The Gift of Fear: 2021’s Best Gifts for Horror Fans

In the pre-Covid Before Times, when I was a bookseller, I was always especially thrilled when someone came into the store asking for a gift recommendation. A question or two about the recipient’s taste usually gave me all the information I needed to suggest a book, and more often than not, the customer left happy. In today’s robust horror fiction landscape, there really is something for everybody–below, you’ll find 30+ book recommendations based on other recent movies, shows, and more.

Buy links are included for online retailers, but with the supply chain being what it is and shipping logistics not being what they were, I strongly suggest you call your local bookstore to see if they have what you’re looking for in stock. And be patient and kind with booksellers this season–it’s an especially tough month in an especially tough couple years.

Not seeing what you need here? Check out our master list of 2021’s new horror books, or tell us a little bit about your recipient in the comments below and we’ll suggest something just for you!


If they liked Netflix’s adaptation of Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes, get them The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

There’s simply no way to anticipate the ending of either of these creepy thrillers–plus, Needless Street is partially narrated by a cat. Need I say more?

Read an excerpt here.

The Last House on Needless Street: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked The Night House, get them This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno

Grief is a potent force in horror media, and both these works delve into the aftermath of the traumatic loss of a partner and the strange things that fill the void.

Read Gus Moreno on his favorite horror duos here.

This Thing Between Us: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Julia Ducournau’s Titane, get them Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca

Fans of queer horror–and especially queer body horror with the dial cranked up to 11–will appreciate LaRocca’s novella of sex, obsession, and grotesque oneupmanship.

A note: Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke is now out of print in paperback–but don’t worry! According to the author’s Twitter, it’ll be coming back in a new form in 2022. In the meantime, call your local bookstore to see if they still have a copy in stock, or snag the audiobook!

Read Eric LaRocca on eye horror here.

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke: Apple | Audible


If they liked Halloween Kills, get them The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Iconic final girl Laurie Strode would certainly have a place in Dr. Carol’s monthly group therapy meeting–though it might well cost her her life.

The Final Girl Support Group: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Valdimar Jóhannsson‘s Lamb, get them Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

Lamb and Nightbitch both explore the frontiers of motherhood at the far edges of humanity–perfect for anyone burnt out from nearly two years of pandemic parenting.

Nightbitch: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Jayro Bustamante’s La Llorona, get them The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

Bustamante’s elegant, atmospheric movie, about a Guatemalan dictator who faces supernatural retribution for the violence he inflicted upon indigenous women, is a perfect complement to Enriquez’s magical realism-inflected stories about the lives of women.

Read Nicole Hill on Mariana Enriquez here.

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed:  Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they loved Fear Street: 1994, get them HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

“Small-town teens deal with the fallout from the centuries-old curse of a witch” aptly describes both these works, but while the Fear Street kids are largely the victims, HEX explores what happens when rogue adolescents make the situation much, much worse.

HEX: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Fear Street: 1978, get them My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

If the slasher fan in your life liked Camp Nightwing, they’ll simply die for Camp Blood.

Read Aigner Loren Wilson’s review here.

My Heart is a Chainsaw: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Fear Street: 1666, get them Slewfoot by Brom

If the third and final installment of the Fear Street trilogy was their favorite, Brom’s tale of witchcraft in Puritan New England, also set in 1666, will make the perfect follow-up.

Slewfoot: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


For fans of Shudder’s Horror Noire anthology, get When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen

McQueen’s brutal novel of inventive Black horror (in which an already-direly-misguided plantation wedding goes very, very wrong) would fit seamlessly in Horror Noire‘s lineup of stories written by Tananarive Due, Victor LaValle, and more.

When the Reckoning Comes: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Malignant, get them Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper

To say too much about why this pairing works so well would be a spoiler, but as chimeric body horror goes, this is a killer one-two punch.

Queen of Teeth: Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they loved Wilder Girls by Rory Power, get them What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

The transformations affecting the characters in Wilder Girls might be due to a disease rather than genetics, but the Zarrin family’s hereditary monstrousness is certainly just as compelling.

Read Rose Szabo on the queer monstrous here.

What Big Teeth: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, get them Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo

Folk tales and urban legends share a whole lot of DNA, and these two Chicago-set supernatural crime stories are both well aware of their lineage.

Read Gabino Iglesias’ review here.

Children of Chicago: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass, get them The Route of Ice and Salt by José Luis Zárate

Why? No reason. If you haven’t watched Midnight Mass, don’t look it up, just trust me. Don’t worry about it.

Read Carrie Laben’s review here.

The Route of Ice and Salt: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they already own this Super Yaki shirt, get them The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

If they like historical Gothic romance, emphasis on the Gothic, Starling’s lush novel is a no-brainer.

Read Caitlin Starling’s tips for writing compelling crossover horror here.

The Death of Jane Lawrence: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they’re still raving about Midsommar, get them Cackle by Rachel Harrison

For everyone who got to the end of Ari Aster’s modern folk horror classic and thought “Good for her.”

Read Natalie Zutter’s review here.

Cackle: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Simon Barrett’s Seance, get them Goddess of Filth by V. Castro

Teenage girls are the scariest people on the planet, and you can’t tell me otherwise. After all, I used to be one.

Read Gabino Iglesias’ review here.

Goddess of Filth: Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they’re in love with What We Do in the ShadowsGuillermo de la Cruz, get them Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

What We Do in the Shadows is still going strong in its third season, and if they’d like another fresh perspective on vampires, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexico City noir-horror novel should be their next stop.

Certain Dark Things: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If David Lowery’s The Green Knight was their first trip back to the movies, get them Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

The lush intensity of Lowery’s long-awaited adaptation of the classic chivalric poem resonates beautifully with Solomon’s hallucinatory genre-bending Gothic novel.

Sorrowland: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked A Quiet Place Part II, get them Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn

A beautiful meditation on motherhood in the time of monsters, Rocklyn’s novella is a masterclass in eldritch monsters and social tensions.

Flowers for the Sea: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, get them Reprieve by James Han Mattson

Reprieve is, uh, a touch more highbrow than Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, but the novel, set in an extreme survival-horror attraction in rural Nebraska, is no less gripping as it delves into issues of race and class and otherness.

Reprieve: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


For the J-horror fan in your life, get Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Anyone who enjoys watching idiots get their supernatural comeuppance, will adore Khaw’s grimy, beautiful novella about a wedding in a haunted mansion.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they love You on Netflix, get them The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

The suspense and intrigue of Joe Goldberg’s ignominious exploits are a perfect apertif for The Other Black Girl‘s twists and turns, as the story escalates from office politics to paranoia to broader cycles of oppression and complicity.

The Other Black Girl: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Lisey’s Story, get them Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

Lippman’s novel tips its hat to Stephen King’s Misery as it tells the claustrophobic story of a convalescent author tormented by phone calls from a woman who claims he stole her life story for his bestselling novel–a treat for the Constant Reader who’s exhausted all King adaptations.

Dream Girl: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked genre-bending sleeper hit The Empty Man, get them Star Eater by Kerstin Hall

Admittedly these two works don’t have a lot in common plotwise, but both offer refreshingly original blends of dark fantasy, the occult, and body horror–and they’re both just plain weird in the best way.

Star Eater: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked In The Earth, get them The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell by Brian Evenson

Eco-horror fans who enjoyed this hallucinatory, high-concept film simply cannot miss Evenson’s newest collection of stories, linked by the looming shadow of climate catastrophe and the end of the Anthropocene.

The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Antlers, get them The Deer Kings by Wendy N. Wagner

The “what if a deer was fucked up” horror trope is a favorite of mine, personally – if they liked Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians or spent a lot of time on #notdeer TikTok, Wagner’s coming-of-age novel is sure to please.

The Deer Kings: Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Things Heard or Seen, get them The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig

Small families move to isolated rural houses and find themselves assaulted by ghostly presences as well as inner demons in these two works, but Wendig’s novel is so much more than the story of a haunting.

Read Sadie Hartmann’s review here.

The Book of Accidents: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked the Netflix adaptation of The Devil All the Time, get them Revelator by Daryl Gregory

Any fan of how the Southern Gothic (or its subgenre, Appalachian Gothic) explores the tangled web of the region’s cultural, political, and religious forces will love Gregory’s dark, weird novel about one backwoods family’s personal god.

Read Nicole Hill’s review here.

Revelator: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If they liked Zola (either the original Twitter thread or Janicza Bravo’s film adaptation), get them A Touch of Jen by Beth Morgan

Okay, Zola isn’t really a horror story (though I suppose that depends on your definition of horror), but its zeitgeisty subject matter and irreverent tone have a kindred spirit in Beth Morgan’s bitingly funny contemporary novel of a dysfunctional relationship that takes a sharp left turn into cosmic horror.

A Touch of Jen: Apple | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


And, finally, if they liked M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, about the beach that makes you old, well:

Sorry! Sorry.

Elder Horror: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound



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