Just in Time for Spooky Season | Horror/Thriller Recommendations
Horrors and thrillers are genres that I find myself not quite picking up enough, since I want to be in the mood for them. When I do pick it up though, however successful that turns out to be, I tend to not get frightened easily. If anything, what I consider to be a good read in this genre is when I feel unsettled.
A lot of books make me feel uncomfortable, which is the vibe the book could be going for, but I am not really here for that. I want to feel unsettled in the way that I can feel the atmosphere sink under my skin. And that is exactly what this list is going to comprise of, mainly unsettling books and some bonus ones that kind of sort of worked for me (but also didn't) that you might still enjoy.
I have for you 6 recommendations and 3 bonus ones, so let's get right into the list!
Distant Sky is a horror webtoon by Youn In-wan and Sunhee Kim. This comic genuinely gave me chills at moments, and the premise is fantastic. A young boy wakes up in total darkness surrounded by bodies, and he must figure out not only what happened, but how to survive and navigate his new environment. There are a total of five seasons and over 100 chapters or episodes, so this is a decently long read. I do find that as the series went on the quality of the plot decreased and got more and more ridiculous, but this is free to read so I would say give it a shot anyway.
This may be short, but Sour Candy presents you with a horror story that grips you right from the first line. Since this is short, I won't go into much detail, but this was incredibly atmospheric. To create such a story that puts you on the edge of your seat and has you biting your nails in under 100 pages is a feat of brilliance.
Home Before Dark
One of the more lighter horror books on this list, Home Before Dark is a solid haunted house story. I am honestly kind of surprised I enjoyed this because, for one, the book did do something I hate. For two, on the whole, I don't particularly like Riley Sager's works (this seems to be the only exception thus far though). Still, as I said, this was a pretty good haunted house story, and I find most people love that trope.
I will come out and say right away that this one is a bit of a doozy. Horrid was a weird book, there is no denying that. But, it was a weird book that used that as its strong point and really played into the atmosphere. You can kind of also consider this a haunted house book as well, which is always a bonus in my book.
Another entry on the lighter side, Dagger Hill had me pleasantly surprised. I wasn't having much luck with 2021 releases, but then came along this book and its simple yet effective storyline. If you are a fan of Stranger Things or the 'small town, strange occurrences' trope in general, then you might enjoy this as well. Also, just look at that cover. That alone should pull you in and intrigue you.
The final entry for this section of the list is Ghost Teller, another horror webtoon by QTT. I am cheating a bit here because I have only read Season 1 so far, but there is a reason for that. This story is intense and comes with a lot of trigger warnings. The concept is fantastic as it is a reverse ghost story where the ghosts are the ones telling stories about humans. As such, this webtoon is filled with gruesome and horrible tales of humans at their worst. It is a lot to digest, but if you think you can handle it I would recommend giving it a try since the stories are very well executed (though sometimes painfully realistic).
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
You will either love or hate this one or end up switching between the two as I did. Most people when they finished this book just sat there and went, 'what did I just read'? This was a wild ride of a book, one full of underlying suspense but for reasons you don't know why. The author really plays around with the atmosphere and the tension, to the point where it does leave the reader in the dark, but results in a reveal that makes you look at the story in a completely different way.
The Last House on Needless Street
We have yet another book on this list that can be considered weird. This book felt a bit like a fever dream, and I honestly didn't know how to feel about it. I was stuck between thinking it was brilliant or straight-up strange. But it is exactly for that reason why I think people should read it. You are going to be confused and maybe weirded out, but the end result might just blow your mind.
For many, Junji Ito is the pinnacle of horror manga. I will admit that I haven't really enjoyed most of his work, but I do recommend that people still give him a shot. If you haven't read a manga before then it will be a pretty jarring experience, especially considering his content and art style. Junji Ito's horror is weird and pretty graphic, so prepare yourself for that. I would recommend reading Uzumaki or Remina, as I found those mangas to have the most interesting concepts and executions.