The best horror novels you’ve probably never heard of but should have

David Allen Voyles Author Of Tales from the Hearse: Thirteen Tales of Spine-Tingling Terror
By David Allen Voyles

Who am I?

I have loved Halloween horror my whole life. As a teacher of literature, I always looked forward to October when I had a green light to incorporate the greatest horror authors into my lessons. The desire to share new horror stories did not fade when I retired. There are so many wonderful new authors of horror it’s impossible to read them all! But there’s also a lot of trash out there—I know, I’ve read it! My lifelong love of spooky things and my background in literature make me confident that I won’t be steering readers wrong when they look to me for the best new reads in horror.


I wrote...

Tales from the Hearse: Thirteen Tales of Spine-Tingling Terror

By David Allen Voyles,

Book cover of Tales from the Hearse: Thirteen Tales of Spine-Tingling Terror

What is my book about?

David Allen Voyles evokes his past role as Virgil Nightshade, the storyteller and ghost tour host, with this collection of thirteen stories of the macabre. One can easily imagine riding in the back of his 1972 Cadillac hearse through a spooky graveyard listening to him tell his tales of horror just as his customers did in Asheville, NC. If you love ghost stories, haunted houses, and walks through the graveyard, climb in the hearse and take a dark ride with David Allen Voyles. Just make sure your doors are locked.

The books I picked & why

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The Occultists

By Polly Schattel,

Book cover of The Occultists

Why this book?

I love a good coming-of-age story coupled with supernatural events in a period-piece setting, and that’s exactly what Polly Schattel serves up. Her cinematic style of story-telling (her filmmaking past is obvious) offers up a vivid picture of her protagonist, young Max Grahame as he journeys literally across the country from his home in Georgia and metaphorically as he discovers more about who he is and what his budding supernatural talents entail. Schattel is also a master of creating rich supporting characters ranging from the other children whom Max meets as he first undergoes his occult training to the mysterious adults whose spiritual machinations are woven into the history of this turn-of-the-century setting. This book begs to be made into a movie, but Schattel helps you create one in your head.

The Occultists

By Polly Schattel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sssshhhhhhhh...

For Edwardian-era spiritualists and illusionists, silence is more than a strategy; it's a way of life. And when Max Grahame, a bullied, small-town teen, discovers a secretive world of occultism and séances right under his nose, he can hardly contain his excitement.

But as Max begins his conjurer's lessons in earnest, his newfound knowledge exposes the group's dark and deeply sinister designs, leading a game of supernatural cat and mouse that takes him from the ancient hills of rural Georgia and the mystic plains of the Midwest to fin-de-siècle Manhattan...and beyond.

Impeccably researched and wildly imaginative, The Occultists is…


The Boatman's Daughter

By Andy Davidson,

Book cover of The Boatman's Daughter

Why this book?

Through his magnificent prose, Andy Davidson reveals a wonderfully terrifying mythology as he tells the story of Miranda Crabtree, a strong young woman orphaned in the rugged bayou country of Arkansas. Aside from caring for herself in the harshest of environments, Miranda looks after one of the most unique characters I’ve ever experienced. I reluctantly refuse to say more about that relationship since I don’t want to give any spoilers. Despite its dark, fairy tale vibe, The Boatman’s Daughter includes modern threats for Miranda like drug-dealing thugs and corrupt cops, but the supernatural has a strong, constant brooding presence. If you especially like tough, female protagonists as I do, this story fits the bill.

The Boatman's Daughter

By Andy Davidson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boatman's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

But dark forces are at work in the bayou, both human and supernatural, conspiring to disrupt the rhythms of Miranda's peculiar and precarious life. And when the preacher makes an unthinkable demand, it sets Miranda on a desperate, dangerous path, forcing her to consider what she is willing to sacrifice to keep her loved ones safe.

With the heady myth making of Neil Gaiman and the heartrending pacing of Joe Hill, Andy Davidson spins a thrilling tale of love and duty, of loss and discovery. The Boatman's Daughter is a gorgeous, horrifying novel, a journey into the dark corners of…


Ghost Story: The Road Home

By Jason Stokes,

Book cover of Ghost Story: The Road Home

Why this book?

“Blood on the sheets again.” If that opening line doesn’t get you, then nothing will. Jason Stokes’s precise diction and concise descriptions still give the reader clear visual images of the nightmarish scenes in his road trip ghost story. In the terrifying first scene Stokes sets up the premise—that 26-year-old Justin has been plagued with the presence of the dead throughout his life, but the frequency and intensity of his visitations have increased lately, and Justin doesn’t know why. A cross-country trip appears to be the only way Justin will find his answers, and the supernatural encounters he experiences in richly depicted locations like the streets of New Orleans, a cemetery in Key West, and even a dark stretch of road in the middle of nowhere gave me some of the best chills I’ve ever gotten from reading. The story is definitely enriched by Justin’s road companion, a character I’m sure you’ll fall in love with, but you’ll have to learn all about that relationship on your own. No further hints from me.

Ghost Story: The Road Home

By Jason Stokes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Justin has seen the dead since he was nine years old.

Now at twenty-six, he's discovering the rules between their world and his aren't the same as they've always been. Devastated by tragedy and haunted by his past, he sets off on a cross country mission with Whitney, his only friend, to find the one person who can tell him who and what he really is.


Tears of Grief Hollow

By Shawn Burgess,

Book cover of Tears of Grief Hollow

Why this book?

I think author Shawn Burgess loves Halloween as much as I do, and it shows in his writing. We connected, as many writers do, through social media before I had read his debut novel. I was thrilled to find that I did not have to offer only polite compliments after reading it; I genuinely loved it! The story involves a group of boys who are drawn into the mystery surrounding the death of an autistic girl in their small Appalachian community. The feel of the group is reminiscent of the pre-teen characters in Stephen King’s short story, “The Body” (later made into the Rob Reiner’s movie Stand By Me) but unlike King’s story, this one definitely has otherworldly elements. Note: The title of this novel has just recently changed from The Tear Collector as Burgess has expanded the storyline into a series. I’ll definitely keep reading.

Tears of Grief Hollow

By Shawn Burgess,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tears of Grief Hollow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The misdeeds of our ancestors are debts passed from generation to generation. They lurk, hidden in the shadows, waiting for the right time to be collected. For the residents of Harper Pass—their debt is due.

When a young autistic girl goes missing from a small Appalachian community, the residents of Harper Pass descend into chaos. Brooks Raker and his friends stumble across the police investigation, and as they dig deeper into the mysterious events, the boys realize the fate of their missing classmate pales in comparison with the evil lurking in the shadows of the quiet little town.

With four…


Grind Your Bones to Dust

By Nicholas Day,

Book cover of Grind Your Bones to Dust

Why this book?

Rarely does a book that is beautifully written (so much so that I found myself jealous of Nicholas Day’s prose) also give me such a visceral punch in the gut. I don’t mean to suggest that the scenes in Day’s book are beautiful; they are anything but. The story includes the threat of flesh-eating donkeys for crying out loud, but as ridiculous as that might sound, they are truly terrifying. The scenes and events are hard, gritty, violent, and depressing, but somehow, I found them exhilarating. I often buy books to read on my Kindle for economic reasons, but after reading this one, I had to order a physical copy for my library. The setting of GYBTD strikes me as perhaps being appropriate in the universe of Stephen King’s gunslinger in the Dark Tower series (another of my very favorite pieces of literature). Just writing about Grind Your Bones to Dust has made me want to go back and read it again.

Grind Your Bones to Dust

By Nicholas Day,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grind Your Bones to Dust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


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