With Halloween right around the corner, many of us are combing the stacks for our next big fright. No doubt, the horror genre earned a surge of interest after the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s It was a massive box office hit. Outside of mainstream horror writers like King, though, there are many gems waiting to be found. If you’re just returning to the genre, here are a few of my favorites from the last decade.
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Josh Malerman, a Michigan native, scored a huge hit in the horror community with Bird Box in 2014. The story follows Malorie, a single mother with two children, as she tries to survive against a force that has killed most of the world’s population. Here’s the big problem: no one who has seen this thing—whether it’s a monster, or ominous being—has survived. Malerman’s breakout novel is one of the first books in a long time to genuinely creep me out, and he does this through pure sensory deprivation. Because many characters have to remain blindfolded at all times, Malerman uses the sounds, smells, and feelings of the characters to terrify his blind audience. This is recommended if you’re in the mood for something both terrifying and totally different.
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Maybe you’ve read about Detroit’s emerging arts community, but it was never as twisted as writer Lauren Beukes’ version in Broken Monsters. In the Beukes’ follow-up to The Shining Girls, readers follow Detroit detective Gabriella Versado as she tracks a killer who fuses people with animals for grotesque art displays. This book is as much mystery as it is horror, which makes Broken Monsters’ 464 pages fly by.
Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Anyone who’s read or watched the film adaptations of Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In knows he’s more than capable of finding an original spin on overdone horror themes. He tackled vampires in the former title, but Lindqvist took on teenage bullying (and revenge) in his follow-up novel, Little Star. The book very much echoes Stephen King’s Carrie, only Lindqvist’s lead character is a star in an American Idol-esque singing competition and her torment comes from a digital audience. The girl’s unraveling is as disturbing as it is sad, which makes the book’s final pages doubly devastating.