The best books with great horror and dark fantasy off the beaten track

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been reading Horror and Dark Fantasy books since I was twelve and prefer this genre over any other. The depths of the human psyche explored in these genres expose the core of storytelling itself and the themes that make the best stories really come alive!


I wrote...

A Halloween Tale

By Austin Crawley,

Book cover of A Halloween Tale

What is my book about?

Five teenagers enter the neighborhood haunted house looking for spooky adventures for Halloween. What they find is more than they bargained for, but now they can't get out!

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of High Moor

Austin Crawley Why did I love this book?

This is a werewolf story with teeth.

For people who like traditional scary werewolves and a well written, believable community structure and strong plot and characters, this one is top of the class. There are characters to love, characters to hate and no punches pulled on who might get slaughtered.

The best part is that you still want to see the werewolves win.

By Graeme Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked High Moor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When John Simpson hears of a bizarre animal attack in his old hometown of High Moor, it stirs memories of a long-forgotten horror. John knows the truth. A werewolf stalks the town once more, and on the night of the next full moon, the killing will begin again. He should know. He survived a werewolf attack in 1986, during the worst year of his life.


However, the consequences of his actions, the reappearance of an old flame and a dying man who will save or damn him are the least of his problems. The night of the full moon is…


Book cover of Dance of the Goblins

Austin Crawley Why did I love this book?

For Fantasy readers who wonder why goblins are always at war with humans.

The three books together are epic in scale and the friendship between the leader of the humans and one of the old wise ones among the goblins will be awesome for Dark Fantasy readers who recognize that goblin culture is very different from humans.

Some recognizable mythology is worked into the story and makes perfect sense, especially the purpose of changelings. Also there are dragons, especially in the second book. A strange symbiotic relationship between dragons and goblins is very original and the diversity of different types of goblins makes this Fantasy world one of a kind!

By Jaq D Hawkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dance of the Goblins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The cult Fantasy book that started it all!Discover a dark world where legends begin and natural magic reignsThey say that the earth shifts on its axis every 200,000 years...When the planet shifted, most of the surface dwellers were destroyed. The few pockets of survivors were left without technology and little supplies, but they built a simple feudal society on the rubble of the city.Meanwhile the creatures in the deep places moved closer to the surface, taking over the old underground transport tunnels abandoned by the humans. Their own Shamanic way of life had survived only by staying out of sight…


Book cover of Ghosts of the Sea Moon

Austin Crawley Why did I love this book?

This Dark Fantasy story about gods of the sea interacting with souls of the dead has everything a good sea monster story has to offer and more.

A ship captain, who is also a god, tries to rescue the souls of drowned sailors before his sister sends her creatures to eat them, losing their souls to the world forever.

By A F Stewart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ghosts of the Sea Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Outer Islands, gods and magic rule the ocean.


Under the command of Captain Rafe Morrow, the crew of the Celestial Jewel ferry souls to the After World and defend the seas from monsters. Rafe has dedicated his life to protecting the lost, but the tides have shifted and times have changed.
His sister, the Goddess of the Moon, is on a rampage and her creatures are terrorizing the islands. The survival of the living and dead hinge on the courage and cunning of a beleaguered captain and his motley crew of men and ghosts.
What he doesn't know…


Book cover of Dawn of Assassins

Austin Crawley Why did I love this book?

Fedor insists they are thieves, not assassins, but his mentor and a ravenglass dagger say otherwise.

This is a fascinating Dark Fantasy series with magical weapons and wyverns with personality and dark secrets, not least of all their association with the Assassins Guild. Two unlikely anti-heroes get deeper and deeper into trouble with protection gangs, a totally insane assassin who chooses Fedor to replace himself, and a brutal world where danger lurks behind every choice.

By Jon Cronshaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dawn of Assassins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fedor is a thief…

…not a killer.

But when a master assassin recruits him as his next apprentice, he is forced into a life he does not want and cannot escape.

If he leaves, he will die.

But if he stays, he must kill.

Can he survive the master’s relentless evaluation?

From the best-selling author of The Ravenglass Chronicles, comes a gritty young adult dark fantasy adventure featuring a new cast of unforgettable characters.

With fast-paced action, swashbuckling, and witty banter, Dawn of Assassins is perfect for fans of roguish fantasy in the tradition of Michael J. Sullivan, Scott Lynch,…


Book cover of The Bad Seed: A Vintage Movie Classic

Austin Crawley Why did I love this book?

This is a forgotten treasure that was made into a movie before many of us were born.

A little girl, Rhoda Penmark, looks so sweet and can get away with anything, even murder. Unfortunate accidents always happen when Rhoda doesn't get what she wants. Eventually her mother has to face the truth, that her sweet little girl is a cold-hearted killer and will do whatever it takes to have her way. Every parent's worst nightmare!

By William March,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Bad Seed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling novel that inspired Mervyn LeRoy’s classic horror film about the little girl who can get away with anything—even murder.
 
There’s something special about eight-year-old Rhoda Penmark. With her carefully plaited hair and her sweet cotton dresses, she’s the very picture of old-fashioned innocence. But when their neighborhood suffers a series of terrible accidents, her mother begins to wonder: Why do bad things seem to happen when little Rhoda is around?
 
Originally published in 1954, William March’s final novel was an instant bestseller and National Book Award finalist before it was adapted for the stage and made into a…


You might also like...

Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of Rip Current

Sharon Ward Author Of In Deep

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.

Sharon's book list on mysteries set on a tropical island

What is my book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.

Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary. When a young internet influencer…

Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

What is this book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.
Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary.
Soon after a young internet…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in goblins, serial killers, and werewolves?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about goblins, serial killers, and werewolves.

Goblins Explore 29 books about goblins
Serial Killers Explore 299 books about serial killers
Werewolves Explore 133 books about werewolves