The horror boom continues
The year 2020 will be a magnificent year for horror novels, as almost all of the big names in the field are coming out with another dread-filled story for their (as Stephen King likes to say) constant readers.
Major publishers have a stack of new titles from names that will be familiar to most horror connoisseurs, but if you haven’t heard of them, this is a great time to acquaint yourself with their work. In addition to mainstream press releases, there are also a few indie titles worth mentioning for those looking for alternates to the usual list of names.
Given that the publishing industry typically announces books six months in advance, the list below is heavily front-loaded for the first half of the year, but they’re also teasing a few releases later in the year.
Here, in chronological order, are the books coming in 2020 that you’ll want for your horror shelves:
The Boatman’s Daughter – Andy Davidson (Feb): A mystery / thriller set in the bayou from the author of In the Valley of the Sun. There are witches and demons, of course, but there are also equally monstrous human villains.
The Sun Down Motel – Simone St. James (Feb): A new release, about a haunted motel where folks tend to disappear, from the bestselling author of The Broken Girls.
The Chill – Scott Carson (Feb): Carson is the pseudonym of bestselling thriller writer Michael Koryta, a moniker he adopts when he goes deeper into the horror genre. The Chill is about a town that corrupt politicians purposely drowned in the early 20th Century, and now something dangerous is rising for revenge.
Dead to Her – Sarah Pinborough (Feb): Pinborough’s last diabolically-twist-filled book, Behind Her Eyes, became a global bestseller. In her new one, she tackles a Southern domestic thriller packed with murder and lust.
The Deep – Alma Katsu (March): Katsu broke into the horror scene with The Hunger, her supernatural take on the Donner Party, and is back with a novel about a haunted version of the Titanic tragedy.
Devoted – Dean Koontz (March): After spending some time in the thriller genre with his Jane Hawk series, Koontz returns with a horror novel about yet another psychic dog.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – Grady Hendrix (April): The tagline to this one is “Steel Magnolias meets Dracula”, which is in-line with Hendrix’s other novels that put classic tropes into unfathomable situations. See his earlier novel, Horrorstor, as an example. Haunted IKEA, anyone?
The Bank – Bentley Little (April): Coming from indie press Cemetery Dance (home of Stephen King’s fine press books), The Bank is the newest from modern horror legend Bentley Little. If you haven’t heard of him, Little has written a shelf of novels that are as good as anything out there. In this one, a small-town bank asks increasingly bizarre, and deadly, things from the desperate townsfolk needing loans.
The Wise Friend – Ramsey Campbell (April): Campbell sits comfortably alongside King, Straub, and Koontz on the Mount Rushmore of 20th Century Horror Legends. While he primarily haunts the UK, and is therefore not as well-known in the States, Campbell has been creating classic horror for decades. His newest novel deals with a father and son exploring taboo magical sites used for occult practices.
If It Bleeds – Stephen King (May): Technically not a novel, but easily one of the most anticipated books of the year, comes from the Master of Horror. A quartet of original novellas, a favorite format of King’s, one of which ties-in characters from the hit book and television series, The Outsider.
Worse Angels – Laird Barron (May): Barron is arguably the best pure writer of modern horror in the last decade, but most recently has focused on a series of dark thrillers about a mob enforcer-turned-private eye named Isaiah Coleridge. Worse Angels is the third book in the series, each of which have progressively pushed the thriller genre closer to horror. Think True Detective meets James Ellroy.
Only Good Indians – Stephen Graham Jones (May): An indie darling for more than a decade, Jones has been banging on the mainstream door with his last novel, Mongrels, and this newest one, which Entertainment Weekly and horror auteur Jordan Peele have already heaped with praised. A vengeful entity tracks four Native American men.
Wonderland – Zoje Stage (June): The author of the uber-creepy, wildly-acclaimed Baby Teeth returns with a novel described as: “If Shirley Jackson wrote The Shining.” Unnatural forces attack a family living in a rural farmhouse.
Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (June): Moreno-Garcia has a string of successful horror novels that dip and sway between myth and romance and suspense, and are often soaked in Mexican tradition. The author has been prolific as of late, releasing three novels in the last year.
Survivor Song – Paul Tremblay (July): Tremblay’s first horror novel, A Head Full of Ghosts, is being produced by Robert Downey Jr. as a feature film, and is the novel most readers connect with this author. But his subsequent novels have had their own successes, and Survivor Song promises to continue the trajectory of Tremblay’s rising star in the horror field. The new novel is Tremblay’s unique take on the zombie apocalypse trope when a rabies virus infects humans.
Malorie – Josh Malerman (July): Probably the most widely-anticipated novel of 2020 is the sequel to the global phenomenon of Malerman’s early novel (and recent Sandra Bullock film) Bird Box. In Malorie, Malerman extends the story of the blindfolded heroine in a world filled with monsters who will turn you insane if you look at them.
Clown in a Cornfield – Adam Cesare (August): Cesare is another indie-darling who is looking to break into the mainstream with his upcoming horror novel about, you guessed it, a clown in a cornfield. A throwback slasher where a deranged clown slices up a bunch of rotten kids.
The Loop – Jeremy Robert Johnson (September): Johnson broke out several years ago with his novel, Skullcrack City. Publishing materials describe his upcoming release, The Loop, as Alien meets World War Z. A group of teenagers try to survive the night after a biotech experiment goes haywire.
Up the Chimney Down – Joe Hill (Late 2020): The newest novel from the creator of Locke & Key and the New York Times #1 Beststeller, The Fireman. Not much is known about the upcoming release, and Hill, who has been busy with multiple television projects, comic books, short stories while taking over the mantel of King of Horror from his aptly-named father, Stephen King, isn’t releasing many details about the plot. Readers will have to wait for more information, but a new novel by Hill is something horror fans around the world are eager to read.