In that long, slow stretch of January after the holidays, when it feels like winter will never end, what do you do to snap yourself out of the the midwinter rut? A deep dive into the year’s coming books always does it for us. So we’ve pulled together 35+ of 2020’s most exciting horror releases, featuring new fiction from Stephen King, Paul Tremblay, Kathe Koja, Grady Hendrix, Alma Katsu, Justina Ireland, Max Brooks, Stephen Graham Jones, and many, many more. Limber up your preorderin’ fingers, because they’re about to get a workout.
Please note that publication dates are subject to change, especially those later in 2020 – the dates below were accurate as of the time of posting.
January to March
- Burn the Dark, S. A. Hunt (Jan 14): The first book in Hunt’s action-adventure horror series, about a popular YouTube personality’s adventures as a witch-hunter – but what her fans don’t know is that the footage is all real.
- Deathless Divide, Justina Ireland (Feb 4:) The sequel to Ireland’s much-lauded Dread Nation, about a Civil War-era America overrun with the walking dead. Jane McKeene is on her way west, seeking a path to California and a safe haven. But the dead – and the living – have other plans.
- The Boatman’s Daughter, Andy Davidson (Feb 11): A lush and creepy tale of horror in the bayou about a young woman with secrets both mundane and supernatural.
- The Chill, Scott Carson (Feb 11): A thriller that’s part ecological, part paranormal, with a dash of the horror of crumbling infrastructure thrown in. At the bottom of the reservoir that feeds New York City lie the remains of the village that was sacrificed for water’s sake – remains that now demand their own sacrifice.
- The Sun Down Motel, Simone St. James (Feb 18): A haunted motel and a missing aunt feature prominently in this creepy upstate New York gothic tale.
- Beneath the Rising, Premee Mohamed (Mar 3): Billed as “All the Birds in the Sky meets Lovecraft Country” (that’s a hell of an elevator pitch), this YA novel features two teens making their way through a world at war with eldritch horrors.
- The Deep, Alma Katsu (Mar 10): Alma Katsu follows up her acclaimed Donner Party horror novel The Hunger with another historical horror tale, this one set on the Titanic’s infamous voyage.
- Song of the Sandman, JF Dubeau (Mar 24): The sequel to Dubeau’s indie sleeper hit A God in the Shed picks up where its predecessor left off, in the wake of a massacre spearheaded by a malevolent deity loosed upon a small town.
- The Return, Rachel Harrison (Mar 24): A blisteringly scary debut novel from a wildly talented author, The Return follows three friends reuniting with another friend who disappeared two years before, and then turned up one day, subtly changed, with no memory of what happened. A can’t-miss book.
April to June
- The Ancestor, Danielle Trussoni (Apr 7): Trussoni, the horror reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, returns with an eerie gothic story of family, secrets, and inheritence (both monetary and otherwise).
- Ruthless Gods, Emily A. Duncan (Apr 7): The sequel to the New York Times-bestselling Wicked Saints is a pitch-dark fantasy full of violence, monsters, evil gods, and unknown motives sure to send a chill up your spine.
- The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix (Apr 7): Horror darling Grady Hendrix (Horrorstör, Paperbacks From Hell, We Sold Our Souls) is back with a tale of southern gentility and bloodsucking danger, shot through with his unique, charming sense of wit.
- Eden, Tim Lebbon (Apr 7): A new spin on eco-horror arrives, full of creeping vines and primeval horrors that threaten the world they were meant to save.
- The Unsuitable, Molly Pohlig (Apr 14): Pohlig’s debut novel is a voicey, unsettling ghost story of an unmarriageable Victorian woman and her dead mother’s ghost. This novel of manners is so much darker than you’re expecting.
- You Let Me In, Camilla Bruce (Apr 21): Another debut, this time from Norwegian author Bruce, You Let Me In is a deeply creepy mystery wrapped inside an engrossing frame narrative. When an elderly novelist dies, her two surviving family members expect a healthy inheritance – but she won’t let them go that easily.
- Velocities, Kathe Koja (Apr 21): Horror legend Koja returns with a collection of thirteen short, incredibly disturbing horror stories
- The Wise Friend, Ramsey Campbell (Apr 23): British horror master Ramsey Campbell has a new tale of the occult coming in April, about a man whose late aunt’s unearthly fascinations may put his son in deadly danger.
- If It Bleeds, Stephen King (May 5): A collection of four new novellas from King, an undisputed master of the form.
- Devolution, Max Brooks (May 12): In the vein of Brooks’ massive bestseller, World War Z, Devolution is a journalist’s account of a legendary Sasquatch massacre and the legacy it left behind.
- The Bone Harvest, James Brogden (May 12): A widow struggling with a degenerative disease takes solace in her garden allotment – until shadowy strangers start working the land next to hers, to deadly effect.
- I Come With Knives, S. A. Hunt – May 19: The second book in Hunt’s series and the sequel to Burn The Dark finds our YouTube witch-hunter heroine Robin battling a powerful coven, a serial killer, and a cabal of magicians.
- The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones (May 19): One of 2020’s biggest horror releases is this exquisitely-written standalone horror novel. Ten years after an elk hunt went wrong, four friends find themselves hunted by someone or something who knows what they did.
- Out of Body, Jeffrey Ford (May 26): Astral projection (or is it lucid dreaming?) leads to deadly consequences in this new novella from Ford (The Twilight Pariah).
- Touch the Night, Max Booth III (early summer): Indie horror publisher and author Max Booth comes blazing through with a blood-soaked story of small-town horror that’s equal parts Stranger Things and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
- Category Five, Ann Dávila Cardinal (Jun 2): The sequel to Dávila Cardinal’s Five Midnights finds Lupe, Javier, and Marisol riding out the bloody aftermath of a powerful hurricane on the island of Vieques.
- Night Train, David Quantick (Jun 9): A woman wakes up on a train, with no idea how she got there – or why she’s surrounded by the dead.
- The Living Dead, George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus (Jun 9): Legendary horror director Romero started this novel to chronicle the origins of the living dead as told in his movies, and Daniel Kraus was asked by Romero’s widow to complete the novel after Romero’s death. A must-read for any zombie fan.
- Wonderland, Zoje Stage (Jun 16): Stage’s novel follows a family that moves to a rural town and finds themselves stalked by something in the woods. Motherhood never looked so terrifying.
- Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Jun 30): The glamour of mid-century Mexican high society comes crashing up against the constraints of gothic fiction in this eerie story of family secrets.
- A Peculiar Peril, Jeff Vandermeer (Jul 7): This is the Southern Reach trilogy author Jeff Vandermeer’s first foray into fiction for younger readers. A Peculiar Peril is the first in a two-volume dark fantasy series about family secrets in a war-torn alternate Europe.
- Survivor Song, Paul Tremblay (Jul 7): Tremblay (The Cabin at the End of the World, Growing Things) takes on the zombie novel in a fast-paced, heart-pounding thriller about a woman trying to keep her pregnant friend alive in a rapidly crumbling society.
- Burn Our Bodies Down, Rory Power (Jul 7): Power’s first novel, Wilder Girls, was a body horror bonanza, and for her next novel, she turns to dark family secrets and a troubled mother-daughter relationship to generate her scares.
- The Unidentified, Colin Dickey (Jul 21): Dickey’s work is non-fiction, but any aficionado of the macabre would be remiss not to pick it up. His previous book, Ghostland, was a cultural history of ghosts and hauntings in America, and with The Unidentified, he sets his sights on cryptids, UFOs, lost societies, Flat Earthers, and other fringe beliefs.
- The Year of the Witching, Alexis Henderson (Jul 21): A dark fantasy debut set in a puritanical society where a young woman discovers her own dark powers.
- Malorie, Josh Malerman (Jul 21): Malerman’s much-anticipated sequel to Bird Box promises to reveal what happened to Malorie, Boy, and Girl.
- Flyaway, Kathleen Jennings (Jul 28): Jennings’ novella has been compared to Karen Russell in its slipstream gothic creepiness. When a young woman receives a letter from a long-vanished brother, she starts to question what happened to her family, with plenty of curses, monsters, and unsettling delights along the way.
- Seasons of Terror, edited by Richard Chizmar (Aug 4): A collection of graphic adaptations of stories from four titans of terror: Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, and Robert McCammon.
- Clown in a Cornfield, Adam Cesare (Aug 25): This publication date is far enough out that we don’t know much about this book besides the inclusion of a homicidal clown, but that’s more than enough of a selling point for us.
Did we miss anything? Which 2020 books are you most excited for?