The Dark Corner of BookTok: All the Horror Books That Scare the Sh*t Out of HorrorTok

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Emily Martin

Contributing Editor

Emily has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, MS, and she has an MFA in Creative Writing from GCSU in Milledgeville, GA, home of Flannery O’Connor. She spends her free time reading, watching horror movies and musicals, cuddling cats, Instagramming pictures of cats, and blogging/podcasting about books with the ladies over at #BookSquadGoals (www.booksquadgoals.com). She can be reached at emily.ecm@gmail.com.

At this point, we’re all aware that TikTok is on top of all the book trends and is the driving force behind most bestseller lists. We’ve talked a lot about the most popular books on BookTok. We’ve talked about some of the most popular trends on BookTok. We’ve even explored many corners of BookTok already, from mystery to SFF to YA to LGBTQ books. But one dark corner of BookTok that we haven’t explored until now is…HorrorTok.

BookTok’s horror corner is dark and scary, of course. But what specifically are horror lovers on BookTok looking for? Well, TikTok is a visual platform, after all, so books with cool covers and interesting titles do seem to garner a lot of attention. But there’s something else that’s super necessary for a horror novel to really hit with the BookTok community.

Namely, it seems like horror readers on BookTok are looking for those books that make them ask, “What the hell did I just read?” And that makes sense. The HorrorTok books that really have lasting power on the platform are those stories readers are dying to discuss with others. They’re asking questions like: Did that really just happen? WTF was up with that ending? Did this freak you out as much as it freaked me out?

These are the horror books that HorrorTok cannot get enough of. After you read these, make sure to head to TikTok to hear what everyone is saying!

Book cover of Tender is the Flesh

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

This first book is a horror novel in translation from Argentinian author Agustina Bazterrica. Tender is the Flesh has BookTokers talking because of its disturbing content and the interesting moral questions it raises. This book is set in a world where an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous. In response, the government has sanctioned the consumption of human meat — or “special meat.” Marcos has a job processing this “special meat,” so he knows better than anyone that personal contact with humans raised for meat is strictly forbidden. But when he’s given the gift of a live specimen of the finest quality, he finds himself, little by little, treating her more and more like a human being.

cover of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, featuring photo of Latina woman from the nose down, sitting in a maroon off the shoulder dress and holding yellow flowers

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic has had readers talking since it was first released in 2020, and word is Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos are producing a limited series adaptation of the for Hulu. So it’s not going anywhere anytime soon — especially not with those shocking twists. After receiving a distressing letter from her newlywed cousin, Noemí Taboada leaves her life as a socialite in Mexico City to come to her cousin’s rescue. But her cousin’s new home, High Place, is a dark and remote mansion in the country where unsettling surprises and threats await Noemí.

cover of The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

BookTok was already enamored with Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World. Then M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation Knock at the Cabin was released, and everyone is reading this one all over again. This apocalyptic horror novel tells the story of a gay couple who take a trip with their adopted daughter Wen to a remote cabin. But what was meant to be a relaxing vacation quickly turns into something terrifying when four strangers show up with a message: a decision must be made or the world will come to an end.

things have gotten worse since we last spoke book cover

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca

Creepy, unsettling cover? Check! Super disturbing content that leave BookTokers asking “WTF did I just read?” Triple check times infinity. This book is suuuuper disturbing. Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke is a sapphic horror novella that follows the story of two young women who meet each other in a chatroom in the early 2000s. What starts as a friendship quickly escalates to romance and then obsession. And as their relationship gets more intense, the women are driven to disturbing behavior.

Cover of The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Let’s be real. BookTokers love a Rebecca moment (just think about how much BookTok loves Colleen Hoover’s Verity). And The Hacienda is Rebecca meets Mexican Gothic, another HorrorTok fave. Set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, this book follows Beatriz, who is marrying the handsome and wealthy Don Rodolfo Solórzano. But there’s something strange about the Hacienda San Isidro where the couple is set to live. And 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.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones cover

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is a prolific horror writer, but the reason The Only Good Indians is the one that really sticks with HorrorTok readers? Lots of shock factor, in the best way possible. When they were younger, four Blackfoot Indian men went on a hunting trip that went very, very wrong. Now, years later, they’ve tried to put the past behind them and move on with their lives. But the past won’t let them go that easily. There’s an evil spirit hellbent on revenge, and she’s hunting the men down one by one.

Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw book cover

Nothing But Blacked Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

A quick, creepy haunted house horror novella based on Japanese mythology? A HorrorTok dream! When a group of friends travel to Japan for a destination wedding, the bride and groom have their hearts set on exchanging their vows at this haunted mansion. What could possibly go wrong, right? Shockingly, many things go wrong. What starts off as a night of food, drinks, and fun amongst friends…gets a lot more sinister. Lurking in the shadows is a ghost bride with dark desires.

cover of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves predates BookTok by many years, but somehow it’s still the ideal horror novel for HorrorTok audiences. It’s got the visual appeal (just flip through and note how the formatting changes and becomes more erratic along with the story). And the story is one you’re not going to be able to get out of your head after you finish reading. This psychological horror novel follows a young family that moves into their new home and make a disturbing discovery: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

After you’ve read all of the hottest books that have HorrorTok afraid to go to bed at night, what’s next? If you’re looking to find the best new horror novels before HorrorTok finds out about them, look no further than TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations. TBR is a great way to get book recommendations picked out specifically for you. So whether you’re looking to stay on top of the latest horror trends or want something more obscure that HorrorTok might have missed, we’ve got you covered.

a gif with the text: Tailored Book Recommendations: Real Book Nerds Making Tailored Recommendations That Are Really, Really Good