Off the Shelf: Horror Books

Posted October 28, 2021

By Matthew York
Adult Services Librarian with the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library

What’s in a word? The English word “horror” comes from the Old French “horrere,” which means “to shudder or to bristle.” We define horror, in part, by the effect that it has on us. Common effects that we look for in horror media include fear, terror, suspense, dread, and repulsion.

Who, or what, are some villains who have wreaked havoc on civilization out of horror books of old? Certain figures have become staples of popular culture over time, for example: Victor Frankenstein and his “abomination” (the mad scientist and the monster) (1818); Dracula (the vampire) (1897); Cthulhu (the alien) (1928); The Birds (the flock) (1952); Norman Bates (the motelier) (1959); Hannibal Lecter (the cannibal) (1981); The Woman in Black (the ghost) (1983); Pennywise (the clown) (1986); and Patrick Bateman (the serial killer) (1991).

The library has amassed several horror books newly published in 2021 which you can check out for your reading pleasure, if you dare!

Paradox Lake by Vincent Zandri

“Sculptor and single mom, Rose Conley, is haunted by her tragic past and anxious about her uncertain future. On sabbatical from the college where she teaches art, she and her daughter rent a house for three months in the Adirondack lakeside community of Paradox. In the wake of the premature deaths of her oldest daughter, Allison, and her husband, Charlie, Rose wants nothing more than to nurture Anna every moment she can. But idyllic Paradox Lake transforms into a nightmare when a monster from the past invades Rose’s retreat—and targets her daughter for his special brand of horror.”—Provided by publisher

Later by Stephen King

“The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine—as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.”—Provided by publisher

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

“1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game—and nothing is ever the same. 2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. She needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose. As the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.”—Provided by publisher

Hide in Place by Emilya Naymark

“She left the NYPD in the firestorm of a high-profile case gone horribly wrong. Three years later, the ghosts of her past roar back to terrifying life. When NYPD undercover cop Laney Bird’s cover is blown in a racketeering case against the Russian mob, she flees the city with her troubled son, Alfie. Now, three years later, she’s found the perfect haven in Sylvan, a charming town in upstate New York. But then the unthinkable happens: her boy vanishes. Local law enforcement dismisses the thirteen-year-old as a runaway, but Laney knows better. Could he have been kidnapped–or worse? As Laney’s search for her son grows more desperate, everything depends on how good a detective she really is—badge or no.”—Provided by publisher

The Searching Dead by Ramsey Campbell

Book 1 in the Three Births of Daoloth trilogy. “1952. On a school trip to France, teenager Dominic Sheldrake begins to suspect his teacher Christian Noble has reasons to be there as secret as they’re strange. Meanwhile, a widowed neighbor joins a church that puts you in touch with your dead relatives. As Dominic and his friends Roberta and Jim investigate, they can’t suspect how much larger and more terrible the link between these mysteries will become. A monstrous discovery beneath a church only hints at terrors that are poised to engulf the world.”—Provided by publisher

Come with Me by Ronald Malfi

Aaron Decker’s life changes one December morning when his wife Allison is killed. Haunted by her absence—and her ghost—Aaron goes through her belongings, where he finds a receipt for a motel room in another part of the country. Piloted by grief and an increasing sense of curiosity, Aaron embarks on a journey to discover what Allison had been doing in the weeks prior to her death. Yet Aaron is unprepared to discover the dark secrets Allison kept, the death and horror that make up the tapestry of her hidden life. Aaron becomes more and more consumed by his obsession to learn the terrifying truth about the woman who had been his wife, even if it puts his own life at risk.”—Provided by publisher

Want to read more?

Use the library’s Novelist Plus online research resource and type in the keyword “horror”. It will offer up a huge list of similar books. You can refine your search specifically for adult readers along the left side of the page, which will weed out books for children or teens.