I scoured all of my reviews since starting the blog, and chose some of my fave creepiest reads to recommend. Happy Halloween!
Synopsis-With nothing but the clothes on his back — and something horrific snapping at his heels — Jack Winter fled his rural Georgia home when he was just a boy. Watching the world he knew vanish in a trucker’s rearview mirror, he thought he was leaving an unspeakable nightmare behind forever.
Now, years later, the bright new future he’s built suddenly turns pitch black, as something fiendishly familiar looms dead ahead.
Surviving a violent car crash seems like a miracle for Jack’s family, but Jack knows there’s nothing divine about it. The profound evil he uncovered as a boy has finally found him again. The thing that crouched at his bedside with soulless eyes and grinning, razor-sharp teeth is back with plans for Jack and his angelic youngest daughter, and a chilling promise: I’ve always been here, and I’ll never leave.
*Ania Ahlborn is a talented lady, folks, and she’s got a very, very dark imagination. This is one horror fans won’t want to miss!
Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.
*This is easily one of my favorite books…ever. It’s not only scary as hell, but it’s strangely uplifting. The next installment can’t come soon enough for me.
Outpost by Adam Baker
Synopsis-They took the job to escape the world They didn’t expect the world to end. Kasker Rampart: a derelict refinery platform moored in the Arctic Ocean. A skeleton crew of fifteen fight boredom and despair as they wait for a relief ship to take them home. But the world beyond their frozen wasteland has gone to hell. Cities lie ravaged by a global pandemic. One by one TV channels die, replaced by silent wavebands. The Rampart crew are marooned. They must survive the long Arctic winter, then make their way home alone. They battle starvation and hypothermia, unaware that the deadly contagion that has devastated the world is heading their way…
*Scary, brutal post apocalyptic awesomeness. And cold, so very, very cold… Did you enjoy The Thing? Then you’ll love this!
The Infects by Sean Beaudoin
Synopsis-A feast for the brain, this gory and genuinely hilarious take on zombie culture simultaneously skewers, pays tribute to, and elevates the horror genre. Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back. Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read — whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten — and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.
*Rollicking zombie fun, with lots of chills.
The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own.”
Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.
Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.
At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He’s the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.
Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . .
*Twisty, turny, scary, genre-defying, and awesome. If yo haven’t discovered the wonder that is Lauren Beukes, it’s time to get on that.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.
*Kendare Blake makes it all kinds of easy to love this ghost story with plenty of edge (and heart).
Blood Groove by Alex Bledsoe
Synopsis-When centuries-old vampire Baron Rudolfo Zginski was staked in Wales in 1915, the last thing he expected was to reawaken in Memphis, Tennessee, sixty years later. Reborn into a new world of simmering racial tensions, the cunning nosferatu realizes he must adapt quickly if he is to survive.
Finding willing victims is easy, as Zginski possesses all the powers of the undead, including the ability to sexually enslave anyone he chooses. Hoping to learn how his kind copes with this bizarre new era, Zginski tracks down a nest of teenage vampires. But these young vampires have little knowledge of their true nature, having learned most of what they know from movies like Blacula.
Forming an uneasy alliance with the young vampires, Zginski begins to teach them the truth about their powers. They must learn quickly, for there’s a new drug on the street—a drug created to specifically target and destroy vampires. As Zginski and his allies track the drug to its source, they may unwittingly be stepping into a fifty-year-old trap that can destroy them all . . .
*This is an unputdownable vampire tale, with a vampy dude that you’ll love to hate. Alex Bledsoe rocks this horror tale to a gritty 70s beat, and you’ll laugh in spite of yourself.
Vacation by Matthew Costello
Synopsis-In the near future after a global crisis causes crops to fail and species to disappear . . . something even more deadly happens. Groups of humans around the world suddenly become predators, feeding off their own kind. These “Can Heads” grow to such a threat that fences, gated compounds, and SWAT-style police protection become absolutely necessary in order to live.
After one Can Head attack leaves NYPD cop Jack Murphy wounded, Jack takes his wife and kids on a much-needed vacation. Far up north, to a camp where families can still swim and take boats out on a lake, and pretend that the world isn’t going to hell.
But the Can Heads are never far away, and nothing is quite what it seems in Paterville. . . .
*More zombie fun from a very, very talented author. This one knocked my socks off and scared the crap out of me (yes, both of those things!!) Expect to want to snap up the sequel, Home, as soon as you finish this one.
Feed by Mira Grant
Synopsis-The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.
Now, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.
*Excellent zombie tale with a twist by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire). Does this lady ever have a mistep? Why, no, I don’t think she does. Love this series.
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Synopsis-Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.
Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”
Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.
*Horror just doesn’t get much better than this. That is all.
The worldwide aftershock of what becomes known as “Gray Wednesday” is immediate and catastrophic, leaving governments barely functioning and economies devastated. Hollow-eyed apparitions appear, haunting their loved ones and others. But some things never change. When Detective Mariani discovers the grisly remains of an anonymous murder victim in the city sewage system, his investigation will pit him against a corrupt police department and a murky cabal conspiring for power in the new world order. Then there is the matter of the dead boy who haunts his every moment. . . .
*This has one of the scariest scenes in a book that I’ve ever read, and it’s just plain amazing. So go read it. Shoo!! Go!
Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs
Synopsis-Recent World War II veteran Bull Ingram is working as muscle when a Memphis DJ hires him to find Ramblin’ John Hastur. The mysterious blues man’s dark, driving music—broadcast at ever-shifting frequencies by a phantom radio station—is said to make living men insane and dead men rise. Disturbed and enraged by the bootleg recording the DJ plays for him, Ingram follows Hastur’s trail into the strange, uncivilized backwoods of Arkansas, where he hears rumors the musician has sold his soul to the Devil. But as Ingram closes in on Hastur and those who have crossed his path, he’ll learn there are forces much more malevolent than the Devil and reckonings more painful than Hell…
In a masterful debut of Lovecraftian horror and Southern gothic menace, John Hornor Jacobs reveals the fragility of free will, the dangerous power of sacrifice, and the insidious strength of blood.
*John Hornor Jacobs is a wonderful author, and this one was horrifying and tragic (and I loved it.) For extra credit, try This Dark Earth for some great zombie madness.
Breed by Chase Novak
Synopsis-Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives-fabulous jobs, a luxurious town house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a passionate marriage. What they don’t have is a child, and as they try one infertility treatment after the next, yearning turns into obsession. As a last-ditch attempt to make their dream of parenthood come true, Alex and Leslie travel deep into Slovenia, where they submit to a painful and terrifying procedure that finally gives them what they so fervently desire . . . but with awful consequences.
Ten years later, cosseted and adored but living in a house of secrets, the twins Adam and Alice find themselves locked into their rooms every night, with sounds coming from their parents’ bedroom getting progressively louder, more violent, and more disturbing.
Driven to a desperate search for answers, Adam and Alice set out on a quest to learn the true nature of the man and woman who raised them. Their discovery will upend everything they thought they knew about their parents and will reveal a threat so horrible that it must be escaped, at any cost.
*This is horror from a flat-out pro. It’s visceral stuff, and I couldn’t put it down.
Cannibal Reigh by Thomas Koloniar
Synopsis-A new star bursts onto the post-apocalyptic fiction scene: Thomas Koloniar. An epic dark saga set in a dystopian near-future, Cannibal Reign follows the fortunes of a small band of survivors, as they make their way across a nightmare landscape populated by bestial, flesh-eating savages after an asteroid strike destroys America. A dark, smart, action-packed vision of a terrifying possible tomorrow—when the only law left is “eat or be eaten”—Koloniar’s Cannibal Reign is an absolute must-read for fans of TV’s zombie smash hit The Walking Dead, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Lucifer’s Hammer, the Mad Max movies, and, of course, Stephen King’s immortal horror masterwork The Stand.
*Go out and buy this superior debut (and not just because I want a sequel rather badly, but because it’s just plain good.)
Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Synopsis-Awakening in a bleak landscape, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls enduring something terrible. Having no idea how many days—or weeks—have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: her daughter, Ruthie, has vanished. And with her, nearly all of civilization. Instead of winding through the once-lush hills, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.
In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider—much less one who bears the telltale scars of a Beater attack—but she finds safety with an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. And she’ll need him more than ever when his ragged band of survivors learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, weapons in a brave new world….
*Yes, I know, more zombies, but gawd, this series is so damn good!
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
Synopsis-When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there’s either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills… and there’s nothing wrong with Joe Ledger’s skills. And that’s both a good, and a bad thing. It’s good because he’s a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can’t handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences or the DMS for short. It’s bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance….
*If you haven’t introduced yourself to Joe Ledger yet, what are you waiting for??
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Synopsis-On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.
For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.
Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.
The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.
*So very good, so very creepy. A near flawless debut.
The Man from Primrose Lane by James Renner
Synopsis-In West Akron, Ohio, there lived a reclusive elderly man who always wore mittens, even in July. He had no friends and no family; all over town, he was known as the Man from Primrose Lane. And on a summer day, someone murdered him.
Fast-forward four years. David Neff, the bestselling author of a true-crime book about an Ohio serial killer, is a broken man after his wife’s inexplicable suicide. When an unexpected visit from an old friend introduces him to the strange mystery of “the man with a thousand mittens,” David decides to investigate. What he finds draws him back into a world he thought he had left behind forever. And the closer David gets to uncovering the true identity of the Man from Primrose Lane, the more he begins to understand the dangerous power of his own obsessions and how they may be connected to the deaths of both the old hermit and his beloved wife.
*This one is a particular delight. It’s scary, thoughtful, rather unusual, and one my favorites.