PositiveBooklist... an original and realistically frightening entry into the popular Halloween-night subgenre ... Uneasy from the opening moments, this tale builds its tension relentlessly with multiple points of view from a range of neighbors of all ages—revealing unsettling domestic dramas—until it bursts wide open with numerous twists, each revealing something more violent and terrifying.
RaveBooklistHendrix’ book sets the high watermark for horror in 2023.
RaveBooklistWith his third novel, Davidson plants his roots in horror’s soil as one its most talented voices ... Told mostly through two perfectly balanced time lines—Nellie and Max over ten days in 1989 and August Redfern from 1917 to 1932—this is a character-driven story of the evil that has always lived in a place and its ever-tightening grip on one family. The steadily increasing dread bursts open at the one-third mark as terror takes over, past and present merge, and the Redfern family comes together across generations in an epic battle ... this is a Southern gothic epic that masterfully weaves elements of body, folk, and cosmic horror into something wholly new, terrifying, and utterly breathtaking.
RaveLibrary JournalThis is no ordinary thriller, though. As Mario narrates and comments on the unfairness of the world, readers see the miles pass, sunsets on the open road, and horrors that hide in plain sight. Scenes of magic, love, family, and faith are contradicted by brutality, violence, racism, and terror. This is a master class in discomfort ... It is also a compelling, revenge fantasy with a deadly twist, one that readers will be unable to forget ... The violence is brutal and graphic, but the story is also lyrical and staggeringly beautiful. It is an entertaining and thought-provoking book about human truths and the monsters at their core.
RaveBooklist... this wholly new novel paints a vivid picture that is as alluring as it is unsettling, filled with action, romance, and monsters. However, it is Moreno-Garcia’s ability to mesh the unease of the scientifically created beasts with the real-life terrors of a life on the margins and the horror of colonialism that elevates this story. Readers will fall into this tale immediately, enchanted.
PositiveLibrary JournalWith strong dual narration by Beatriz and Andres, great pacing, well-placed flashbacks that effortlessly offer up the necessary details, and a strong, foreboding sense of place, this is a thought-provoking ghost story with monsters that are at once human, systemic, and supernatural. While the plot may seem to mirror Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, don’t be mistaken—the ghost here is real, and the havoc it causes is nightmare-inducing ... For fans of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic; but also V. Castro’s focus on colonialism, menacing old-world forces, sexism, class struggle, and vengeance; and Alma Katsu’s mastery of historical horror.
MixedLibrary JournalNods to human storytelling traditions—from the Old Testament to Greek epics to Shakespeare—anchor this shocking tale set in a terrifyingly possible near future ... While not for everyone, this odd, deeply unsettling story will have readers vacillating between overwhelming disgust and an inability to stop thinking about what it all means.
RaveLibrary Journal... compelling, fast-paced, and tense ... The original frame, a testosterone-driven plague, opens the door for Felker-Martin to probe the popular zombie trope while simultaneously centering the experience of trans men and women. The result is a sensual, tender, honest, and inspirational story of imperfect but well-meaning people banding together in an attempt to not only survive but thrive ... This novel confidently plants a flag declaring its place among the greatest band-of-survivor zombie tales
PositiveLibrary Journal... this lush and dark debut satisfyingly pulls back and then spirals à la Wuthering Heights or The Great Gatsby ... Lena is sympathetic, and her admission of guilt from the outset increases the tension and pacing of this detail-rich story. Readers will cringe when she makes poor choices but they’ll also be glued to the page as this salacious tale of family drama, corporate dealings, dangerous secrets, and poison unfolds ... A 21st-century Gothic with a fascinating botanical frame and an escalating sense of dread.
Thomas Olde Heuvelt
PositiveBooklistHeuvelt returns with an epic tale of madness that, while less focused than Hex (2016), is just as frightening ... Opening with a masterfully terrifying scene, the stage is set for a high-anxiety, cinematic tale, and Heuvelt delivers with an intimate and disorienting storytelling style, told by alternating Sam’s notes with Nick’s diary entries and a confession, parsed out in five sections. The plot may be a slow burn, but the horror is immersive and the fear paralyzing, as readers experience mortal danger, freezing cold, and debilitating vertigo along with the characters. Clearly reminiscent of classic Stephen King tomes, but also for fans of more-recent coming-of-age horror like The Bright Lands by John Fram (2020) or highly suspenseful stories with a strong sense of place like Road of Bones by Christopher Golden (2022).
PositiveLibrary JournalThe atmosphere, the characters, and their strained, complicated relationships are carefully constructed and slowly revealed, until the group finds itself in the middle of a nightmare, stalked by a faceless woman in white as they fight to leave the mansion alive. The conclusion will leave all unsettled, haunting both characters and readers ... As if the set-up doesn’t sell itself, the book also has a creepy cover that’s perfect for display. Recommend to those who love tales of haunted houses with menacing and dangerous histories that reach out from beyond the grave to entrap the living.
RaveBooklist... what began as an uneasy story steadily builds with unrelenting tension, further enhanced by the intensity of Starling’s narration. Readers are compelled to follow Jane as she discovers the truth at the manor home, unravels her husband’s lies, and battles real or imagined horrors; but they will also thoroughly enjoy falling into this immersive and unsettling journey. A perfect choice for those who enjoy writers who play with the well-trod gothic trope to create something wholly new, utterly terrifying, and supremely satisfying[.]
RaveBooklistMoreno emphatically plants his flag as an original new voice in cosmic horror ... Readers will eagerly follow Thiago and the increasingly weird twists and turns that escalate from unsettlingly haunting to uncomfortably creepy, and ultimately arrive at mind-altering terror ... Moreno has melded a thought-provoking novel about mourning with unapologetic horror, much like the very best of twenty-first-century cosmic horror.
James Han Mattson
RaveBooklistA brilliant hybrid, a thought-provoking look at marginalization and systemic oppression expertly nestled inside a high-anxiety tale about the horror industry itself ... Severely unsettling at every turn, the book alternates the unrelenting tension of \'the real world\' with the in-your-face terror of the haunt, meaning there is no reprieve from the fear. This is a rare treat of a novel that will be devoured by fans of pulp horror titles.
Stephen Graham Jones
RaveBooklistReaders will be drawn in by the effortless storytelling and Jade’s unique cadence. This is a methodically paced story where every detail both entertains and matters, and the expertly rendered setting explodes with violent action. This brilliantly crafted, heartbreakingly beautiful slasher presents a new type of authentic \'final girl,\' one that isn’t \'pure\' and may not be totally innocent, yet can still be a vessel for hope.
PositiveBooklist... present a range in tone from unsettling to terrifying, and pack a fearful punch with an economy of language, even for readers primed to feel uneasy. Despite the episodic format, the book as a whole is cohesive, with stories thoughtfully organized into categories ... This is no gimmick; Brockmeier doubles down on these groupings, including a compendium after the last story which places the tales into different thematic areas such as ghosts and plants, animals, or technology. Readers could use this index to go back and encounter the stories in a whole new order for a completely different, but equally enjoyable, experience. The tales themselves are gems: modern, haunted treasures to be discovered no matter the order in which they are read. A great option for those who enjoy horror flash fiction.
RaveLibrary JournalA lifelong Chicagoan, presents a well-researched modern fairy tale, peppered with nuggets of fascinating information that inform the story without sacrificing the pace or atmosphere. Even more remarkable is how expertly she works the unreliable narrator trope, from the first page to the final, shocking twist ... With superior worldbuilding, a relentless pace, a complex heroine, and a harrowing story that preys off of current events as much as its well-developed monster, this is a stellar horror novel that fires on all cylinders, from the first page through to its horrible conclusion.
RaveBooklistThis is a pivot in the series—Walker is on American soil, working with a different team, and fighting an ancient contagion the government resurrected on purpose—but the way the story unfolds is true to form. The neck-whipping action and shifting points of view give the reader a wide-angle perspective on the complicated, terrifying situation, invoking maximum terror on every page. Golden also leaves room for his diverse cast of characters to develop and inhabit the story fully, adding in an uncomfortable sense that this fictional tale is not too far from reality. For fans of horror-thriller series like those by Jonathan Maberry and Mira Grant.
Sam J. Miller
PositiveLibrary JournalMiller takes on cosmic horror with chillingly realistic results ... illed with intense dread and unease; well-drawn if flawed characters; social commentary; and a satisfying resolution, this is a great example of how a century-old subgenre can still speak directly to today’s readers.
Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto
RaveLibrary Journal...fascinating, compelling, and entertaining ... this anthology is an evil delight ... A better entry into the world of horror as it stands today would be hard to find.
Stephen Graham Jones
RaveLibrary JournalReaders will be simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by Sawyer, and entertained by the pervasive dark sense of humor ... a suspenseful, fast-paced novella that keeps readers hooked ... A hotter voice in horror would be hard to find these days, and Graham Jones does not disappoint, delivering another masterpiece.
Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
PositiveBooklistDel Toro and Hogan pay homage to the occult detective stories of Algernon Blackwood while offering an original speculative thriller for today ... A shifting time frame fills in the backstories of Silence, Solomon, and even the Hollow Ones while also generating palpable suspense. The details of this compellingly paced novel allow readers to become wholly invested in the story’s well-crafted sense of dread and in the odd-couple pairing of Hardwicke and Blackwood. A great choice for fans of popular speculative investigative series like those of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Agent Pendergast and Christopher Golden’s Ben Walker and for fans of occult thrillers, like T. Kingfisher’s The Twisted Ones (2019), that nod to past horror masters.
PositiveLibrary JournalHaving read Bird Box will help, but essential worldbuilding is seamlessly interwoven in a narrative paired with enlightening flashbacks into Malorie’s childhood, making this a solid stand-alone. Malerman will no doubt add to his legions of fans with this title ripe for readers of any genre seeking an intensely thrilling ride.
RaveBooklistTremblay...has earned worldwide acclaim because he is able to seamlessly combine reality with speculative elements, and his newest may be his most prescient yet ... The novel is framed as a folk song, but it is also a song of friendship, love, and hope despite it all. The fast-paced tale is told within a compressed time line, full of dread, violence, panic; and yet, there are also moments of clarity and beauty. Gorgeously written about terrible things, the relatively short Survivor Song is a good choice for fans of pandemic epics like Joe Hill’s The Fireman...and novels that probe themes of friendship, family, and social commentary amidst chillingly realistic horror like Gwendolyn Kiste’s The Rust Maidens or Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians.
RaveLibrary JournalBrooks, back with his first novel since his seminal World War Z, employs a similar style here, but the scope—and resulting terror—is significantly more concentrated and immediate ... Piecing together the journal with interviews, transcripts, newspaper clippings, and historical documents, Brooks crafts a terrifying tale that reads like a \'true\' crime novel. Set in the very near future, with stellar worldbuilding, a claustrophobic atmosphere, an inclusive and fascinating cast of characters, and plenty of bloody action, this inventive story will keep readers’ heart rates high ... Brooks’s creative and well-executed conceit will have readers searching Wikipedia to look up names and events, even the parts they know are not based on reality. An obvious choice for Bigfoot fans, also suggest this to readers who enjoyed Alma Katsu’s The Hunger and those who appreciate nonfiction survival stories such as Hampton Sides’s In the Kingdom of Ice.
M. R. Carey
PositiveLibrary JournalStrong worldbuilding dominates the measured pace of the novel’s first half; the latter half features brisk adventure and a pulse-pounding race toward a cliffhanger ending. Koli narrates this work of sf horror in a peculiar dialect; while readers may find it initially awkward, the language reflects the extreme isolation experienced by the villagers. Told with the same stellar storytelling chops that have rightfully earned Carey fans across the globe, this is a menacing, thought-provoking tale that asks readers to consider how the past informs the present and how technology affects the natural world—sometimes with dangerous consequences ... a disorienting look at a dystopian future that is firmly rooted in the concerns and issues of our current moment. Likely to appeal to fans of Jeff Vandermeer’s novels and Carrie Vaughn’s Bannerless trilogy.
PositiveBooklistThe eco-thriller takes a deadly turn in this action packed, unsettling, and violent tale of nature out for revenge ... This is an unsettling story from its first lines, punctuated with a sense of doom that intensifies with each turn of the page. Readers looking for an anxiety-inducing, fast-paced horror-thriller hybrid with echoes of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy and Christopher Golden’s Ben Walker series will love every minute.
PositiveBooklistCombining satisfying and extremely unsettling psychological suspense with just the right touch of supernatural horror and a compelling and thoughtful new adult story centered around the power, emotion, and limitations of female friendship, The Return is an intense read that will appeal to fans of Nic Joseph and Amy Lukavics.
PositiveLibrary JournalThe rags-to-riches theme paired with long-buried secrets and a claustrophobic setting in which monsters can hide in plain sight makes this title appealing to a wide range of readers, especially in this age of ubiquitous DNA testing.
RaveBooklistNarrated in turns by Keisha and Marcie, who are equally seductive and untrustworthy, this tightly wound thriller just keeps constricting. Readers shouldn’t let Pinborough lull them into complacency with soapy drama, illicit love affairs, tension as stifling as the Georgia summer heat, and an unsettling touch of the supernatural. Every character and every detail will matter when the inevitable twist comes crashing down. With Dead to Her, Pinborough plants her flag as the master of seductively sinister suspense. This absorbing tale will satisfy and even surprise fans of Jennifer McMahon and Gillian Flynn.
RaveBooklist... another hauntingly lyrical story that draws readers in with complicated characters and a foreboding setting ... Davidson’s style is restrained, with a slow burn that explodes at the novel’s midpoint, making room for the plot to breathe and unravel toward the satisfying conclusion. This horror novel can claim its rightful place alongside new Southern Gothics like Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017), Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone (2006), and Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind Than Home (2012).
PositiveBooklistTold with a \'found book\' frame and an intense first person narration, this folk horror novel...is as tightly twisted and menacing as the carvings [Mouse] finds in the woods. Readers will stand back in awe as it all unravels, slowly at first, and then with great and terrifying speed ... Kingfisher brings this brand of horror to a new generation, and the book will appeal to readers of Lovecraftian adaptations by Caitlin Keirnan, Matt Ruff, and Paul La Farge.
RaveBooklistHill returns to short stories where his terrifying genius most brightly shines ... Every piece is driven by anxiety and unease and features Hill’s trademark characters, who feel absolutely real. But it is also the sense of place that dazzles ... Hill lulls the reader into deep enjoyment, even as terror lies just around the corner. He rounds out this superb collection with insightful notes and a surprise fourteenth story hidden in About the Author ... This is a collection of single-serve, immersive horror for fans of collections by Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Samanta Schewbin, and Elllen Datlow’s anthologies.
RaveBooklistThomas’ second novel tops the reading experience of his breakout debut, Kill Creek ... Kris’ unreliable narration adds a layer of dread to this well-built world that dives deep into otherworldly monsters and real-life tragedies. Every detail matters in this character-centered, psychological suspense story of mothers, daughters, and the lies and secrets we harbor deep within. This is a title that fans of best sellers Sarah Pinborough and Jennifer McMahon will love. Violet also stands as proof that Thomas is a horror novelist who will be camping out on library shelves for years to come.
PositiveBooklistWith multiple points of view that probe the thoughts and nightmares of characters from all over town, this is an immersive read that walks the line between dark fantasy and horror. With its highly precocious young hero, the novel reads like a season of Stranger Things. Suggest it to readers who enjoyed Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s Hex (2016), Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock (2016), or anything by Amy Lukavics.
RaveBooklist... [a] stellar collection ... The diverse contents show a respect for the rich and long tradition of ghost storytelling that does not simply rehash old tales. Instead, these twenty-first-century ghost stories are as complicated and varied as our times. Tales that terrorize sit next to stories that creep; slow-burn atmospheric pieces can be found beside tales that are in-your-face from the very first sentence. This volume impressively presents today’s horror through its most visceral and universal trope, thought-provoking tales about death and beyond. Fans of ghost stories from throughout history will haunt your library looking for a copy, especially those who like their modern iterations found in novels like Slade House by David Mitchell (2015) and novellas like The Grownup (2015) by Gillian Flynn and Mapping the Interior (2017) by Stephen Graham Jones.
RaveBooklistIn this compelling, anxiety-inducing debut...Sealed refuses to be categorized: it is a pre-apocalyptic cautionary tale, an intense psychological thriller, a fable on motherhood, and pure body horror all wrapped in an unsettling package that will stay with readers long after they turn the final page. Fans of Margaret Atwood will enjoy this but librarians should also target readers who enjoyed The Grip of It (2017), by Jac Jemc; Annihilation (2014), by Jeff VanderMeer; and The Rust Maidens (2018), by Gwendolyn Kiste.
RaveBooklist... brilliantly takes ordinary situations and seamlessly sprinkles in a sense of unease that quickly builds to a sense of pure horror ... All are anchored by a variety of strong narrative voices that expertly guide the reader through extremely dark emotions, smoothing out the potentially bumpy ride into an enjoyable experience to terrifying depths. These are stories that live in the increasing popular space between literary fiction and horror, where speculative terrors and very real universal truths collide, much like the works of Stephen Graham Jones, John Langan, and Jac Jemc.
RaveBooklistThough the pacing is quick, and the action is cinematic, Golden provides a detailed setting and excellent character development. Where this novel shines is in the horror. The tension and fear are eerily realistic, while the supernatural monsters are unique and utterly terrifying. The many points of view portrayed ratchet up the dread in this smart, satisfying series that will appeal to fans of supernatural thrillers like Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series and historically framed horror like The Hunger, by Alma Katsu (2018).
RaveBooklist\"Malerman makes the horror of this impossible experiment appear completely plausible while thoughtfully contemplating grand issues like nature versus nurture, gender roles, and scientific ethics—all of that, plus he manages to create a satisfyingly oppressive atmosphere. And yet, for all of this serious intensity, Inspection feels effortless; the story flows easily and at a compelling pace: think Shirley Jackson writing Lord of the Flies (1954). Hand to fans of Margaret Atwood or Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005).\
G. Willow Wilson
RaveBooklistThis is a novel that thoughtfully contemplates the meaning of love, power, religion, and freedom. But even while exploring all of these heavy issues, this is a fun, immersive adventure that moves at a brisk pace through lush settings, across dangerous terrain, and eventually out to the open sea. This ultimately life-affirming tale of a young woman who rejects her dismal fate and creates her own family will appeal to readers of S. A. Chakraborty’s City of Brass, Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni, and Naomi Novik’s fairy tale-esque Uprooted.
PositiveBooklistCompelling ... Once again, Tanzer expertly weaves an authentic historical setting into a tense, engrossing supernatural frame with lush descriptions and a steadily building pace. The alternating points of view of the two female protagonists, unwilling to live within society’s confines, really stand out. Despite the supernatural, historical setting, readers will see themes and issues that reverberate eerily with our present.
Jeremy C Shipp
PositiveBooklistMagnifies the dread while also keeping the story moving at a compelling pace. Readers will obsessively turn the pages to see what is coming next, even as they are afraid to know. Filled with claustrophobic fear within a terrifying occult frame, this is a great choice for readers who like their horror with a side of intense psychological suspense, as in Peter Straub’s A Dark Matter, Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World, and Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People.
RaveBooklistPinborough is back, throwing down the domestic-suspense gauntlet with this tension-driven page-turner ... a satisfying counterpart to the \'girl\' thrillers, Cross Her Heart is unapologetically feminist, driven by the strong relationships between women, for better or worse. This will be an easy sell for fans of all domestic suspense, but you should especially target fans of Liane Moriarty and Megan Abbott.
Dacre Stoker & J. D. Barker
RaveBooklist\"In this officially sanctioned prequel to the classic, Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew, Dacre Stoker, and thriller writer Barker tell the story of Dracula from the point of view of its author ... Dracul is interesting because it sheds light on the original characters and author. Adding just the right touch of suspense increases the pace and ratchets up the tension, which appeals to the contemporary reader. While the book comes with a built–in audience—fans of the original—suggest it to those who like menacing, supernatural historical novels.
RaveBooklistHendrix...brings his quirky sense of humor to an energetic Faustian tale ... This is a fast-paced ride, firmly rooted in the pulp horror tradition, but with thought-provoking social criticism and a sense of fear that rises from the terrifying implication that we are all willing to sell our souls on the cheap. Hendrix’s darkest novel yet will leave readers begging for an encore.
RaveBooklist\"...another thought-provoking, page-turning horror novel ... Alternating between unreliable narrators, Tremblay captures the intense emotional struggle, especially in flashbacks into the lives of the odds-defying family of Wen, Andrew, and Eric, while dread and terror permeate every sentence. This is a novel with the heart and tone of The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, but
will also appeal to fans of Ruth Ware, Josh Malerman, and Joe Hill.\
RaveBooklistThese tales are terrifying and compelling, filled with intense anxiety throughout, but it is that final story, set entirely in the real world, that is the most menacing of the bunch. After getting two 700-plus-page novels in a row, fans will be thrilled to take in Hill’s malevolent mind through these masterfully crafted single-sitting reads reminiscent of the very best of the short works by giants of the form like King, Gaiman, and Miéville. Hill is not only maturing as a writer of relevantly chilling tales but he is also emerging as a distinct voice for our complicated times.
Carmen Maria Machado
RaveBooklist\"...[an] inventive, sensual, and eerie debut horror collection ... The writing is always lyrical, the narration refreshingly direct, and the sex abundant, and although the supernatural elements are not overt, every story is terrifying. These weird tales present a slightly askew version of the world as we know it and force us, no matter our gender, to reconsider our current life choices and relationships. Readers of authors as varied as Roxane Gay, Jeff VanderMeer, and Karen Russell will find much to enjoy here.\
PositiveBooklistDark Net can get gruesome, and the body count is high, but Percy keeps it suspenseful and compelling from the first page. The authentic Portland, Oregon, setting with a pivotal scene in Powell’s Bookstore is also a draw. Think twice before accessing this on an e-reader, unless you think can handle the extra layer of terror.