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Five Horror Novels You Won’t Be Able To Put Down

Horror Novels

Five Books To Keep You Up All Night

There are novels you like. There are novels you love. Then there are novels that you start reading when you get home from work or school and by the time you look up, you should have gone to bed two hours ago. Those are the novels that you know you’re going to read again. Perhaps multiple times. Perhaps once a year. For decades.

Not that I’ve been guilty of doing that with any particular novel.

Horror is chaos, and therefore, I defy your order! And by this, I do mean that my list is in no particular order. Here are five horror novels that you just can’t put down.

The Good House by Tananarive Due

Of the novels on this list, this is the one that I consider to be the best written. Due is a fantastic writer who weaves together social commentary, tragedy, and horror beautifully.

The novel follows Angela Toussaint as she unravels the secrets of her family’s past in order to make sense of a seemingly senseless tragedy. I enjoy this story for the character development, the slow and steady build of suspense, and for its portrayal of Haitian Vodou. If there’s anything horror does deserve some criticism for, it’s for its history of portraying Vodou itself in an entirely negative light. Vodou isn’t inherently good or inherently bad in The Good House. It just is, and it’s your decisions that impact the results.

This novel has gotten some criticism for the ending, a criticism with which I strongly disagree. It was not an unearned ending; it was an ending that Angela had to fight hard for. I thought it was very effective.

What is the ending Angela earned? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

N0S4A2 by Joe Hill

What’s there left to say about N0S4A2, a book so well-liked that it spawned a show? It’s a great read. I found Vic, for all of her flaws, to be extremely sympathetic. She’s been through hell, and has the scars to show for it. And Lou is the world’s most loveable nerd.

I love Christmasland. I love everything about Christmasland. It’s a combination of two of my favorite tropes. The first is the twisted Christmas trope, which you may know from Gremlins (1984), Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) and, for the little ones, A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). The second is the evil amusement park trope. The two combine very well, making for a very cool setting.

If you haven’t read N0S4A2 yet, I strongly recommend it. Once you start reading it, it’s scientifically impossible to put down.

Horror Novels

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer is another book I’ve discussed before. It’s a comedy-horror novel about a woman who is becoming concerned that her sister- well, you read the title. It was one of those rare occasions where I picked up the book because the title made me laugh. Luckily, this whim actually worked out well for me.

I love the narrator’s wit, Braithwaite’s storytelling style, and the slowly unfolding backstory. Whether-or-not Ayoola is a serial killer sort of depends on how literally we (and the judge) are taking the definition of the phrase, but she’s certainly a killer. She’s also… complicated. There’s a lot more going on with her than we initially realize.

The chapters are short, usually around three pages, making it a quick but addicting read. I really enjoyed My Sister, the Serial Killer, and I highly recommend it.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Yeah, you all know me, and you knew it was inevitable that I was going to include a Stephen King book. Pet Sematary was the first Stephen King book I picked up, the beginning of the monster that became the Stephen King section of my bookshelf. I actually got the book at a rummage sale at my synagogue growing up. My 8th grade English teacher was a huge horor fan who talked about King a lot, and I was itching for something new to read, so when I saw the name in the book pile, I grabbed it. Best nickel I ever spent.

Pet Sematary would be the aforementioned book that I’ve read every year for years. It’s my big pre-Halloween tradition. And yes, I do get really depressed about Gage every time.

Boiled down, Pet Sematary is really a story about the destruction of a family through a series of terrible tragedies. What I enjoy about the book is that, while King certainly makes the story scary, he also does not pull punches when it comes to how tragic the story is. That’s one of the things that makes me connect to him so much: you care about his characters. When bad things happen to them, you feel it.

It’s an obvious choice, especially for me, but god, do I love this book.

To say nothing, of course, of the kick-ass Ramones song.

Joplin’s Ghost by Tananarive Due

Is it cheating to start and end with the same author? I hope not, because I cannot stop praising Due’s writing!

Joplin’s Ghost is a really great combination of horror and historical fiction. Like with The Good House, Due weaves together past and present to create a complex but fascinating story. 

Phoenix Smalls is an up and coming musician who is being visited by the ghost of Scott Joplin, the King of Ragtime. What does he want from her? You’ll find out.

I love the combination of modern fiction with the real story of Joplin’s tragic life. As a music geek, I enjoy the discussion of the music industry, both past and present. Most importantly, however: I love Tananarive Due’s writing.

Joplin’s Ghost is another great book by Tananarive Due, and one that this list would be incomplete without.

Horror Novels

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