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Frightening Horror Books That Revamp Classic Monsters

The literary impact of these beloved monsters isn’t dead—even though most are undead…

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  • Photo Credit: Featured photo: Henrik L. / Unsplash

Classic monsters are timeless. There's something to be said about curling up in a chair and reading a book about classic monsters like ghosts, vampires, zombies, or werewolves. Even as we may grow and change, these enduring villains remain the same, offering us comfort in times of worry and anxiety. Lately, however, incredible voices have been revamping these classic creatures, bringing new awareness to familiar tropes.

As long-time and new horror readers come along, it can be difficult to decide where to get started. Luckily, there's no shortage of bright and talented voices in the genre.  Wherever you begin, remember that there are no wrong answers. These monsters will be waiting for you to find them, in works old and new. 

If you don’t have a favorite monster, that’s not a problem either. Readers who like to dive into books about monsters of all types are welcome to find a book on this list that piques their interest and draws them in for a nice scare. Here are a few of our favorite horror books with twists on classic monsters.

Horror books about vampires

Vampires are legendary classic creatures for a reason. The subject of numerous books, TV shows, and films, vampires are frequently portrayed as mysterious and moody, brash and brooding—and always thrilling. It should also be noted that they are often portrayed as sexy and funny; vampire romances and vampire comedies should not be discounted, and could each be their own booklist. Here, though, is an upcoming book that combines elements of dark humor and a mysterious setting, bringing a fresh take on this iconic figure. 


Vampires of El Norte

By Isabel Cañas

Already receiving lots of buzz in the weeks before its release, the latest book by Cañas, author of The Hacienda, brings vampires and vaqueros in close contact as they face off with each other on the Texas-Mexico border. This latest book brings historical fiction to the vampire trope, as the book is set during the Mexican-American War, and her background as a historian is on full display as she evokes the scenery and setting of the time period. 

Who should read it? Fans of Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and anyone looking for a nice scare.

Horror books about ghosts

Depending on our life experiences, ghosts may have been introduced to us through watching classic films like Ghostbusters and Poltergeist, listening to ghost stories while sitting around a campfire, or visiting haunted houses during Halloween time. These otherworldly beings have been part of our imagination, and in some cases our waking world, for longer than we care to remember. Is it any wonder that we are endlessly curious about them?


The September House

By Carissa Orlando

In this new twist on the haunted house, the presence of a ghost doesn’t scare away new homeowners Margaret and Val. Instead, Margaret embraces them, curious about what each haunting means—and what secrets are contained within the house itself. This debut by Orlando brings readers up-close-and-personal with ghosts, and will cause us to wonder what happens when, or if, our curiosity gets the best of us.

Who should read it? Fans of spooky season, and anyone who read How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix in one sitting. 

Horror books about zombies

Though we have always been intrigued by zombies, they became the monster of choice for many with the popularity of The Walking Dead. Though zombies may no longer be having quite as much of a moment as they were even a few years ago, these fearsome creatures are not dead: literally. Rather, they continue to be the object of interest for writers—and readers—of all types who are drawn to how these figures have emerged and evolved throughout the years. And what better way to reimagine the classic zombie than with sapphic horror?


This Delicious Death

By Kayla Cottingham

Blending pop culture and sizzling scares, this gorefest by librarian and bestselling author Kayla Cottingham focuses on four friends with a penchant for fun...and occasionally human flesh. Set in a dystopian future and centered around a Coachchella-inspired musical festival, the latest from Cottingham, author of the bestseller, My Dearest Darkest, will have readers on the edge of their seat. This YA book is also ideal for adult crossover. 

Who should read it? Fans of the cult classic movie Jennifer’s Body, and anyone interested in zombies, but unsure where to start.

Horror books about werewolves

With roots in mythology, fairy tales, and historical traditions, werewolves have been a source of fascination and obsession throughout the decades. Portrayed as both monstrous and sympathetic—sometimes both simultaneously—interest in these creatures has led to the popularity of TV supernatural dramas like Teen Wolf and The Vampire Diaries, as well as several werewolf romances in recent years. Riffing on the mythological aspect of werewolves, the latest by Tim Powers brings historical insight to this renowned beast.


My Brother's Keeper

By Tim Powers

This book is a fantasy retelling of Emily Brontë’s life, in which she confronts demons and fights werewolves—all in a day’s work. Drawing on the writings of Emily and Charlotte Brontë, as well as his own imagination, this work blends the historical and the paranormal. This standalone is similar to works in his other series, including the Fault Lines series and the Vickery and Castine series, in that it will leave readers coming back for more. 

Who should read it? Fans of paranormal histories, and anyone interested in adaptations or retellings of Wuthering Heights.

Featured photo: Henrik L. / Unsplash