The best books of Nordic horror guaranteed to get rid of “hygge”

The Books I Picked & Why

The Lost Village

By Camilla Sten, Alexandra Fleming

Book cover of The Lost Village

Why this book?

Anyone obsessing over the disappearance of the Roanoke settlers will enjoy this book. As will those that have never heard of the incident or couldn’t care less. It actually has nothing to do with Roanoke but at its core is the same type of mystery, the disappearance of the inhabitants of a whole town in the past. The pacing of the book is great and the creepiness is all-encompassing while you alternate between two timelines, accompanying a documentary crew in the present trying to make heads of what happened and the past events leading up to the mystery. To be corny, it is unputdownable.       

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The Darkest Room

By Johan Theorin

Book cover of The Darkest Room

Why this book?

Johan Theorin has received so much praise and accolades for this book that it feels a bit repetitive to heap more on. But here goes anyway. Like most of the books recommended here this one couples a mystery and a ghost story, never leaning completely to one side. The family moving into and restoring an old house is not exactly trailblazing in the ghostly realm but that does not matter at all. There is never too much of a good thing in my opinion. But make no mistake that a haunted house is not all that is being dealt with here, enter lighthouses, past shipwrecks, and drownings. Throw in present-day drug-addicted burglars, a tragedy, and excerpts from an old manuscript and the outcome is a master class in eeriness, drawing from an incredible sense of place and great storytelling.     

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The Girl Who Died: A Thriller

By Ragnar Jonasson

Book cover of The Girl Who Died: A Thriller

Why this book?

If small-town creepy mystery is your thing, then the setting of this book´s setting is the mother of all such premises. The book takes place in a small, remote fishing village with only a handful of inhabitants. None of which are exactly warm or welcoming to newcomers. We witness odd goings-on through the eyes of a young teacher, hired to teach the two children residing in the minuscule community. To add to the claustrophobic atmosphere of the situation, the attic room the protagonist is provided is haunted by the ghost of a young girl. This book is atmospheric and best enjoyed in a solitary environment, read by candlelight. Highly recommended for those in need of a creepy, ghostly fix.    

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Let the Right One in

By John Ajvide Lindqvist, Ebba Segerberg

Book cover of Let the Right One in

Why this book?

I am not impressed by vampire novels as I always feel as if I am being gypped into reading romance. First off, this book is not that book, although it involves a vampire. A twelve-year-old vampire to be exact, the best kind. I will admit that it will not leave you sleeping with the lights on or weaving a garlic necklace. It is understated when it comes to jump scares but manages to evoke dread nonetheless. What I loved about the book is its fresh take on vampires, the morose setting, and the no holds barred gruesomeness. So many things go sideways in such horrible ways that it is hard to pick the most harrowing scene from the buffet of depravity on offer. However, it is by no means a gorefest written by a nut job. It is extremely well written and does not disrespect the idea of a vampire by shrouding the story in sugar-coated romance.   

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I Am Behind You

By John Ajvide Lindqvist

Book cover of I Am Behind You

Why this book?

It is only fair that John Ajvide Lindqvist gets two mentions out of my five. He is the Nordic author most committed to the genre and damn good at it to boot. As a result, there was a lot to choose from and yet I decided on the title that is possibly the least likely to hold mass appeal, despite a premise that might seem most horror reader’s cup of tea. Ten people in campervans, plus a dog and a cat, wake up to find the world as they knew it has disappeared. What happens next is presented from a multiple POW and is disturbing, harrowing, gory, and creepy. The part that is not for everyone is that the story is hard to wrap your head around. But for those horror aficionados that do not need a perfect explanation at the end are in for a hell of a ride and therefore the novel is highly recommended.  

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