When I was 13 I was super into horror books and thrillers. But as I got older anxiety kicked in and suddenly those books were much more horrifying than before. I didn’t need the creeping existential dread of gothic horror when generalized anxiety already got me there. However, I’ve recently got back into horror. It seems like horror has been having a bit of a resurgence and with that resurgence I’ve been seeing more book from diverse voices. Stephen King who?
I haven’t read many of the book below, but any I haven’t are on my TBR!
Without further ado here are 15 queer horror novels to get you into the halloween spirit.
1. Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling
Yellow Jessamine is a horror novella with a sapphic MC. Evelyn Perdanu is a powerful shipping magnate who closets herself away behind a facade of grief. Her city, Delphinium is dying.
When one of her ships arrives in dock, she counts herself lucky that it made it through the military blockades slowly strangling her city. But one by one, the crew fall ill with a mysterious sickness: an intense light in their eyes and obsessive behavior, followed by a catatonic stupor. Even as Evelyn works to exonerate her company of bringing plague into her besieged capital city, more and more cases develop, and the afflicted all share one singular obsession: her.
2. Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite
Queer vampires. Do I need to say anything more?
At a night club in North Carolina, vampires gather, dressed in black, and looking for acceptance. The book follows Ghost, Nothing and Ann. Nothing and Ann end up on an illicit road trip to New Orleans with hip vagabond vampires on the lookout for blood.
Over miles of dark highway, Ghost pursues, his powers guiding him on a journey to reach his destiny, to save Ann from her new companions, to save Nothing from himself…
3. The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
The Luminous Dead follows Gyre, a caver who lies about her credentials to secure her place on an exclusive expedition with a big payout. But, the expedition is not what she expected and neither is her handler, Em. Em is hellbent on the success of the mission, regardless of Gyre’s wellbeing. She knows all about Gyre’s lies and isn’t afraid to use that information against her.
But, something more is going wrong. Stockpiled supplies are missing, there are unexpected changes to the route, and Gyre can’t shake the feeling she is being followed.
I will have a review of this up next week, but in the mean time I can highly recommend giving this one a chance!
4. Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite
Gay serial killers and cannibalism.
To serial slayer Andrew Compton, murder is an art, the most intimate art. After feigning his own death to escape from prison, Compton makes his way to the United States with the sole ambition of bringing his “art” to new heights. Tortured by his own perverse desires, and drawn to possess and destroy young boys, Compton inadvertently joins forces with Jay Byrne, a dissolute playboy who has pushed his “art” to limits even Compton hadn’t previously imagined. Together, Compton and Byrne set their sights on an exquisite young Vietnamese-American runaway, Tran, whom they deem to be the perfect victim.
5. Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her…or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca–before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends–and their cameras–following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.
6. The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez
Queer vampires. Yes, more of them.
I have heard fantastic review of this from other queer readers and can’t wait to get my hands on it.
The winner of two Lambda Literary Awards (fiction and science fiction) The Gilda Stories is a very lesbian American odyssey. Escaping from slavery in the 1850s Gilda’s longing for kinship and community grows over two hundred years. Her induction into a family of benevolent vampyres takes her on an adventurous and dangerous journey full of loud laughter and subtle terror.
7. White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the hole punched into its heart. Lily is gone and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband, the gentle Luc, mourn her absence with unspoken intensity. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and grumbles and malignly confuses visitors in its mazy rooms, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. Generations of women inhabit its walls. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is more attuned to them than she is to her brother and father. She is leaving them slowly – Slipping away from them –
And when one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.
8. Sacrament by Clive Barker
Sacrament, like many other of Clive Barker’s works has a gay main character.
Clive Barker is a gay man, and another one of his highly recommended works with queer characters and themes is the Books of Blood.
Will Rabjohns, a famous wildlife photographer has made his reputation chronicling the fates of endangered species. But after a terrible accident, Will is left in a coma. And in its depths, he revisits the wildernesses of his youth and relives his life with a mysterious couple who have influenced his life as an artist and a man.
9. Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
You can see my review of this phenomenal book here. It is deliciously creepy, but it also has some of the most well-developed character motivations I have seen in a book recently.
Into the Drowning Deep is a near future science fiction horror novel set seven years after The Atargatis disappeared on its voyage to film suspected mermaids in the Mariana Trench. While video of the slaughter surfaced, many have believed it was a hoax. Now, another scientific crew is following their path to find out, once and for all, if the mermaids in the video are real.
10. The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan
If you think about queer horror, Caitlín R. Kiernan is one of the voices that will come up frequently. She and Poppy Z Brite are some of the early modern queer horror writers.
India Morgan Phelps–Imp to her friends–is schizophrenic. She can no longer trust her own mind. She is convinced that her memories have somehow betrayed her, forcing her to question her very identity.
Struggling with her perception of reality, Imp must uncover the truth about an encounter with a vicious siren, or a helpless wolf that came to her as a feral girl, or neither of these things but something far, far stranger…
11. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Her Body and Other Parties is a collection of horrifying short stories from creepy to truly terrifying.
This is one I am hoping to get to this month because I have heard truly fantastic things about her work.
Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.
12. The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Sarah Crowe left Atlanta–and the remnants of a tumultuous relationship–to live in an old house in rural Rhode Island. Within its walls she discovers an unfinished manuscript written by the house’s former tenant.
Tied to local legends of supernatural magic, as well as documented accidents and murders, the gnarled tree takes root in Sarah’s imagination, prompting her to write her own account of its unsavory history.
The oak continues to possess her dreams and nearly almost all her waking thoughts. Sarah risks her health and her sanity to unearth a revelation planted centuries ago…
13. Wilder Girls by Rory Power
The Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine 18 months ago. The teachers died one by one and then the Tox began to infect the students. Mutated, and cut off from the rest of the world, the girls must fend for themselves on an island that is ready to kill them.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her. Including breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
14. Burn our Bodies Down by Rory Power
Margot has never known anything about her family history and he mother will not answer her questions. But one day Margot finds a photograph pointing her toward a town called Phalene.
Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree. Their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.
15. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
On the island of Sawkill Rock, amongst rolling pastures full of grazing horses, children whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Girls have been disappearing for decades. Something in the night stealing them away.
This is a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight, until now. A group of girls are on a mission to find this dreaded monster and end the disappearances.