There’s a point at which the humor and horror genres seamlessly mix and I am here for it. I’ve seen it in movies like Shaun of the Dead, or The Cabin in the Woods; and they make such an odd mix of scary yet funny that I consider them feel-good stories. But I am a reader at heart, and I’m so happy to say that these feel-good horror stories also work very well as books!
I would say that feel-good horror books can be one of two types. The first kind of feel-good horror books are those that balance horror and humor — so they’re both funny and scary at the same time. I’d say these have more of a horror setting with a humorous response to it. Picture a group of friends hitting a zombie in a bar to the rhythm of Don’t Stop Me Now.
The second kind of feel-good horror books are heavier on the horror — they are the ones that are scary, a bit bizarre, and with a dark humor that makes for an overall fun read. Picture the scene from The Cabin in the Woods in which the merman eats one of the scientists behind the experiment. Scary? Definitely. With a dark humor that is inevitably funny? Absolutely!
So let me tell you about eight feel-good horror books that — while scary — are an absolute pleasure to read!
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
This might be one of the most popular feel-good horror books out there (it was even adapted into a film)! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is the classic story you know and love, about Elizabeth Bennet as she meets Mr. Darcy. But. There are zombies plaguing their small English village, and Elizabeth is determined to wipe them out. So on one side we have the delightful sparring between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth — while on the other there is violent and bloody fighting between the humans and the zombies. This is a delightful horror-comedy that can be kind of scary, but it’s an absolute joy to read. Feel-good horror at its finest!
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
With some serious ’80s horror movie vibes and Hendrix’s dark humor, this is an amazing feel-good horror book! It can be funny, scary, and over-the-top. But it’s such a romp it deserves a place on this list! My Best Friend’s Exorcism follows best friends Abby and Gretchen. They’ve been inseparable since the 5th grade — but when they get to high school things change. Gretchen starts acting very strangely and there’s only one possible explanation: she’s possessed. So Abby makes it her mission to save her best friend.
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
You know that a book will be feel-good when it’s compared to Scooby Doo! Meddling Kids has that kind of humor — and when you mix it with cosmic horror you get an ultimately scary yet fun read. The story follows the members of the Blyton Summer Detective Club. They used to solve cases back in the ’70s, unmasking bad guys who pretended to be monsters. But something happened in their last case, and they haven’t seen each other since. Fast-forward to 1990, when the group is all grown up and dealing with the trauma of that day. It’s time for them to face their nightmares and revisit their last case. But will they face another masked maniac or are the monsters under their bed real?
Cat Diary: Yon & Mu by Junji Ito
What happens when you mix cats and a famed horror manga author? You get a fun story about cats framed as a horrific tale of monsters. Let me explain. Cat Diary is the story of how Junjo Ito’s fiancée brought new cats into their home. Except Ito doesn’t like the cats, and they don’t like him either. But because he is a horror artist through and through, he writes this manga as if the cats were monsters that invade his life. They do normal cat things like watch him, or even bite him playfully. But because of the ominous framing, and the way they are drawn, it seems just like a horror story! This is one of those definitely feel-good horror books that is more comedy than horror — and that blends the two genres seamlessly!
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
I think that from the title alone you know this book will be fun. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is a very enjoyable YA that mixes paranormal fantasy with horror. It’s the kind of feel-good horror that is more fun than scary — but you know there’ll be some frights too! It follows the story of Sam — who lives an ordinary life until a prank brings him to the attention of a necromancer named Douglas. Turns out, Sam is a necromancer too! But he’s more powerful than anyone ever realized, and he can either join forces with evil, or else.
It Came from the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers edited by Joshua Viola
This is another horror book with ’80s vibes! It’s an anthology that centers around old-timey monster movies, and the movie theaters themselves. It’s definitely heavier on the horror than the humor, but don’t let that fool you. It’s still a very fun book to read! With 14 stories, it features writers like Stephen Graham Jones, Betty Rocksteady, Angie Hodapp, Kevin J. Anderson, and more. So grab your popcorn, check for monsters under your seat, and get comfy. The show’s about to begin!
Mongrels by Stephan Graham Jones
Mongrels can be a very emotional book. It’s a coming-of-age after all. But it’s also Jones’s trusty brand of horror and it’s so fun to read! Did I mention it’s a coming-of-age story with werewolves? That’s exactly what makes this such a fun read! We get to see the humor of daily life situations but with problems specific to werewolves. The story follows an unnamed kid and his family. They live on the fringes of society, always on the move. It’s not just because Aunt Libby and Uncle Darren are werewolves — but they have taken care of the kid as one of their own. He hasn’t manifested any powers, yet Libby and Darren will soon find out if the kid is like them or not.
Bunny by Mona Awad
This could possibly be the most bizarre book on this list. It’s a horrifying, brutal and gory book, with some dark humor and satire thrown in. Every page will leave you wondering what insane thing will happen next, and it’s very over-the-top and fun to read! Bunny follows the story of Samantha, who feels like an outsider in her MFA program and is utterly repelled by her classmates. Including a cult-like clique called the “Bunnies”. But one day they invite Samantha to join them, and she accepts. Soon, Samantha finds herself neck-deep in the Bunnies’ world — and the lines of reality will blur as they conjure their monstrous creations.
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