100 books like Hard Places

By Kirstyn McDermott,

Here are 100 books that Hard Places fans have personally recommended if you like Hard Places. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Dead Sea Fruit

Matthew R. Davis Author Of Bites Eyes: 13 Macabre Morsels

From my list on Australian short story collections with real bite.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a horror writer to the core, always have been, so few things get me as interested as a great collection of short stories. I can remember a few corkers that really put the wind up me as a kid, and it seems I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since! Australia is my home, and it has a broad and diverse genre scene that deserves a lot more attention – I’ve befriended a great many authors of horror, fantasy, SF, and all points in between, and to a person they are lovely, generous, and talented. I’m doing my part to draw attention to the proliferation of vital voices down here.

Matthew's book list on Australian short story collections with real bite

Matthew R. Davis Why did Matthew love this book?

Kaaron is a heavy-hitting award winner and a regular in Ellen Datlow’s anthologies, and here are over two dozen reasons why.

Her stories hum with a dark, merciless truth that makes their often-outlandish nature all the more believable; the worlds we find here are weird indeed, the peoples who populate them lonely and unsatisfied, the fates that await them uncaring and memorable.

But the writing is far from dour, imbued with a wry humour and implacable intelligence, and while it ranges unrestrained across bizarre horror, grim fantasy, and deeply personal SF, Kaaron is always entirely in control.

Lend her your attention and she won’t steer you wrong – her imagination and integrity have been an inspiration to me for many years.

By Kaaron Warren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by Kaaron Warren


Book cover of Cut to Care: A Collection of Little Hurts

Matthew R. Davis Author Of Bites Eyes: 13 Macabre Morsels

From my list on Australian short story collections with real bite.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a horror writer to the core, always have been, so few things get me as interested as a great collection of short stories. I can remember a few corkers that really put the wind up me as a kid, and it seems I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since! Australia is my home, and it has a broad and diverse genre scene that deserves a lot more attention – I’ve befriended a great many authors of horror, fantasy, SF, and all points in between, and to a person they are lovely, generous, and talented. I’m doing my part to draw attention to the proliferation of vital voices down here.

Matthew's book list on Australian short story collections with real bite

Matthew R. Davis Why did Matthew love this book?

Much extreme horror presents us with cardboard characters who are ripped and torn with no real consequence – but Aaron gives us deeply felt people who pulse on the page, which means it really hurts me as a reader when he subjects them to brutal and unforgiving fates.

His fiction aches like unacknowledged truth, displaying an empathy that doesn’t gloss over the horrors of this world and the next, and feels intimately personal whether he's delving into family dramas, failed relationships, queer themes, or sophisticated splatter.

While his work mostly details the horrors we inflict upon each other, even with the best of intentions, it’s too broad to be kept in one box – and if it was, it would surely cut its way out and come for your heart next. 

By Aaron Dries,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cut to Care as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An agency that sends social workers into the homes of grieving families to impersonate dead loved ones... The kind old woman who saved a teenager's life but now finds herself haunted by the weight of a cheated suicide... And the daughter of a candlestick maker as she tries to survive a painful existence after her father's execution for making human chandeliers of drunken cowboys... These stories and more-ranging from supernatural to the frighteningly domestic, Splatterpunk to the weird and cosmic-stain the pages of Cut to Care: A Collection of Little Hurts by Aaron Dries. They serve as a timely reminder…


Book cover of The Gulp

Matthew R. Davis Author Of Bites Eyes: 13 Macabre Morsels

From my list on Australian short story collections with real bite.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a horror writer to the core, always have been, so few things get me as interested as a great collection of short stories. I can remember a few corkers that really put the wind up me as a kid, and it seems I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since! Australia is my home, and it has a broad and diverse genre scene that deserves a lot more attention – I’ve befriended a great many authors of horror, fantasy, SF, and all points in between, and to a person they are lovely, generous, and talented. I’m doing my part to draw attention to the proliferation of vital voices down here.

Matthew's book list on Australian short story collections with real bite

Matthew R. Davis Why did Matthew love this book?

Alan is less interested than the preceding authors in distracting poesy and deep characterisation – which is not to say that he is without sophistication, but rather that he prefers to twist the throttle hard and race through his stories like he has a metal gig to catch.

His two-fisted prose pulls no punches in this collection of five linked novellas about an odd Aussie country town, delivering bold thrills, shiversome delights, and wince-worthy kills.

Alan sets an example for myself and other local writers with his upstanding, no-shit attitude and open generosity, and those who don’t have the pleasure of knowing him personally will nonetheless feel welcomed into his world whenever they crack the covers of his books.

By Alan Baxter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Gulp (Tales From The Gulp #1)

Strange things happen in The Gulp. The residents have grown used to it.

The isolated Australian harbour town of Gulpepper is not like other places. Some maps don't even show it. And only outsiders use the full name. Everyone who lives there calls it The Gulp. The place has a habit of swallowing people.

A truck driver thinks the stories about The Gulp are made up to scare him. Until he gets there.
Teenage siblings try to cover up the death of their mother, but their plans go drastically awry.
A rock band…


Book cover of Metamorphosis: Short Stories

Matthew R. Davis Author Of Bites Eyes: 13 Macabre Morsels

From my list on Australian short story collections with real bite.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a horror writer to the core, always have been, so few things get me as interested as a great collection of short stories. I can remember a few corkers that really put the wind up me as a kid, and it seems I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since! Australia is my home, and it has a broad and diverse genre scene that deserves a lot more attention – I’ve befriended a great many authors of horror, fantasy, SF, and all points in between, and to a person they are lovely, generous, and talented. I’m doing my part to draw attention to the proliferation of vital voices down here.

Matthew's book list on Australian short story collections with real bite

Matthew R. Davis Why did Matthew love this book?

Claire is an irreverent delight in person, but you won’t see much of that persona in her stories – this book is heavy with gooey and bizarre body horror that always has a deeply personal context for her characters.

She’s admitted that writing is a vehicle for talking about her epilepsy, but you don’t need to share that with her to relate to the strange changes that take place on her pages.

This is just her first collection, an opening salvo across the bow of Australian horror, so it will be interesting indeed to see how her work evolves and metamorphosises over time – to meet the creature that crawls, slime-slicked and hungry, from the casing of her next books.

By Claire Fitzpatrick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This short story collection includes 17 tales of terror. Madeline will never become a woman. William will never become a man. Does June deserve to be human? Does Lilith deserve a heart? If imperfection is crucial to a society’s survival, what makes a monster?


Book cover of I Will Rot Without You

Roland Blackburn Author Of Seventeen Names for Skin

From my list on body horror to rot your mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

Obsession and mania have never been far from my heart, and with that has always come the certainty that everything we build can fall apart. I’ve always been fascinated by our frail bodies; what they can do, what they can’t, and the limits we can all be pushed to. People are forced to their extremes, day after day, and that this can happen to anybody at any time has always attracted my imagination. Something shatters. Bones break. Flesh twists. And, in itself, the incident is never the end. Afterward, what’s left? This question haunts me through every word that I write.

Roland's book list on body horror to rot your mind

Roland Blackburn Why did Roland love this book?

Crawling with cockroaches, mold, and touching moments, this dark love story of a protagonist unable to move on and his neighbor whose boyfriend is so controlling he’s stitched himself to her is a bizarro classic. I’ve lived with both pretty abhorrent apartments and breakups, and the grotesque escalation of the novel as both the protagonist and their dwelling fall apart get under my skin in the best way possible. Full of nightmarish yet recognizable characters (maybe this says a lot about me), the plot propels itself forward through so many twists and turns that the ending is a true surprise. Slater’s ability to fascinate and repulse in equal measure is on full display as he explores the nightmare side of relationships, and I can’t help but sympathize with the protagonist as their heartbreak causes a brutal and irrecoverable decay.

You can’t know where this one is going. Even as the…

By Danger Slater,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Will Rot Without You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WHEN THE WORLD FALLS APART AND YOUR BODY STARTS TO ROT, LET THE ROACHES LEAD.

Meet Ernie. His life is a mess. Gretchen's gone, and the apartment they once shared in this grey, grim city is now overrun with intelligent mold and sinister bugs.

Then his neighbor Dee shows up, so smart and lovely. If he can just get past the fact that her jealous boyfriend could reach out of her blouse and punch him in the face at any moment, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Unfortunately for all involved, a Great Storm is coming and…


Book cover of Poor Things

Anna McFarlane Author Of Cyberpunk Culture and Psychology: Seeing through the Mirrorshades

From my list on body horror birth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lecturer in medical humanities at the University of Leeds in England and I’m currently writing a book about the portrayal of traumatic pregnancy in fantastic literature (science fiction, horror, fantasy…). ‘Medical humanities’ is a field of study that looks at medical issues using the tools of the humanities, so it encompasses things like history of medicine, bioethics, and (my specialty) literature and medicine. Thinking about literature through the lens of traumatic pregnancy has led me to some fascinating, gory, and philosophical books, some of which I’m including on this list. 

Anna's book list on body horror birth

Anna McFarlane Why did Anna love this book?

Recently adapted as a film by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Emma Stone, Alasdair Gray’s novel of birth and creation is another example of the complicated and horrific birth stories that I find so fascinating.

When the dead body of a young, pregnant woman is pulled from the River Clyde in Glasgow, a local scientist, Godwin Baxter, takes it upon himself to create a new life, by installing the unborn baby’s brain in its mother’s head and bringing the new creation to life.

Gray’s grisly premise leads to a satire on education and complacency in light of social injustice. It's funny, and there are plenty of sly postmodern comments on reality and how we understand the past. Gray illustrated his own books, and his image of Bella as ‘Bella Caledonia’ is, I think, a brilliant image of a strong woman that has become iconic in Scotland and beyond.

By Alasdair Gray,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What strange secret made rich, beautiful, tempestuous Bella Baxter irresistible to the poor Scottish medical student Archie McCandless? Was it her mysterious origin in the home of his monstrous friend Godwin Baxter, the genius whose voice could perforate eardrums? This story of true love and scientific daring whirls the reader from the private operating-theatres of late-Victorian Glasgow through aristocratic casinos, low-life Alexandria and a Parisian bordello, reaching an interrupted climax in a Scottish church.


Book cover of The Cipher

Paul Jessup Author Of Glass House

From my list on horror that will blow your mind (kaboom).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved weird horror from a young age, and that passion only grew as the years went on. It all started when I was ten, and I got an anthology of classic horror for my birthday. Inside I read The White People by Machen, Cast the Runes by MR James, and The Colour Out of Space by Lovecraft, and I was hooked. Ever since then I chased that same thrill of the horror that is so out there and strange it just breaks your brain and changes you inside out. I have a feeling I’ll be chasing that obsession until the end of my days.

Paul's book list on horror that will blow your mind (kaboom)

Paul Jessup Why did Paul love this book?

A very dark turn in my list, indeed. A hole opens up in their apartment, who knows who or why? It doesn’t matter. They dub it the funhole, and would do what any of us would do, and start sticking things inside of it. Things get dark, fast.

If you want to be up all night, unable to sleep, give this book a whirl.

By Kathe Koja,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kathe Koja's classic, award-winning horror novel is finally available as an ebook.

Nicholas, a would-be poet, and Nakota, his feral lover, discover a strange hole in the storage room floor down the hall - "Black. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you look at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive." It begins with curiosity, a joke - the Funhole down the hall. But then the experiments begin. "Wouldn't it be wild to go down there?" says Nakota. Nicholas says "We're not." But they're not in control, not from the first moment, as…


Book cover of The Troop

Alan Baxter Author Of Blood Covenant

From my list on novels set outside of America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a horror fan since I first read The Fog by James Herbert at much too young an age. Being British-born and now Australian, the horror I write is almost always set outside America (and the UK more and more often), and I’m always on the lookout for good horror fiction set in different places. I’m fascinated by cultural folklore and mythology and how people create stories to understand the world. For three years, I was President of the Australasian Horror Writers Association.

Alan's book list on novels set outside of America

Alan Baxter Why did Alan love this book?

I love horror novels that center on a group of characters, in this case, a scout troop in the wilds of an island off Canada. I enjoy the dynamics that can be explored when an ensemble cast like this is set against a terrible threat.

Despite my usual preference for supernatural horror, I also enjoyed this one for its scientific explanations of what the troop faces. It was a clever and disturbing exploration of where science can sometimes lead to awful outcomes.

By Nick Cutter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'THE TROOP scared the hell out of me, and I couldn't put it down. Not for the faint-hearted' STEPHEN KING

He felt something touch his hand. Which is when he looked down.

For the scouts of Troop 52, three days of camping, hiking and survival lessons on Falstaff Island is as close as they'll get to a proper holiday.

Which was when he saw it.

But when an emaciated figure stumbles into their camp asking for food, the trip takes a horrifying turn. The man is not just hungry, he's sick. Sick in a way they have never seen before.…


Book cover of Cravings: An Extreme Horror Novelette

Angel Gelique Author Of Man Cave

From my list on disturbing horror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a passionate lover of all things horror. I strive to take my readers on an unforgettable journey, one that often places them well out of their comfort zone. I believe that horror should make readers uncomfortable, whether through a mounting sense of unease or full-blown exposure to gore and depravity. I do my best to pull readers into my stories so that they can almost personally experience the horrors. If I don’t make them cringe and wince, then I have failed. As outrageous as my books may be, they're not full of violence and gore for the sake of mere shock value. I do my best to create well-developed characters with thought-provoking and immersive storylines. 

Angel's book list on disturbing horror

Angel Gelique Why did Angel love this book?

Some might say that this is a really crappy story. I will agree only to the extent that this book does, in fact, center on feces. Sara Todd is pregnant and she’s not craving pickles and ice cream!

This book is brilliantly written. McCluskey presents a most vile and disgusting story—one that is ripe with imagery and depravity. There’s not much that shocks and disturbs me, to be honest, but this book had me muttering, “No, oh no, no, no” in anticipation of the nasty deeds. Each one seemed progressively worse. It will likely turn your stomach and surely disgust you!

By D.E. McCluskey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sarah Todd doesn’t believe in cravings. She’s pregnant and determined to live the next seven months giving the baby all they nutrients it needs to grow into a healthy baby boy, or girl. The baby, however, has other plans. How far is she willing to go to succumb to her… CRAVINGS?From the dark mind of D E McCluskey, author of CRACK and The Twelve, comes this disturbing novelette. The baby must have what the baby needs…


Book cover of The Books of Blood Volume 1

L. Andrew Cooper Author Of Descending Lines

From my list on horror for stretching your mind to extremes.

Why am I passionate about this?

My PhD work focused on horror fiction and film, and I spent ten years teaching about horror (I even included two of my recommended books in courses). The academic stuff is more a symptom than a cause of my passion for the scary. I’ve been a horror freak forever, becoming interested in vampires by age four, reading Stephen King and writing stories to frighten classmates by age nine, and putting a poster of Freddy Krueger on my wall at age ten. Extremes of fiction take me away from extremes of real life, which are much harder to handle.

L.'s book list on horror for stretching your mind to extremes

L. Andrew Cooper Why did L. love this book?

This book originally consisted of six short collections of novellas and stories, but they’ve since been gathered into a two-volume set, so I’m hoping I can count them as one. They go together, and I think they’re nearly all excellent.

When I was a kid, these stories helped build a bridge for me, from the likes of Stephen King (whom I still adore) to new imaginative worlds of horror that include all kinds of transgressive imagery.

I love how Barker combines the fantastic with the visceral, blurs lines between the monstrous and the human, and makes desire dark, dirty, and wonderful. I also love these stories for all they taught me and helping usher in modern extreme/hardcore horror.

By Clive Barker,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Books of Blood Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INSPIRATION FOR THE HULU ORIGINAL FILM

Rediscover the true meaning of fear in this collection of horror stories from Clive Barker, New York Times bestselling author and creator of the Hellraiser series.

Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red.

In this tour de force collection of brilliantly disturbing tales, Clive Barker combines the extraordinary with the ordinary, bringing to life our darkest nightmares with stories that both seduce and devour. As beautiful as they are terrible, the pages of this volume are stained with unsettling imagery, macabre humor, and visceral dread. Here then are the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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