Unfortunately, your access has now expired. But there’s good news—by subscribing today, you will receive 22 issues of Booklist magazine, 4 issues of Book Links, and single-login access to Booklist Online and over 200,000 reviews.
Your access to Booklist Online has expired. If you still subscribe to the print magazine, please proceed to your profile page and check your subscriber number against a current magazine mailing label. (If your print subscription has lapsed, you will need to renew.)
Free Trial, activate profile, or subscribe
Find more Spectrum of Horror
Horror is a genre that elicits strong feelings, and readers look for those thrills and chills. But not everybody wants an all-out gore fest, nor does everybody want a light sense of spookiness, and fortunately horror writers provide many levels of fright in between these extremes. This Spectrum of Horror will help you match the right intensity of scariness with the right reader. Of course we understand that “scary” means different things for different people, but between a horror-reading veteran, Booklist horror reviewer Becky; and a real scaredy-cat, Booklist senior editor Susan, we think we’ve placed each book in the right place.
Shivers: Readers of these books will want to keep the lights on, but they probably won’t have nightmares. These titles include an urban-fantasy retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, a sweet and ominous Pandora’s Box tale, a masterful haunted-house story, and two novellas that stitch together Lovecraftian cosmic horror with eerie terrestrial elements.
Creatures of Will and Temper. By Molly Tanzer. 2017. Houghton/Mariner, $16.99 (9781328710260).
Gwendy’s Button Box. By Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. 2017. Cemetery Dance, $24.95 (9781587676109).
The Invited. By Jennifer McMahon. 2019. Doubleday, $17 (9781101971864).
A Lush and Seething Hell. By John Hornor Jacobs. 2019. Harper Voyager, $16.99 (9780062880833).
Dread: These books will unsettle readers, leaving them with an uneasy feeling, but they will be able to keep the fear at bay. Here you’ll find an Iraq War-set monster story, an accounting of the Donner Party, a claustrophobic social experiment that separates young people by gender, and a grown-up Scooby gang on the trail of the monster that got away.
Frankenstein in Baghdad. By Ahmed Saadawi. Tr. by Jonathan Wright. 2018. Penguin Press, $16 (9780143128793).
The Hunger. By Alma Katsu. 2018. Putnam, $17 (9780735212534).
Inspection. By Josh Malerman. 2019. Del Rey, $17 (9781524797010).
Meddling Kids. By Edgar Cantero. 2017. Doubleday/Blumhouse, $17.95 (9781101974445).
Fright: Menacing is the word for these books. They’re not necessarily gory, although they can be. Readers who venture into these tales will start to lose control of their fear. Our choices in this category include a supernatural tale of the gentrification of a whaling town, a woman facing evil forces, a privileged young woman and a mold-infested manor house, and a true-crime book club who may have its own case to contend with when a mysterious stranger comes to town.
The Blade Between. By Sam J. Miller. 2020. Ecco, $26.99 (9780062969828).
The Good House. By Tananarive Due. 2004. Washington Square, $28.99 (9780743449014).
Mexican Gothic. By Silvia Moreno-Garcia. 2020. Del Rey, $17 (9780525620808).
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. By Grady Hendrix. 2020. Quirk, $16.99 (9781683692515).
Panic: On this level of horror, readers lose control of reality and the primal instinct takes over and silences reason. Readers might want to hide the book in the freezer to get a bit of a reprieve. These panic-inducing titles include a Jazz-Age retelling of a Lovecraft classic, a gruesome and modern zombie tale, a mingling of Mexican folklore and Aztec goddesses at a Texas wedding, and a deadly force that kills with a mere touch.
The Ballad of Black Tom. By Victor LaValle. 2016. Tor, $13.99 (9780765387868).
The Living Dead. By George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus. 2020. Tor, $27.99 (9781250305121).
The Queen of the Cicadas. By V. Castro. 2021. Flame Tree, $24.95 (9781787586031).
Red Hands. By Christopher Golden. 2020. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (9781250246301).
Terror: Bleak and gory offerings for readers who want the book to be in charge. They can’t hide from the terror, and they don’t want to. As Becky says, “These books will break you, and you’ll be glad they did.” These hardcore choices include a family facing the apocalypse, a mysterious black vortex that leads two slackers to bodily horrors, the story of an elk hunt that instigates lifelong supernatural consequences, and a tale of grief over a Final Girl intensified by an evil monster.
The Cabin at the End of the World. By Paul Tremblay. 2018. Morrow, $15.99 (9780062679116).
The Cipher. By Kathe Koja. 2020. Meerkat, $17.95 (9781946154330).
The Only Good Indians. By Stephen Graham Jones. 2020. Saga, $16.99 (9781982136468).
Slash. By Hunter Shea. 2019. 288p. Flame Tree, $14.95 (9781787581784).
Becky Spratford is the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, the third edition of which comes out in August from ALA Editions.
Free Trial, activate profile, or subscribe