Halloween has come and gone, but around here at Book Riot, it’s always scary book season! It’s never a bad time to scare yourself silly with some frightening reads. While it is much harder to find great new books to read in December, when publishing slows down for the holidays, there are still some exciting ones headed our way. And I’m going to help you locate them with this list of eight thrilling new horror books for December 2023!
This month’s selection has a couple of thrillers in the mix because murderers and mysteries are scary! There’s a Gothic mystery about a woman’s dead mother, an ominous island murder mystery, an anthology of the year’s best horror stories from some of the best in the business, killer aliens from outer space, a collection of spooky speculative stories from Mexico, and a couple of frightening Book Riot favorites that are now in paperback.
So grab a mug of hot chocolate, pile on the warm blankets, lock all the doors and windows, and get ready to pick the frightening books you want to read now or add to your TBR for the new year. Because being scared is always in season!
The Folly by Gemma Amor
From Bram Stoker and British Fantasy Award-nominated author Amor comes a tale of familial terror! After Morgan’s father is freed for the murder of her mother — which she never believed he committed — he takes a job as the caretaker at a secluded castle. The time away should help them heal, but soon they are visited by a woman who looks, sounds, and acts just like her mother. Is it a coincidence, a hallucination, or something sinister?
Perfect Little Lives by Amber and Danielle Brown
Coincidentally, this next book is also about a mother’s murder. Simone’s mother was supposedly murdered by her father when she was a teenager. A decade later, she still believes in his innocence when she runs into her former neighbor. He gives Simone shocking news about their parents: her mother was having an affair with his father for years. As Simone struggles to make sense of this new information and clear her father’s name, she starts to get closer to danger than she realizes.
The Daughters of Block Island by Christa Carmen
Thalia Mills has never known her sister, Blake. But then she gets word that Blake has been murdered at a creepy gothic mansion on Block Island. Blake had been searching for answers about their family history. And now Thalia feels it is her duty to get to the bottom of both their family secrets and Blake’s murder. But she’s on a scary secluded island, and there has already been one murder recently. Will her search for the truth triumph over her instincts telling her to flee?
The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Fifteen edited by Ellen Datlow
If you didn’t already know, Datlow is one of the most respected writers and curators of genre fiction. She’s won umpteen awards for her work. This is the fifteenth volume of the year’s best horror that she’s worked on and includes pieces from some of today’s most amazing authors, including Tananarive Due, Gemma Files, Margo Lanagan, Andy Davidson, Gemma Amor, and Jeffrey Ford.
Bad Cree by Jessica Johns
Now in paperback! A young Cree woman has started having bad nightmares. Like, REAL bad. She wakes up with things from her nightmares in bed with her. Not great, Bob. Mackenzie decides the only way to get to the bottom of her bad dreams is to return to the town where she grew up. But facing her fears means also facing the truth about the death of her sister, who has started sending her threatening text messages despite being dead…
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
This is another selection that is now available in paperback. Kingfisher retells The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe in this novella. Alex Easton travels to be by Madeline Usher’s side when they hear she is dying. But at Usher House, it’s not just the lady of the house that is affected. Her brother and even the house itself seem to be falling into disrepair under some kind of frightening external force. Can Alex save them before it’s too late?
They Will Dream in the Garden by Gabriela Damián Miravete, translated by Adrian Demopulos
If you like your scary in bite-size bits, pick up this new collection from Mexican author Gabriela Damián Miravete. Miravete draws on social horrors, such as femicide in her country, and the experiences of women living in Mexico to create several speculative tales of cosmic, futuristic, and contemporary horror.
Aliens: Bishop by T.R. Napper
And last but not least, Napper is taking us back to visit our old friends, Bishop and the scary xenomorphs. (Spoiler for an almost four-decades-old film ahead!) Bishop was an android who helped Ripley defeat the aliens in the second movie. This is a direct sequel to the second and third films, but also a thrilling read on its own, as Bishop is hunted for all the knowledge about the xenomorphs he has stored in his robot brain.
Finally, you can also find a full list of new releases in the magical New Release Index, carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date.