie, I find it amazing at how much Stephen King has influence the authors on this list. It’s almost a cause for concern, but then I remember how much I loved YA detective novels (Nancy Drew fans, where you at?) and 80s adventure movies (The Goonies, Monster Squad) in addition to Stephen King novels.
I hope this is good!
13. The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy (August 1, 2017)
“The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret, far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now, an ancient darkness is gathering there as well. These demons are threatening to spread virally into the real world unless they can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew:
Twelve-year-old Hannah, who has been fitted with the Mirage, a high-tech visual prosthetic to combat her blindness, wonders why she sees shadows surrounding some people.
A technophobic journalist named Lela has stumbled upon a story nobody wants her to uncover.
Mike Juniper—a one-time child evangelist who suffers from personal and literal demons—has an arsenal of weapons stored in the basement of the homeless shelter he runs.
And Derek, a hacker with a cause, believes himself a soldier of the Internet, part of a cyber army akin to Anonymous.
They have no idea what the Dark Net really contains.”
Ok, hear me out. This write-up is a little cheesy, yes. But think about this for a moment.
The Dark Net, or Deep Net, is real and mysterious and entirely frightening. I’m fascinated by this part of the Internet, which lies beneath that layer of the Internet that can be accessed by Google’s search engine. Only people who want to be there go to the Dark Net. And they have… certain motivations. This article freaked me out, because while I knew that the Deep/Dark Net was where awful people swapped child porn and arms dealers sold weapons, I didn’t realize it was so…involved.
The Dark Net seems timely, to say the least. A great deal of our day-to-day lives are controlled by computers connected to networks that are connected to the Internet. If written well and thoroughly researched, it could be a very good book.
Do you know of any other horror novels being released this year that I should check out? Let me know.