It’s fall again and you know what that means: a wave of new books. More books than you can sift through, and for many that’s even before they lift the veil to have a look at the exciting and surprising world of indie publishing. Not quite the wild west, more like a frenzy of wild and often disturbing horror, some of the best books are being published by indie and small press.
We wanted to take the opportunity to be that first handshake, helping you familiarize with some of the most disturbing and innovative horror books coming out this fall and winter.
The Next Time You See Me I'll Probably Be Dead
From the author of Halloween Fiend and Ritualistic Human Sacrifice, The Next Time You See Me I’ll Probably Be Dead is a collection of six stories that act as a treasure trove for horror fans. Hunt has been publishing some of the most inventive horror and bizarro for years and this book feels like a reflection of where she has gone and where she might go next. You’ll see everything from social media commentaries by way of deadly dating app experiences to reliable explorations in the creepy by way of modern urban legends. And if you have never read any of Hunt’s work, this collection doubles as a primer for all the madness and horror to be found in her longer work.
Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons
Keith Rosson has been on his A-game for ages now, and with Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, you’re in for a treat, horror fans. He’s really bringing in the unsettling and the disquieting, with tales involving darkness and despair that bleeds out from our daily lives. Stories range from the urban to the Tooth Fairy, with humor as much as the horror plays its part. What’s so unsettling about these stories is how Rosson so deftly treats the sense of a person’s safety in a situation with care; that is, he knows exactly how to take it away from even the most domineering of characters who in a story by another author might not be anything more than muscle and power. Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons will surprise you.
High concept horror either hits hard or falls flat on its face. Brown’s novel thankfully sits in the former category rather than the latter and manages to take a devilish concept and turn it into one of the best books of 2021. Here nothing less than grief itself is at stake, or to be more accurate, our grief as people enduring our ongoing lives becomes the biggest burden, something we can no longer temper. People suffer from grief and stops everyone dead in their tracks. The world slows to a crawl as people are all systematically deemed unresponsive. Hospitals overflow as the grief plague spreads, and cities are placed into perpetual quarantine. It sounds so much like a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there’s far more to it here than dealing with recent trauma. This digs into the deepest recesses of trauma to produce a book that gives you, the reader, ultimately hope through all the disturbing events.
This debut novel from the co-host of the award-winning Ladies of the Fright podcast is a wonderfully creepy slice of folk horror. Edgewood is a small town with its own rituals, including all that happens at the annual fall festival which is believed to be the main reason the town hasn’t been absorbed by darkness (yet). Faye and her husband are up next to take the reins of the all-too-important rituals but in doing so, they discover what exactly is demanded of them in order to do so. The sacrifice to be made is terrifying and becomes one of the reasons Faye escapes the town and society with her son into the unknowns of the nearby woods. Deemed a cross between Josh Malerman’s Bird Box, Victor LaValle’s The Changeling and even Shirley Jackson’s singular tale of terror, “The Lottery,” The Forest proves to be a memorable October read.
Elsby has been at the top of her game for multiple books now. Her first book, Hexis, was a psychological slipstream involving a woman that is repeatedly hurt and abused by a man, who in turn repeatedly kills him over and over again. Neither characters are ever named; they don’t need to be. The narrative is so clever yet curiously rendered, there hasn’t been anything else quite like it. Her latest hopes to hit the mark, and then some. In Psychros, the narrative focuses on suicide and all that goes into the act, including those that are left behind to grieve. What if the person that killed themselves was in fact doing so in jest, to hurt you, or someone else? What if the act of suicide is more so revenge than self-harm? Elsby’s latest is undoubtedly going to get under your skin in all the best ways.
On the Hierophant Road
The stories in James Chambers’ forthcoming collection, On the Hierophant Road, come from that brand of horror that dares readers to face the unknown darkness and trades with that iconic feeling of discovery. The stories run the gamut from man/machine consciousness to magic’s influence on human history, and more. There’s even a story in the book written to be a sitcom about walruses. It’s really disquieting and diversely layered stuff. If you’re looking to be dazzled by all sorts of disturbing concepts and adventures, Chambers will do that for you and more.
Don't Push the Button
The tagline for legendary horror writer John Skipp’s upcoming collection of stories is “love is the only shocking act left.” For the heartbroken or skeptical romantic, that is quite the bold statement. In fact, it might be true. Don’t Push the Button is filled to the brim with inversions of horror tropes, Skipp playfully and unsettlingly upending everything you might expect to happen next. What makes the collection all the more impactful is how Skipp takes all that routine horror, death, and disrepair and moves it into the most vulnerable territories of human empathy.
Bentley Little is a horror writer viewed by many as a master of the genre. His latest novel embodies many of the same stylistic choices and techniques he's perfected over the years, but manages to ratchet up the insanity up to a cosmic level. At the center of the story is the eponymous Gloria, whose deceased mother returns from the dead, not as a zombie but rather as a younger version of herself dressed to impress for a night out in the 1980s. No one seems to make any sense of it, much less recognize her mother, but Gloria makes it her mission to figure out what’s going on. The novel is reportedly one of his more experimental too, with a lot going into how to accurately convey grief and loss. If you’re looking for something unsettling, you can’t go wrong with a book by Little.
New book by John Langan? Yes, please! Even without a confirmed release date or cover, Corpsemouth and Other Autobiographies promises terror we can't ignore. The author behind one of the biggest surprises in the past couple years, The Fisherman, John Langan has continued to surprise horror readers with stories that manage to take cosmic horror to new territories. The aforementioned novel was built around one of the most wholesome and recuperative of acts, fishing, where two men bond over the sport while also grieving the loss of their wives. Langan builds humility and empathy into the foundation of his books, only to then showcase the brutality of the unknown and the universe at large. His latest collection looks to be nothing less than the universe, and come November, it’s going to surely be talked about as deeply disturbing by many a horror fan. Don’t be late to this party.
The Mind is a Razorblade
While many of you may be fresh out of the theaters from watching We Need to Do Something, the feature film adaptation of the Max Booth III novel of the same name, there are plenty of books in Booth III’s oeuvre that are just waiting to be enjoyed. Take The Mind is a Razorblade for example. Originally published in 2014, the book fell out of print but will see a brand new fresh edition this winter. Deemed David Lynch meets Dark City, the novel focuses on a despondent population in a dystopian city where, a la the castle in Kafka’s The Castle, a towering structure sits at the center. In this case, it’s a casino run by an evil madman named Indigo. Readers are given occupancy with Narrator, an amnesiac with telekinetic abilities and his exploration of this downtrodden city. In The Mind is a Razorblade, Booth demonstrates his breadth and range as a writer. You can pre-order the new printing from Perpetual Publishing.