The best, most surprising horror often lies hidden in shadows — demanding you to seek it out and uncover its hidden terror and beauty.
Every style of book has merit, and every story deserves to be told. From purveyors of terror akin to Stephen King, or those more like Anne Rice or Clive Barker, all genre storytellers have a place and an audience. From the straight horrors with punchy sentences to the more elaborate and gothic structures, we present an array of stories to devour this spooky season.
From literary horror to a ghostly love story, these four morbidly beautiful tales represent but a taste of the diverse and extraordinary voices available in the independent market.
1. A Murderous Adventure (Sonna March)
The inconveniences and inconsiderate actions of others are enough to provoke Owen’s unstable side, but he waits to fulfill his dark deeds in the secrecy and comfort of his boundless dreams.
This book is interesting. It’s dark and morbid, taking the POV of someone absolutely unlikable, but also written in a very brutally honest and blunt manner.
March does nothing to make the main character personable or sympathetic, and that’s to the story’s benefit. Despite being from his point of view, and despite the total bluntness of the narration, the reader is kept at arm’s length. Even as we get glimpses into the true nature, the darker moments of the character, we are treated like the very same people around him: an annoyance.
Even in moments that might give way to a conscious are kept walled up and held at arm’s length from the reader and shut down by the main character himself. All this is done in a way that keeps the reader on edge and questioning how true the feelings are.
All the way to the conclusion, the reader will be kept glued to the pages of this novella.
2. Grieving the Spirit (Brooklynn Dean)
The dead rise. The good are killed or converted. Divine spirits are captured, bound by Latin spells emblazoned upon their shackles. The antichrist has risen, is ruling in Hell, and planning to conquer the world.
Acting as the sequel to Dean’s Deification, Grieving the Spirit picks up right where the last book left off.
While the sort of Mad Max landscape of the first book felt metaphorical in its descriptions, the author sets it in stone — bringing it to life as a real world, with a real mythos behind it. Having let Deification set the stage, this book feels like a deeper exploration of the villainy present, while setting up several new ideas and themes to examine throughout the course of the series in the making.
With prose that is lyrical, she makes art out of the descriptions, giving the readers vivid insights into the world that is being inhabited and the characters that inhabit it. Brooklynn Dean uses her skill with language to her advantage, creating a plot that works in conjunction with developing and creating dimensions to the already established characters.
Leaning fully into the literary merits of the writing, Grieving The Spirit is chockful of imagery and philosophical ideas posed by the characters for the readers.
3. A Song Beyond Walls (S. Escobar)
A grand Victorian house has been abandoned for decades…and so has its resident spirit, Claire.
There’s something about the softness of the prose that lends to the easy reading of this novelette.
This gothic tale takes the “haunted house” or “ghost trapped in their haunted mansion” tropes, and doesn’t so much subvert it but offers a different angle in which to view the type of story being told. The rather short length provides a structure that flows elegantly from beat to beat, chapter to chapter. Escobar does not linger on needless details, rather relishes in giving us the emotions felt — for this is very much a story that hinges on emotions and demands that the reader relates to it.
It’s a beautiful story, one that takes the readers through a nice capture of something sweet.
Like the ghost in this house, the story lingers with us, giving us that tiny bit of hope and desire for a happy ending.
4. Priory (Becky Wright)
Memories are like ghosts. They linger in doorways, whisper with the howling wind when lightning strikes. They are the dark phantoms of my youth.
Priory by Becky Wright
Returning with her latest release, Wright brings a bit of everything from her past work to create this many-layered story to life.
Taking the Victorian Gothic aesthetic that shined in her prior books, we get a book written in two separate eras with a voice and prose that gives everything a dreadful sense of grandeur. From the opening lines of the present day, we are treated to heartache and the beginnings of a mystery.
With pages filled with dread, this is a story that is horror by association. Wright’s writing is at its best, creating tension and brooding atmospheres with ease. However, the heart of the novel is a mystery. The reader flits between past and present with the lead, Oliver Hardacre, uncovering hidden memories and waking up lost ghosts.
It is in the mystery and secret-laden story that we get to experience the true horrors, and relish in Becky Wright’s talent to layer them within her best story yet.