8 of the Best Mixed Media Horror and Thriller Novels
If you’ve seen any crime show, you’ll know immediately how many different kinds of evidence and paperwork is involved: interviews, recordings, photographs, physical objects, witness statements, books written by those involved, the list is endless. Each plot line is never one thing; it’s a compilation of many things put together.
Why shouldn’t literature be the same? While a good old-fashioned straightforward narrative is good and all, I love novels that play with different media and formats. Especially in the horror and thriller genre, more and more narratives are including news articles, podcast transcripts, interviews, instant messaging, and more to add more richness and context to the novel’s world.
It’s like that classic scene in a horror novel when they comb through microfiche to find some case-breaking clue or the characters bend, heads together, watching found footage in the aftermath of some tragedy. They find a footprint where there was only dust before, or there’s a book with exactly the image inside to save them. But, in book form! Each page may contain a flyer, a photograph, a diary entry with a clue or context or something else entirely. How exciting!
If that sounds enticing to you, check out these eight horror and thriller novels with mixed media elements!
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca
Agnes is looking to sell a passed-down apple peeler to make some money for rent. There, she meets Zoe who reaches out as a potential buyer. The two develop a relationship online, their connection turning darker and darker as they go. Told through chat logs, emails, and discussion board posts, this graphically gross horror story is sure to creep under your skin.
Cold Truth by Nikhil Pradhan
After a 10-year-old girl goes missing, her father reports it to the local police, who don’t seem to be doing much about it. Then a journalist picks up the story and starts digging. Through WhatsApp messages, Reddit posts, emails, press releases, and investigative reports within the narrative, a web of corruption and coverups is revealed spanning continents.
All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor
Miri and her friends, Soleil and Penny, leap at the chance to meet the author Fatima Ro. Miri is practically obsessed with her novel Undertow. With a new addition to the friend group, the four get sucked into Fatima’s life and she theirs. Only, now, it seems Fatima is using their lives and secrets as fodder for her new novel and puts one of them in the hospital. Through interviews, text messages, and even excerpts of Fatima’s new novel, the story of what happened as obsession and life cross the line into fiction.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
When Gretchen was the only one to show up to Abby’s 5th grade birthday party, they become inseparable. They talk on the phone every night and share everything together. After Gretchen goes missing in the woods one night, though, she starts to act differently, feeling hands touching her at all hours and blurting out things better left unsaid. Abby becomes convinced her best friend is possessed and she’s the only one who can save her. The novel’s photographs, flyers, questionnaires, newspaper clippings, and more set the scene in the ’80s perfectly.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
After Ashley Cordova’s body is found in a warehouse in Manhattan, the police rule her death a suicide. But investigative journalist Scott McGrath thinks otherwise. After he finds a connection between Ashley and an underground film director who seems to be connected to many mysterious tragedies, McGrath is sucked into a world he might not make it out of. The police reports, photographs, and an interactive app are a glimpse into McGrath’s mind.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Three interconnected stories converge in this horror novel full of interactive text, footnotes, transcripts, and more. Johnny finds a trunk full of a manuscript in a dead man’s house with the story of a family living in a house that’s bigger on the inside and references to a film about the house called “The Navidson Record.” Johnny becomes obsessed with the house, the book, and the impossible-to-find film, unable to stop himself getting entangled in the story too.
Sadie by Courtney Summers
After 19-year-old Sadie Hunter disappears, true crime podcast host West McCray doesn’t think there will be anything new to the case. But when he arrives in Colorado and starts digging, finding in Sadie’s past a murdered little sister and a plot for revenge. Through podcast transcripts and interviews, we follow West’s journey to find out what really happened to Sadie.
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
Growing up half Black and half white, high-school senior Maddy has been forced by her father to keep her Blackness hidden. After an accident in gym class reveals her natural hair, she’s taunted by classmates in increasingly aggressively racist attacks. Maddy’s anger grows until she can’t contain it anymore, her prom night revenge documented through podcast transcripts and documentary excerpts.
In the mood for more horror or thrillers? Check out these 10 best horror books of 2022 or these 10 bone-chilling horror thrillers!