There’s a chill in the air… wait, no there isn’t. It’s the dog days of summer, but there’s more than one way to get a chilly thrill on the sweatiest of days! Instead of getting all hot and bothered reading summer romances or getting all sticky and sandy forcing yourself to read on the beach, cuddle up in the darkest corner of your abode and prepare to get freaked out. There’s a spooky book for every taste and occasion, and we’ve got the goods on what you should be reading to give yourself the nighttime shivers.
If you’re into scary, but like not really scary:
Fellside, M.R. Carey (Orbit, April 5, 2016)
From the author of the much-loved The Girl with All The Gifts, this novel follows a ghost story with a few unexpected twists along the way. Jess is found guilty of murdering a 10-year-old boy for setting a fire she doesn’t remember due to a heroin trip. Sound depressing? Well, things get a little more mind-bending when she is sentenced to life imprisonment in Fellside Prison, where she struggles to stay clean and make peace with the ghost of Alex, the boy she allegedly murdered. She’s haunted by his spirit, who has some unfinished business for her to complete. Equal parts ghost story and thoughtful melodrama, this novel is good for some horror elements without actually making you want to crawl under your bed.
If you like some dark humor with your body horror:
Blister, Jeff Strand (Sinister Grin Press, July 13, 2016)
Despite the pretty unsettling cover, this novel by Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Jeff Strand is surprisingly funny (in a messed up sort of way). It tells the story of an affluent cartoonist who ends up in his agent’s country cabin to avoid some bad press. But he accidentally stumbles upon the town’s well-kept secret: Blister, a young woman kept in a shed due to her horrible disfigurements (and no, she wasn’t born that way). What follows is a weird ride filled with charming romance, cringe-worthy body horror and twisted humor.
If you could go for something supernatural:
Outcast Volume 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him, Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta (Image Comics, 2015)
This spooky series of graphic novels comes from Robert Kirkman, the man behind The Walking Dead. It tells the story of Kyle, a young man who has been plagued by demonic possession for the entirety of his life. The people around him are continuously overcome by demonic entities -– but Kyle has the power to exorcise them with a single touch. The ongoing ordeal of having to exorcise demons from the people he loves the most forces Kyle into a life of solitude and discovery about why exactly these demons have followed him throughout his life. Featuring chillingly awesome artwork by Paul Azaceta, this graphic novel series will certainly freak you out a bit. Plus, it’s also been turned into a pretty cool television show!
If you like horror wrapped up in mystery:
End of Watch, Stephen King (Scribner, June 7, 2016)
How could a horror list be complete without a little sprinkling of Stephen King? While he’s the unabashed master of several different genres of horror (vampires, killer dogs, zombie children and prom to name only a few), his trilogy of books following the adventures of retired detective Bill Hodges are some of his best works to date. End of Watch is the final installment of the series, and a direct follow-up to the critically acclaimed Mr. Mercedes. The novel follows Hodges as he tries to uncover the secret behind a string of seemingly unrelated suicides -– that have the common thread of contact with Brady Hartsfield, the notorious villain of Mr. Mercedes. What follows is a thrilling cat-and-mouse with horrifying implications for Hodges and his sidekicks. This is a great read if you’re looking for equal parts thriller and actual horror. (I do recommend reading the rest of the trilogy if you can, though!)