We’re deep in the throws of spooky season. Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Samhain, and Día de Los Muertos are all approaching. Pumpkins are sitting on porches. Leaves are turning colors. Children of all ages are getting their costumes and altars ready. You know what that means here at Book Riot: time for those haunting horror books.
Horror is such a love-it-or-hate-it genre. Even in my own home, we have a clear divide. I love the slight panic that rises in my own chest as eerie music swells and an unknowable evil approaches. Whether the monsters are monstrous or wearing human skin, I just can’t get enough. I’m always looking for boo-tastic books, vicious video games, and mortifying movies.
My wife has no interest in horror. Not books or movies or video games. She doesn’t want to jump out of her seat or bear witness to fictional torment. She’d rather rewatch a comfort show or curl up with a fantasy novel right now. But as the movie Cabin in the Woods proves, humor can bridge the gap, making horror vastly more accessible to larger audiences.
There are plenty of books you can read to help you flirt with terror and tickle your funny bone at the same time. Here are 10 such humor horror books.
Cat Diary: Yon & Mu by Junji Ito
Junji Ito is well-established as a creator of horror manga, but this is something different. It’s all about the trials and troubles of becoming a new cat owner. Because Junji Ito is a horror writer, he brings his horror style to this story, blending his classic voice with delightful humor.
Eat Your Heart Out by Kelly Devos
Vivian is pretty upset when she’s tricked into going to a summer weight loss camp. She carries more weight than her doctor might like, but she likes her body. Now here she is at camp with a bunch of other teenagers that don’t want to be. Then one goes missing. Suddenly, things are getting very Shaun of the Dead when a “miracle cure” for obesity goes awry.
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
This collection of short stories is Kelly Link’s triumphant return to adult fiction, and it’s amazing. All of her writing blends wry humor with dark content. In this case, she leans into horror with these interconnected tales. Ouija boards, superheroes, iguanas, and so many other strange things flit through these pages of horror and humor.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
The title alone tells you this novel won’t take itself too seriously. Sam’s life seems normal, if boring. When a prank goes wrong and he gets the attention of a necromancer named Douglas, everything changes. Sam is a latent necromancer. After an ultimatum, Sam has a week to figure all of this out before he dies.
How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison
This book has everything. Linda Addison is best known as a poet. This book focused on demons blends horror, science fiction, poetry, and prose into one unique book. Again, the title clues you in: this book approaches demons and their ilk with a sense of humor.
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
You probably recognize the title as a quote from literally every Scooby Doo episode. That’s very much on purpose. This horror mystery novel is also spoofing Scooby Doo along with all the classics of mystery and horror from The Hardy Boys to The Famous Five. Cantero is a real student of the genre, too bringing great frights along with the funny.
Mieruko-chan by Tomoki Izumi
In this manga, Miko Yotsuya is trying to live a normal high school life. Unfortunately, she can see ghosts. These aren’t like Casper, either. They’re horrifying. And they’re drawn to her because of her powers and because her best friend has a strong aura. The series is also quite funny because Miko is just trying to ignore them, to live her life. This series is like the Ghosts TV show, but terrifying.
Popular Hits of the Showa Era by Ryu Murakami
This book is so strange, irreverent, and unexpected. Six malcontent teens upset six independent “aunties.” Pure comedy, right there. Until the teens ambush and kill one of the aunties. The stakes and the ridiculousness rise as things turn from goofy to gruesome, but always with a load of laughs.
Slasher Girls & Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke
Here’s another short story collection, but this one is from a group of young adult heavy hitters. From Leigh Bardugo to Jay Kristoff to Marie Lu, these stories all revolve around young adult horror adventures. They aren’t all funny, but several of them are real gut-busters.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Grady Hendrix has built a career on horror humor, so you knew he’d wind up on this list. This is my favorite of his. Patricia leads a pretty normal life for a middle age southern woman. Her favorite part of any week is her book club of fellow women who love true crime. But one night, Patricia is attacked by a vampire, and not only is her life in danger, but her way of life.
Gasp and guffaw. Scream and cackle and giggle and startle. These humor horror books are sure to have you doing all of them. What are some of your favorites?