The best books of modern Lovecraftian horror

Paul StJohn Mackintosh Author Of Blowback
By Paul StJohn Mackintosh

Who am I?

I believe that H.P. Lovecraft, only now appreciated at his full stature, has spawned a whole generation of equally brilliant writers who make modern weird horror the most vibrant, confrontational, and relevant of all current genres. He looms over today’s literature and pop culture like Cthulhu looms over the sea, and his heirs include some of the best writers of their generation. As a much-travelled Scottish writer, I’ve needed tools to tackle the chaotic, disorienting contemporary experience, as well as the darkest, most imaginative strains of my own Celtic legacy. Lovecraftian horrorthrough HPL’s explicit mythos or simply his implicit sensibility—served up the palette I needed to do that. 


I wrote...

Blowback

By Paul StJohn Mackintosh,

Book cover of Blowback

What is my book about?

Blowback delves deep into the dark, twisted roots of human nature and human sexuality. Using desire to dissect the delusions and dilemmas of will, choice, and identity, this collection challenges genre boundaries and social conventions. Transgressive, confrontational, passionate, poignant, these sinister stories touch on every shade of black, from noir to the Lovecraftian cosmic abyss. Readers may be horrified, touched, tempted—never unmoved.

The books I picked & why

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The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan

By Caitlin R. Kiernan,

Book cover of The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan

Why this book?

Caitlín R. Kiernan is one of the most prolific, versatile, inventive dark fantasy and horror writers living. Her unique transgressive perspective has won her multiple awards, and her repertoire of styles is as vast as her prose is dazzling. From cosmic horror thrillers to twisted romance, she deepens and enriches every genre she engages with. This collection is an excellent sample across her wide range—and a lure to hook you and draw you deeper into her work.

The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan

By Caitlin R. Kiernan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Pure genius."—New York Times

“Lyrically compelling tales that are nearly impossible to stop reading...fans of weird writers like Carmen Maria Machado, Jeff VanderMeer, and China Mieville will be glad to find this volume and thereby discover a writer who inspired them all.”
—Booklist

Caitlín R. Kiernan is one of dark fantasy and horror’s most acclaimed and influential short fiction writers. Her powerful, unexpected stories shatter morality, gender, and sexuality: a reporter is goaded by her toxic girlfriend into visiting sadistic art exhibits; a countess in a decaying movie theater is sated by her servants; a collector offers his greatest achievement…


The Fisherman

By John Langan,

Book cover of The Fisherman

Why this book?

John Langan is renowned for turning horror on its head, picking apart its hoariest tropes, and reassembling them in fascinating new forms. The Fisherman is his most complete single work, massive in its scope if not its page count, and filled with imagery that sticks its barbs into your imagination and will not let go. It’s also poignant and always sensitive to the human emotions of its protagonists—even face to face with monsters. It’s the sort of story whose core conception becomes part of your mental framework, like Mordor or Gormenghast—read once, never forgotten. 

The Fisherman

By John Langan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Fisherman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman's Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other's company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It's…


The Imago Sequence and Other Stories

By Laird Barron,

Book cover of The Imago Sequence and Other Stories

Why this book?

Laird Barron may be the Robert E. Howard of modern horror and weird fiction—or its Dashiell Hammett. So hard-boiled you could break rocks with it, his prose is ferociously energetic, brutally unsettling, and consummately capable of crafting its own phantasmagoric world. If Melville was resurrected and took to writing plots for Quentin Tarantino, the result might be Laird Barron. The Imago Sequence is among his best collections, but almost any of them is equally strong.

The Imago Sequence and Other Stories

By Laird Barron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To the long tradition of eldritch horror pioneered and refined by writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub, and Thomas Ligotti comes Laird Barron, an author whose literary voice invokes the grotesque, the devilish, and the perverse with rare intensity and astonishing craftsmanship.

Collected here for the first time are nine terrifying tales of cosmic horror, including the World Fantasy Award-nominated novella "The Imago Sequence," the International Horror Guild Award-nominated "Proboscis," and the never-before-published "Procession of the Black Sloth." Together, these stories, each a masterstroke of craft and imaginative irony, form a shocking cycle of distorted evolution, encroaching chaos, and…


The Fuller Memorandum

By Charles Stross,

Book cover of The Fuller Memorandum

Why this book?

As a horror writer, I have a thick skin for horror writing. Charles Stross is one of the few authors whose darkest work still chills me when I read it. He’s also one of the most purely enjoyable self-confessed inheritors of Lovecraft’s mantle—teasing and subverting it constantly, while effortlessly tipping readers from chuckles to shivers. His humour only reinforces the horror. I rate The Fuller Memorandum highest in his Laundry Files series of sardonic occult espionage—rich in slightly reframed historical detail, compulsive as any thriller, quietly chilling in its implications.

The Fuller Memorandum

By Charles Stross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bob Howard is an IT specialist and field agent for the Laundry, the branch of Her Majesty's secret service that deals with occult threats.

Overworked and underpaid, Bob is used to his two jobs overflowing from a strict nine to five and, since his wife Mo has a very similar job description, he understands that work will sometimes follow her home, too. But when 'work' involves zombie assassins and minions of a mad god's cult, he realises things are spinning out of control.

When a top-secret dossier goes missing and his boss Angleton is implicated, Bob must contend with suspiciously…


Teatro Grottesco

By Thomas Ligotti,

Book cover of Teatro Grottesco

Why this book?

Thomas Ligotti is the only modern horror writer I know to be honoured with a Penguin Classics volume. He’s also described himself as the only horror writer who still truly writes real horror, and this collection shows you why. Ligotti is a self-consciously literary and stylistically brilliant wordsmith, who deliberately dresses his unspeakable horrors up in the most captivating prose he can, and he can do more with one sentence than many writers can with entire books. Teatro Grottesco includes work from across his entire career, and it’s as articulate an introduction to his pessimistic, disturbing worldview as his philosophical works. Potentially genuinely unhealthy; certainly unmissable.

Teatro Grottesco

By Thomas Ligotti,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Teatro Grottesco as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thomas Ligotti is often cited as the most curious and remarkable figure in horror literature since H. P. Lovecraft. His work is noted by critics for its display of an exceptionally grotesque imagination and accomplished prose style. In his stories, Ligotti has followed a literary tradition that began with Edgar Allan Poe, portraying characters that are outside of anything that might be called normal life, depicting strange locales far off the beaten track, and rendering a grim vision of human existence as a perpetual nightmare. The horror stories collected in Teatro Grottesco feature tormented individuals who play out their doom…


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