I’m always excited for October. Perfect sweater weather, lots of candy everywhere, and plenty of spooky chills to enjoy while sitting cozy at home. Let’s celebrate the best month of the year by looking at some of 2020’s best horror fiction.
Haunted Titanic stories are a strange subgenre within horror. Alma Katsu’s The Deep is a welcome addition to this oddity with her tale of a Titanic survivor named Annie, who sets sail once again on a hospital ship during WWI and comes across a young soldier who she’s positive died on that fateful night.
Grady Hendrix wrote one of my favorite nonfiction books in 2017 with Paperbacks from Hell, a fascinating exploration of the 70s and 80s horror fiction. Thankfully he’s also good at contributing to the canon, and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires stands as 2020’s funniest novel about a book club squaring off against vampires in the Deep South.
Lots of people have a fantasy about secretly being from a rich, important family, but Bert gets to live it—in a terrifying way—in Danielle Trussoni’s The Ancestor. Bert receives a letter in the mail telling her that she’s inherited a massive fortune and an aristocratic title in Italy. Is her ancestral home a hotspot for horrifying secrets? Thankfully for us, yes!
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of my favorite novels of all time, so I was completely ready for Dracula’s Child by J.S. Barnes. Here we see Jonathan and Mina Harker attempting to raise their son Quincy after surviving the horrors of the original novel, only to—of course—be drawn into a new evil.
Max Brooks hit big when he wrote World War Z, and he’s back at it again with Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre. Beyond the fact that this is a fantastic title, Brooks is bringing us into the heart of Bigfoot country, where the fabled monster is not just a blurry image in an old photo.
Gothic fiction is a weakness of mine. It’s so melodramatic and filled with beautiful heroines in dark mansions being menaced by mysterious men. Silvia Moreno-Garcia shows that she’s a fan as well with Mexican Gothic, featuring a glamorous young socialite named Noemí who travels to 1950s Mexico at her newlywed cousin’s behest. Obviously, her cousin’s new home is filled with dark, handsome men and their dark, terrible secrets.
It doesn’t seem completely fair that Guillermo del Toro is such a great director and a talented horror writer, but, thankfully, life isn’t always fair. The Hollow Ones is the award-winning director’s newest novel with his Strain Trilogy co-writer Chuck Hogan. Here a rookie FBI agent is drawn into a secret world of unspeakable evil when her experienced partner turns on her, bringing the young woman into a conflict that’s been centuries in the making.
Jeremy Robert Johnson’s The Loop is being described as World War Z meets Stranger Things, so clearly, I added it to my list, but thankfully the plot sounds killer as well. Turner Falls has a problem with its young people. No, they’re not leaving after graduation and never coming back. Instead, these kids are going homicidal. Is the shady biotech company that keeps the town financially afloat to blame? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Since November is the third-best month of the year (following October and December, of course), we’ll celebrate by going over another favorite genre of mine—mysteries. Next month, we’ll go over the best whodunits 2020 has to offer.