The 13 Best Women Writing Horror Today

It’s Women in Horror Month, which can mean a lot of different professions and people: filmmakers, scholars, fans, makeup artists – and authors. There are so many brilliant women spinning terrifying yarns today, sprinting ahead on the path forged by Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson. Here are thirteen contemporary authors who will scare the bejeezus out of you. Put them on your must-read list immediately.

1. Lauren Beukes 

Lauren Beukes is a South African genre novelist whose 2013 and 2014 books, The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters, both feature nature-defying serial killers pursued by tough, savvy women.


2. Tananarive Due 

Due is a film scholar, professor, producer of this year’s history of black horror documentary Horror Noire, and author of dark, insightful, speculative fiction.


3. Mariana Enríquez 

Enríquez is an Argentine novelist and short story writer whose work embraces the Gothic, the Lovecraftian, and the pitch-black fantastical — but there's a deep vein of compassion running through each of her stories.


4. Gemma Files 

Gemma Files’ Hexslinger series takes place in a post-Civil War world populated by monsters, witches and ancient deities, a horror-fantasy universe like no other.


5. Gillian Flynn 

Flynn might be known as more of a thriller writer, but her ability to dive into the darkest depths of humanity will scare you more than any vampires or werewolves.


6. Mira Grant 

The subjects of Mira Grant (real name Seanan McGuire)’s novels span from zombies to killer mermaids, and all are equally terrifying and riveting. Team Killer Mermaid over here.


7. Jac Jemc 

Jac Jemc is a poet, essayist, and author of the absolutely harrowing haunted house novel The Grip of It, which will make you never, ever, ever want to purchase a new home.


8. Carmen Maria Machado 

Carmen Maria Machado’s short stories are unearthly, meaningful, sexy and unshakably frightening. Her collection Her Body and Other Parties is being developed into a horror TV show by FX, so read it first!


9. Jennifer McMahon

McMahon’s books include ghost stories, suspense thrillers and the absolutely perfect winter horror, The Winter People. Read it before it warms up outside!


10. Asa Nonami 

Nonami is a Japanese crime writer whose short story collection, Body, is a combination of body horror and terrifying examination of our own perceptions of our physical forms.


11. Helen Oyeyemi 

Oyeyemi — whom Carmen Maria Machado counts among her influences — writes elegant, Gothic fiction investigating family horror and the scariness of self.


12. Marisha Pessl 

Pessl has written three novels and only one of them counts as horror, but Night Film is so deeply, lastingly scary that a list that doesn’t include her would feel incomplete.


13. Anne Rice 

Folks, Anne Rice is still out there writing horror. She’s been delivering juicy, Gothic, erotic literature for FOUR DECADES. Respect the dark queen!



Who’d I miss? Lay it on me in the comments!

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Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies February 15, 2019 - 9:48am

Cool list, lots of voices I hadn't heard of before. Thanks!

Benjamin Martin's picture
Benjamin Martin from Portland, OR is reading ... February 17, 2019 - 12:36am

Ania Ahlborn (Brother, The Bird Eater, The Devil Crept In)
Chelsea Cain (though it's more thriller, like Gillian Flynn. Though her character Gretchen Lowell is terror personified)
Alma Katsu

These are the only three I can think of at the moment, but Ania Ahlborn's "Brother" blew me away.

tking's picture
tking March 14, 2019 - 4:38pm

My favorite author is on the list. Mira Grant is a fabulous writer. I love her "Newsflash" series. 

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