“It is women who love horror. Gloat over it. Feed on it. Are nourished by it. Shudder and cling and cry out — and come back for more.” ― Bela Lugosi
Women have always been leaders of the horror genre since its inception. Shelley’s monster, Brontë’s madwoman in the attic, Morrison’s ghosts of traumas past and present, and countless other haunting images that have made genre-defining impacts on horror. Today, we still turn to women artists for more twisted tales, from Carmen Maria Machado to Julia Ducournau’s Titane (2021). These stories get told again and again, enduring the test of time and being re-interpreted by countless artists. For this year’s Feminist Book Fortnight, we’re delving into the depths of our nightmares, and sharing some of the unmissable new and up-and-coming voices in horror.
The Dead Hand Book: Stories from Gravesend Cemetary
By Lady Sara Richard
9781954412286 | Source Point Press | Hardback | April 2022 | £23.99
You may have heard the name Sara Richard floating around in comic circles — as an Eisner and Ringo award-nominated artist, Richard is a beloved figure in comics and illustration. Outside of illustration, Richard is known for her care and fascination with graves, as a member of the New Hampshire Old Gravestone Association and graveside conservationist. This collection seems to draw on her experiences, described as a “memorial to mortality and the ancestral liaison with death through quiet and sweetly-macabre short stories.” Tales of warning, the deepest loves honoured by surviving paramours and the indifferent cruelty of life in the 17th-20th century are all recorded in The Dead Hand Book.
Tell Me I’m Worthless
By Alison Rumfitt
9781838390020 | Cipher Press | Paperback | Oct 2021 | £9.99
Since October 2021, Tell Me I’m Worthless has risen to the ranks of cult horror status. Countless indie magazines, blogs, and best-of lists have praised TMIW to no end. Horror DNA even said that this ‘visceral novel is as striking as Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting debut was back in 1993′. If you haven’t already come accross it, TMIW is a dark, unflinching haunted house novel that takes readers from the well of the literary gothic, up through Brighton’s queer scene, and out into the heart of modern day trans experience in the UK.
By Alison Rumfitt
9781739220723 | Cipher Press | Paperback | Oct 2023 | £10.99
Rumfitt’s next novel Brainwyrms is rapidly becoming the most anticipated horror of this year. Sitting on the razors edge of the genre, this body horror is a tale of obsession, fetish, violence, and pleasure.
When a transphobic woman bombs Frankie’s workplace, she blows up Frankie’s life with it. As the media descends like vultures, Frankie tries to cope with the carnage: binge-drinking, fucking strangers, pushing away her friends. Then, she meets Vanya. Mysterious, beautiful, terrifying Vanya.
Where I End
By Sophie White
9781915290045 | Tramp Press | Paperback | Oct 2022 | £11.99
You may have heard us harping on about this title but, honestly, not enough can be said about the thrilling and eery horror novel by Sophie White. This writer, known previously for her writing of The Snag List and Filter This, has made her sugue into horror in a way that is oh so tantalising. Where I End is about being bound by the blood knot of family, by one of Ireland’s exciting and bestselling authors.
Teenage Aoileann has never left the island. Her silent, bed-bound mother is a wreckage, the survivor of a private disaster no-one will speak about. Aoileann desperately wants a family, and when Rachel and her newborn baby move to the island, Aoileann finds a focus for her relentless love.
Honestly, it doesn’t get weirder than this book and we are so happy that Sophie White is exploring her horror influences. Long may it continue! It’s also a super short read that’s told in quick bursts — in short, it’s both distressing and unforgettable.
We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow
By Margaret Killjoy
9781849354752 | AK Press | Paperback | Feb 2023 | £15
Margaret Killjoy’s stories have appeared for years in science fiction and fantasy magazines, both major and indie. Here, AK Press have collected the best previously published work along with brand new material. Ranging in theme and tone, these imaginative tales bring the reader on a wild and moving ride. They’ll encounter a hacker who programs drones to troll CEOs into quitting; a group of LARPers who decide to live as orcs in the burned forests of Oregon; queer, teen love in a death cult; the terraforming of a climate-changed Earth; polyamorous love on an anarchist tea farm during the apocalypse; and much more. Killjoy writes fearless, mind-expanding fiction.
By María Fernanda Ampuero, translated by Frances Riddle
9781914391224 | Influx Press | Paperback | June 2023 | £9.99
Nothing is more satisfying than horror being told in a short story format, and we’ve seen this surge in popularity in recent years with the successes of books and shows like Love, Death + Robots, Black Mirror, and Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Bodies and Other Parties. Come to think of it, this tradition has been around for a while, looking at the many collections of Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Robert Louis Stevenson. And this brand new short story collection from María Fernanda Ampuero does not disappoint.
Simultaneously terrifying and exquisite, Human Sacrifices is ‘tropical gothic’ at its finest — decay and oppression underlie our humid and hostile world, where working-class women and children are consistently the weakest links in a capitalist economy. Against this backdrop of corrosion and rot, these twelve stories contemplate the nature of exploitation and abuse, illuminating the realities of those society consumes for its own pitiless ends.
By Megan Shepherd
9781368090643 | Hyperion Avenue | Paperback | Aug 2023 | £16.99
If you’re a fan of Grady Hendrix, Paul Tremblay and the Ethan Hawke film Sinister, girl oh girl do you need to get your hands on this book. Out soon in paperback, Malice House is a complex tale of dark magic, family secrets, and monsters that don’t stay on the page.
When aspiring artist Haven Marbury finds a secret manuscript when clearing out the remote seaside house of her late Pulitzer-winning father’s remote seaside house, she thinks an illustrated version is just what she needs to jump-start her art career. The manuscript is disturbingly different from his other works: its interweaving short stories crawl with horrific monsters and enigmatic humans that exist somewhere between this world and the next. However, everyone in the nearby vacation town wants a piece of the manuscript. But when a monstrous creature appears under Haven’s bed right as grisly deaths are reported in the nearby woods, she must race to uncover dark, otherworldly family secrets — completely rewriting everything she ever knew about herself in the process. Maybe her father’s ramblings weren’t the delusions of old age after all…
By Megan Shepherd
9781368089296 | Hyperion Avenue | Hardback | Oct 2023 | £25.99
And if you liked that one, you won’t want to miss the next in the series. Discovering her father’s strange final manuscript has brought only mayhem and darkness to Haven Marbury’s life. Now both hunter and prey, Haven travels far and wide to escape the worst of her late father’s creations. Drawn to the desert scrublands and Hollywood mansions of California, Haven discovers a string of murders that point directly to members of her family.
The September House
By Carissa Orlando
9780593548615 | Berkley – US | Hardback | Sept 2023 | £24.99
If you couldn’t already tell from this list, we love a haunted house. Give us a creepy basement or unexplained creaky stairs any day of the week, we’re on board! The September House is the perfect twist on the usual haunted house format. A couple buys a cheap old house, happy to finally get a place of their own. But rapidly things creepier and creepier, as the walls drip blood, ghosts materialise, and don’t even get me started on what’s in the basement. As a psychologist, Orlando’s knowledge of the human psyche comes in handy here — making this a twisty, compulsive read that you can’t escape from once you start.
A Darker Shade Of Noir: New Stories Of Body Horror By Women Writers
Edited by Joyce Carol Oates
9781636141343 | Akashic Books | Paperback | Sept 2023 | £17.95
You may know Joyce Carol Oates as the Pulitzer finalist, National Book Award winner and renowned author, but prepare to know her as the gatekeeper of your nightmares!! In A Darker Shade of Noir, she assembles a tremendous group of pioneering writers to tell stories of body horror. Dating back to the 1970s, this subgenre disturbs and distorts the human body in fascinating ways, and through the words of brilliant women writers, becomes a powerful tool for feminist discourse. Featuring stories by the likes of Margaret Atwood, Tananarive Due, and Megan Abbott, this will be a must-have for feminists and horror fans alike.