All the Horror Books We’re Excited About in 2020

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 65+ 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 given the state of the world right now – we’ll be updating the release dates below and adding new books as we hear of any changes, but the publisher’s website will always have the most up to date information. And don’t miss our monthly new release posts here!

January to March

  • The Night Country, Melissa Albert (Jan 7): The second book in Albert’s Hazel Wood series is out this month, and the fantasy is just as dark as ever. Alice and Ellery escaped the nightmare-fairy tale world known as the Hinterland, but something followed them home – something deadly.
  • A Nest of Nightmares, Lisa Tuttle (Jan 7): Originally published in 1986, A Nest of Nightmares never got a US release, but Valancourt Books’ Paperbacks From Hell reprint series is remedying that wrong this month. This collection of thirteen psychological horror stories soar on the strength of Tuttle’s elegant, precise writing and world-building.
  • 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.
  • Follow Me to Ground, Sue Rainsford (Jan 21): This debut novel tells the nightmare-fairy tale story of a young woman, Ada, and her father, both gifted with healing powers that come at no small cost, and the young man who catches Ada’s eye and draws her beyond the boundaries of her own abilities. Deceptively scary.
  • Prosper’s Demon, K. J. Parker (Jan 28): A darkly funny novella that’s soaked in blood and shadowed by demons. The narrator, unnamed, is an exorcist, and a very good one. But he’s not delicate, and he’s lost quite a few lives in the process. But when a royal scion and his tutor both show signs of possession, our narrator’s job is more complicated than he might think.
  • Blood Countess, Lana Popović (Jan 28): A YA historical horror novel that tells the story of Countess Elizabeth Báthory, the infamous serial murderer reputed to have bathed in the blood of young women to prolong her youth. Here, Anna, the Countess’s new chambermaid, must navigate the Countess’s moods and try her damnedest to stay alive.
  • Horror Fiction in the 20th Century: Exploring Literature’s Most Chilling Genre, Jess Nevins (Jan 31): A critical appraisal of the last century of horror lit, from pulp to ~literary~, this scholarly work traces movements, subgenres, and authors both major and overlooked within our favorite frightening genre.
  • Let’s Go Play at the Adams’, Mendal W. Johnson (Feb 1): The latest reissue in Valancourt Books’ second Paperbacks From Hell series, this 70s shocker recounts the evil that children do – in this case, to the unsuspecting babysitter.
  • 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.
  • Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors, edited by Doug Murano & Michael Bailey (Feb 18): An anthology about created monsters from an all-star cast of authors, including Josh Malerman, Ramsey Campbell, Victor LaValle, Theodora Goss, Laird Barron, and more (plus a foreword from Alma Katsu).
  • 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.
  • The Garden of Bewitchment, Catherine Cavendish (Feb 20): A gothic nightmare set on the Yorkshire moors, full of ghosts, uncertain motivations, and the creepiest board game this side of Jumanji.
  • Anathemas, David Annandale (Mar 3): This is the third anthology released from the Warhammer horror series, featuring twisted tales from David Annandale, C L Werner, Darius Hinks, Jake Ozga, Lora Gray, Richard Strachan, and more.
  • 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.
  • Sepulturum, Nick Kyme (Mar 3): This Warhammer Horror novel follows a woman stalked by something or someone who goes to ground in a low-hive, only to find herself fighting for her life on two fronts when a plague turns her neighbors into bloodthirsty ghouls.
  • 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.
  • Creeping Jenny, Jeff Noon (Mar 23): This is the third book in Noon’s Nyquist Mysteries (though each book can be read as a standalone). In Creeping Jenny, John Nyquist visits the village of Hoxley-on-the-Hale, hoping to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance – but Hoxley-on-the-Hale is ruled by more than 300 saints with draconian worship requirements, and haunted by a chaotic figure named the Tolly Man.
  • 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.
  • If It Bleeds, Stephen King (Apr 21): A collection of four new novellas from King, an undisputed master of the form.
  • 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.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Seth C. Adams (May 5): A bereaved teenage boy encounters a wounded man in the woods and nurses him back to health in his treehouse – but his new friend is a killer for hire, and he’s brought some baggage along for the ride.
  • The Anthill, Julianne Pachico (May 12): A disturbing social horror novel set at a community center for street kids in Colombia, The Anthill is set against a backdrop of voluntourism and has creepy kids galore.
  • 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.
  • Final Cuts, ed. Ellen Datlow (Jun 2): A new anthology compiled and edited by horror legend Ellen Datlow, full of short stories inspired by television and movies. Features stories from Josh Malerman, Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, Cassandra Khaw, and more.
  • The House of Whispers, Laura Purcell (Jun 9): A new gothic tale full of superstition and strange rituals in a crumbling estate on the coast of Cornwall.
  • Devil’s Creek, Todd Keisling (Jun 16): A small town horror novel about the reverberations and repercussions from the actions of a suicide cult, and the lives of those who survived.
  • Devolution, Max Brooks (Jun 16): 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.
  • Obliteration, James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth (Jun 23): The third and final book in the Awakened series finds our heroes in the eye of the storm – but when they find a subterranean nest of the deadly creatures empty, they realize they’ve run out of time. The danger is coming above ground.
  • Murder Ballads and Other Horrific Tales, John Hornor Jacobs (Jun 26): This collection of ten horror and thriller/noir tales from John Hornor Jacobs, featuring elder gods, AIs, zombies, and numerous other monstrosities, is a can’t-miss for any weird fiction fan. Of note: the title novella is a sequel to his delightful Southern Gothic novel Southern Gods.
  • Home Before Dark, Riley Sager (Jun 30): Sager has rapidly become a horror/thriller author to watch. In Home Before Dark, Maggie, whose father wrote a bestselling memoir of the hauntings they experienced in their home in the Vermont woods, inherits the haunted house in question. And when she returns to prepare the house for sale, she’s forced to confront that her father’s story may well have been true.
  • 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.

July to September

  • 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.
  • The Bright Lands, John Fram (Jul 7): Think Friday Night Lights, but with a horror twist. Joel escaped his insular, conservative hometown years ago, but when his brother disappears he’s lured back to unravel a mystery the town has tried its hardest to ignore.
  • 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 Patient, Jasper DeWitt (Jul 7): DeWitt cut his horror teeth in the NoSleep subreddit, and in his debut novel, he tells the story of an overconfident psychiatrist who’s determined to treat an untreatable patient, a man who’s driven every previous employee of the asylum where he’s held to madness or suicide.
  • The Shadows, Alex North (Jul 7): North’s second novel (after 2019’s creepfest The Whisper Man) is about Charlie Crabtree, a creepy teenager who confirms everyone’s worst fears by committing murder – and then disappearing. Now, Paul, who was friends with both Charlie and his victim, must return to his hometown to care for his aging mother, but a copycat crime puts the town on edge.
  • 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.
  • The Unleashed, Danielle Vega (Jul 7): This sequel to The Haunted finds the devastating events at Steele House gone but not forgotten. Hendricks is trying desperately to pretend that everything is normal, but when she summons what she thinks is the spirit of a dead friend, she realizes that nothing will ever be the same.
  • The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones (Jul 14): 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.
  • Wonderland, Zoje Stage (Jul 14): 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.
  • Alpha Omega, Nicholas Bowling (Jul 21): Billed as Stranger Things meets Black Mirror and Ready Player One, this novel tracks a bloody catastrophe at a private school, where the one person who might be able to stop it is lost in a MMO virtual reality game.
  • I Come With Knives, S. A. Hunt (Jul 21): 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.
  • Jennifer Strange, Cat Scully (Jul 21): In this illustrated YA horror debut, Cat Scully tells the story of a teenage girl who’s a magnet for ghosts – and needs to figure out what they want from her before it’s too late.
  • Shadow Garden, Alexandra Burt (Jul 21): A psychological/domestic horror-thriller that tells the story of a family’s descent into madness, this one’s being compared to Rebecca and “The Yellow Wallpaper,”
  • 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, and other fringe beliefs, and what they tell us about humanity and culture.
  • 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.
  • The Hollow Ones, Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan (Aug 4): When a young FBI agent is forced to turn her gun on her own suddenly-violent partner, she finds herself looking for answers, and the man who has them might be immortal, but is certainly dangerous.
  • The Living Dead, George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus (Aug 4): 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.
  • There is a Graveyard That Dwells in Man, ed. David Tibet (Aug 4): A formally weird compendium of bizarre tales both familiar and strange, from authors like Lady Dilke, Edna Underwood, Thomas Ligotti, L. P. Hartley, R. H. Benson, Walter de la Mare, Hugh Walpole, Colette de Curzon, L. A. Lewis, Edith Wharton, and others.
  • Weird Women: Classic Supernatural Fiction by Groundbreaking Female Writers 1852-1923, ed. Leslie S. Klinger and Lisa Morton (Aug 4): A new anthology of spooky supernatural fiction from authors both well-known (including Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Charlotte Gilman-Perkins) and underappreciated (including Marie Corelli, Ellen Glasgow, and Charlotte Riddell).
  • Horror: An Illustrated History of Vampires, Zombies, Monsters & More, Neil Turitz (Aug 11): A copiously illustrated overview of the horror genre throughout modern history, in myth, story, and on screen.
  • Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies, John Langan (Aug 18): A new collection of short stories from the author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel The Fisherman (a Nightfire fave!).
  • 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.
  • The Companion, Katie Alender (Aug 25): After a devastating accident leaves her orphaned, Margot is taken in by a wealthy family to serve as a companion to their strange, silent daughter Agatha. But isolated in a remote house, Margot finds her nightmares are only beginning.
  • Night Train, David Quantick (Aug 25): A woman wakes up on a train, with no idea how she got there – or why she’s surrounded by the dead.
  • The Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve, ed. Ellen Datlow (Sept 1): This year’s edition of the indispensable short horror collection.
  • Night of the Mannequins, Stephen Graham Jones (Sept 1): Jones’ new novella tells a classic teenagers-in-peril slasher story – with a paranormal twist.
  • The Residence, Andrew Pyper (Sept 1): In 1853, President-elect Franklin Pierce’s beloved son died in a train derailment. Andrew Pyper’s new novel examines the aftermath of that tragedy, once Pierce and his wife Jane take up residence in the White House, where a spirit haunts them.
  • The Ghost Tree, Christina Henry (Sept 8): A new horror novel from the author of Alice, Lost Boy, and the bestselling Black Wings series features a small town with rot at its core and a deadly monster in the woods.
  • The Invention of Sound, Chuck Palahniuk (Sept 8): A father searching for his long-lost daughter finds her at the peak of her success as a Hollywood foley artist with a reputation for being the best when it comes to making horror movies sound convincing.
  • It Will Just Be Us, Jo Kaplan (Sept 8): A gothic tale of two sisters, one of whom is pregnant, trying to survive a dangerous child ghost in a haunted mansion – perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
  • The Loop, Jeremy Robert Johnson (Sept 29): Billed as Stranger Things meets World War Z, The Loop takes place in a small town in Oregon which experiences a tidal wave of violence after an outbreak at the local biotech research center spills over into the town’s population.
  • The Nesting, C.J. Cooke (Sept 29): When Lexi is hired as a nanny for two young girls after the death of their mother, she isn’t quite sure what to expect. But in their home in remote Norway, Lexi’s discovery of a diary, coupled with footprints from nowhere and a ghostly presence, suggests that she and the girls may be in grave danger.
  • Sleep Donation, Karen Russell (Sept 29): This novella, a chilling tale of a fatal insomnia epidemic, was originally published available only in digital form, but this September, it’ll be published as a paperback for the first time – don’t miss it.

October to December

  • The Ghost Variations, Kevin Brockmeier (Oct 6): From the author of The Brief History of the Dead comes a collection of one hundred (!) short ghost stories, some funny, some poignant, and some terrifying.
  • The Hollow Places, T. Kingfisher (Oct 6): In her follow up to The Twisted Ones (which we LOVED), Kingfisher explores the story of Kara, a woman who discovers a portal to alternate realities populated by terrifying creatures with the ability to read minds.
  • We Hear Voices, Evie Green (Oct 6): A young boy’s miraculous recovery from a widespread viral illness comes with a price – an “imaginary friend” who tells him to do things. Terrible things.
  • Elegy for the Undead, Matthew Vesely (Oct 13): A beautiful, horrifying zombie novella about two newlywed husbands navigating the world when they only have a short time left together in it.
  • Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Stories of Horror, edited by Lincoln Michel & Nadxieli Nieto (Oct 13): A collection of new horror stories running no more than a few pages in length, from authors including Samantha Hunt, Brian Evenson, Jac Jemc, Stephen Graham Jones, Kevin Brockmeier, and Rion Amilcar Scott.
  • On Sundays, She Picked Flowers, Yah Yah Scholfield (Oct 18): When Judith starts a new life in rural Georgia, she’s expecting to focus on herself and create new, healthy routines in her life. She’s not expecting to encounter beings in the forest. And she’s certainly not expecting Nemoira. This Southern Gothic tale is full of love, mystery, and trauma.
  • Plain Bad Heroines, Emily M. Danforth (Oct 20): The adult debut from the author of the acclaimed YA novel The Miseducation of Cameron Post, this horror-comedy about a series of mysterious deaths at a girls’ school is being billed as The Favourite meets The Haunting of Hill House.
  • Bone Harvest, James Brogden (Nov 17): 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.
  • The Children of Red Peak, Craig DiLouie (Nov 17): Two survivors of a cult that met a violent end grapple with their own past experiences and what really happened that night.
  • The Blade Between, Sam J. Miller (Dec 1): A horror novel about an industrial ghost town-turned-weekend retreat for rich people and the mysterious forces on both sides of the gentrification battle.
  • The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories, ed. James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle (Dec 1): Valancourt, the venerable small press responsible for publishing the Paperbacks from Hell series with Grady Hendrix, has curated a selection of the best international contemporary horror stories, all of which are being published either in English or in the US for the first time here. [Editor’s note: the official on sale date for this collection is in December, but per Valancourt, preorders placed through their website will start shipping October 1st.]

Did we miss anything? Which 2020 books are you most excited for?


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24 thoughts on “All the Horror Books We’re Excited About in 2020

    1. Hey Emily!

      I forgot to add my YA horror JENNIFER STRANGE comes out July 21 from Haverhill House Publishing! I’d love to be considered to be added to this list!

  1. Don’t forget Night of the Mannequins, the Stephen Graham Jones novella coming out (now Sept 1st)from Tor.com

  2. I thought your readers might be interested in hearing about the release of the new horror book, “A Taste of Oz.” It’s a parody of “The Wizard of Oz,” and it was recently published by YouthPLAYS.

    See
    https://www.youthplays.com/play/a-taste-of-oz-by-robin-blasberg-563
    or on Amazon
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1620888971/

    A Taste of Oz synopsis
    We all know the story: Dorothy is off to see the Wizard to seek his help in getting out of Oz. Along for the ride are the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion, who believe the Wizard will grant their wishes too. It’s just a matter of a little stroll down the Yellow Brick Road. Or so they think. But does the Wizard have other plans? Did Glinda set them up? And what if Toto turns out to be the greatest threat of all?

    The humor goes straight for the jugular if you know what I mean.

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