In this article, I will be covering the best horror books of 2022. A note that the image above depicts highly anticipated books of the year – they may not all make my list!
I read a lot of horror books. I just can’t get enough of them! Horror movies as well.
Each month, I will be reading all of the latest horror books. It can be books by authors that I enjoy, or one of those books that everyone is talking about and I just HAVE to read. There’ll also be books by little-known authors out there.
I will then highlight two of them and update this article at the end of the month. This list is sorted by author’s last name.
Last Update: End of October 2022
Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester: This was the first book I have read by Kristi. I believe she only has one novel, Beneath, prior to this. It certainly won’t be the last. Shoutout to my friend Katy for recommending this one to me!
The story jumps between two different narrators: Caroline in 2004 and Lila, her daughter, from 2019. Like mother, like daughter as both of them are dealing with horrendous nightmares which causes something to change within them. In both timelines, there is some sort of serial killer out there who tears the bodies of girls apart.
It’s one where it’s a bit hard to justify it as “horror” – that’s a very loose categorization. But there was certainly some messed-up stuff within the pages, which will stay with you!
Sometimes you read a book where you feel the author put everything they had into it and when done, simply slumped into a corner, exhausted. This was how I expect Kristi was! I really appreciate what she achieved with this novel.
Quantum of Nightmares by Charles Stross: I’m a big fan of the Laundry Files series by Charles Stross, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
First of all, I just love the TITLE of this book. You know exactly what you’re getting into. IT’s more of a spin-off than a sequel it feels like – no Bob Howard for example! This is technically part of the “New Management” series I believe, even though websites list it as part of the Laundry Files series.
If you didn’t hate Human Resources prior to this book you will now! Some messed up stuff! There’s so much in it that keeps you on edge like the kids who the nanny is looking after. Just be sure to read Dead Lies Dreaming prior to this one as I think you would be quite lost.
Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes: This book might make my best books of the year list in horror and sci-fi. It’s a haunted house story in the only place scarier than a haunted house: space.
The story features a long abandoned ship, think the Titanic in space, that is discovered by a salvage crew. The Aurora had been missing for over twenty years and the crew that finds it could be set-up for life with the salvage claim. It’s too hard to resist, but once they board the ship they find that something isn’t quite right.
What starts with whispers and flickers of movement, turns into a fight to hold on to her sanity for Claire. Now, she’ll need to find out what happened here before her and her crew meet the same fate.
This story really kept me on the edge of my seat, even as my stomach was turning at times!
Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt: This is the kind of book that creeps you out from the start, but you just keep reading it any way. After reading this one, I may never go to the mountains again. Suffice to say, I loved it!
Nick and his climbing buddy Augustin go on a trek that leaves Augustin missing and Nick in a coma. He makes up with his face wrapped in bandages and is unable to speak. Nicks tells them everyone that he has amnesia, but the truth is he remembers everything. Every terrifying detail.
When they were on the mountain it felt like they weren’t alone, that something was waiting for them. Nick can’t leave the memories behind because he now feels that something has awakened within him.
This is a dark and edgy novel that, unlike many “horror” books, is actually scary!
The Broken Room by Peter Clines: Hector was a government agent who was extremely dangerous, bringing governments to their knees, but then his own country betrayed him. He ended up going off the grid after that. Twelve-year-old Natalie doesn’t remember much of her life before her family moved to the United States, but one thing she does remember is the cages. She was apart of the Project which took young children and did nightmare experiments on them. Now, Natalie has the ghost of a dead agent in her head who tells her to call on Hector for help because there is an army of killers after her that want to bring her back to the Project.
This book was nonstop action and it just might be the best book by Peter Clines yet. The book is similar to his earlier works as it catches you early, but then manages to ramp up the creepiness as the story goes on.
What makes this book is the great characterization of Natalie and Hector as the author really gets you to root for them.
The Resting Place by Camilla Sten: This book is immediately creepy when you learn that Eleanor, the protagonist, lives with prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize a familiar person’s face. The affliction causes her stress and anxiety which gets worse when she walks in on the scene of her grandmother’s mother and comes face to face with the killer. Her grandmother leaves her a house in the will, a looming estate in the Swedish woods where her grandfather died. Eleanor, her boyfriend, her aunt, and her lawyer will go to the house looking for answers, but end up finding something far more disturbing.
This book is as chilling and haunting as Camilla’s previous book, The Lost Village, which I also enjoyed. Similar to that book, this one had me on the edge of my seat for much of the reading.
I love the way that the point of view switches between Eleanor in the present day and the home’s maid, Anushka, in the mid-1960s. Both stories are drawn well and keep you wanting more.
The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon: Taking inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, McMahon’s book sees a psychiatrist named Dr. Helen Hildreth who is renowned for her work with the mentally ill. However, at home she is just Gran to her beloved grandchildren, Vi and Eric. One day Gran brings a child home to stay. Her name is Iris and she is far from a normal girl.
But Vi is happy to have a new playmate and the kids invite her to join their Monster Club where they catalogue and hunt monsters.
In 2019, Lizzy Shelley is the host of a Monsters Among Us podcast and is on her way to Vermont where a monster sighting has shaken the town. Lizzy is determined to hunt it down though because she knows just how real monsters are. Afterall, her sister is one of them.
While inspired by Frankenstein, this story is wholly unique and well written. It keeps you guessing as to what is real, what is imagination, and just what exactly is going on.
The Fervor by Alma Katsu: The author of The Hunger turns her eye to the horrors of the Japanese American internment camps in World War II. The book takes inspiration from the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon as a mysterious illness ravages the camp.
The book looks back at a difficult moment in United States history and fills it with the pain and anger that it deserves. That history alone could be considered horrific enough, but Katsu managed to ramp it up by mixing in Japanese folklore. This a creepy story made that much worse by the man made horrors of the setting.
Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak: After getting out of rehab, Mallory takes a job of a babysitter for a little boy named Teddy. The job provides her a living space and stability, and she loves it. She bonds with the boy who loves drawing the things that little kids love to draw.
Then one day he draws something different: a man in the forest dragging a dead woman. From there, his art gets increasingly dark and the sketches grow from stick figures to photorealistic sketches far beyond his abilities. Mallory worries that these aren’t merely drawings, but glimpses of a long-unsolved murder. She will have to decipher these images in order to save Teddy.
Hide by Kiersten White: Spend a week in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught. That’s the challenge at the crux of this book and the prize for doing it is enough money to change someone’s life. Sounds simple, right? Well, apparently you’ve never read a horror book before.
Mack is desperate to win and she believes she can win because she’s an expert at hiding. However, the other people in the game end up disappearing one by one and Mack realizes that this isn’t just a simple game of hide and seek. Instead, it is something much more sinister. If she wants to get out of here alive, she’ll have to work together with others to survive.
From Below by Darcy Coates: The SS Arcadia vanished without a trace years ago and now sits at the bottom of the ocean. The ship and crew were never found, but sixty years later the wreck has been found three hundred miles off its intended course. Cove and her dive team have been granted permission to explore the ship underwater. They are to examine the wreck and film everything with the hopes of finding out how it sunk. However, the ship has not yet had its full of death and there is something dark down there with them. With only limited oxygen and the sense they are being hunted, Cove and her team will fight to survive deep below the water.
You ready horror for one reason, to be scared, and this book provides that reason in spades. Being underwater in a claustrophobic situation is scary enough as it is, but add in a little bit of the supernatural and it just go to another level. This book is just downright creepy.
The Beached Ones by Colleen M. Story: Daniel and his younger brother had a rough childhood, growing up in an abusive home. Daniel managed to escape, finding work as a stunt rider, and has plans to to go back and save his brother, but that doesn’t happen when a jump goes horribly wrong. Daniel finds himself in Iowa, unscathed, with a completely different life. Everyone around him is seemingly hiding something, but he knows that he needs to pick up his brother in San Francisco in five days. Daniel will fight through his own memories and the supernatural to face the truth and get to his brother.
This book really plays with your expectations. You think it’s going to go one way, but then it ends up going in a complete other way and keeps you on your toes. The powerful and dark book hits a wide range of emotions and pieces itself together like a puzzle, not fully showing its hand until it knows you are ready.
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher: Alex Easton is a retired soldier who learns that one of their childhood friends is dying and makes the decision to go back home to see them before they pass.
The home is in the remote countryside of Ruritania and when they arrive they find fungal growths, possessed wildlife, and a dark, pulsing lake. Alex’s childhood friend, Madeline Usher, speaks in strange voices at night and sleepwalks while her brother is consumed by nerves.
Whatever is infecting them won’t stop there and Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.
What Moves the Dead is definitely a scary and creepy book, but it also manages to infuse humor. The story is disturbing and creepy in all the right ways, and is a great introduction to Kingfisher if you’ve never read them before.
The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay: This book sees an uncool kid named Art Barbara who one day becomes becomes friends with the coolest girl he’s ever met. He meets his new friend through the Pallbearers Club, a club where they volunteer to be pallbearers at poorly attended funerals. His new friend takes things a bit further though and brings a camera to take pictures of the corpses.
There were other things about her, terrifying things, that happened whenever she was around. Yet he always found a way to look past it because she was his friend.
The book will take the reader back to what it feels like to be a teenager. It is written like memoir which only brings you deeper into that feeling. The story is a brilliantly written piece of vampire fiction and one of Tremblay’s best to date.
Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste: This novel is inspired by the untold stories of two women from literary history. Lucy Westenra was a victim in Bram Stoker’s Dracula while Bertha Mason was Mr. Rochester’s attic-bound wife in Jane Eyre. Now, the two women are undead immortals in 1967 Los Angeles. Dracula and Rochester make their way to California at the same time which puts them on a collision course as the women look to combat them.
This book is Kiste at her best as she takes two female characters that were once afterthoughts and gives them a powerful voice. It’s a fresh look at the vampire genre and the story flies by as you read it.
Shutter by Ramona Emerson: Rita Todacheene is a forensic photographer for the Albuquerque PD. She is great at her job, mainly because she is about to see the ghosts of crime victims who help her to find clues that many overlook. Rita is a portal back to the living for ghosts and they have sabotaged her life in many ways, but now it may get her killed. Her latest job takes her to a scene where a woman who murdered and the ghost latches onto her, setting her on a quest for revenge against the cartel.
The debut novel from Emerson is gripping from the first page to the last. The setting of the book really takes you in and understand the life of a native. At the same time, the crime scenes can be quite graphic and borderline disturbing. It really takes you into the struggle and her fight for justice.
Ghost Eaters by Clay Chapman: Erin has had trouble setting boundaries with her college ex-boyfriend, Silas. She decides it is the last straw when he asks her to bail him out of rehab and decides its time to cut him off. Then, days after he gets out, Silas turns up dead of an overdose.
A friend tells her about Ghost, a new drug that allows you to see the dead. She finds herself desperate for closure and decides to take it. However, the drug ends up having some side effects that she is unprepared for. Once you take Ghost, there is no going back.
The writing of this book is extremely clever and the scares are very real. This book will ramp your anxiety all the way up and keep you reading all night long.
Gallows Hill by Darcy Coates: It’s been more than ten years since Margot Hull so her childhood home. The house is on the top of a hill and overlooks the nearby town. She was sent away when she was young and doesn’t remember much about it. Now she has returned to bury her parents and reconnect with her family’s winery, as well as the bloody truth about what lies buried beneath the home. Margot must come face to face with the horrors of the past before she becomes the home’s next victim.
Darcy Coates has a way of taking the common tropes of horror and putting her own personal twist on them that make them feel more alive. The house is extremely creepy, but the characters are what really draw you in.
It Rides a Pale Horse by Andy Marino Peter Larkin is a successful artist who has just sold a piece to a rich buyer. He’s well known around town and is liked by many unlike his sister. He’s delivering the piece to the buyer at a secluded estate when he’s greeted by a guard who shows him a live video of his sister being abducted.
If Peter wants her back safely then he’ll need to take a book and do whatever it says. As long as he does that, she will walk free. It seems like a simple request, but there is just something about this book. Something demonic.
Some of the imagery in this book is downright terrifying and that is a place where Marino really shines as an author. The dread in this book builds throughout until it becomes terror. In spite of that, or maybe because of it, you really get a good feeling about the siblings and root for them as the story goes on.
Lute by Jennifer Thorne The official synopsis for this book lists this book as a mashup of the movies Wicker Man and Final Destination. If that isn’t right up your alley, I don’t think we can be friends.
The story takes place on the beautiful island of Lute. The island has perfect weather and the residents all have good health and fortune. The people her live a happy life and are untroubled by the darkness of the outside world. However, it comes with a price. Every seven years, seven people die.
Nina is new to the island and she came here from Florida through marriage to Lord Treadway. His family has always protected the island. Nina has heard all of the stories about the island and the lives lost, but doesn’t believe it. Until The Day comes and it is time for the island to play tribute.
The themes of family and community really come through strong in this book. Lute is a paradise and that is portrayed excellently in the writing. Even knowing the basic story of the book, I still wanted to visit, even though I knew what was coming. This is a great folk horror tale that belongs on your shelf.