“It Came From the Library” Display


Do you love to read horror but don’t really know why you love it so much?  Are you interested in reading horror but don’t know what themes you might like?  Check out our “It Came From the Library” display for a selection of some of the genre’s biggest titles and stories that represent the top themes of the genre.


Horror stories can scare, repulse, or haunt us, since they often play upon our personal fears.  The setting is often crucial to the story (hello, creepy old house in the woods!), along with other elements that create an unsettling atmosphere.  The characters in these books aren’t always likeable, they can encounter literal or imagined threats, and we don’t always know whether or not they’ll survive.  The ending is often unexpected or ambiguous–that’s the nature of horror itself.


Within the horror genre, there are some key authors to note.  First, there are the horror legends: classic authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu and modern greats like Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Shirley Jackson.  King’s newest novel “You Like It Darker: Stories” is scheduled to release later this year, so place your library hold now!


Next are the recently published books receiving rave reviews, such as Mariana Enriquez’s “Our Share of Night.”  This horror novel features complicated family dynamics, road trips, and secret cults.   Told throughout multiple decades and by various characters, Mariana Enriquez creates a multilayered, sweeping, and unconventional horror story that examines family legacies and occult mythology against a backdrop of Argentine history.   Victor LaValle’s “Lone Women” is a personal favorite of mine, combining historical horror and “Weird Westerns.”  Set in 1915, the novel stars Adelaide Henry, who, feeling responsible for the murder of her parents, decides to travel to Montana, where unmarried Black women are allowed to take advantage of a government offer of free land. The death of her parents was so horrifying that she set them and her family home on fire, leaving her to travel with one bag and a massive, always-locked steamer trunk filled with secrets. Her arrival in Montana starts promisingly, with residents who are friendly enough. Still, as winter descends and the trunk opens, Adelaide begins a battle for self-preservation as the lone Black woman in an isolated locale. Driven by the strength of its female protagonist, this moody, suspenseful novel works well for readers who enjoy historical horror or Westerns with a twist.


Then we have the themes found within the horror genre.  First up: “band of survivors,” where groups of people team up, willingly and unwillingly, for survival.  Examples of this theme include Justin Cronin’s “The Passage” and Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead: A Continuing Story of Survival Horror.”


“Cosmic Horror” features insane gods and the cults who worship them.  Try Sam J. Miller’s “The Blade Between” for a story of three friends who plan to expose the corrupt motives of invasive corporate gentrifiers.


“Possessed” books like Paul Tremblay’s “A Head Full of Ghosts” feature characters grappling with demonic possession.  In this novel, the lives of the Barrett family are torn apart when their 14-year-old daughter begins to display signs of what is believed to be demonic possession.  And what happens to the Barretts?  Well, they get themselves a reality TV show, of course…


Books set in small towns populated by people who routinely face monsters, horror, or evil fall into the “small town horror” theme.  Sometimes, the people in these towns ARE the horror and evil.  Check out Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” and “Home Before Dark” by Riley Sager to experience some small-town horror.


“Vampire menace” books feature–you guessed it, vampires.  Publishing trends indicate that vampire stories are all the rage this year, so keep your eyes peeled for lots of vampire books.  Not all of them will fall into the horror genre, but “The Fall” by Guillermo del Toro absolutely does.


Finally, “zombie apocalypse” books feature characters that face the outbreak and/or the impact of a zombie epidemic.  “Warm Bodies” by Isaac Marion is a zombie apocalypse story with a twist: the zombie protagonist of the book dislikes having to kill humans, enjoys Frank Sinatra’s music, and meets a living girl who resolves to protect–despite how delicious she looks.


You’ll find these titles and more in our “It Came From the Library” display, including a recent title I read and loved called “A Haunting in the Arctic” by C.J. Cooke.  I’ve been describing it as “mermaid horror” to anyone who will listen–absolutely worth a read!  For additional title suggestions, see the lists below: