It’s crazy to think that we’re already a month into 2022. Commence panic attacks about missed deadlines and lost time. Don’t forget the recent COVID variants and the world on fire—as portrayed by the latest rush of news. More reason to run away into any and all things horror. With so many most-anticipated lists seemingly recycling the same titles from major trade publishers, it’s unfortunate to see such a dismal offering of indie titles on these lists. Seriously, you all are missing out! There are so many amazing titles being published across indie presses nationwide.
So, in the spirit of celebrating small-press books, we've gathered seven of our most anticipated indie horror and thriller titles hitting shelves in 2022.
The Pain Eater
Muntz’s last novel, 2015’s Scary People, was as bizarre as it was heartfelt, depicting a group of friends attending The School in The City as things quickly turn, well, scary. The novel showcased Muntz’s affinity for turning reality upside down so naturally you almost don’t notice until you’re right in the middle of it. His upcoming novel, The Pain Eater, takes things even deeper, with a narrative about two brothers grieving over the death of their father and the appearance of something, a creature that defies any conventional description. It enters their lives at a time when both are struggling and potentially losing life’s latest hand only to reveal it’s main power, the ability to devour pain.
Hightower gave us the propulsive and masterful Crossroads and Whispers in the Dark. Now she is back with a brand new novella, Below, undoubtedly yet another example of why Hightower’s compellingly rendered prose rests at the forefront of horror. Set to be published as part of the inaugural run of Perpetual Motion Machine’s new horror imprint, Ghoulish Books, Below begins at the height of a snowstorm in West Virginia. Our protagonist is driving late into the night only to experience strange car problems. She is saved by a stranger, the truck driver giving her a ride. This is where Hightower takes a familiar conceit and folds it over, presenting new moral quandaries and a range of narrative possibilities. The danger isn’t the snowstorm, and it isn’t the stranger. It’s something else and readers are bound to have the pages turning frantically as they figure out what, and how, this one ends. At this time, you can preorder this book from the publisher.
Little Bird starts out like a highly relatable portrayal of everyone’s lockdown circa 2020. We are introduced to Josie as she self-quarantines in her house after a divorce, nursing herself into a routine oriented drunken stupor. Everyday is seemingly the same, and every night is a date with a bottle of vodka. Meuret twists and contorts reality into a tale of magical realism and horror when a strange vine grows in her backyard and with it a talking skeleton named Skelly sits atop it, insisting on invading Josie’s life. Meuret has written a fun and bizarre read that’ll satisfy those seeking a mixture of darkness and light.
Booth III has been at the forefront of horror for years now. Among his most recent offerings was the incredibly popular and devastating horror novella, We Need to Do Something, along with the film adaptation that followed (and is now streaming on Hulu!). Booth III is one of those writers that can dig up terror in pretty much any story. Next up for this twisted mastermind is a novel called Maggots Screaming!, a send off of body horror involving a father and son that discover a menace in their back yard: three very uniquely dead corpses. Bring it on! At this time, you can pre-order this book directly from the publisher.
Ojeda’s novel is a delectable and downright disturbing concoction of horror rituals, creepypasta, and pop culture references. Jawbone is about two friends, Fernanda and Annelise, so inseparable from each other they might be the same person. When something happens to Fernanda, held hostage in a deserted cabin, Annelise turns to bizarre and dangerous rituals that border on violence. That alone would be enough for one hell of a thrill ride, but Ojeda also concocts a ritual of her own using devilish language and a complex literary structure that sets itself apart from anything else you’ve ever read.
Coates joins the group of horror set at sea with From Below. The SS Arcadia vanishes while on a typical voyage. Fast forward 60 years and the wreckage is discovered far off the voyage’s original course. Our lead is a documentarian named Cove who has become known for venturing to far off places to find a story and demystify myths and legends. The discovery of the SS Arcadia wreckage is her Holy Grail, so to speak. The novel delves into the unknown depths of our own oceans, painting a horror-induced atmosphere that is as uncanny as it is chilling.
We Can Never Leave This Place
LaRocca blew us away with the heavy-hitting novella Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke (which, while currently out of print is scheduled for a 2022 re-release in a collection from a major publisher—stay tuned!) and his story collection The Strange Things We Become and Other Dark Tales last year. We Can Never Leave This Place is his latest, a true demonstration of his storytelling skills and range as a writer. Here we are introduced to a young reclusive girl at the onset of the death of her father. Through the lens of her peculiar imagination, the world is malleable and devastating. This is the kind of horror that gets under your skin and grows, sprouting days, maybe weeks later, when you least suspect. It’s that good. And while it's not quite available for pre-order yet, this is one you'll want to keep on your radar!
Related: 8 Emerging Horror Authors Who Are Changing the Face of Horror