Fear Is Always In Season | Horror Preview 2022

New key authors are taking possession of the genre by claiming old tropes and making them new; small presses are making huge waves; and the voices of marginalized authors are creating change and energy.

It is becoming a common refrain in genre fiction circles: readers are in the midst of a horror renaissance, the likes of which we have not seen since the 1970s and ’80s when Stephen King exploded into the publishing world, spawning a best-selling interest in terrifying tales. However, there are a few big differences between that and the current horror boom, as Ben Rubin, horror studies collection coordinator for the University of Pittsburgh Library System, tells LJ, “Horror is experiencing a renaissance in many ways, including in the recognition and celebration of its diversity. The genre has always been diverse, but more attention is being paid to long-marginalized creators both from the past and present. This not only highlights the depth of the genre, but also ensures its continued relevance in the 21st century.”

More authors are being invited to the horror party, and as they enter, they bring their lived experiences to the stories they craft. The result is horrifically wondrous as readers are treated to a whole new universe of monsters, unsettling situations, and anxiety-inducing frames, inspired by people and places that had been previously left out of the horror conversation. Horror is also in demand due to the unnerving fact that the world is a scary place for everyone, and it has been, without respite, for years. Many readers are actively seeking out horror novels as a way to escape, if only for 300 pages, from the real terror in their lives.

For all these reasons and more, readership and sales of horror have reached a staggeringly high peak, and publishers big and small are stepping up with a breadth and quality of titles that has not been seen before. No longer eschewing the h word in marketing copy nor tightly corralling release dates to fall’s spooky season, publishers are positioning the fear front and center, assailing the hearts and minds of mainstream readers with terrifying tomes every month of the year. LJ has surveyed the publishing landscape, looking under the bed and in the creepy basement to find the trends and titles of the next six months. There are new key authors taking possession of the genre by claiming old tropes and making them new; small presses are making huge waves; and the voices of marginalized authors are creating change and energy. As this guide to the genre shows, horror is on the leading edge of publishing.


While Stephen King is still releasing multiple titles a year, he is no longer the center of the genre. The new heads of horror are writing across the genre spectrum, exploring its history and quite often taking chances with each new release. The upcoming title that most exemplifies horror’s new wave is The Pallbearers Club (Morrow, Jul.) by Paul Tremblay, who notes to LJ, “My prior two novels were engaged in the political now and actively tried to replicate or represent the anxieties of living in Trump’s America. I needed a mental break from that, so I turned inward with a faux/fictional memoir with a twist, one that looks back over three decades. This book isn’t a nostalgic trip, though. The late 1980s, in particular, were a weird and rotten time, too.”

The Pallbearers Club is Tremblay’s take on the coming-of-age, small-town horror, first made popular by King, but instead of doubling down on tradition, Tremblay has transformed this foundational trope into something so new and original that it elevates the entire genre. He leads the charge of others who are using the old horror ways as a springboard onto the best seller list. From actual retellings of gothic classics by Edgar Allan Poe and H.G. Wells as seen in T. Kingfisher’s What Moves the Dead (Tor Nightfire, Jul.) and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Daughter of Doctor Moreau (Del Rey, Jul.) to new takes on the haunted house by Sarah Gailey, Just Like Home (Tor, Jul.), and Grady Hendrix, How To Sell a Haunted House (Berkley, Jan. 2023), to the remarkable reimagining of a woman Freddy Krueger-like villain as a metaphor for anxiety in Josh Malerman’s Daphne (Del Rey, Sept.), no one is resting on their laurels.

Prominent sequels by Stephen Graham Jones, Don’t Fear the Reaper (Saga: Gallery, Feb. 2023; LJ starred review p. 57), and Chuck Wendig, Wayward (Del Rey, Nov.), illustrate current reader engagement with the genre, while stalwarts like Christopher Golden, All Hallows (St. Martin’s, Jan. 2023), and Daniel Kraus, The Ghost That Ate Us (Raw Dog Screaming, Jul.), have strong releases on the horizon. Each of these titles takes horror somewhere new and exciting. These are not the jump-scare pulps of the past. The authors play with horror genre conventions without sacrificing the fear that resides at the heart of every good horror novel, producing works that are as thought-provoking as they are unsettling.


The year 2022 also injected a game changer into the landscape of the big five publishers as Tor’s horror imprint, Nightfire, began its first full year with a bang. As the imprint’s Senior Editor Kelly Lonesome notes, “We’ve got monsters, psychological terrors, space horror, ghosts, survivalist stories, brutal post-apocalypses, and more! I especially love that we publish novels, novellas, and anthologies/collections, so you can get the perfect portion of horror.”

Lonesome continues, “Watching the horror genre expand and widen to include so many voices that used to be ignored and underrepresented has been the best part of the job. I get real joy when reading or publishing works that would make some of the founding dudes spin in their graves. Horror has always been about pushing boundaries and reckoning with ugly truths, and there are so many authors putting out innovative, searing, important work right now. Listen up, because horror has a lot to say!”

Nightfire has eight titles set to publish before Feb. 2023, which range from nonfiction such as Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films (Jul.) by Nina Nesseth to a graphic novel, Where Black Stars Rise (Oct.) by Nadia Shammas and Marie Enger.

These titles join a catalogue of novels featuring new works by proven authors including Catriona Ward, Little Eve (Oct.), an award-winning, original, and shocking gothic novel previously only available in England, and Lucy A. Snyder, Sister, Maiden, Monster (Feb. 2023), a lyrical, cosmic, body horror set on an earth where humanity has been dramatically altered by a virus, and satisfying tales by emerging genre stars such as Nat Cassidy, Mary (Jul.), a serial killer story with a monstrous twist; Jennifer Thorne, Lute (Oct.), on an island, every seventh summer, seven people die to protect the idyllic life of the survivors, but when an outsider challenges the practice, what nightmares await them all; Alison Rumfitt, Tell Me I’m Worthless (Jan. 2023), an intense and visceral haunted house novel told from a trans perspective; and Johnny Compton, The Spite House (Feb. 2023) a moving and frightening story, a compelling gothic thriller that also speaks about loss, grief, and a father’s love.


This season showcases authors of various backgrounds and genders, who are writing across a range of subgenres and offering varying levels of gore.

Promising debuts such as Bad Cree (Doubleday, Jan. 2023) by Jessica Johns, both a terrifying tale of supernatural horror and a moving contemplation of grief and family trauma; Leech (Tordotcom, Sept.) by Hiron Ennis, a squirm-inducing science fiction, gothic, medical horror hybrid; Old Country (Grand Central, Jul.) by Matt and Harrison Query, the novelization of a Reddit story that went viral; and White Horse (Flatiron, Nov.) by Erika T. Wurth about an Indigenous woman who must face her past when a bracelet calls up her mother’s ghost and a monstrous entity.

These join returning, critically acclaimed authors including Gwendolyn Kiste, Reluctant Immortals (Gallery/Saga, Oct.), which reimagines the lives of Lucy from Dracula and the first Mrs. Rochester from Jane Eyre in 1969 San Francisco as they battle the men who destroyed them and fight for forgotten women everywhere; Andy Davidson, The Hollow Kind (MCD, Oct.), an epic novel that’s part southern Gothic, part historical, and part folk horror but all kinds of frightening; Clay McLeod Chapman, Ghost Eaters (Quirk, Sept.), a high anxiety, utterly original, and compelling contemplation of what it means to be haunted alongside a realistic depiction of the horrors of addiction; Tim Lebbon, The Last Storm (Titan, Jul.), a fast-paced, climate change-fueled horror that satisfyingly blends terrors both terrestrial and supernatural; Phillip Fracassi, A Child Alone with Strangers (Talos, Sept.), is character-driven, old school horror featuring a kidnapped boy and a monster, living in the woods, working together to defeat their captors; Andy Marino, It Rides a Pale Horse (Redhook, Oct.), in which an artist’s commission introduces him to clients who use him and his sister to unlock and release the powerful evil in a centuries-old book; Rachel Harrison, Such Sharp Teeth (Berkley, Oct.), features a young woman who reluctantly returns to her hometown to help her sister, but an attack by a strange creature leads her toward a transformation both psychological and physical; Alexis Henderson, House of Hunger (Ace, Sept.), a dark fantasy set in a world where the nobles drink the blood of young women for strength; and V. Castro, Aliens: Vasquez (Titan, Oct.), the official backstory and motivations behind one of the movie franchise’s most popular characters.

Fantasy titles with horror appeal include The Book Eaters (Tor, Aug.; LJ starred review, p. 48) by Sunyi Dean, a haunting story about a secret line of humans who eat books and retain all of their knowledge; but then a child is born with a darker hunger, and from Megan Giddings, The Women Could Fly (Amistad, Aug.), a social commentary horror set in a dystopia, focused on a young woman, her mysterious mother, and witches.

If there is one title in this gathering that symbolizes everything that is right with the major publishers’ eagerness to embrace horror in 2022, it is The Devil Takes You Home (Mulholland, Aug.; LJ starred review), a barrio noir horror tour de force by Gabino Iglesias, an author who found award-winning success with independent presses before breaking into the mainstream. However, as Iglesias recently told LJ, “...indie publishing is a vital part of the publishing landscape.”


A strong showing from small presses is needed to keep the horror renaissance going strong, and rather than draining the small press world of talent, the migration of indie press authors to mainstream publishing is opening up even more opportunities both for horror authors and publishers. Take Gemma Amor, who began in self-publishing, earning a Bram Stoker nomination for her efforts, and is now leading the way with her first traditionally published novel, Full Immersion (Angry Robot, Sept.), a techno-horror where a woman with amnesia discovers her own dead body, leading her on a quest through multiple realities to uncover what happened.

A handful of other standouts coming from reliable small presses include Sallow Bend (Cemetery Dance, Aug.) in which Aurealis Award winner Alan Baxter brings small-town, Australian horror to his widest American audience yet; The Dismembered (Cemetery Dance, Nov.) by Jonathan Janz, in 1912, a heartbroken American writer heads to London, but a chance encounter with a young woman leads him to a manor house in the country, where a supernatural power is poised to be released upon the world; Dark Observation (Flame Tree, Sept.) by Catherine Cavendish, a claustrophobic historical horror novel set amidst the Blitz from deep inside the subterranean labyrinth of the Churchill war rooms; No Gods for Drowning (Agora, Sept.) by Hailey Piper, recent Bram Stoker award winner, presents a detailed dark fantasy world, slightly askew from the present, featuring a compelling and terrifying mythology; Anybody Home? (CLASH, Aug.; LJ starred review) by Michael J. Seidlinger, extreme home invasion horror that effortlessly invites readers in and engages them to participate; The Talosite (Undertow, Oct.) by Rebecca Campbell, set in World War I but on an alternative history timeline, where the dead can be revived, and one woman is reengineering them into better soldiers; Breakable Things (Undertow, Nov.) by Cassandra Khaw, a story collection from one of horror’s most popular and talented new voices; When the Night Bells Ring (CamCat, Oct.) by Jo Kaplan, in a parched near future, monsters hidden deep in the earth are emerging and they are thirsty; Mothwoman (Word Horde, Aug.) by Nicole Cushing, the Bram Stoker Award–winning author presents a social issues–oriented horror story that uses the popular Mothman legend as a compelling frame; In the Devil’s Cradle (Word Horde, Sept.) by S.L. Edwards, an original, debut, haunted house story, but the house, in this case, is an entire country; Hell Hath No Sorrow like a Woman Haunted (Seventh Terrace, Aug.) by R.J. Joseph, a story collection featuring complex and intriguing Black women who can be the victims, the monsters, or a little of both; and A Study in Ugliness & Outras Histórias (Lethe, Oct.) by H. Pueyo, a stunning collection of South American horror stories presented in Portuguese and English. These titles come from the best and most reliable horror-focused small presses; the voices they are putting out in the universe bring the fear with just as much skill as their big publishing counterparts.

While many of these independent press titles can be purchased through standard library distribution channels, some will take a little more work to order and may require ordering directly from the publisher. Ignoring the smaller press horror releases can be a disappointing misstep in the eyes of readers. Eric LaRocca serves as an example. In 2021, LaRocca exploded on the scene as his debut novella, Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, was a best seller, igniting a flurry of media coverage and causing his tiny publisher to scramble to keep up with the intense demand. It landed on numerous year-end bests lists; LJ’s included. Now it’s being reprinted with additional brand-new stories in a new edition titled Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes (Titan, Sept.), so that it can reach more readers. Librarians who purchased it in the initial printing made it clear that horror readers matter at their libraries. LaRocca also has a new novella, They Were Here Before Us (Bad Hand, Oct.) from another small press coming later in the year. Taking the 1975 made-for-TV horror anthology, Trilogy of Terror, as inspiration, LaRocca presents three thematically connected stories as one unified piece, stories that feature animals and humans, and tales that remind readers that the only thing more brutal than nature is love.


LaRocca says, “When I reflect on the current landscape of horror, one word in particular comes to mind: other. Horror fiction has always been an exploration, a veneration of ‘the other’—‘the unknown,’ ‘the alien,’ etc. Now, the genre rests in the exceptionally skilled hands of creators who were and are still considered ‘the other.’”

As he, and other authors included here, illustrate, it is those from marginalized perspectives who are providing the extra push to move horror out of the shadows and into the limelight. The ability and willingness of those whose identity subjects them to hate, terror, and violence to share their real-life fears and experiences through the lens of their stories is inspiring, exciting, and lies at the foundation of the current genre boom.

Several story collections are also important this season. A new anthology, put out by the Horror Writers Association, Other Terrors (Morrow, Jul.), edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Rena Mason, showcases authors from underrepresented backgrounds and provides readers a front-row seat to exactly the scene LaRocca describes. One of the authors in this anthology, Linda Addison, a multi-award-winning speculative writer and editor, is elated to be a part of the sea change and notes, “It’s uplifting to see professional organizations like Horror Writers Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, and conventions offering support to underrepresented groups through scholarships and grants, as well as publishing anthologies/magazines introducing readers to new voices.”

Ellen Datlow’s annual The Best Horror of The Year (Night Shade, Oct.) returns this fall with a 14th volume. Datlow’s essential annual anthology actively collects stories, from all over the world, in publications big and small, and has set the standard for collecting works by marginalized writers. Datlow was among the first editors to support current genre stars like Stephen Graham Jones (see Q&A on p. 16). Themed anthologies, always a big draw at libraries, are particularly enticing this season, Isolation (Titan, Sept.), edited by Dan Coxon; the all-female Chromophobia (Strangehouse, Oct.), edited by Sara Tantlinger; and Dark Matter Presents: Human Monsters (Dark Matter Ink, Oct.) edited by Sadie Hartmann and Ashley Saywers, the owners of the horror reader subscription service Night Worms, all represent the best of horror right now, from the breadth and quality of the scares to their inclusion of creators from all identities.


The range of titles to choose from coupled with an increase in reader interest means horror is finding a comfortable home on library shelves. Those seeking selection resources can consult the Tor Nightfire blog run by editor Emily Hughes, which provides a list of new horror releases across publishers, updated regularly throughout the year.

The Horror Writers Association has also partnered with libraries to present Summer Scares. Now in its fourth year, this program provides libraries with vetted horror titles, read-alikes, book discussion questions, and programming ideas to incorporate the genre into their RA service all year long. This year’s Summer Scares spokesperson and horror author Alma Katsu tells LJ, “It’s an exciting time for horror, made all the better for this growing partnership between libraries and horror writers. The genre has been growing and stretching its boundaries, and this expansion is coming at the perfect time, as the last couple years have taught us that horror comes in many flavors.”

Get your shelves ready, because it looks like fear will stay in season for some time to come.

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