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A Hailey Piper Primer: Dark Terrors That Hold a Mirror to Our Complicated World

Has horror found its queen?

hailey piper primer
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  • Photo Credit: haileypiper.com; Tools For Motivation/Unsplash

Hailey Piper is not only a prolific horror writer, but an acclaimed recipient of a Bram Stoker Award, a Locus Award, and a Dragon Award. Giving voice to both women and the LGBT+ community, Piper approaches dark fiction with a fresh perspective and raw honesty. She has several novels and novellas under her belt, as well as more than 100 short stories published across Weird Tales, Pseudopod, and beyond. Her splatter western Cruel Angels Past Sundown was published last month, and with her monster tale A Light Most Hateful coming out in October—and two novellas, a story collection, and a novel hitting shelves in 2024—she's showing no signs of slowing down.

With so much wonderful work in her catalog, where does one even start? While I can assure you there's no corner of her writing you'll want to miss, there are some definite highlights along the way! Here's a Hailey Piper primer, to help you ease your way into discovering your new favorite author.

Hailey Piper Novels and Novellas

Benny Rose, the Cannibal King

Benny Rose the Cannibal King

By Hailey Piper

The legend of Benny Rose, the Cannibal King, haunts the town of Blackwood, Vermont. His dark exploits are whispered among every child in town—especially to set a chilling mood for Halloween. In the fall of 1987, high school junior Desiree St. Fleur rallies her friends to play a Benny Rose prank on the new girl in school. It's all fun and games until a violent storm traps them in a peculiar neighborhood. Now they're being hunted, and no one is going to save them. After all, Benny Rose is hungry, and nothing will stop him.

The Worm and His Kings, a cosmic horror novella by horror author Hailey Piper

The Worm and His Kings

By Hailey Piper

It's 1990 in New York City, and no one notices when impoverished women disappear. This is a brutal truth Monique must face after her girlfriend, Donna, goes missing. After several more women vanish, Monique catches wind of some disturbing rumors: a monster lurks in the city's underground, dragging victims down below.

If Monique wants to save Donna, she's going to have to delve down deep into a subterranean world of cultists and creatures. But what's waiting for her will defy even her darkest fears—a terrible something that precedes time and hails from beyond the stars.

Book cover of body horror book Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper

Queen of Teeth

By Hailey Piper

This incredible book won Hailey Piper the 2022 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Yaya Betancourt's life is turned upside down in the span of two days. It starts with the discovery of teeth between her legs—vagina dentata. Her best guess is that this is a strange side effect from a genetic condition she and thousands of others were given by the in-utero experiments of AlphaBeta Pharmaceutical. However, when the powerful corporation launches a full-on hunt for her, it becomes clear that she's the main test subject of their last experiment.

The teeth down below turn out to be just the tip of the iceberg, as soon her genital area grows horns, tentacles, and a mind of its own.

no gods for drowning

No Gods for Drowning

By Hailey Piper

This gripping, terrifying read takes place in a near-modern-day alternate reality, in which monsters that had once been contained by the old gods now flood and overrun the city of Valentine. Now, as they did in ancient times, these great beasts hunt mankind. And to make matters worse, a serial killer has taken advantage of the chaos to commit ritual sacrifices.

Lilac Antonis hopes that by summoning her mother—a blood god—she can save her beloved city. It's just unfortunate that in order to do that, she'll have to slit some throats. Even more unfortunate is that Alex and Cecil of Ace Investigations have been asked to track down the city's killer, and they have no idea they're looking for their friend. As they get closer to the truth, it seems like the gods may not have willingly abandoned them, and their problem may be bigger than they could ever imagine.

Hailey Piper Short Stories

we are wolves

We Are Wolves

By Gemma Amor, Laurel Hightower, and Cina Pelayo

This anthology—edited by Gemma Amor, Laurel Hightower, and Cina Pelayo, some of the most gripping voices in horror today—pays tribute to and empowers the courage of women. The proceeds of this book all go to assisting survivors of abuse and assault. Contributors include Amor,  Hightower, and Pelayo themselves, as well as Sarah Read, V Castro, Sara Tantlinger, Sonora Taylor, and of course Hailey Piper.

Piper's story, "The Curse of She, Part 6: The Final Girlfriend," takes a cinematic approach, exploring the ways women are portrayed on the big screen. Expectations give way to exploitation, but beneath it all is a vital sense of community. In this tale, an actress must navigate the ever-shifting landscape of the horror genre—a world in which no role is as precious as that of the Final Girl.

the book of queer saints

The Book of Queer Saints

By Mae Murray

Good queer representation is important—but that doesn't mean queer characters have to be good. This vital anthology of 13 tales of queer villains has everything from erotic monstrosity to metamorphic body horror. Piper's work in this collection is included alongside other greats, such as Eric LaRocca, Joe Koch, and Eric Raglin.

Piper's story, "We Frolic Within the Leviathan’s Heart,” opens the anthology. This atmospheric, seaside tale is centered on a monster called Mother Mayoud. On Frolic Night, Mother Mayoud gathers a crew to collect a tithe from the town. This story spins ancient magic as expertly as it crafts horromance and grief.

Your Body is Not Your Body trans body horror anthology

Your Body is Not Your Body

By Alex Woodroe

In the wake of disturbing legal discussions regarding trans and gender-nonconforming youth in Texas, this anthology was born. A portion of profits from this collection support Equality Texas. More than 30 creators came together to fill out this rallying cry, delivering stories that range from demonic pregnancy to murderous pleasure-bots.

Piper's story, “Why We Keep Exploding,” was originally published in the anthology Stitched Lips. This tale touches on the toxicity of masculinity and the cruel depths misogyny extends to. On a college campus, female-presenting individuals suffer like no one could imagine. If they speak, they explode.

Featured image: haileypiper.com; Tools For Motivation/Unsplash