While novels tend to get all the love from readers, collections remain my favorite way to discover a new author. In particular, horror collections are such a perfect forum for not only exploring the voice and style of a particular writer but also discovering stories that manage to scare you just as much—if not more—than a full-length novel.
So for your reading pleasure, here are six creepy horror collections that you should add to your bookshelf immediately.
The Cuckoo Girls
Released in 2020, Patricia Lillie’s debut collection earned her a nomination for the Bram Stoker Award, and for good reason. Lillie’s fiction is often deeply subtle and deeply weird in all the best possible ways. The title story in particular is worth the price of admission alone; it takes what seems like a familiar story and entirely turns it on its head. That’s what makes the tales in this collection so fascinating and memorable: the way they explore the history of horror and the weird and then expand upon that legacy in such breathtakingly inventive ways. Whatever Patricia Lillie writes next, I’m eager to read it.
We Are Here to Hurt Each Other
I recently featured Paula D. Ashe on my list of six up-and-coming female authors, but it bears repeating: her Bram Stoker Award-nominated collection should be on your TBR list right now. She’s one of the most vibrant voices in horror today, and this collection released last year from Nictitating Books is proof of why. She has an uncanny knack for creating characters and worlds that will creep you out and break your heart simultaneously. These visceral tales are not for the faint of heart, but if you’ve got it in you to face some of the most shocking and traumatic aspects of human nature, then this book is most certainly for you. And when you’re done, be sure to check out Paula D. Ashe’s other work, including her many amazing short stories.
Who Lost, I Found
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Eden Royce is among my very favorite authors out there. She writes such unique fiction that truly transcends genre barriers. Royce’s latest collection, Who Lost, I Found: Stories, is due out later this year from Broken Eye Books, and as expected, it’s incredible. I was fortunate enough to blurb an early ARC of this one, and it’s filled with the kind of beautiful, strange, and affecting tales that Eden Royce is renowned for. Also, keep an eye out for her next novel, Conjure Island, which is the follow-up to her acclaimed debut, Root Magic.
The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future
Christi Nogle is quickly making herself known as a major author and editor to watch in the horror genre. Her voice is remarkable and unmistakable, and the stories she creates are brimming with equal parts empathy and dread. Case in point: her latest book, The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future. Released earlier this year, this collection from Flame Tree Press is a gorgeously written work filled with tales of trauma and terror in the vein of the late, great Shirley Jackson. And once you’ve finished this collection, pick up a copy of Christi Nogle’s debut novel, Beulah, which was released last year from Cemetery Gates Media and is nominated at this year’s Stokers.
Sometimes We’re Cruel and Other Stories
The last few years have been very good for fans of collections, and this particular title is among my favorites. Released in 2021 and nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award, Sometimes We’re Cruel and Other Stories helped to announce J.A.W. McCarthy as a horror author to watch. This collection has got it all: ghosts, obsession, doppelgangers, and more. McCarthy’s work runs the gamut from heartrending to heart-stopping, and her razor-sharp prose always hits the mark. Also, if you enjoy this incredible collection, then be sure to put J.A.W. McCarthy’s latest novella, Sleep Alone, on your TBR list as well.
In That Endlessness, Our End
Gemma Files has long been one of the most vital names in horror and weird fiction. You could choose literally any book from her vast oeuvre and find a winner. However, if you’re seeking out some of her latest work, then look no further than In That Endlessness, Our End. Released in 2021 from Grimscribe Press, this collection won both the Bram Stoker Award and the This Is Horror Award, and it’s easy to see why. The stories in this book get under your skin and stay there. Once you’ve finished In That Endlessness, Our End, buy a copy of Files’ other recent collections from Trepidatio Publishing, including the well-lauded Spectral Evidence.