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From the Haunted Stacks: 2022 Bram Stoker AwardsⓇ Wrap Up

For superior reading in horror. 

Bram Stoker 2022 award winners
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  • Bram Stoker Award 2022 winnersPhoto Credit: The Horror Writer's Association

Each year, the Horror Writers Association presents the Bram Stoker AwardsⓇ for Superior Achievement in twelve categories. There are a few interesting things about these, the most prestigious awards in the Horror genre. One, the award itself is very cool, an eight-inch replica of a fanciful haunted house, designed specifically for HWA by sculptor Steven Kirk. The door of the house opens to reveal a brass plaque engraved with the name of the winning work and its author. Two, the Bram Stoker AwardsⓇ are not for the “Best” works of the year, but rather they are “for superior achievement” which leaves room for more titles to be considered in a broader context. And three, the awards are chosen by a hybrid system of juries (one for each category) and member input. 

When you put all of this together, the results are always a cause for celebration. And that is exactly what happened on June 17, 2023, when the Bram Stoker AwardsⓇ  for books published in 2022 were presented live in Pittsburgh, PA. You can watch the entire ceremony for yourself here.

A very exciting reminder: this was the first year a Bram Stoker AwardⓇ was handed out for Superior Achievement in a Middle Grade Novel. While I won't be covering that award in this feature since I already previewed that category and all of the nominees in a previous column, I will tell you that the haunted house statue went to Daniel Kraus for They Stole Our Hearts.

In Haunted Stacks style, I am not here to simply list the winners for you here—you can get all that info here. Rather, I am going to focus on the titles that won in five of the categories and offer you two more readalikes to continue your superior reading adventure. 

Superior Achievement in a Novel

The Devil Takes You Home

The Devil Takes You Home

By Gabino Iglesias

The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias was nominated for Edgar, Anthony, Reading the West, and Shirley Jackson awards, but its first win, rightfully, came with the Bram Stoker Award.Ⓡ [link to my year in review as well]. Iglesias’s novel merges the real-world horrors of racism, the visceral brutality and heartbreak at America's southern border, and the failings of our health system with supernatural monsters and some of the most beautiful language you will encounter in any book. This Bario Noir masterpiece will make you uncomfortable in every way, and you cannot, will not, and should not look away.

Here are two other options for you to try while you wait for Iglesias’ next novel.

The Only Good Indians

The Only Good Indians

By Stephen Graham Jones

Four young Blackfeet go hunting on tribal lands and end up killing a pregnant Elk. Ten years later, the Elk returns to make each of them pay the ultimate price. This terrifying and, at times, violent tale of revenge is mired in a thick sense of dread, but it is also a  heartbreakingly beautiful, lyrical story about hope and survival, despite a long history of injustice. This novel received the 2020 Bram Stoker Award.Ⓡ 

social thrillers razorblade tears

Razorblade Tears

By S.A. Cosby

Two fathers, one white, and one black, both ex-cons, find out that their sons, who are married to each other, have been murdered. Thus begins a revenge road trip as these two flawed men will stop at nothing to inflict pain and suffering on those who hurt their boys. Beautiful, gritty, and moving, a tale of racism, homophobia, and the penal system, yes, but at its heart this is a story of love in all of its forms. Razorblade Tears dominated last year's Crime fiction awards. 

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Beulah christi nogle


By Christi Nogle

This year’s First Novel category was stacked, but Christi Nogle went home with the haunted house statue for Beulah, an atmospheric, character-driven tale of Georgie, an eighteen-year-old who can see and interact with ghosts. The Idaho setting is perfectly rendered and becomes part of the story itself, as this quiet coming-of-age Horror novel takes readers on an emotional journey that will leave them chilled to the core.

Here are two more novels that fans of Beulah will eagerly devour. 

jackal erin e adams


By Erin E. Adams

Also nominated in the same category this year, Adam’s stellar debut also features a strong coming-of-age storyline following Liz, a Black woman who reluctantly returns home to her largely white, rust belt town for a wedding, to find a series of Black girls have gone missing in the woods and the police have been covering it up for years. Liz then begins to experience her own terrifying memories of her past, the woods, and a supernatural killer. Less “quiet” than Nogle’s novel, but the focus on character, place, and a strong young female protagonist connect these two critically acclaimed first novels.

Lone Women by Victor LaValle

Lone Women

By Victor LaValle

It’s 1915 and Adelaide Henry, a single black woman, needs to get away from her California home. One of the only places she is welcome is Big Sandy, Montana where “lone women” are welcome to claim a homestead on the unforgiving, wide-open land. Her luggage, however, may not be that easy to get there, as she carries a familial burden, in a locked trunk, one that if opened could destroy everything in its wake. Told with a pulp sensibility, a strong sense of place, a monster with a heartbreakingly beautiful backstory, and a strong female lead, fans of Beulah will find much to love in LaValle’s novel, which is already being mentioned among 2023’s best.

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

the wehrwolf

The Wehrwolf: A Short Story

By Alma Katsu

Katsu, who was also nominated in the Novel category, took home the Bram Stoker AwardⓇ for her Amazon original novella, The Wehrwolf set in Germany during the waning days of WWII. Uwe Fuchs avoided having to fight for the Nazis by caring for his mother, but the local bully recruits Uwe to attack the Allies, with talk of glory, power, and their village’s ancestral lore. Both a terrifying entry into the modern Werewolf cannon and a cautionary, chilling tale of how war easily turns men into monsters, Katsu has further solidified her place as the undisputed master of Historical Horror with this, her first haunted house statue.

Here are two more tales of real-world violence mixed with supernatural horror.  

frankenstein in baghdad

Frankenstein in Baghdad

By Ahmed Saadawi

Another tale of war and supernatural monsters, but this time set against the backdrop of American-occupied Baghdad. Hadi, the local junk dealer, collects the body parts of victims from the constant bombing in order to build a single creature as an homage to the dead. But when Hadi’s creation comes to life and begins to seek revenge for the death of each person it is made up of, the situation becomes even more complex and morally ambiguous. This compelling fable, cautionary tragedy, and deeply moving story reveals the horrific physical and psychological scars of war.

Queen of the Cicadas by V Castro

Queen of the Cicadas

By V. Castro

Boldly crafting a brutal revenge Horror story, one that belatedly but firmly delivers justice to the world’s forgotten women, Castro tells the story of a female migrant farm worker, Milagros, who in 1952, was brutally murdered and left to die, tied to a tree, suffocating on the cicada shells stuffed down her throat by her attackers. As she is dying, the Aztec Goddess of Death pledges herself to Milagros, leaving the land haunted and cursed. In 2019, Belinda, a lost soul herself, visits this same land and helps to usher Milagros’ awesome and terrifying power back into the world, bringing unflinching revenge to oppressors everywhere. While not set during a recognized war, Castro’s 2021 Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel contemplates the atrocities inflicted upon women and migrants that have gone on for centuries, all over the world.

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Screams from the Dark: 29 Tales of Monsters and the Monstrous by Ellen Datlow

Screams from the Dark: 29 Tales of Monsters and the Monstrous

By Edited by Ellen Datlow

The undisputed GOAT [Greatest of All Time] of the Anthology category, Ellen Datlow took home another haunted house for Screams from the Dark: 29 Tales of Monsters and the Monstrous, collecting 29 original stories by some of today's best-known and most respected horror authors, including the inclusion of some exciting, emerging voices. This book plants its flag in the monster subgenre, setting the standard for the 21st-century monster and challenging all those who come after to respond to it.

Here are two more monstrous anthologies worth a try. 

Human Monsters anthology

Dark Matter Presents Human Monsters: A Horror Anthology

By Edited by Sadie Hartmann and Ashley Saywers

Also nominated alongside Datlow this year, Hartmann and Saywers probed the same trope with 35 original stories with one important requirement, all of the monsters in these stories must be 100% human. The result is a deliciously disturbing and uncomfortably seductive psychological roller coaster of a volume, one that activating asks you both to contemplate the darkness in the heart of your fellow people, but also, yourself. This volume by debut anthologists, makes an intriguing counterpoint to Datlow’s book. 

What the #@&% Is That?: The Saga Anthology of the Monstrous and the Macabre

What the #@&% is That?: The Saga Anthology of the Monstrous and the Macabre

By edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen

Back in 2016 Adams and Cohen turned to a Lovecraft-inspired meme that used artwork by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola as a writing prompt for their author friends. Bestselling authors, including Seanan McGuire, Laird Barron, and Grady Hendrix, were asked to contribute a story about a monster, with the catch being that at some point in their tale, a character had to exclaim, “What the #@&% is that!” While not every story features a monster, all are firmly established in the Horror genre, and like Datlow’s anthology, this volume is strongly edited and features original stories with a clear focus that will draw readers into its world. It also features “The Bad Hour” by Christopher Golden which was nominated for the 2016 Bram Stoker AwardⓇ in the Short Story category.

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Breakable Things Cassandra Khaw

Breakable Things

By Cassandra Khaw

Cassandra Khaw is a rising star in Horror and their intensely unsettling, thought-provoking, and immersive collection Breakable Things garnered them their first, but almost definitely not their last Bram Stoker Award.Ⓡ Invoking fairy tales and mythologies from all over the world and often featuring water imagery, none of these stories are very long, but each digs its claws firmly into the reader for the duration, ending perfectly, dangling the fear just out of reach. The result, you will reflect upon what you just experienced while eagerly turning the page to revisit that terrifying joy once again.

Here are two more critically acclaimed Horror collections by women that you might enjoy.

hell hath no sorrow like a woman haunted

Hell Hath No Sorrow like a Woman Haunted

By R.J. Joseph

Nominated alongside Khaw this year, Joseph’s collection is focused on Black women and the Horror inherent in their lives, both real and supernatural. Featuring complicated characters in a wide range of stories of ranging from pure terror to psychological to dark fantasy, this collection will not only reach out and grab you, but it will also give you a viscous shake, one that you will be glad to have experienced.

The Ghost Sequences by AC Wise

The Ghost Sequences

By A.C. Wise

This collection of 16 atmospheric stories, many using found footage, art, or epistolary frames defines its own appeal with the memorable quote: “A haunting is a moment of trauma infinitely repeated. It extends forward and backward in time. It is the hole grief makes.” The Ghost Sequences was nominated in this category last year and has remained popular with readers almost two years after its publication, and like Breakable Things, it was published by this year’s winner of the HWA’s Speciality Press award, Undertow Publications.