The best woman-led horror novels

Who am I?

I'm a horror writer based in Colorado, and I spent my childhood in a variety of wild, untamed places. Horror that uses location as its antagonist is one of my favorite things because I understand how quickly–and easily–a beautiful place can become sinister. It’s not enough to go to a scary place; these books are about what happens when the scary place starts to grow roots inside you, how it changes you. I have written two books that deal with this to some extent, the first about an abandoned coal mine, and the second about Antarctica, and if you like any of these, I hope you’ll consider trying one of mine! 


I wrote...

Book cover of To Break a Covenant

What is my book about?

Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit.

Clem and Nina form a perfect loop―best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena―sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. 
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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Hollow Places

Alison Ames Why did I love this book?

The Hollow Places follows Kara, who has returned to her childhood home in North Carolina, as she takes over running her uncle’s museum of eccentricities after he’s injured. If you love nature-based horror as much as I do, this is a must-read–when a portal opens up in the museum, Kara goes through it into a willow-filled, marshy world of rivers and doors and terrifying, hungry creatures. She has to find a way to protect her home from this new world, which seems desperate to spill into hers and consume it, leaving it hollow. 

By T. Kingfisher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Recently divorced and staring down the barrel of moving back in with her parents, Carrot really needs a break. And a place to live. So when her Uncle Earl, owner of the eclectic Wonder Museum, asks her to stay with him in exchange for cataloguing the exhibits, of course she says yes.

The Wonder Museum is packed with taxidermy, shrunken heads, and an assortment of Mystery Junk. For Carrot, it's not creepy at all: she grew up with it. What's creepy is the hole that's been knocked in one of the museum walls, and the corridor behind it. There's just…


Book cover of And the Trees Crept In

Alison Ames Why did I love this book?

This is almost a novel in verse; the way it’s written is beautiful and haunting and just slightly off-center in the best way. The chapter titles alone read like poetry. Silla and her sister Nori move to their ancestral home–a house the color of blood, set in the midst of dark woods–to escape abuse and war, but they quickly realize the horror they’ve left behind is nothing compared to what lives in the trees. This gothic read gets more and more claustrophobic, drawing you into the house and the way it changes its occupants as the forest closes in around them.

By Dawn Kurtagich,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked And the Trees Crept In as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt's home, it's immediately clear that the "blood manor" is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too--the questions that Silla can't ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that's appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?
Filled with just as many twists and turns as The Dead House, and with…


Book cover of The Luminous Dead

Alison Ames Why did I love this book?

As a writer who also loves to explore the idea, What if caves were terrifying, this is one of my all-time greats. Gyre is a cave diver who wrangles a difficult job mapping an unexplored area miles below the surface. She is sealed into a bio-suit that keeps her alive, and her only human contact is the voice of her handler, Em. The isolation, darkness, and closeness of the cave are mirrored in the way Gyre’s story unfolds; as the reader, you are trapped with her, stuck in the story the way she is stuck in the cave. The horror is unrelenting, both from the physical world of the cave, which is not as deserted as Gyre wants to believe, and from the cracks that form in her mind as she goes deeper and deeper. 

By Caitlin Starling,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Luminous Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bram Stoker Award nominee for Best First Novel!

"This claustrophobic, horror-leaning tour de force is highly recommended for fans of Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation and Andy Weir's The Martian." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she'd be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She…


Book cover of Sundial

Alison Ames Why did I love this book?

Sister relationships are tense and intimate and lifelong, and the one at the heart of Sundial is no exception. Rob tells the story of her childhood to her daughter Callie in the middle of the desert where she grew up, surrounded by buried bodies and a legacy of torture. Callie, accompanied by the ghost of a puppy and a transparent girl she calls Pale Callie, is struggling to understand herself, and the truth of her strangeness lies in her mother’s past. The life Rob shared with her twin sister Jack–raised in the wild by scientists who surgically alter dogs–unfolds in haunting, halting revelations, and the layers of the story go so much deeper than you’d expect. 

By Catriona Ward,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Sundial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK. Authentically terrifying.” —Stephen King

Sharp as a snakebite, Sundial is a gripping novel about the secrets we bury from the ones we love most, from Catriona Ward, the author of The Last House on Needless Street.

You can't escape what's in your blood...

Rob has spent her life running from Sundial, the family’s ranch deep in the Mojave Desert, and her childhood memories.

But she’s worried about her daughter, Callie, who collects animal bones and whispers to imaginary friends. It reminds her of a darkness that runs in her family, and Rob knows it’s time…


Book cover of Annihilation

Alison Ames Why did I love this book?

It is impossible to quickly describe the organic, seething horror of Area X, the strange place at the heart of the Southern Reach trilogy. A team of four women makes up the 12th expedition into the area, which has been closed for years, and they soon find out why firsthand. The way the terror of the book creeps over you is not unlike the strangling, fungal moss that grows all over Area X, sending spores into the lungs and minds of those who enter, changing them from the inside out. The team fractures as each woman tries to survive. The story is told through the biologist’s field journal, recovered after the expedition, and the contrast between the clinical, scientific writing and the increasingly bizarre, frightening things it describes makes it truly, lastingly unsettling. 

By Jeff VanderMeer,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Annihilation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A contemporary masterpiece' Guardian

THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE EXTRAORDINARY SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY - NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ALEX GARLAND (EX MACHINA) AND STARRING NATALIE PORTMAN AND OSCAR ISAAC

For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border - an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness.

The Southern Reach, a secretive government agency, has sent eleven expeditions to investigate Area X. One has ended in mass suicide, another in a hail of gunfire, the eleventh in a fatal cancer epidemic.

Now four women embark on the…


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Dinner with Churchill

By Robin Hawdon,

Book cover of Dinner with Churchill

Robin Hawdon Author Of Number Ten

New book alert!

Who am I?

My writing is eclectic and covers many topics. However, all my books tend to have a thriller element to them. Perhaps it's my career as an actor and playwright which has instilled the need to create suspense in all my writings. I sometimes feel that distinguished authors can get so carried away with their literary descriptions and philosophical insights that they forget to keep the story going! It is the need to know what happens next that keeps the reader turning the pages. Perhaps in achieving that some subtlety has to be sacrificed, but, hey, you don't read a political thriller to study the philosophical problems of governing nations!

Robin's book list on lone heroes and threats to national security

What is my book about?

This is a new novel by one of the UK's most prolific writers. It is based around an extraordinary true incident at the start of World War II when fierce political opponents Winston Churchill and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain encountered each other at a famous dinner party. Seen from the perspective of Lucy Armitage, a young girl suddenly conscripted by a strange stroke of fate into Churchill's overworked but adoring team of secretaries.

As Churchill prepares to take over the leadership of the nation, Lucy finds herself increasingly involved in her famous employer's phenomenal work output and eccentric habits. When romance and the world of espionage impinge on her life, she becomes a vital part of the eternal struggle between good and evil regimes that still exists today.

Dinner with Churchill

By Robin Hawdon,

What is this book about?

It is on historical record that, on the evening of October 13th 1939, six weeks after war had been declared on Hitler's Germany, Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, fierce and implacable opponents for years over the appeasement issue, met together with their two wives, Clementine and Anne, for a private dinner at Admiralty House, and event which caused ripples throughout Westminster.

Chamberlain was still Prime Minister, but had seen all his efforts to negotiate peace with Hitler shattered. Churchill had been recalled to the cabinet after ten years 'in the wilderness', his dire warnings of the Nazi threat vindicated.

Lucy…


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