Growing up, I was terrified of horror movies. Actually, let’s be real: I still am.
I watched a few horror movies as a young adult, mainly at the cinema with a group of friends, always followed by a night or two filled with nightmares. So, at some point, I just decided horror wasn’t for me, and I stopped watching altogether.
But I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the joy and the thrill most people experience with a horror movie, because while I was watching them, I experienced the same: it was the aftermath of watching it that gave me more anxiety than I could handle.
You can imagine how happy I was when I realised horror in written form works on my mind in very different ways: finally, I could immerse myself in horror stories without sleepless nights and night terrors. In fact, horror has become one of my favourite genres.
I usually don’t seek out series, but in the last few years, I’ve picked up horror books that I believed were one-off books and ended up becoming part of a series. To my surprise, I was excited about immersing myself in their worlds.
Here are just a few horror series that are absolutely worth picking up. I’ll start with series that are firmly in the horror genre, with some genre-blending horror series at the end that combine dystopia and horror or fantasy and horror.
Horror Novel Series
The Indian Lake Trilogy by Stephen Graham Jones
Stephen Graham Jones is the reason I became obsessed with horror, and although The Only Good Indians is still my favourite of his, both installments from this trilogy that are already out are absolutely amazing!
Asylum by Madeleine Roux
This book really plays with the horrors of old sanatoriums, which are a lot scarier when you consider the role the mind plays in these.
The main character is 16-year-old Dan, and he is excited to be part of a Summer program. When he finds out his dormitory used to be an asylum, he and his newly acquainted friends waste no time exploring the premises. They’ll find out some places are better left unexplored.
The first book contains old photos of actually abandoned asylums, helping create a horrific atmosphere for the reader. There are four books and three novellas in this series.
Clown In A Cornfield by Adam Cesare
Horror novels that take place in small villages are always fascinating, with the setting playing a character with its own dark secrets, as we see in Clown In A Cornfield.
The small town’s name is Kettle Springs, and the main character is Quinn, who moved to town with her father looking to start over.
As the town itself seems to be crashing down amongst old and new, the retired mascot of the now shut-down corn syrup factory — who happens to be a clown — wants to bring the good old days to Kettle Springs. In a very murderous way.
The second installment follows those who survived in the first book.
Whiteout by Flint Maxwell
A cosy cabin and a weekend spent with friends seem like a great way to relax and take your mind off anything. To Grady Miller, the “anything” is an accident at work months before.
The weekend seems to have all it takes to be fun, until a sudden blizzard leaves the group of friends stranded from civilization, stuck in a small space with not enough to live on, with strange creatures coming out from the snowy surroundings.
The whole series is five books, and trust me: you’ll be looking forward to each installment.
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
This is the first book in the Bethel series. The sequel is called The Death of the Coven and is set to come out in August this year.
In The Year of the Witching, Immanuelle is our main character in a place called Bethel, and there, her mere existence is seen as lawless: her mother got involved with a man from a different race and place, and from this involvement, Immanuelle came to be.
To counter her mother’s actions, which brought her family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to follow the rules of the land. But when four spirits find her and gift her with the diary that once belonged to her mother, things start changing.
The Girl From The Well by Rin Chupeco
The Girl From The Well is a fantasy horror masterpiece. It connects ghosts stories, revenge, and Japanese folklore, and it will give you the creeps.
Okiku is a ghost, but she’s not just any old ghost: she has been a victim herself, and now she wanders this world chasing and punishing abusers. Then she meets Tark, a boy with tattoos and a dark soul, and she feels pulled to him.
Together they will find the courage it takes to really take a look within themselves.
This and its sequel are not for the faint of heart, but if you manage to get through them, they’re definitely worth it.
Into The Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
There are places you should not go to and creatures you should not seek to find.
When a film network commissioned a documentary about lost sea creatures, all they expected to hear were fake tales from eyewitnesses and the type of footage that leaves a lot to the imagination but, in fact, proves nothing.
They put a crew on a cruise ship and, against all odds, the ship disappeared, becoming a sort of urban legend itself.
Seven years later, a new crew is going to try and figure out what actually happened with the ship Atargatis.
The prequel is Rolling In The Deep, and it tells the original story of the ship’s disappearance.
Alex Stern by Leigh Bardugo
This is definitely a book for those who enjoy the horror and fantasy genre mash-up.
Ninth House, the first volume in this series, revolves around Alex, who sees herself involved in a multiple homicide and is given a second chance at life: an offer to attend an elite university.
But second chances very often come with a price, and Alex gets to decide if the price is worth it.
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
I have a thing for dystopian novels, and Wanderers is one that’s very good at capturing human behaviour.
Published just before the pandemic, many of its characters behave in ways we have genuinely seen during the lockdown days of Covid-19.
Wanderers’ main character is Shana, whose sister wakes up one day with an ailment. It looks like she is sleepwalking, except there’s no way to wake her up. It turns out Shana’s sister is not the only one facing this predicament: lots of other people depict the same symptoms, and they all seem to be walking towards a certain place.
The sequel takes place five years after Wanderers.
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Moon of the Crusted Snow is an apocalyptic novel that I can’t stop recommending. This follows the aftermath of an apocalypse in a Native reservation, and it’s a book with a lot of thoughts about colonialism and white saviorism.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered last month that there is a sequel! The first book ends with a bit of an open ending, but the kind that would be acceptable if it ended up being a one-off. I am excited, however, to find out more about the characters who survived and what happened after.
The sequel’s title is Moon of the Turning Leaves, and it comes out in October.
If you’re a fan of both book series and horror as a genre, I hope you’ll find great options in this list!
Looking for more horror series? Check this post out!