“Do you like scary movies?”
Silly question, we know you do.
There’s just something about them. They’re outrageous, over-the-top, and gruesomely fun. So when Scream came out in 1996, capturing all the essence of the horror slasher while poking fun at the same time, a new love for the genre was born. It didn’t take itself seriously, and that gave the film permission to have a violent but gleeful time.
With a final girl you can’t help but root for, a killer you almost like, and enough blood to paint a small town red, Scream took slashers to a whole new level.
Here are 10 books that capture that same joyful mayhem with plenty of on-the-page gore, just like Scream.
My Heart is a Chainsaw
Jade Daniels knows final girls. As the town outcast, she’s used to not being listened to. But when the blood starts to flow, she desperately tries to prevent the deaths she knows are coming. Because horror movies are her sanctuary. Her safe space. That’s why Jade understands exactly why masked killers seek revenge. It’s why anyone in Proofrock who wants to live should listen. It’s also why they won’t.
In a stunning homage to horror and slasher films, My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones is a story about rising up, finding yourself, and overcoming your past to find your future.
Curse of the Reaper
Howard Browning rose to fame playing the Reaper in the successful 80s franchise. But decades later, all but the most die-hard fans have lost interest. Until the studio announces a reboot. Except, instead of casting Howard in the titular role, they replace him with heartthrob Trevor Mane, a former child star barely out of rehab. Trevor is determined to reignite his career, but Howard refuses to let go. In his quest to prove himself, his deadly alter ego begins to emerge. Is it obsession? Or has the character taken on a terrifying life of its own?
Pitched as Scream meets The Shining, Curse of the Reaper is a slasher novel straight out of your favorite horror films set in the heart of Hollywood.
Clown in a Cornfield
Quinn Maybrook moved to the small town of Kettle Springs for a new start. But right after, the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory closed, and the town nearly broke. Now, the adults want to make Kettle Springs vibrant again, and the kids just want to have fun and get out. All Quinn wants is to graduate and let the two sides destroy each other. The only thing no one saw coming was Frendo, the Baypen mascot with a pork pie hat, who decides to go homicidal. Because he’s decided the only way to get Kettle Springs back is to get rid of the rotten kids hell-bent on destroying it.
With a staggeringly high body count as a serial killer slashes his way through teenage parties, Clown in a Cornfield hits all the right notes to match your favorite slashers.
The Final Girl Support Group
Lynette Tarkington is a real-life final girl. She survived an attack more than a decade ago and has attended a support group with five other final girls to try and piece their lives back together. But when one woman goes missing, their worst fears are confirmed. Someone knows about their group. And whomever it is wants them dead.
This fun slasher embraces all the best tropes: final girls, chainsaws, and summer camps, making it the perfect read for horror lovers looking for a killer good time.
In the press, there are three girls who all survived horrific massacres. Lisa lost nine sorority sisters when a college dropout stabbed them all. Sam barely escaped the Sack Man while working the night shift at Nightlight Inn. And Quincy ran through the woods to escape the man who killed five of her friends while they were on vacation. The three girls have never met, despite the media trying to arrange it. And for Quincy, that’s just fine. She’s almost thriving, thanks to her almost fiancé, a Xanax prescription, and her popular baking blog.
But when Lisa is found dead in the bathtub and Sam shows up on her doorstep, Quincy’s put-together life is thrown into disarray. As facts about Lisa’s death come to life and Sam pushes her to remember what really happened that night, Quincy finds herself fighting for her life all over again. It turns out that what happened at Pine Cottage all those years ago wasn’t finished. And whoever did it, won’t rest until Quincy is dead.
When Jody stays the night at her best friend Evelyn’s house, the last thing she expects is to find herself running for her life. But when a group breaks into the house and spears Evelyn, that’s exactly what she does. After barely saving Evelyn’s little brother Andy, she’s on the run as one of the group, a man named Simon, hunts her down. The group says it’s to get rid of witnesses. But Simon has his own reasons for wanting to catch Jody. And to make sure it all goes right, he’s even practiced what he’s going to do using other victims.
With a main character as tough as Sidney Prescott, Endless Night is an intense hunt told by both the hunter and the hunted.
What if all the murder and mayhem was the only thing holding the multiverse together? You know the killers. They stalk through summer camps and carnivals, small towns and abandoned places. Wherever they are, carnage, blood, and sometimes a survivor, follow. But now they’re the ones being hunted. And if you want life as you know it to continue, they have to survive.
A fun twist on the normal slasher tropes, Standalone is a gory romp that will delight horror fans looking for something a little different.
There's Someone Inside Your House
After Makani Young settled with her grandmother in Nebraska, she thought she left her dark past behind in Hawaii. She has new friends, a new crush, and a new life. But her past isn’t willing to let her go. One by one, students at her new high school start to die, each one more grotesque and gruesome than the last. And the only way to stop them is to finally confront the dark secrets she’d rather forget.
Under the Blade
Twenty-five years ago, Melanie Holden didn’t just survive Cyrus Hoyt’s infamous killing spree at Camp Forest Grove. She mortally wounded him before she fled with her life. Now, her career has died and she reluctantly accepts a lucrative publishing offer. She has to go back to the camp to dig up all the skeletons buried in the past. Melanie is about to expose a long-held secret. One someone is willing to kill for.
Capturing the tense cat-and-mouse thrills of a final girl facing the slasher monster, Under the Blade will keep readers on the edge of their seats as Melanie fights for her life.
The Murder Game
When someone ends up dead, Luke Chase’s best friend and roommate Oscar Weymouth takes the blame. Luke doesn’t want to get caught up in the murder. But while his past isn’t exactly innocent, it does give him the survival skills necessary to solve the mystery. As he wades through the mountain of suspects, he uses everything he can to find the killer and save his friend.
Featured photo: Mark Bishop / Unsplash