Summer is here, it's hot out, so go discover a new horror novelist.
One of the biggest modern authors (and one of the nicest guys I've met at horror writer conventions) Paul Tremblay exploded onto the horror scene with his incredible "A Head Full of Ghosts," the story of a possessed girl whose exorcism becomes the subject of a reality television spectacle. He followed up with "The Cabin at the End of the World," a story of a gay family and their adopted child who are beset upon by a cult convinced the world is about to end. His current collection of short stories "Growing Things" won the Bram Stoker award for best anthology. Definitely check out his stuff.
Stephen Graham Jones
Writer and editor Stephen Graham Jones has been a mainstay in the horror community for his incredible, poetic fiction. A member of the Blackfeet Native American tribe, his werewolf tale "Mongrels" chronicles the nomadic life of a family trying their best to survive in a world they can't fit into. His writing is lyrical, funny, and has a hardboiled edge to it. A particular favorite of mine is "The Last Final Girl," a tale of slasher movie monsters and the women who survive them. Everything he does is gold.
Do tales of 1980s teenage girls possessed by the devil sound interesting to you? What about IKEA employees dealing with a ghost? Or a book club in the south that doubles as a vampire hunting team? Or fantastic non-fiction studies of the lurid covers of the 1980s horror novel paperback boom? Then Grady Hendrix is the writer for you. His books are both funny and scary, with memorable characters and energetic writing. He's especially good at depicting the nuances of southern culture, and his books are alway a treat.
Caitlin R. Kiernan
The middle ground between madness and the mystic is the place where Caitlin R. Kiernan's work lives. She rose to prominence in the late 90s after her work was recommended by superstar fantasist Neil Gaiman, and her early novel about homeless queer goth kids "Silk" was one of the most brave and innovative genre novels of the era. Since then, her stories have danced the line between horror and dark fantasy, with tormented protagonists and unfeeling gods. Her stuff is challenging, but always rewarding.
When people talk about Lovecraft as a genre, they're usually thinking of the broader aspects of his stories. Tentacles, gods with complicated names, people going loony-toon crazy, and old dusty books that can drive readers mad are all such common tropes that they're essentially ripe for parody. But the horror of Lovecraft's work came from his relentless nihilism and dread, and few writers capture that same level of existential hopelessness like Thomas Ligotti. The reclusive writer/philosopher has released work that questions the fundamental meaning of human existence and brings a deep and profound dread to the genre.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia's work draws from Mexican literary traditions of magical realism to her critically acclaimed novels about narco vampires, Mayan gods, and other wonderful novels. She's been working in the genre for a long time as an editor and columnist for various horror and weird fiction publications, but her work has gotten more and more attention from the mainstream. Her work is imaginative and unique, yet deeply rooted in genre fiction.
Academic and novelist Tananarive Due is best known for her horror/dark fantasy novels like African Immortals Series and the novels of Tennyson Hardwick. She's also known for her work as a film historian whose class "The Sunken Place: Racism, Survival And The Black Horror Aesthetic" has become a famous course at UCLA. She was also the executive producer on Shudder's documentary "Horror Noire." She's an invaluable voice in representation in horror and her writing is sharp, fun, and engaging!.
There are a lot of "horror" comics out there, but many of them are basically superhero stories with vampires instead of capes. But comic books have a rich history of horror tales and there are few artists as skilled as Emily Carroll. Her work first found an audience on the Internet and her "Through the Woods" is a fairy tale nightmare. Her work is mysterious and mythical, with an eerie alien horror on each page.
A fiercely American writer with verve and energy to spare, Christopher Buehlman takes classic monsters like monsters and black magicians and supercharges them with distinctive characters and high octane storytelling. His book "The Suicide Motor Club" is one of my favorite vampire novels of the last ten years and "The Necromancer's House" is a lethal puzzle box of storytelling. Every one of his books is a gem and you should check them out.
J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Perhaps one of the most important and influential early vampire stories, "Carmilla" is a homoerotic tale of a female vampire and the woman that she beguiles. He's a bridge between the classical gothic and early weird fiction. "Green Tea" is a particularly good example of this because it's about a vicar that sees spectral images, including a terrifying primate, that may or may not be there.
Charles Brockden Brown
The American cousin of the classic gothic novelists, Brockden Brown rose to fame by making the tropes and stylings of gothic fiction but moving them into the new world. Gone are the crumbling European castles of antiquity and in its place are the American wilds and manor houses. Brockden Brown's tales feature dark psychic powers and sinister omens. Notable works include "Edgar Huntley," where a young man discovers dark secrets while investigating his friend's murder.
Victor LaValle is on everyone's top-ten lists for a reason. A writer who brings both social awareness and scares to his work, LaVelle made his name by bringing an African American perspective to Lovecraft's legacy. Lovecraft's work is foundational text in the horror genre, but his work is shot through with virulent racism that has been contentious with his fans. LaValle has recreated some of Lovecraft's most famous stories from the perspective of characters that Lovecraft would have hated. It's incredible work and mandatory for horror fans.
Many horror stories feature characters who are already haunted, broken, or damaged by the world before they encounter anything supernatural. The film historian in the cosmic horror novel "Experimental Film" is already an outsider, struggling to fit in even before she encounters a strange moment of film hidden in the collage of work submitted by a pretentious young film director. As she looks for the origin of the film, she discovers that the original creator was the first female filmmaker, who disappeared after capturing a supernatural being. It's one of the most eerie novels I've ever read, and fans of detective stories and obsessed characters will find it very rewarding.
I always like to say that Natsuo Kirino was my favorite author before I got medicated. Her work, which straddles the line between horror, crime, and gothic tragedy, is some of the most beautifully grim prose I've ever read. Acts of violence unleash themes of isolation, rage, and madness on her doomed protagonist. In Kirino's work, damnation doesn't need to come from outside forces. Instead, they come from the shadows of our own souls.