Columns > Published on February 9th, 2023

Horrormance Titles for A Macabre Valentine's Day

Horror and romance have more in common than one may initially think. Both genres often have to overcome stigmas that they're just one thing or the other, when in reality, there are so many works of popular romance and horror that hold a lot of depth. I'd argue romance and horror are the most honest genres. What's more vulnerable to us than what we love or what we fear? The stakes are always high with both, whether we're fighting for someone's affection or fighting to stay alive. Horrormance opens up the floodgates to explore both avenues in endless ways, especially since both genres have a plethora of sub-genres for writers to experiment with.

Romance has been a part of horror for decades. From classics like Bram Stoker's Dracula to Clive Barker's The Hellbound Heart and Poppy Z. Brite's Exquisite Corpse. Twisted love, dark obsession, and repressed sexuality have often been themes in Gothic Romances. The yearning for love and the loss of it are common elements in works by Edgar Allan Poe, as well. These ideas have been with us in the literary world for quite some time, and it's a joy to see current works exploring what horror and romance look like to a modern society. Meshing horror and romance is a great creative avenue to delve into both for readers and writers. If you're new to the horrormance world, here are a few of my contemporary favorites to help you get started on your bloody love journey.

1. "Destination: Tomorrow: A Post-Apocalyptic Romance Story" by Alice B. Sullivan

If you're looking for just a dash of romance in your horror, this short, zombie-filled work is a great piece to start. Sullivan immerses readers right away into a world plagued by the infected. Characters Sara and Cat are both loners who meet in the wild while trying to survive despite both zombies and lawless human beings. The instant chemistry between these two as they try to remember how to trust another person makes for a highly engaging read. Plus, there are some interesting surprises along the way. I adored this book and am begging the author for a sequel to Sara and Cat's story!

Get Destination: Tomorrow at Amazon


2. "Nightbird" by David Busboom

Nightbird is a novella that can be found in Busboom's excellent collection, Every Crawling, Putrid Thing. I first read Nightbird a few years ago and it has stayed with me ever since. Between the vivid prose and the way the story engages with elements from the Lilith myth, it's a hard story to put down. I'm so glad to see Nightbird reemerge in this debut collection for more people to discover its visceral moments. Emotional and atmospheric, the trials of the characters within will certainly leave an impact on readers.

Get Every Crawling, Putrid Thing at Bookshop or Amazon


3. "Queen of Teeth" by Hailey Piper

This Bram Stoker Award-winning novel remains one of my absolute favorites of Piper's works. Queen of Teeth is unapologetically horrormance. A complex mix of body horror, eroticism, and societal pressure guides readers along in an altered world. There is much to discover in regards to identity, being labeled the "other", and learning to embrace one's power of self. There's also a lot of heart to the story, and every beat of that heart submerges readers deeper into a sensual, tense, and vivid tale.

Get Queen of Teeth at Bookshop or Amazon


4. "Mestiza Blood" by V. Castro

V. Castro has such a talent for creating memorable characters who are unafraid to explore their bodies and sexuality even amid ominous settings. Mestiza Blood is a dynamic collection with tales focused on the Chicana experience. The stories within offer such a range of heartbreak, desire, vengeance, and twists on familiar tropes. There are dashes of horrormance sprinkled throughout quite a few of the stories. From the poetic prose of "Dancehall Devil" to the memorable "The Final Porn Star", I think readers will find something unique to take away from each tale.

Get Mestiza Blood at Bookshop or Amazon


5. "The Demeter Diaries" by Marge Simon and Bryan D. Dietrich

This gorgeous poetry collection focuses on the courtship between Mina Harker and Vlad Dracula through waking dreams. It's a must-read for vampire lovers, and every poem takes readers deeper into the deadly romance that blossoms between these characters. Love and darkness are intimate bedfellows here. Collaborative collections can be difficult, so the ease with which these poems move between each other is really admirable. It's clear both writers had a passion for bringing the story to life. An ethereal collection with much to offer, readers will enjoy getting lost in these mournful songs that cross sea and land.

Get The Demeter Diaries at Bookshop or Amazon


6. "Les Petites Morts: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales and Folklore" edited by Evelyn Freeling

Currently available for pre-order from Ghost Orchid Press, this exciting anthology will be released in June 2023. I'm thrilled to have a story in here alongside such authors as K.P. Kulski, Avra Margariti, Hailey Piper, Joe Koch, Sonora Taylor, and more! This anthology promises an array of seductive stories inspired by folklore, fairy tales, and mythology. Wicked delights for all!

Get Les Petites Morts at Ghost Orchid Press

Do you have any favorite horrormance books? Leave your recommendations in the comments!

About the author

Sara Tantlinger is the author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes. Along with being a mentor for the HWA Mentorship Program, she is also a co-organizer for the HWA Pittsburgh Chapter. She embraces all things macabre and can be found lurking in graveyards or on Instagram @inkychaotics.

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