4 Horror Novels by Modern Authors You Should Read
Even non-horror fans are aware of the classics but here’s a fresher look at the genre
Everyone recommends the classics: Dracula, The Haunting of Hill House, The Exorcist, The Shining, Ghost Story, Frankenstein, anything by Poe, etc.
And I agree, these are good books in their own right and some defined the genre but they may not work for all modern audiences. Some of these were written hundreds of years ago and yes, they still hold up today but aren’t exactly easy to read.
A few months ago I read Misery by Stephen King. It’s only the 2nd book of his I’ve read (yes, a horror fan who isn’t obsessed with King, we do exist) and while I did enjoy it, there were references I didn’t understand. This was due to the fact that the book was published the year I was born. I simply wasn’t old enough to get the cultural references, Google helped though.
I had a similar issue with Hell House by Richard Matheson. Written in 1971, it’s definitely a product of its time. It may have been groundbreaking when it came out but it’s been done to death since then. If I hadn’t been exposed to hundreds of haunted house stories in the past 30 years, it might have had more of an impact.
This is why I don’t always recommend people dive straight into the classics to get a taste of a genre. Sifting through archaic jargon and re-reading sentences and still not understanding, isn’t fun for most readers.
The books I’m offering up here were written in the last 5 years and are fairly easy or quick reads. Do I compare these novels to the classics as equals? No. The classics are timeless for a reason, but these are examples of modern horror. Written by authors who’ve probably studied the greats and are putting their own twist on the genre. And I am here for it.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell, published 2017
This is a slow burn, gothic horror novel. The story takes place in the 1800s, in a creepy house, with a tragic protagonist, and a mysterious noise at night. It’s a basic gothic horror story, which is why I recommend it. The prose is good, the story easy to follow, it’s not too long, and keeps the reader invested.
This book sparked my interest in gothic horror, a subgenre I’ve pretty much ignored and now look forward to exploring. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is on my TBR list.
Camp Slaughter by Sergio Gomez, published 2019
If you haven’t guessed by the title, this is a slasher novel. There is violence and gore, so it won’t be to everyone's taste. But if blood and guts don’t bother you then I definitely recommended you check it out. Its got an isolated location, a brutal murderer on the loose, an investigative duo, and fun-seeking teenagers about to get way more than they bargained for.
The characters can be classified as trope-ish, but they aren’t complete throwaways. You as the reader, want them to succeed. They have just enough layers to keep you invested in their safety without the story getting pretentious. We all know what we're here for.
What I liked was the book knew exactly what it was. It’s a slasher novel. You get the gore, characters you can root for to live and die, and an interesting antagonist. A book you can kick back and enjoy in an evening.
Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, published 2020
This is another gory one, don’t judge me. We follow Marcos, a manager at a slaughtering facility, for meat. Human meat. That’s right, some weird virus made animal meat deadly to humans so they get their protein from other people.
I’ll admit the premise is both interesting and completely unrealistic. But suspend your belief and get to thinking, what if? Because this one wants to get philosophical with you. It deals with morality, family dynamics, abuse, social conformities, internal strife, and some messed-up eating habits. As a reader, you’ll get into the mind of the protagonist and follow him as he tries to exist in a warped society of systematic cannibalism.
Shelter for the Damned by Mike Thorn, published 2021
This book is the only one on the list I didn’t personally enjoy but, I can see why others did. I also don't regret reading it. My expectations were different than what was delivered, but that doesn’t make it a bad story.
Told from the perspective of a troubled teenage boy, this book explores not only supernatural terrors but modern suburban horrors as well. These are worse because they are real.
It’s a coming-of-age story layered with domestic abuse, child neglect, bullying, childhood friendships, and mental illness. There’s also a mysterious shack, and that’s all I’ll say about it to avoid spoilers. All these themes are woven into a story that makes you realizes how common these horrors are. And how willingly we internalize these issues as normal everyday life for teenagers.
I think parents should read this or anyone responsible for the well-being of a child. The story gets you into the irrational mind of a teenager, a time most adults don’t remember well enough.
If I had read this book as a teenager, I think I would have appreciated it more. Not because it’s geared toward YA, because it’s not, but because of the insight into a young mind. Teenager's minds are still growing and what we adults consider common sense or normal, can be confusing and terrifying to a kid.
Will these books stand the test of time? Who knows, maybe, maybe not but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them now. As a big fan of the horror genre, I get tired of seeing the same recommendations most of which have movie or tv show counterparts. Instead, read something new, by authors who aren’t as well known.
There is nothing wrong with the classics, we owe them a lot but give modern authors a chance. You might end up reading the next classic.
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