Eight Recent Books That Are Pretty Damn Creepy
While most lists of Scariest Books Ever are perfect for beginning horror readers, those of us who cut our teeth on Stephen King, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, William Peter Blatty, Bram Stoker, etc., need books with bite. We even released just such a generic one recently titled ‘8 of the Scariest Horror Books Ever Written‘.
So for those of us who need something a little fresher, I’ve compiled a list of more recent books (none published more than 5 or 6 years ago) that will satisfy even jaded horror fans. There is plenty of variety here, so there should be something for everyone.
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FantasticLand is a popular theme park in Florida where “Fun is Guaranteed!” When a devastating hurricane hits the park, the college-aged employees who had to stay behind to watch the park are now stranded and must fend for themselves.
With no cell phone access and scarce quantities of food and medicine, the workers break into groups and fight for dominance, sometimes to the death.
FantasticLand is not a scary story exactly; however, it is filled with suspense, action, and jaw-dropping moments to keep you on the edge of your seat. The story is told through findings in a fact-finding investigation as well as interviews with surviving victims.
If you like Lord of the Flies, this updated take on it will have you riveted.
We Need to do Something
Max Booth III
Melissa and her family take shelter in their bathroom during a tornado. Once the storm has passed, they discover they are trapped by a tree branch blocking the door. They are sure rescue is imminent, but as hours and days pass, they begin to break down, terrified and hungry. Melissa is worried that she and her friend Amy caused the end of the world due to horrifying events happening to her and her family in the bathroom.
This was such a great concept—trap a dysfunctional family in a small room with no food and dwindling hopes of rescue, then throw in some terrifying incidents, leading the teenage daughter to blame it all on herself and her girlfriend because they performed an occult ritual. There are very creepy moments throughout the story, and some horrific unexpected scenes.
We Need to Do Something is a claustrophobic nightmare that draws you into the chaos.
Scream Ride: An Extreme Horror Novel
Carl Campbell is a comic book writer whose most popular character, Luger, is going to be the main attraction in a new ride debuting Halloween night at an Australian amusement park. Adventure Point Theme Park’s Mutilation Street: The Ride is the culmination of years of writing and illustrating the slasher Luger, and Carl Campbell is excited about it. He moves his family to Australia to oversee the development of the ride and make sure its true to the character. Shortly after, however, park workers report seeing and hearing creepy things, and grisly murders surround the construction.
This book is a lot of fun, but be forewarned—it is definitely extreme, so if blood, gore, and viscera bother you, maybe read something else. Some extreme books are mostly just gory with no real story; however, Scream Ride is a great story with some real WTF moments. There are creepy scenes, but the story runs wild on bloody action.
Available on Amazon.
Clowns vs Spiders
Jaunty the Clown is a happy clown who just wants to entertain. He isn’t scary or creepy. But he and his friends are fired from the circus because people don’t like clowns anymore. They end up taking jobs at a haunted house attraction, where they have to be creepy, but Jaunty is no longer happy. Then giant killer spiders invade the town and now the clowns get to prove they aren’t the scary ones any longer.
I don’t like clowns or spiders, yet I bought this book because I knew it would have a great creep factor. But I also knew it would be funny, because that is Jeff Strand’s way. He can make you laugh and cringe in horror at the same time. Combining absurdity with terror is hard to get right, but Clowns vs Spiders is a perfect example of how it’s done.
Leave the World Behind
If you like your horror more existential, this is the book for you. A family of four—parents, son and daughter—rent a house near the beach for a week’s vacation. Everything is fine and normal until the couple who owns the house shows up in the middle of the night with a story about a massive blackout in Manhattan. The renters are reluctant at first to let them in since they have no idea if this couple really does own the house, or if there is something sinister going on, but they realize they have no choice. Soon there is a similar blackout at the beach, and now the kids pay attention because their phones are suddenly useless. The adults try to keep it together and work at doing normal things like cooking and laundry. But there is no way to find out what is happening around them and that eventually wears on all of them.
This was published during the Lockdown Year, and accurately reflects the fears and emotions many of us felt during that time. What is really happening? Are we going to survive this? Will anything ever be normal again? If you suffer from anxiety and existential crises every damn day, you will relate to this story and constant dread throughout.
Amanda is happily married and a successful architect. But odd things begin to happen—tapping on their walls at night, escalating fights between her and her husband, familiar dogs now snapping at her. She even burns her husband with a cigarette after she inexplicably begins smoking again. She dreams of a woman standing near blood-red water. There is a voice in her head she can’t ignore, telling her to do and say things she never would normally. Amanda is terrified she is either becoming possessed, or maybe she is actually insane.
Come Closer is one of the creepiest books I’ve read in quite a while. The story is told in the first-person, so you can feel her terror and helplessness at what is happening to her, whether it is demonic possession or losing her mind. Neither is a good option. While not as in-your-face as William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, the subtlety of Come Closer is what makes it scary.
*Although published in 2003 according to Amazon.com, I wasn’t aware of this book until last year. The customer reviews are mostly dated in the past two or three years.
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke
What have you done today to deserve your eyes?
The above is the tagline to this novella, and hints to what is coming. Two women connect in a chatroom, and from there their innocent messages and letters to each other escalate into a Svengali/Trilby relationship with horrific consequences.
This story is told through the letters and chatroom posts between the women. This story has dread woven through it, growing with every horrible task performed. Be aware that there are several distressing scenes of body horror that can make even a hardcore splatterpunk fan wince.
*This novella is out of print; only the audiobook is available to buy or rent. However, Eric LaRocca has a collection coming out September 6th called Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes that includes this story.
Man, F*ck this House
A family of four moves into their dream home, but soon realize if it’s too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true. Sabrina, the wife, begins to hear weird noises and has a terrifying incident in the basement. She thinks she is going crazy, so her husband tells her to see someone. But something more is going on, especially with her son.
I admit that I read this because of the title. But how could you not? It’s one of the funniest book titles ever. And the story itself, although creepy and weird, has a lot of humor throughout. There are several times when I said “Oh, come ON!” out loud because what was happening was so over-the-top. The story worked, though, no matter how far out there it got.
Thomas Olde Heuvelt
The town of Black Spring is haunted by a 17th-century witch with eyelids and mouth sewn shut who can appear anywhere. The people of the town have learned that if you leave her alone, she will leave you alone. Kids are raised with this rule and expected to follow it. But teenagers don’t usually follow the rules.
This is probably the longest book on the list, but it is so worth the read. Hex legitimately scared me at times because the thought of a witch just appearing in the post office, the grocery store, your house, is absolutely terrifying. She could be standing over your bed when you wake up. And once you realize that some of the town kids have decided to screw with her, the story gets even more terrifying.
Hex is the scariest book on the list I have read. The images my mind conjured up while read are still in my head and like to show up when I’m alone in the house or trying to get to sleep. If scary witches are your thing, you will love this book.
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