Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King
I was twelve years old when Carrie came out…and I read it with glee, following up with The Shining, The Stand, The Dead Zone, etc. Somehow, I completely jumped over his second novel, but I have just now remedied that. The book imagines, as King says, what might have happened if Dracula had come to a small town in 1970s Maine instead of Victorian London.
Stolen Tongues, by Felix Blackwell
This one came out of a short story in Reddit’s No Sleep forum, and, indeed, the first few chapters made me a little uncomfortable in the darkness of my home at night.
The Rust Maidens, by Gwendolyn Kiste
This is a novel about the horrors of urban blight and decay. It’s an existential kind of terror, in which certain young girls begin to, well, rust…
Kin, by Kealan Patrick Burke
This one reads a bit like vintage Jack Ketchum, except that it was written by an Irish novelist. Butchery, cannibalism, incest. It’s just like Black Friday at the mall.
Penpal, Dathan Auerbach
I never fully understood this tale of obsession, but it definitely has its moments and some of it is quite lyrical.
They Feed, by Jason Parent
This story, The Troop, and The Outsider have a lot in common. If you’re freaked out about things that come out of lakes, this one will scare you.
Tik, Sean E. Britten
If there’s one thing Mr. Britten knows, it’s action. If I were to add a second, it would be gore. This story features Filipino vampires in central Mexico. I know, I know, but it all makes terrific – and terrifying – sense.
Red Creek, Nathan Hystad
A nice tale with some beautiful prose. I enjoyed it, but wish it had found greater emotional impact by the end. I notice he's got a sequel out now, so if you like scary series, this might be your ticket.
The Troop, Nick Cutter
The most frightening thing about this one is that it’s plausible if not inevitable. At times, you’ll be reminded of Stephen King.
Kill Creek, Scott Thomas
Off the haunted house stories on this list, Kill Creek is at once the most innovative and traditional, in the sense that it takes the classic set-up in new directions, but also pays homage to all the necessary tropes. If there’s something you expect to find in such a tale, Mr. Thomas has included it. It’s the story of three horror novelists who spend Halloween night in an infamous haunted house. Big mistake. I read somewhere that it’s being developed into a major motion picture.
Straight Outta Fangton, Charles Phipps
This horror-parody – if it’s fair to call it that – is part of a larger world Mr. Phipps has created, and features vampires and all sorts of were-creatures. If you enjoy snarky dialogue and pop culture references both cheesy and hip, you’ll love this novel.
Gilchrist, by Christian Galacar
This story’s about a haunted town. What it’s haunted by is what makes this one a bit unique.
The Chalk Man, C.J. Tudor
I couldn’t say why, but of all the books on this list, this one stayed with me the longest. I liked it a great deal, and I never saw the ending coming.
The Outsider, Stephen King
A young boy is murdered and mutilated, and concrete evidence points to the most beloved man in town…who wasn’t actually IN town when the crime was committed. Yep, there’s some weird shit going down.
The Cabin at the End of the World, Paul Tremblay
A small group of religious zealots show up at someone’s vacation cabin, making a series of terrifying demands. Very cinematic – and harrowing. I’ll be surprised if someone doesn’t pick up the screenplay option on this. Blumhouse, are you listening?
The Fourth Monkey, J.D. Barker
An ingenious serial-killer who could perhaps give Hannibal Lecter a run for his money.
Canni, by Daniel O’Connor
This apocalyptic tale has elements of Cronenberg’s Rabid, Cronin’s The Passage, and a host of other “My friend suddenly wants to eat my face off” stories.