The best creepy books with women in the lead role

Caroline Hardaker Author Of Composite Creatures
By Caroline Hardaker

Who am I?

Caroline Hardaker is an author, poet, and librettist who writes dark and twisty tales about anything speculative, from folklore to the future. She’s a sporadic puppet-maker and house plant collector, and lives in the northeast of England with her husband, son, and giant cat. Caroline’s debut poetry collection, Bone Ovation, was published by Valley Press in 2017, and her first full-length collection, Little Quakes Every Day, was published by Valley Press in November 2020. Caroline’s debut novel, Composite Creatures, was published by Angry Robot in April 2021.

I wrote...

Composite Creatures

By Caroline Hardaker,

Book cover of Composite Creatures

What is my book about?

Set in a society where self-preservation is as much an art as a science, Composite Creatures follows Norah and Arthur, who are learning how to co-exist in their new little world. Though they hardly know each other, everything seems to be going perfectly—from the home they’re building together to the ring on Norah’s finger.

But survival in this world is a tricky thing, the air is thicker every day and illness creeps fast through the body. And the earth is becoming increasingly hostile to live in. Fortunately, Easton Grove is here for that in the form of a perfect little bundle to take home and harvest. You can live for as long as you keep it—or her—close.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Beauty

By Aliya Whiteley,

Book cover of The Beauty

Why this book?

Aliya Whiteley is one of my all-time favourite writers. I could’ve easily included a few of her books on my list!

The Beauty imagines a future world where the women are all gone, and the last men are eking out a survivalist existence. While the main protagonist is a man, the return of ‘the beauty’ shines a light on female power and importance. This gut-wrenching tale sits somewhere between body horror and ancient fable—a place where your skin crawls and your mind can’t stop thinking about what you’d just read.

The Edible Woman

By Margaret Atwood,

Book cover of The Edible Woman

Why this book?

Somehow insidious yet funny, The Edible Woman explores emotional cannibalism and the destructive power of man-woman relationships. Our protagonist, Marian, exists in a world of robotic emotions and mechanical compulsions. When faced with her upcoming nuptuals, Marian begins to see food as living and suffering entities, and as this modern fable progresses, we begin to understand the nature of humanity is to eat or be eaten.

The Vegetarian

By Han Kang,

Book cover of The Vegetarian

Why this book?

Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. Seems simple enough, but Yeong-hye’s journey takes the reader on a very unexpected and increasingly disturbing journey…

The Memory Police

By Yoko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder (translator),

Book cover of The Memory Police

Why this book?

This short novel still clings to me, even though I read it many years ago. It feels uncannyincredibly familiar and yet very wrong. It’s a surreal fable about memory and the trauma of losing the things that make us, us.

Set on an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island's inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the Memory Police. When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she decides to hide him under her floorboards.

Witch Light

By Susan Fletcher,

Book cover of Witch Light

Why this book?

While this book isn’t necessarily a horror, this slow, poetic, and tragic story about a young girl born in the wrong time hits me right in the heart. Corrag is a wild young girl from the mountains of Scotland who has been imprisoned as a witch. It’s 1692, and in a cold, filthy cell, she awaits her fate of death by burning—until she is visited by a young Irishman, hungry to question her. Corrag’s story flows from the beautiful poetic descriptions of wild Scottish life to the brutal Massacre of Glencoe in a style that’s absolutely unforgettable.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in romantic love, dystopia, and gender roles?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about romantic love, dystopia, and gender roles.

Romantic Love Explore 417 books about romantic love
Dystopia Explore 233 books about dystopia
Gender Roles Explore 70 books about gender roles

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Giver, Station Eleven, and The Girl With All the Gifts if you like this list.