In the mood for some decent horror reading? So. Are. We. Give us all the books featuring haunted houses, witches, vampires, and monsters! I usually enjoy reading and watching horror year-round, but there is something about reading spooky books in the fall, especially in October. If you’re short on horror books by BIPOC authors, you’ve come to the right place. Included here are newer and backlist books organized by horror tropes for your perusal.
Get Out of That House
Books about haunted houses and unsettling spaces
Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
[cw: gore, murder, death, mental illness, blood, alcohol]
At just 124 pages long, the novella Nothing But Blackened Teeth packs a punch. A group heads on an adventure to a Heian-era mansion in Japan located in a sprawling forest, far away from civilization. The mansion is rumored to be haunted, but that is precisely what the group was hoping for. As night falls, the friends engage in a spooky game, and the atmosphere grows increasingly creepy. It all culminates in a horrifying revelation that changes their lives forever. If you scare easily, I would recommend not reading this one at night.
White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson
[cw: panic attacks/disorders, drug use, addiction, fire/fire injury, drug abuse, racism]
A scary house with a mind of its own is a classic in the horror genre, and Jackson blew it out of the water with this White Smoke. Socially conscious themes paired with a truly terrifying setting really sets this book apart from other YA horror books I’ve read. You can check out my full-length review for this one here.
The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas
[cw: murder, death, blood, rape, racism, sexual assault]
Historical fiction meets horror in this postcolonial gothic novel set in 1820s Mexico. Based on her own research, the author has crafted a thoroughly spooky story here that follows Beatriz, a young woman who has just moved into Hacienda San Isidro after marrying for financial security. She quickly learns that something is very wrong with the house, and enlists a local priest to help her before it’s too late. The Hacienda kept me up late flipping pages. To hear from the author, check out this podcast episode hosted by Mariquita.
It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus
Books that feature all the witchy things
The Witchery by S. Isabelle
[cw: blood, death, violence, self-harm, religious bigotry, death of a parent, racism, child death, confinement]
In The Witchery, it’s the start of a new school year at Mesmortes Coven Academy, and new witch Logan is experiencing difficulty controlling her powers. She is quickly taken in by the Red Three, a group of talented and powerful witches at the school. As the Haunting Season approaches and danger is set to befall their community, witches and humans must work together to survive.
Witches by Brenda Lozano
[cw: transphobia, hate crime, homophobia, abortion, sexual assault, deadnaming]
The lives of two Mexican women born in different time periods intersect when one of them, a journalist, interviews the other about a murder. Witches is a dark exploration of living marginalized in a patriarchal society.
Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor
[cw: rape, homophobia, child abuse, drug abuse]
In Hurricane Season, when a local witch is found murdered in a small Mexican village, an investigation begins that uncovers more than just her death. Various townspeople reflect on their knowledge of the dead women, and underlying issues of the community are uncovered.
They Did the Monster Mash
Books about monsters and those who hunt them
Scout’s Honor by Lily Anderson
CW: Violence, Child death, Death, Panic attacks/disorders, Grief, Bullying, Drug use, Homophobia, Misogyny.
Pitched as Stranger Things meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, YA novel Scout’s Honor follows 16-year-old Prudence. She is trying to move on from her past as a Ladybird Scout, an organization that fights paranormal beings to protect humans, but she is drawn back in and forced to face her past when new monsters descend on her town.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
[cw: violence, gore, gun violence, cannibalism, toxic relationship, child death]
In a dystopian world set in the aftermath of a climate apocalypse, Indigenous gods and heroes walk among the remaining humans. Monsters live and thrive as well, so the demand for monster hunters is high. In Trail of Lightning, Maggie is a supernaturally gifted killer tasked with finding a missing girl. This task proves to be the hardest she’ll ever face as she faces a new kind of monster. She teams up with a medicine man, and together they go on a quest to fight their way to the missing child, and to the truth behind the new horrors they must confront.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
CW: Racism, Body horror, Gore, Slavery, Death.
In the 1920s Georgia of Ring Shout, Maryse Boudreaux and her companions are monster hunters. Their prey: Ku Kluxes, hate-filled demons that have risen from the Klan and who spread violence and fear whenever they can. Maryse and her comrades must fight to defeat the Klan before it ends everything in its wake.
Don’t Invite Them In
Books about vampires
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
[cw: violence, blood, gore, gun violence, drug use, animal cruelty]
Worlds collide in Certain Dark Things, a neo-noir set in Mexico City. Vampires and humans clash in a world where morality is always in question. We get to follow the perspectives of a human and a vampire and watch how their lives intertwine. I think most of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work is suitable for spooky season. You can check out this post for more recommendations and to learn more about the author.
Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda
[cw: blood, animal death, eating disorder, sexual harassment, sexual assault, dementia, cancer, death of a parent]
Woman, Eating, Kohda’s debut novel, follows Lydia, a mixed-race vampire who is struggling to come to terms with her identity and her hunger. She cannot reconcile that she cares about humans and the fact that they are her natural prey. She desires human food but knows she is unable to eat it. In this character-driven story, Lydia must find her place in the world or perish.
House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson
[cw: blood, gore, death, domestic abuse, drug abuse, emotional abuse]
Out of options for a better life, Marion Shaw finds a new job listing: a bloodmaid in upper-class society. She gets the job and goes to work in the infamous (and titular) House of Hunger. Marion takes to the work well and becomes favored by the countess of the place. However, things take a turn for the worse when her fellow bloodmaids go missing; she must learn to adapt quickly if she wishes to live.