2022 has been a wild ride. As I reflect back on the year, it seems like 2022 has been filled with truly scary moments. But at least the horror books of this year have been good scary and not fear-for-the-future-of-humanity scary. Horror novels, as always, remain a great way to escape from the terrors of real life. And as real life continues to be full of frustrating (at best) and horrifying (at worst) moments, I continue to be thankful for all the good horror fiction coming out year after year. 2022 just so happened to be another really excellent year for horror.
Horror books in 2022 confronted difficult questions. They blended genres. They incorporated humor and satire. They made us laugh. They made us cry. They made us hide under the covers at night and sleep with the lights on. There were so many great horror novels this year, and everyone’s personal top ten list is probably going to look a little bit different. But for me, the following books were the best horror novels released in 2022.
My favorite thing about this list is that every book is so different. YA, adult, horror retellings, haunted houses, possessions, monsters, vampires, body horror, mushrooms…they’re all here. Did your favorite horror novel from 2022 make the list? Read on and find out!
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
Tiffany D. Jackson wrote my favorite horror novel of last year, White Smoke, and she’s back again with another banger. See if this synopsis reminds you of any other classic horror stories you might know. Madison Washington is a student at a small high school in Georgia called Springville High. Madison has always been the target of bullying, but things get much worse after her big secret is revealed: she’s biracial and has been passing as white, at the behest of her white father Thomas Washington. When a video that reveals the high school’s racism goes viral, Springville students know they have to rehabilitate their image. And so they decide to the school’s first integrated prom. But they still have a few surprises for Maddy. And when Maddy reveals another one of her well-kept secrets, she’ll have a big surprise for them as well.
Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey
Here’s a horror novel that kept me on the edge of my seat, kept me scared, and kept me guessing the whole time. Vera hasn’t been back to her childhood home in years, but when Vera’s mother tells her to come home, she obeys. She’s been avoiding the horrible things that happened there — her strained relationship with her mother, the haunting memory of her serial killer father, and then there are all the bodies that he buried there. But now she will be forced to confront them. And while Vera thought most of these things were in the past, very real ghosts of her childhood still remain. And they’re still very much haunting her.
Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen
I love reality dating shows and comedic horror, so this one really spoke to me. When the finalists for the dating reality TV show The Catch go to Otters Island to film the last episodes of the season, they’re expecting to compete with one another for the lead’s attentions (and of course the social media clout that comes with that). What they’re not expecting? Patricia, a woefully misunderstood creature who hides in the dark and is looking for a connection of her own.
Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman
Here’s another excellent new book from one of my favorite horror authors. This book follows Erin, who has been in a toxic on-again, off-again relationship with Silas. But after he pushes things too far, Erin decides to end things with Silas once and for all. After Silas dies of an overdose, Erin finds out that Silas had discovered a drug that would allow him to see the dead. Erin doesn’t believe in ghosts, but her grief and guilt for abandoning Silas leads her to a pill-popping “séance.” But once Erin attempts to step into the real world, her visions of the dead refuse to let her go.
The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay
Definitely grab a hard copy of this book to keep, because the visuals of all of the annotations are half of the fun. Art Barbara was a high school loner in the 1980s who started an extracurricular club for volunteer pallbearers at poorly attended funerals. Never would he have imagined the coolest girl in school would join. Sure, there were some odd things about her, and some terrifying things that only seemed to happen when she was around — usually at night. But she was cool and she was his friend, so Art tried not to worry about it too much. That is, until decades later, when Art decides to write The Pallbearers Club: A Memoir. When this friend somehow gets her hands on the manuscript, she’s not too happy with what Art has written.
Sundial by Catriona Ward
Catriona Ward’s Sundial is proof that this author belongs on my must-read list. Rob is trying desperately to escape the strangeness of her childhood, living in Sundial, deep in the Mojave desert. She’s now far away from that place, and she lives in the suburbs with her husband and her two kids. But still her past refuses to let go. She can see it reflected in her oldest daughter Callie, who spends her days collecting bones and whispering to imaginary friends. It all feels too familiar, too much like the life she’s desperately trying to leave behind. But the things that happened at Sundial can’t remain a secret forever.
White Horse by Erika T. Wurth
This one was recently released and immediately climbed to the top of my list of favorite books from 2022. Thirty-five-year-old Kari James is an Indigenous woman living in Denver who has spent most of her life willfully ignorant of her past. But then Kari’s cousin Debby finds an old family bracelet that once belonged to Kari’s mother. The bracelet calls up the ghost of Kari’s dead mother, but that’s just the beginning. Something else more sinister and monstrous is awakened as well. Now Kari must confront her past to discover what happened to her mother all those years ago.
House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson
Alexis Henderson’s House of Hunger is atmospheric historical horror fantasy at its best. Marion Shaw was raised in poverty. Now she longs to escape the difficulties of city life, but she sees no way out. Could a newspaper ad searching for a bloodmaid be her way out? Marion knows very little about the position or the far north where she will have to travel, but she applies anyway. As the newest bloodmaid at the notorious House of Hunger, Marion meets Countess Lisavet who presides over a court of hedonism. Marion is eager to please her mistress, who is both charismatic and terrifying. But when her fellow bloodmaids begin to go missing, Marion realizes she must learn the rules of House of Hunger or her own life will soon be at risk.
The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas
Apparently red dresses are having a moment on horror book covers this year. The Hacienda is a gothic horror/suspense novel is set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence. Beatriz is set to marry the handsome and wealthy Don Rodolfo Solórzano. But her new home in Hacienda San Isidro is not entirely a dream come true. When Beatriz is left alone in the house while her new husband tends to work at the capital, she starts seeing visions and hearing voices in her head.
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric La Rocca
Eric La Rocca’s novella Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke was first released in 2021, but the novella was rereleased this year with a stunning new cover and a couple of short stories as well. So with that in mind, it seemed necessary to include this unforgettable story on the list for 2022. The novella follows the story of two women who meet each other in a chatroom in the early 2000s. As their relationship gets more intense, both women discover just how far they’ll go (and it’s…terrifying).
Of course, there were plenty of other great horror novels that came out this year. Want to take a look at some of the other super scary reads of 2022? Here are the best horror novels from spring 2022, summer 2022, September, October, and November!