If it Bleeds… We can read it (yes, I went there).
Despite having a dangerously tall tower of books on my bedside table that threatens every night to topple and crush my skull, ribcage, and other bones (hey, I gotta die sometime) I still yearn for more books to add to it. I am always on the lookout for fresh and exciting releases from new authors and favourites a like.
What does this year have in store for us horror-word-nerds? Is 2020 the year for Horror Novels? Has there ever not been a year for horror? For a genre that focuses so much on death it certainly doesn’t seem like it will ever die. So, here is a list of some of the upcoming titles that have been recently released and a fair few due to come out later this year…
The Boatman’s Daughter, Andy Davidson (released: 11th February 2020)
I am already sold on the cover alone.
Bram Stoker nominated Davidson’s new novel has been described by Paul Tremblay as a “lush nightmare” and promises to thrill us with murder, dark forces, a witch and a mad preacher. Um, yes please?
Ever since her father was killed when she was just a child, Miranda Crabtree has kept her head down and her eyes up, ferrying contraband for a mad preacher and his declining band of followers to make ends meet and to protect an old witch and a secret child from harm.
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.
The Sun Down Motel, Simone St James (Released: 18th February)
Horror fans know that a rundown roadside motel is always a great setting for a creepy story (I’m based in the UK and we have Travelodge and it’s just not the same…) Here St James promises us suspense and the tantalising unravelling of dark secrets.
Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…
The Deep, Alma Katsu (Expected: 10th March)
Katsu dives straight back into her horror reimagining of historic events, this time setting her sights on the Titanic. The premise promises mysterious disappearances and sudden deaths before the actual sinking, and the story doesn’t stop there…
…Years after the sinking of the Titanic and the world is at war. A survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic …
The Ancestor, Danielle Trussoni (Expected: 7th April)
When a letter arrives informing you that you have inherited a castle, how do you react?
Normal people: Yay!
Horror fans: It’s haunted isn’t it?
I actually have no idea whether the Italian castle Trussoni’s protagonist has inherited is haunted or not, but of course there are dark secrets and complicated family histories to be uncovered.
It feels like a fairy tale when Bert Monte receives a letter that claims she’s inherited a noble title, money, and a castle in Italy. While Bert is more than a little skeptical, the mystery of her aristocratic family’s past, and the chance to escape her stressful life for a luxury holiday in Italy, is too good to pass up.
At first, her inheritance seems like a dream come true: a champagne-drenched trip on a private jet to Turin, Italy; lawyers with lists of artwork and jewels bequeathed to Bert; a helicopter ride to an ancestral castle nestled in the Italian Alps below Mont Blanc; a portrait gallery of ancestors Bert never knew existed.
But her ancestry has a dark side, and Bert soon learns that her family history is particularly complicated.
The Wise Friend, Ramsey Campbell (Expected: 23rd April)
One of the masters of horror fiction is back with a story about family, art and the occult.
Patrick Torrington’s aunt Thelma was a successful artist whose late work turned towards the occult. While staying with her in his teens he found evidence that she used to visit magical sites. As an adult he discovers her journal of her explorations, and his teenage son Roy becomes fascinated too. His experiences at the sites scare Patrick away from them, but Roy carries on the search, together with his new girlfriend. Can Patrick convince his son that his increasingly terrible suspicions are real, or will what they’ve helped to rouse take a new hold on the world?
If It Bleeds, Stephen King (Expected: 5th May)
Does this man ever sleep? Seriously now, I feel like every time I blink there is a new King novel being released or due to be released (or have a movie based on one of his stories). That sounds like a complaint, but it’s really not.
This time it’s a collection of short stories:
“Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”
“The Life of Chuck”
“If It Bleeds”
Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre, Max Brooks (Expected: 12th May)
Max “World War Z” and “Zombie Survival Guide” Brooks has a new book out – squee (please pretend that was a hardcore sort of squee)
As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.
Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it–and like none you’ve ever read before.
The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones (Expected: 19th May)
I adore the simplicity of this cover. I am also ashamed that I have not read a Stephen Graham Jones book yet (don’t judge me, I have Mongrels ready to go I swear!)
The story follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way
Wonderland, Zoje Stage (Expected: 16th June)
Some readers may remember Stage from the controversy around her novel, Baby Teeth, being nominated for Best Horror 2018 by Goodreads. Although I enjoyed the book myself, I can see why a lot of people had a problem with this categorisation: it wasn’t horror.
Reading the description I think people can agree, this one definitely sounds like horror this time around.
The Bennett family – artist parents and two precocious children – leave their familiar urban surroundings for a new home in far upstate New York. They’re an hour from the nearest city, a mile from the nearest house, and everyone has their own room for the very first time. Shaw, the father, even gets his own painting studio, now that he and his wife Orla, a retired dancer, have agreed that it’s his turn to pursue his passion.
But none of the Bennetts expect what lies waiting in the lovely woods, where secrets run dark and deep. Orla must finally find a way to communicate with – not just resist – this unknown entity that is coming to her family, calling to them from the land, in the earth, beneath the trees … and in their minds
Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Expected: 30th June)
The gothic genre is one of my favourites, so anything about a woman trapped in a castle or a governess travelling to an old manor and I am all over it. To top that off, Moreno-Garcia has not gone down the usual route of mousy or timid protagonist, but this time a glamorous but tough woman. Sign me up.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find — her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough, smart, and has an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Survivor Song, Paul Tremblay (Expected: 7th July)
I am such a Tremblay fangirl that I didn’t even read the synopsis when this was announced and just clicked “pre-order”.
But for those not as convinced as me by the excellence that A Headful of Ghosts or The Cabin at the End of the World then here it is…
In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government’s emergency protocols are faltering.
Dr. Ramola “Rams” Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie’s husband has been killed—viciously attacked by an infected neighbor—and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie’s only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.
Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares—terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink.
Malorie (Bird Box #2), Josh Malerman (Expected: 21st July)
This comes as no surprise. Bird Box was a huge success in the written and the Netflix form. I’m not mad at the idea of returning to that world and reading more about it.
Now from the mind of a true master of suspense comes the next chapter in the riveting tale. This time, Malorie is front and center, and she will confront the dangers of her world head-on.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg that Katsu’s Titanic is going to hit. There are so many horror novels due to come out and these are just some of the titles I am looking forward to. And there are probably more I’m not even aware of that should most definitely be added to my Death Tower, um, To Read Pile.
Let me know what you’re looking forward to!