The 15 Most Anticipated Horror Books of 2019
Last month, Vogue Magazine tweeted, “2018 has not been good for horror.”
In response, everybody in the horror community spit their drinks all over their laptops, effectively ruining the devices. What a fashion publication is doing critiquing the state of the horror genre, I have no idea. Anyone truly invested in the genre will tell you the truth: 2018 has been an amazing time for horror. One of the best. It might actually have been the only good thing about this shithead of a year.
And, judging by what’s lined up for 2019, it doesn’t look like the genre’s slowing down. Note: this article will only be focusing on horror literature. Film-wise, we’re looking pretty goddamn golden as well, but this is a book website so let’s talk about some books, right?
Before we get into the main list, there are some other subjects we must first touch upon.
First of all, did you read Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell yet? It’s practically the new bible for old-school horror diehards. Within its beautifully designed pages you will find an entire encyclopedia of bizarre horror paperbacks from the ’70s and ’80s. This book isn’t news by now. What is news, however, is the recent announcement that Valancourt Books has “signed an agreement with Quirk Books, publishers of Paperbacks from Hell, to publish a limited series of reissues of novels featured in PFH, to be edited by Grady Hendrix and Will Errickson (Too Much Horror Fiction)”. This is the coolest damn news I’ve heard in a long time, and I can’t wait to read about a bunch of old-timey Nazi elves (among other things, I’m sure).
Also, before we arrive at our feature presentation, I feel obligated to mention that I run a small publishing company called Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, and in 2019 we will be releasing a handful of titles, including Michael David Wilson’s The Girl in the Video and George Daniel Lea’s Born in Blood, among a few others. Obviously I’m not listing them below since I’m very, very biased, but you can subscribe to our newsletter for future updates about these books, if you desire.
Okay, now let’s talk about a bunch of other cool horror titles coming our way next year...
15. "Cardinal Black" by Robert McCammon (Jan. 29)
Longtime fans of Robert McCammon’s Matthew Corbett series will be stoked to discover its seventh installment will hit bookstores in a little over a month’s time. The first novel in this series, 2002’s Speaks the Nightbird, marked his return to publishing after a decade-long hiatus, signifying a shift from straight horror into historical fiction. For those unaware, Matthew Corbett is advertised as an “early American James Bond” character, a professional problem solver. These are historical mystery novels written in a style only McCammon can pull off. Thanks to his strong horror roots, the result is always a dark, fascinating puzzle. In the latest installment, we are introduced to the titular Cardinal Black—a “mysterious madman” who steals a potion book from a professor performing involuntary drug experiments on a woman. Cut to Matthew Corbett, who finds himself hired to recover the book.
14. "Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds" by Gwenda Bond (Feb. 5)
Did you know Del Rey is releasing Stranger Things novels? Neither did I until I started researching this article! Written by respected YA author Gwenda Bond, Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds is being marketed as a prequel to the hit NetFlix original series, focusing on the summer of 1969. Terry Ives, the woman who will later become Eleven’s mother, is a college student a little too curious about the government experiments happening in her small Indiana town. She volunteers as a test subject for a project called MKULTRA, and the rest...well, you can probably see where this is going. I’m not 100% sure how much I’m excited about Stranger Things spinoff novels, but I am absolutely onboard for government conspiracy novels. And also, who am I kidding? I’d fucking love to write a Stranger Things book. Please hire me, whoever’s in charge of such things.
13. "Collision: Stories" by J.S. Breukelaar (Feb. 19)
If you haven’t read Aletheia or American Monster, then you’re truly missing out on the wonderful fiction of J.S. Breukelaar. Luckily for you, she has a brand new story collection coming out in February. Collision features twelve stories with four new works, including a novella titled “Ripples on a Blank Shore”. Angela Slatter penned the collection’s introduction, comparing Breukelaar’s writing to other talented authors like M.R. James, Robert Aickman, Tanith Lee, Kelly Link, Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Jeff VanderMeer, Gustave Flaubert, Edgar Allan Poe, Daphne DuMaurier, Leonora Carrington and Charlotte Brontë. If those names aren’t ringing all the right bells, you’re beyond help.
12. "The Familiars" by Stacey Halls (Feb. 19)
To save her unborn child, she trust a stranger. To protect her secret, she must risk her life. — reads the tagline for Stacey Halls’ debut novel. Set in 1612, a pregnant woman with a history of miscarriages connects with a strange midwife in the forest, and soon “accusations of witchcraft sweep the countryside”. This sounds exactly like my kind of horror. Just off the premise alone, I’m surprised A24 hasn’t already announced a film adaptation.
11. "Skidding Into Oblivion" by Brian Hodge (Feb. 19)
This isn’t the first time Brian Hodge has made one of our “most anticipated” lists, so it should be no surprise to find his name here again. Next year, ChiZine will be publishing his fifth story collection, Skidding Into Oblivion. Look for stories of extreme metal musicians, extreme snow days, and other (presumably extreme) subjects.
10. "Will Haunt You" by Brian Kirk (March 14)
I’ve actually had the pleasure of reading an early draft of Brian Kirk’s Will Haunt You, and you have no fucking idea what you’re getting into with this one. Trust me. "By reading the book, you have volunteered to participate in the author's deadly game, with every page drawing you closer to your own personalized nightmare.” This book is unlike anything you’ve ever read before, and you’re going to punch yourself in the face if you neglect to pre-order it.
09. "Inspection" by Josh Malerman (April 23)
Everybody here at LitReactor are Malermaniacs, which is a term I just invented. When Josh Malerman releases a new book, we’re the first in line. His latest offering to the horror gods looks insane, and we can’t wait. In Inspection, “boys are being trained at one school for geniuses, girls at another. Neither knows the other exists—until now.” What does this mean? We have no idea! But we’re excited to find out.
08. "Inside the Asylum" by Mary SanGiovanni (May 7)
The sequel to Mary SanGiovanni’s Behind the Door will be unleashed upon the world next May. Kathy Ryan is an “occult specialist” and in Inside the Asylum, she’s hired to “assess the threat” of an inmate at a hospital for the criminally insane. Apparently her employers believe this guy “has the ability to open doors to other dimensions with his mind” and they want Kathy Ryan to figure out if it’s bullshit or not. Sounds like a fun time to me!
07. "The Grand Dark" by Richard Kadrey (June 11)
Richard Kadrey, creator of the beloved Sandman Slim series, has a new standalone novel coming our way next summer. Take a gander at the market copy and tell me you aren’t eager to read more:
The Great War is over. The city of Lower Proszawa celebrates the peace with a decadence and carefree spirit as intense as the war’s horrifying despair. But this newfound hedonism—drugs and sex and endless parties—distracts from strange realities of everyday life: Intelligent automata taking jobs. Genetically engineered creatures that serve as pets and beasts of war. A theater where gruesome murders happen twice a day. And a new plague that even the ceaseless euphoria can’t mask.
What the hell, right? Sounds bonkers.
06. "Growing Things and Other Stories" by Paul Tremblay (July 2)
Paul Tremblay has practically blown up to “horror superstar” at this point, and for good reason. His last three horror novels have received massive praise from Stephen King, and his previous crime books have slowly collected their share of cult status. And soon we will finally have a story collection from him. If you haven’t already preordered Growing Things, I don’t even know why you clicked on this article.
05. "The Toll" by Cherie Priest (July 9)
In The Toll, two lovebirds attempt to start their second(?) honeymoon off with a little canoe adventure, but come across a very curious bridge instead. The kinda bridge only one car can drive on at a time. The kinda bridge that maybe, just maybe abducts its passengers? Guess we’ll just have to read it and find out!
04. "Hollywood North: Life, Love & Death in Six Reels" by Michael Libling (July 16)
Another publication from ChiZine. Hollywood North is set in 1960’s Trenton, Ontario, where “hunting, fishing, arson, and drowning are the favored pastimes” and where “dogs maim, trains derail, planes collide, and people vanish”. Sounds like my kinda town, if you ask me. Also? My kinda book. Although, thinking about it now, I’d prefer my dogs to derail and my trains to maim. Let’s mix up the status quo a little!
03. "Petra’s Ghost" by C.S. O’Cinneide (July 20)
Set during the Camino de Santiago, an “ancient five-hundred-mile pilgrimage that crosses northern Spain”, Petra’s Ghost follows an Irish expat carrying his wife’s ashes along this exhausting hike. A girl from California joins him, and together they attempt to make it to the end. Except, this is a horror novel after all, so obviously a “nightmare figure” begins stalking them along the way.
02. "The Saturday Night Ghost Club" by Craig Davidson (Aug. 14)
I’ve had an unbalanced relationship with Craig Davidson and his alter ego, Nick Cutter. Some of his titles I really enjoyed, while others...not so much. So, my fingers are crossed hard enough to cut blood flow that his next book rocks my world, because the title and cover art are certainly hitting all the right notes. The premise, from what I can tell, concerns a coming-of-age tale about a boy exploring conspiracy theories and urban legends with his insane uncle. The market copy on Amazon sounds a little too sentimental for my tastes, but maybe that’s just the fault of an overeager publicist. Either way, I’ll definitely be giving this one a try once it comes out.
01. "A Lush and Seething Hell" by John Hornor Jacobs (Oct. 29)
In October, John Hornor Jacobs released a cosmic horror novella titled The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky through Harper Voyager as a digital-exclusive. Not only is the title kickass, but the story itself is also pretty awesome. Now, next October, Harper will be packaging up this novella (40k words) and an unpublished full-length novel titled My Heart Struck Sorrow (65k words) into a single collection called A Lush and Seething Hell. This new collection will be published as an ebook, hardback, and audiobook. I reached out to Jacobs and asked him a little about My Heart Struck Sorrow, and I won’t write out his explanation here as I fear it tiptoes into spoiler country, but it involves a deep obsession with folk music (including a certain lost song). I’m excited for it and you should be, too.
And there you have it. Fifteen new contributions to the horror genre coming our way in 2019. Does this list include every cool-looking book scheduled for next year? Of course not! Not everything is available for pre-order at this point, plus it’s very likely several dozen titles slipped under my radar. There’s also the reality that many 2019 books haven’t even been announced yet, especially those being published by small presses. Consider the above list just a taste of what’s to come.
Now, before I close out , there is one more book I’d like to discuss, one that I couldn’t include on the main list for reasons that will quickly become obvious.
As LitReactor previously announced, the one-and-only FANGORIA is back from the dead, and in addition to releasing new quarterly magazines and producing films, they’re also publishing a line of original horror paperbacks. In February, my new werewolf horror-comedy, Carnivorous Lunar Activities, will join this wonderful gory family, and if I had to pick one book I’m personally anticipating the most, it’d of course be this one. This isn’t my first book by any stretch, but it’s definitely my first book published by a magazine that directly shaped my views on the genre as a child. I devoured Fangoria growing up, and for them to be publishing my new novel? Holy shit, folks. It doesn’t get any cooler than that. So, I urge you to browse through the list I provided above and keep them in mind for all those gift cards you’ll undoubtedly collect during the Christmas season, and if you happen to have anything left over, maybe pre-order Carnivorous Lunar Activities as well.
Okay, that’s all I got. What books are you most looking forward to next year? Drop a note in the comments and tell us all about them.
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