Genre: Horror

Benchmark: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix (review, publisher


The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror (second edition) by Becky Siegel Spratford, 2012

Includes: Gothic Fiction, Horror Fiction, Horror Movies

Appeal factors:

  • Has similarities with fantasy
  • Provokes terror
  • Atmosphere takes center stage over plot development
  • Allows safe exploration of the dark side of humanity
  • Gives readers a place where they can face their own fears
  • Provides an escape from the horrors of real life
  • Validates belief in the supernatural


  • Classics
  • Ghosts and haunted houses
  • Mummies, zombies, and golems
  • Vampires
  • Werewolves and animals of terror
  • Maniacs and other monsters
  • Black magic, witches, warlocks, and the occult
  • Demonic possession and satanism
  • Scientific and biomedical horror
  • Psychological horror
  • Splatterpunk or extreme horror
Apple Store Soho Presents Meet The Creators: Stephen King, John Mellencamp And T Bone Burnett

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 03: Stephen King attends Meet the Creators at Apple Store Soho on June 3, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Horror Writers Association
International Horror Guild Awards

Required Reading: 30 Of The Best Horror Novels
10 Best Horror Books You’ve Never Read
The 12 Best Horror Books: Truly Terrifying Works Of Fiction
The 100 Scariest Horror Novels Of All Time
11 Books That Scared The Master Of Horror, Stephen King, And Will Terrify You Too

Extra credit:
11 Horror Movies For People Who Don’t Like Scary Movies

Notes from our meeting:


Horror notes: It doesn’t have to have a supernatural element, but some readers want paranormal. Some scenes can be emotionally intense, visceral/physical reaction, unforgettable. True crime readers may like explicit gore. Endings are inconclusive, suggesting future menace. Various strands/types of horror, different elements share crossover with other genres (vampires, real life, romance,). Reader enjoys being scared… by the things that scare them personally.

Benchmark: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix. Wrapped in satire and clean glossy packaging: for some readers this reduced the horror, for some it made it more effective. Reminiscent of Scream.  A good teen book (as a cautionary tale: the dead end job itself is horrifying). Author followed through on all the IKEA-catalog spoof details. Pacing: fairly quick for most, but some didn’t find it scary.  Plot-driven, sympathetic protagonist, and has humor. Only moderately horrific, so a good introduction to the genre. My best friend’s exorcism coming out this month by the same author.

Second titles

Molly: Feed by Mira Grant. Set in 2039, zombies have taken over many areas of the country. Georgia and twin brother Sean are bloggers who provide the real news about zombie threats. They are following a presidential candidate. Likable character is smart, snarky, independent. Not scary enough in the beginning

Linda W: The Evening Spider by Emily Arsenault. Historical fiction/horror blend. Set in the Valley. Abby is young mother living in a house where 100 years earlier, a young mother ended up in Northampton State Hospital. Historical part is told with flashbacks and journal excerpts. Inexplicable things are going on with Abby’s baby daughter. Recommended.

Jodi: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman. Short stories, audiobook read by author; some are horror but his voice is comforting. Ghost stories, fantasy, creepy but not blood-spattered.

Jess: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. Novella. Unsettling, confusing. Protagonist is a sex worker/con artist, dealing with a haunted house. Similar style to Gone Girl but doesn’t have the length to build suspense. The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert: a creepy fairy tale.

Linda H: World War Z by Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks).   Intense and moving. A “mockumentary” oral history, interviews of survivors of a worldwide zombie epidemic. The governments ignore it or hide information, selling out their citizens. Some courageous and valiant characters, some profiteers and other reprehensible characters. Appeal factors: characterization, writing style. Starts slow and then gets horrifying. No relation to the movie. Full-cast audiobook is excellent too.

Marie: Asylum by Madeline Roux (YA). Set in NH in college dorm that is a former asylum. Some students are possessed by former inmates, the dean is possessed by the warden. New student is deep in it.

Mary: H.P. Lovecraft: selected stories. The Color out of Space is psychological and has an inconclusive ending.  The Dunwich Horror is based on an old Wilbraham superstition that when a whippoorwill sings it’s trying to catch the soul of a person about to die. Lovecraft’s settings are detailed with strong sense of place, very New England, which makes the story seem more real.

Lindsay: The Shining by Stephen King. A family is caretaking the Overlook Hotel in the off-season. Many deaths and other bad things have happened at the hotel and it is channeling its evil through the little boy. Vivid setting, visual imagery, excellent prose, relatable characters.

Eliza: Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stround. Part of a series. Very scary, creepy but not gory. Set in a world where the ghosts are coming back but only children can see them, so children are put to work to find the source of the ghosts. Several simultaneous mysteries Humor threads through it all.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. 4 people recruited to go to a historically haunted house and research the hauntings. Unsettling and unpredictable, psychological classic.

Zoe: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco. Two demon ghosts, a good one and a bad one. A little gory but very creepy. Amazing description, setting and tone. Embodies Japanese horror themes (scary children, detailed description of a corpse popping up).

Betty: Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe.

Anna: Locke and Key, graphic novel by Joe Hill, ill. by Gabriel Rodriguez. First of a series. Begins on a Massachusetts island named Lovecraft, where a family’s dad was killed by a student. Then family moves to California where the keys behave in strange supernatural ways. There’s a lot of blood slay. The main characters are teens. Could be YA if they like it gory.

Alene: Wraith, graphic novel by Joe Hill, ill. by Charley Wilson. There are a lot of horror graphic novels.

Dean Koontz

Lisey’s Story by Stephen King. Middle aged widow of a horror writer is discovering the source of his horror material in a parallel universe where she has to go to find what she needs to settle his estate.

Partials, and I am not a serial killer by Dan Wells (YA), teen horror series.

RA Websites: best horror for teens, horror graphic novels, horror novels that scared Stephen King, best 100 horror novels you’ve never heard of, etc etc.

Spoilers reviews

Second Titles:

Name: Jan Resnick
Title: World War Z
Author: Max Brooks
Appeal Factors: fast-paced; characterizations – vivid; story – plot-driven; language/style – first-person, compelling; tone – bleak, gruesome, not gory; frame – world-wide, 10 years after victory in World War Z was declared

Summary/Thoughts: World War Z is one of the most fascinating, unexpectedly so, books I’ve read in a while due to the way the book is constucted and the author’s skill in unveiling the story.

Ten years after victory in the Zombie War is declared, the author interviews multiple survivors from multiple cultures and all levels of the war. In only a few pages, readers are presented with a vivid picture of each subject, and gradually the horrors of this very unconventional war is revealed.

Terror comes from many directions – the zombies and their geometric expansion, the cynical venality of entrepreneurs and politicians. Bravery appears in front line soldiers, pilots, divers, and simple survivors.

Although the topic is camp and trendy, the book is thought-provoking and intriguingly constructed. The reader imagines how our current leaders, and we as individuals, would react to a major crisis. World War Z feels disconcertingly predictive. This is a striking book on many levels.

Similar authors/titles: World War Z may appeal to readers of Mira Grant – Blackout, Steven C. Schlozman – The Zombie Autopsies, Richard Matheson – I am Legend, Daniel H. Wilson – Robocopalypse, Adam Mansback – The Dead Run, Justin Cronin – The Passage, Theodore Judson – Fitzpatrick’s War, George A. Romero – The Living Dead, Nick Harkaway – The Gone-away World, S.M. Stirling – Dies the Fire

Name: Lyndsay Johnson
Title: The Shining
Author: Stephen King