9 Horror Books with Romance at Heart

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Jessica Avery


"Jessica has been a voracious reader since she was old enough to hold chapter books right side up. She has an MA in English from the University of Maine, and has been writing about books online since 2015. She started out writing about the Romance genre, but in recent years she has rekindled her love for Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy, with an emphasis on works of queer fiction. You can follow her on Twitter, Bluesky, and Instagram.

I feel like I need to preface this whole book by saying: these are not horrific romance novels. They are horror books with romance at heart, but they are definitely still horror books. I tell you this in advance because if you pick one of these up for the love story and go in unprepared for horror and gore, you’re going to have a not-fun reading experience.

The goal of this post, rather, is to highlight horror books with significant romance plots. In these stories, the romance that unfolds between the main characters is every bit as important as the nightmarish horrors that surround them. Love love? Love horror? These books can do both! I can have love and the yawning terror of the pit! I can have “snowed in at the cabin with a hot guy” and “the hot guy who might be gaslighting the lead about monsters in the woods.” Horror is dynamic enough to encompass both elements in a single story, so you can spend your reading hours contentedly oscillating from “awww, new love” to “aaaaah, what the peanut butter-eating monster was that?”

Some of these stories end happily for our protagonists, who emerge from the merry-go-round of nightmarish horrors with their love intact despite all odds. Others…do not. And still others force us to reckon with what it means for the characters to still be in love after all they have survived, and whether their love or their endings are as clear cut as they seem. But one thing I can guarantee about all these books is that the romance matters in the end.

cover of voices in the snow by darcy coates

Voices in the Snow by Darcy Coates

There are actually a number of Darcy Coates books I could have included on this list. Coates is fantastic at incorporating romance into her horror books, and I’m a huge fan of her haunted houses. But the reason I opted for Voices in the Snow is the setup: our heroine has amnesia and wakes up to find herself snowed in with the man who rescued her from the storm. Or so he says, but who really knows? I mean, it’s not like Claire can remember. It’s such a delightful string of tropes that could just as easily be the setup for a romance novel as a horror story. It all depends on what happens next! The house Claire wakes up in is a crumbling Gothic pile surrounded by woods, and the more Claire sees and hears, the more she becomes convinced that, despite her rescuer’s reassurances, they aren’t actually alone. Something is waiting in the woods. Unable to escape because of the storm, Claire has to determine who she can trust and fast before whatever is outside the house finds a way in.

the cover of Heart, Haunt, Havoc

Heart Haunt Havoc by Freydís Moon

As I previously suggested, romance and horror can not only peacefully coexist but actually make rather spectacular bedfellows. Something Freydis Moon understands very well, as evidenced by their book Heart, Haunt, Havoc, about a lonely trans exorcist who falls for the nonbinary homeowner of his latest job site. Colin was hired to deal with a haunted house in Colorado, only to find that the home, owned by the handsome Bishop Martinez, may prove more of a challenge than Colin anticipated. It’s awash in restless spirits, drawn by the house’s dark, heartbreaking past. As he navigates the horrors of the house and his budding romance with its owner, Colin finds himself digging into secrets that Bishop would rather forget, further muddying an already messy supernatural situation.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling book cover

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

If you are unfamiliar with my obsession with The Luminous Dead, welcome, and I’m sorry. Except I’m not. I talk about this book too much, but I won’t let that stop me! Honestly, Starling had me at “attractive caver gets (literally) in over her head with more than a little help from the equally attractive but untrustworthy person controlling her survival suit, also giant cave worms.” There’s just something horrifically hypnotic about watching helplessly as Gyre is dragged through the worst kind of hell. Just when you think it can’t get worse, somehow, it always does. And all the time, there’s Em, who seems just as desperate as Gyre is but for different reasons, reasons that all but guarantee Gyre can’t trust the very woman who can control everything from Gyre’s movement to her emotions with just a push of a button. Chemistry. jazz hands But honestly, the (not quite healthy) relationship that develops between these two is everything to me.

Book cover of The Salt Grows Heavy

The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw

THIS. This book is a freaking love story for the ages, and I would die for the mermaid and her plague doctor. Think Little Mermaid, but the prince is an ass, and Ariel leaves him to get eaten by their half-mer children while she goes on a roundtrip with the court’s resident physician. The two stumble upon a super creepy village deep in the forest, with a bunch of kids who make the Children of the Corn look friendly, and they’re being governed by three ghastly Surgeons. When the Plague Doctor reveals that the Surgeons have a dark, violent secret that is a part of the Doctor’s own past, the two travelers find themselves attempting to unravel the Surgeons’ powers and put an end to their terrible work. The Salt Grows Heavy is a novella, so if you’re looking for a shorter horror romance, I definitely recommend starting here. It even bumped The Monster of Elendhaven out of 1st place for my favorite “terrible people in love” horror novella!

cover of echo by thomas olde heuvelt

Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Have you ever realized that a book was going to break your heart, and you decided you were just going to let it? Ya’ll, the way I cried over this book. Echo is the sort of queer horror love story that I desperately need more of in my life, and there’s so much more to the story than the synopsis suggests, so don’t be deterred by the back cover copy. Yes, Echo is about Nick Grever surviving a terrible mountaineering accident that left him horribly scarred, killed his climbing buddy, Augustin, and left him figuratively and literally haunted by the mysterious mountain, Maudit. But Echo isn’t just Nick’s story, it’s also about his boyfriend, Sam. It’s about their relationship, their past, and their horrifying present as Sam tries desperately to save the man he loves from the mountain intent on possessing him.

My Dear Henry: A Jekyll & Hyde Remix cover

My Dear Henry by Kalynn Bayron

Love is the whole purpose of My Dear Henry. It’s the constant at the heart of a story about two young men, torn apart by a hateful world, trying to make their way back to each other. When Gabriel Utterson was sent to London by his father to study medicine, he fell head over heels in love with fellow medical student Henry Jekyll. But it’s hard to hide a love that burns that brightly, and before long, rumors and whispers begin to follow Henry and Gabriel, forcing them to separate. When Gabriel returns to London after a long summer away, it becomes instantly clear that something has changed. Something is wrong with Henry, and Gabriel is certain that it has to do with the strange young man, Hyde, who has been seen coming and going from the Jekyll household. If Gabriel cannot discover the truth about what has happened to Henry, he may be at risk of losing the boy he loves forever.

cover of queen of teeth by hailey piper

Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper

Okay, this is probably the part where you’re like: Jessica, you are not about to convince me that the vagina monster book is a love story, but LISTEN. The vagina monster book is a love story. Queen of Teeth is about Yaya Betancourt, who discovers that she has spouted teeth in her vagina. Yaya assumes it’s a side effect of a genetic condition that she and thousands of others developed thanks to AlphaBeta Pharmaceutical, but when she realizes that ABP is determined to hunt her down because of her mutation, Yaya has to consider the possibility that there may be another motive behind the company’s pursuit. Alongside Yaya’s monstrous transformation is the story of another figure: Doc. This is the second time Doc’s work with ABP has brought her into contact with someone like Yaya, and this time, she’s determined to do what she can to help before ABP succeeds in making Yaya disappear for good.

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas book cover

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

If you love books that blend multiple genres together, you need to be reading Isabel Cañas. I got to read her most recent book, Vampires of El Norte, before it came out earlier this year, and it was a masterclass in combining horror, romance, and historical fiction together. So was her first novel, The Hacienda, which is a gorgeously Gothic novel full of terror and romance. Beatriz’s father was executed in the overthrow of the Mexican government, and her home was destroyed, so when a handsome and wealthy Don proposes, she takes her chances with financial security and an estate tucked safely away in the countryside. But of course, when is Convenient Husband’s Country Estate ever really the safe haven that a Gothic heroine expects? San Isidro, for instance, is filled with strange voices, strange goings on, and plenty of helpful familial gaslighting. Enter the young and handsome priest (where are my priest-as-romantic-hero fans? Come get your man!) who comes to Beatriz’s rescue, and you’ve all the makings of a perfect horror romance.

cover of Slewfoot by Brom, featuring a young woman with red hair in a white shift riding a broom in front of a full moon

Slewfoot by Brom

I have been telling anyone who would listen that Slewfoot is a love story ever since I finished the book. And I stand by that! (Though I realize that it’s probably a subjective opinion, and not every reader will agree.) Fantastical and horrifying, Slewfoot is a dark, magical story about how monsters, and witches, are made. When Abitha is widowed suddenly by a suspicious accident, she finds herself desperately trying to hold on to her freedom in the midst of a pious and patriarchal society that would rather see her tucked neatly under the thumb of another man. Enter Slewfoot, a newly woken forest spirit who, like Abitha, is searching for his place in the world, though he doesn’t yet know who he is. Together, the two begin to unlock the secrets of Slewfoot’s past and the magic that lives deep inside Abitha, but the more they discover, the more suspicious the world around them grows, and only together will they survive the coming storm.

If you’re looking for more books that blend horror and romance, Book Riot’s got you covered! Check out this list with 10 more horror romance books because scary book season is year-round, or this list of spooky romance novels if you want something heavier on the romance side of things with a guaranteed HEA! I also highly recommend this list of horror romance manga, which seems like something we all need more of in our lives, frankly.