8 Fantasy Horror Books to Delight and Frighten You

Courtney Rodgers


Courtney has been reading and collecting books almost as long as she's been alive. She holds a B.A. in Theatre and Creative Writing. Courtney has been writing with Book Riot since 2019, and is a Bibliologist with TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations. She's currently brainstorming for her next creative project. You can follow her on Instagram.

Flatiron Books, publisher of The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo

Set in the Spanish Golden Age, during a time of high‑stakes political intrigue and glittering wealth, The Familiar follows Luzia, a servant in the household of an impoverished Spanish nobleman who reveals a talent for little miracles. Her social‑climbing mistress demands Luzia use her gifts to win over Madrid’s most powerful players but what begins as simple amusement takes a dangerous turn. Luzia will need to use every bit of her wit and will to survive—even the help of Guillén Santángel, an immortal familiar whose own secrets could prove deadly for them both. The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo is on sale now.

Are there any two genres that have more crossover than fantasy and horror? Borrowing monsters and swapping magic, these two genres have been working side-by-side since the beginning. From the witches in classic fairytales to enchanted haunted forests and labyrinthian Gothic castles, it’s difficult to imagine fantasy without horror and vice versa. Inciting both terror and wonder, fantasy horror seeks to provide readers with an exciting escape. 

Within the bounds of fantasy horror, the rules of both genres can be a bit blurred to allow for something new altogether. The protagonist might be a vampire that stalks the night, with the powers of wish-granting, perhaps. You could step into a crumbling estate haunted by a lonely witch, armed only with wit and courage. Magic, optional. 

Even though gore and monsters are staples of the horror genre, they don’t always make an appearance in fantasy horror. Atmospheric dread might be more appropriate to the story at hand. The whimsical possibilities of fantasy are endlessly alluring, but adding elements of horror can make the story feel more grounded. Fantasy horror offers a sensorial, atmospheric avenue for exploring themes of grief, love, identity, and our deepest fears. It’s time to step between the pages as we discover the fundamental genre mash up of fantasy horror. 

The Year of the Witching cover

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Born into a puritanical society, Immanuel Moore represents her mother’s sins and family’s disgrace. Following their rigid rules, Immanuel does her best to assimilate. When she finds herself lost in the woods, she discovers the spirits of long dead witches, hidden secrets, and a diary that could change everything. Blending horror with historical fiction and fantasy, this novel is unsettling and grim, and will leave you with burning questions. 

The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw book cover

The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandraw Khaw

This 100-page gory novella is a fairytale about what happens after the mermaid comes ashore to wed her prince. Unable to hide her hunger or control her daughters, the mermaid must run away with a masked plague doctor. Deep in the forest, they discover a cult of bloodthirsty immortal children and their saints. To survive, the mermaid and the plague doctor must answer their true nature. 

the library at mount char cover

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Carolyn’s worst nightmare has come true: Father is missing and he’s left his Library behind. Carolyn and her adopted siblings each hold a portion of the Library’s and Father’s vast knowledge and power. Together, they must plan for the coming battle for creation. 

Fragmented, with bits of different stories and genres stitched together, The Library at Mount Char is a trust exercise that won’t leave you in the gloom for too long.  

Starling House by Alix E Harrow book cover

The Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

The town of Eden, Kentucky is haunted by the Starling House, which appeared just before recluse author E. Starling disappeared in the 19th century. Now, Arthur Starling is left to deal with the decaying mansion on his own. When Opal is offered a housekeeping job at the Starling House, she agrees, if only to help her brother Jasper out of Eden. As Opal begins to unearth dangerous secrets from the past and warnings for the present, she and Arthur must work together to preserve Eden. Deliciously Gothic, this book serves up monsters alongside beautiful prose. 

cover of Fifty Beasts to Break Your Heart: And Other Stories by GennaRose Nethercott; illustration of black vines, pinks roses, a black wolf, and a black goat wearing a black dress

Fifty Beasts to Break Your Heart by Gennarose Nethercott

In this collection of short stories, Nethercott explores the dark and fantastical within the mundane. Each devastating story is told from a different “monster’s” point of view in nightmarish imagery. 

cover of The Butcher of the Forest by Premee Mohamed; illsutration of green foliage, with red candles, and a crow, a unicorn, a fox, and a rabbit, all with skulls for faces

The Butcher of the Forest by Premee Mohamed

The Elmever is where children disappear and traps and monsters lie in wait. Veris once rescued a child from deep inside the wild forest, and when the Tyrant’s children go missing, Veris is tasked with bringing them home. If she fails, she’ll be trapped in the Elmever for eternity. This twisty novella is decorated with lush prose and atmospheric world building. 

Chlorine cover

Chlorine by Jade Song

Desperate to be the best swimmer, Ren Yu dedicates herself to her sport. As she faces the daily challenges of high school, the pressures of being a female athlete, and navigating life as an immigrant, she longs to be something else. To become the best, Ren will stop at nothing. Transformative and gruesome, this novel is a coming-of-age story unlike any other. 

cover of The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert

The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert

When Noah’s estranged best friend goes missing, she’s not the only one. The clues that Becca left behind lead Noah to the local legend of a goddess that Noah and Becca used to pray to. As the search continues, Noah has out-of-body experiences that might take her to the missing persons. This YA novel is sinister and atmospheric. 

So what will it be? More fantasy or more horror? We’ve got you covered, either way, with the 20 Most Influential Fantasy Books in the Last 10 Years and 10 Modern Horror Classics Keeping the Genre Alive. If you’re enjoying  genre-blending, check out even more genre-blending horror books