Stories For Ghosts

Horror for the Discerning Fan

15 Scary Good Horror Novels for Your 2019 Reading List

I don’t know about you, but every year I make a resolution to read more horror novels. I experience varying levels of success each year (because life happens). Not that it stops me from buying more and more horror novels and adding to my already out-of-control horror novel collection.

Sigh. There are just too many intriguing horror novels out there, and so little time.

But I feel optimistic about this year! Really, I do. I am making a concerted push to read more in general, especially when it comes to my beloved horror genre. Just as I saw in 2017 and 2018, this year will see the publication of a ton of cool horror novels and novellas, so I certainly won’t have any problems finding good options. Choosing among them will be a different story, however.

All in all, there are 15 horror novels that have caught my eye so far, with something for everyone. Specifically, I’m interested in Caitlin R. Kiernan’s latest haunting short story collection, The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan; Josh Malerman’s new dystopic vision, Inspection; the gothic-inspired nightmare PEtra’s Ghost by C.S. O’Cinneide; Grady Hendrix’s delightful-sounding My Mom’s Book Club Killed Dracula; and the arresting A Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor Jacobs.

As always, I hope you enjoy these selections! Let me know which ones you are looking forward to as well as giving me a head’s up about any horror novels I’ve missed.

Enjoy!

The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan (Feb. 18)

“Caitlín R. Kiernan is one of dark fantasy and horror’s most acclaimed and influential short fiction writers. Her powerful, unexpected stories shatter morality, gender, and sexuality: a reporter is goaded by her toxic girlfriend into visiting sadistic art exhibits; a countess in a decaying movie theater is sated by her servants; a collector offers his greatest achievement to ensnare a musician who grieves for her missing sister.

In this retrospective collection of her finest work―previously only available in limited editions―Kiernan cuts straight to the heart of the emotional truths we cannot ignore.

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Dean Hicks (Feb. 5)

“Jane is haunted. Since she was a child, she has carried a ghost girl that feeds on the secrets and fears of everyone around her, whispering to Jane what they are thinking and feeling, even when she doesn’t want to know. Henry, Jane’s brother, is ridden by a genius ghost that forces him to build strange and dangerous machines. Their mother is possessed by a lonely spirit that burns anyone she touches. In Swine Hill, a place of defeat and depletion, there are more dead than living.
 
When new arrivals begin scoring precious jobs at the last factory in town, both the living and the dead are furious. This insult on the end of a long economic decline sparks a conflagration. Buffeted by rage on all sides, Jane must find a way to save her haunted family and escape the town before it kills them.”

horror novels

Collision: Stories by J.S. Breukelaar (Feb. 19)

“‘J.S. is leaving her footprints on a path blazed by luminaries such as M.R. James, Robert Aickman, Tanith Lee, Kelly Link, Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Jeff VanderMeer, Gustave Flaubert, Edgar Allan Poe, Daphne DuMaurier, Leonora Carrington and Charlotte Brontë, to name but a few.’ -Angela Slatter, Award-winning author of Sourdough and Other Stories, Vigil, and Corpselight

A collection of twelve of J.S. Breukelaar’s darkest, finest stories with four new works, including the uncanny new novella ‘Ripples on a Blank Shore.’ Introduction by award-winning author, Angela Slatter. Relish the Gothic strangeness of ‘Union Falls,’ the alien horror of ‘Rogues Bay 3013,’ the heartbreaking dystopia of ‘Glow,’ the weird mythos of ‘Ava Rune,’ and others.”

horror novels

Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk (March 14)

Rumors of a deadly book have been floating around the dark corners of the deep web. A disturbing tale about a mysterious figure who preys on those who read the book and subjects them to a world of personalized terror. Jesse Wheeler―former guitarist of the heavy metal group The Rising Dead―was quick to discount the ominous folklore associated with the book. It takes more than some urban legend to frighten him. Hell, reality is scary enough.

Seven years ago, his greatest responsibility was the nightly guitar solo. Then one night, when Jesse was blackout drunk, he accidentally injured his son, leaving him permanently disabled. Dreams of being a rock star died when he destroyed his son’s future. Now he cuts radio jingles and fights to stay clean. But Jesse is wrong. The legend is real―and tonight he will become the protagonist in an elaborate scheme specifically tailored to prey on his fears and resurrect the ghosts from his past.”

horror novels

Inspection by Josh Malerman (March 19)

“J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world.

J is one of only twenty-six students, all of whom think of the school’s enigmatic founder as their father. J’s peers are the only family he has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, and their life at the school is all they know—and all they are allowed to know.

But J suspects that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.”

horror novels

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon (April 30)

“In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.” 

horror novels

Inside the Asylum by Mary SanGiovanni (May 7)

“Kathy has been hired to assess the threat of patient Henry Banks, an inmate at the Connecticut-Newlyn Hospital for the Criminally Insane, the same hospital where her brother is housed. Her employers believe that Henry has the ability to open doors to other dimensions with his mind—making him one of the most dangerous men in modern history. Because unbeknownst to Kathy, her clients are affiliated with certain government organizations that investigate people like Henry—and the potential to weaponize such abilities.

What Kathy comes to understand in interviewing Henry, and in her unavoidable run-ins with her brother, is that Henry can indeed use his mind to create ‘Tulpas’—worlds, people, and creatures so vivid they come to actual life. But now they want life outside of Henry. And they’ll stop at nothing to complete their emancipation. It’s up to Kathy—with her brother’s help—to stop them, and if possible, to save Henry before the Tulpas take him over—and everything else around him.”

horror novels

The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey (June 11)

“The Great War is over. The city of Lower Proszawa celebrates the peace with a decadence and carefree spirit as intense as the war’s horrifying despair. But this newfound hedonism—drugs and sex and endless parties—distracts from strange realities of everyday life: Intelligent automata taking jobs. Genetically engineered creatures that serve as pets and beasts of war. A theater where gruesome murders happen twice a day. And a new plague that even the ceaseless euphoria can’t mask.

Unlike others who live strictly for fun, Largo is an addict with ambitions. A bike messenger who grew up in the slums, he knows the city’s streets and its secrets intimately. His life seems set. He has a beautiful girlfriend, drugs, a chance at a promotion—and maybe, an opportunity for complete transformation: a contact among the elite who will set him on the course to lift himself up out of the streets.

But dreams can be a dangerous thing in a city whose mood is turning dark and inward. Others have a vision of life very different from Largo’s, and they will use any methods to secure control. And in behind it all, beyond the frivolity and chaos, the threat of new war always looms.”

horror novels

Growing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay (July 2)

“A masterful anthology featuring nineteen pieces of short fiction, The Growing Things is an exciting glimpse into Paul Tremblay’s fantastically fertile imagination…in ‘The Teacher’…a student is forced to watch a disturbing video that will haunt and torment her and her classmates’ lives. Four men rob a pawn shop at gunpoint only to vanish, one-by-one, as they speed away from the crime scene in ‘The Getaway.’ In ‘Swim Wants to Know If It’s as Bad as Swim Thinks,’ a meth addict kidnaps her daughter from her estranged mother as their town is terrorized by a giant monster . . . or not.

Joining these haunting works are stories linked to Tremblay’s previous novels. The tour de force metafictional novella ‘Notes from the Dog Walkers’ deconstructs horror and publishing, possibly bringing in a character from A Head Full of Ghosts, all while serving as a prequel to Disappearance at Devil’s Rock. ‘The Thirteenth Temple’ follows another character from A Head Full of Ghosts—Merry, who has published a tell-all memoir written years after the events of the novel. And the title story, ‘Growing Things,’ a shivery tale loosely shared between the sisters in A Head Full of Ghosts, is told here in full.”

horror novels

The Toll by Cherie Priest (July 9)

“Take a road trip into a Southern gothic horror novel.

Titus and Melanie Bell are on their honeymoon and have reservations in the Okefenokee Swamp cabins for a canoeing trip. But shortly before they reach their destination, the road narrows into a rickety bridge with old stone pilings, with room for only one car.

Much later, Titus wakes up lying in the middle of the road, no bridge in sight. Melanie is missing. When he calls the police, they tell him there is no such bridge on Route 177 . . .”

horror novels

Hollywood North: Life, Love & Death in Six Reels by Michael Libling (July 16)

“Based, as they say, on a true story . . .

Jack Levin is the boy who finds things. “Gus” Berry is the boy who wants things. Annie Barker is the girl who believes in things. And together they stumble upon a gut-wrenching secret that threatens to destroy their families and their lives. Welcome to the 1960s and sleepy small—town Trenton, Ontario. Where a silent movie studio once prospered. Where hunting, fishing, arson, and drowning are the favored pastimes. Where dogs maim, trains derail, planes collide, and people vanish. Where collective amnesia rules the adult world . . . And where piece by gruesome piece, Jack, Gus, and Annie uncover the mystery at the malevolent heart of Trenton’s dark past and darker future.”

horror novels

Petra’s Ghost by C.S. O’Cinneide (July 20)

“A woman has vanished on the Camino de Santiago, the ancient five-hundred-mile pilgrimage that crosses northern Spain. Daniel, an Irish expat, walks the lonely trail carrying the ashes of his wife, Petra, along with the damning secret of how she really died.

When he teams up to walk with sporty California girl Ginny, she seems like the perfect antidote for his grieving heart. But a nightmare figure begins to stalk them, and his mind starts to unravel from the horror of things he cannot explain.

Unexpected twists and turns echo the path of the ancient trail they walk upon. The lines start to blur between reality and madness, between truth and the lies we tell ourselves.”

horror novels

The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson (Aug. 14)

“When growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls, a.k.a. Cataract City–a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place–one of Jake’s closest confidantes was his uncle Calvin, a sweet but eccentric misfit enamored of occult artefacts and outlandish conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turned twelve, Calvin invited him to join the ‘Saturday Night Ghost Club’–a seemingly light-hearted project to investigate some of Cataract City’s more macabre urban myths. Over the course of that life-altering summer, Jake not only fell in love and began to imagine his future, he slowly, painfully came to realize that his uncle’s preoccupation with chilling legends sprang from something buried so deep in his past that Calvin himself was unaware of it.

By turns heartwarming and devastating, written with the skill and cinematic immediacy that has made Craig Davidson a star, The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a bravura performance from one of our most remarkable literary talents: a note-perfect novel that poignantly examines the fragility and resilience of mind, body and human spirit, as well as the haunting mutability of memory and story.”

horror novels

My Mom’s Book Club Killed Dracula by Grady Hendrix (Oct. 1)

Editor’s note: Ok, neither an official description nor cover art for My Mom’s Book Club Killed Dracula is available yet, but do you really need them? Doesn’t that title kind of tell you all you need to know? If this latest effort from Grady Hendrix is anything like his novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism, it’ll be full of pop culture references and arresting horror scenes. I can’t wait!

horror novels

A Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor Jacobs (Oct. 29)

“Bringing together his acclaimed novella ‘The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky’ and an all-new short novel My Heart Struck Sorrow, John Hornor Jacobs turns his fertile imagination to the evil that breeds within the human soul.

A brilliant mix of the psychological and supernatural, blending the acute insight of Roberto Bolaño and the eerie imagination of H. P. Lovecraft, ‘The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky’ examines life in a South American dictatorship. Centered on the journal of a poet-in-exile and his failed attempts at translating a maddening text, it is told by a young woman trying to come to grips with a country that nearly devoured itself.

In ‘My Heart Struck Sorrow,’ a librarian discovers a recording from the Deep South—which may be the musical stylings of the Devil himself.

Breathtaking and haunting, A Lush and Seething Hell is a terrifying and exhilarating journey into the darkness, an odyssey into the deepest reaches of ourselves that compels us to confront secrets best left hidden.”

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4 Comments

  1. Glad you are looking forward to the release of Petra’s Ghost. So am I!

  2. Hey! Thank you for including me here. Nice to know I’m not alone in looking forward to the launch of Hollywood North: Life, Love & Death in Six Reels.

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