Amid the onset of an exciting new year of books, there’s this often frenetic nature of trying to parse through just how many books make it to store shelves. For every book published by one of the “Big Four,” there’s a veritable ecosystem of indie presses running full steam ahead with their own slate of heavy hitters.
Small publishers may not have the mass distribution capabilities of the mainstream ones, but that doesn't mean the quality is any less. In most cases, it's quite the opposite.
If you’re like me, every new year it becomes more difficult to keep track of the vast wealth of new releases. We all hope to find those life-giving hidden gems, just waiting to be discovered in a TBR pile. There is absolutely nothing like finding a lesser-known book worth shouting about, especially as these releases can sometimes be overlooked by the mainstream.
Skimming the most anticipated pipeline of lists might help you find that needle in the haystack, but ultimately each reader must make their own discoveries. So perhaps yet one more of those lists might help? I hope so.
Here's to some of the most anticipated horror books being published by indie presses in 2023.
Everything the Darkness Eats by Eric LaRocca
LaRocca’s highly anticipated debut novel, Everything the Darkness Eats, tells the story of a small New England village amid a disturbing wave of disappearances acting as a harbinger for a sinister and hateful cosmic force that threatens to change—or possibly destroy—the town and its community. LaRocca knows a thing or two about examining the darkness, just like he knows that in order to survive its menace, one needs to reveal how humanity can overcome its multitude of terrors.
Philip Fracassi has been on a roll of late, publishing a string of top-notch horror titles (including A Child Alone with Strangers) over the last couple years.
Next up is Gothic, a psychological horror novel aimed to mine the depths of a writer in the face of creative struggle. When the writer receives a gift from his partner who hopes it will help shatter the dry spell/writer's block, he begins inadvertently channeling the dark forces of the past.
When Devil’s Creek, Todd Keisling’s Stoker Award nominated novel went out of print last year due to circumstances entirely out of his control, I was like many beyond disappointed in how publishing can be so cruel. Thankfully the book is back and expanded!
For those new to the world of Devil’s Creek, Keisling tells the tale of Stauford, Kentucky—and the eponymously named Devil’s Creek—where legends and nightmares echo of the past in the form of death cults, heathens, and dark secrets. The comparisons to 80s-era Stephen King are apt but Keisling does it better here; he’s conjured a living, breathing menace and its name is Devil’s Creek.
I’m a sucker for stories where the setting ends up becoming as much of a character as the ones with a heartbeat. Beleth Station is one of those (near) ghost towns lost to the passage of time. The people that remain have fallen into their own string of bad luck and the town itself continues to fester in the form of its own hell. This twisted and tragic place is the foundation for authors Samantha Kolesnik and Bryan Smith’s pair of novellas involving Nick and Krista lovers that end up drawn into the darkness of Beleth Station.
Burn You the Fuck Alive
I currently know very little about Yeager’s next novel except that it is set to come out this year via Apocalypse Party and that it’s following his masterful novel, Negative Space, a novel written as an oral history about a town and a series of suicides centered around something cosmic and multi-dimensional. Negative Space was written about a strange cultish presence and ironically has fostered its own cultish presence as a book with thousands of fans. I’m one of them and I can’t wait to see what waits for me in his next.
Editor's note: A pre-order link is not available yet, but we'll be sure to update once we have one! In the meantime, you can visit the publisher's website.
What Kind of Mother
Still reeling from Chapman’s haunting Ghost Eaters, I was extremely happy to discover that he’s readying a new novel for 2023. In What Kind of Mother, readers meet Madi Price, a single mother at one of life’s many crossroads. Financially strapped and forced to return to her hometown, Brandywine, Virginia, dragging along her 17-year-old daughter with her as she finds work as a palm reader. After reading the palm of Henry, her high school flame, what she discovers sets into motion a missing persons case brimming with an onslaught of visions and dark truths.
The Shoemaker’s Magician
The second book in Pelayo’s Chicago Saga (after Children of Chicago), The Shoemaker’s Magician reveals the city in the throes of the passage of one era to the next, all the while a masterful conjuring of art, particularly film.
In the novel, we are introduced to characters including Paloma, a die-hard fan of cult horror currently at work on her dissertation; her husband is a homicide detective investigating a sinister murder that happened at the Chicago Theater. Threads begin to intertwine when a movie poster is affixed to the dead body. Pelayo has long since conjured multi-layered narratives to dazzling effect and with The Shoemaker’s Magician, I can’t wait to see how she paints the shape of an ever-changing city with all its crimes, fables, and fantasies.