Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

10 Terrifying New Horror Books to Read in September 2023

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

It’s September, which means we’re one month away from Halloween! But if you’re like me, scary stuff is a year-round indulgence. I love to read horror books every season of the year. I guess I could call it Halloween practice, like Halloween is the horror Super Bowl. And lucky for us, there are amazing horror books out every month. That’s why we’re sharing this post of terrifying new horror books to read in September 2023!

In this list, you’ll find tales of a homeowner who refuses to leave their haunted house, a vinyl album collection for the damned, a wicked Western, an ominous apple orchard, and more. There are a few great picks for younger readers, as well. One book I am looking forward to in particular this month is Candelaria by Melissa Lozada-Oliva. It is being classified as “domestic life fiction,” but I wanted to at least mention it because I have heard that it also includes a few really scary moments! And if you are interested in even more great horror reads from 2023, I highly recommend Night’s Edge by Liz Kerin, Lone Women by Victor LaValle, and Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez (which is out in paperback this month!)

cover of The September House by Carissa Orlando; ominous looking house done in shades of red

The September House by Carissa Orlando (Berkley, September 5)

Do you think you could stay in the house of your dreams that you bought for a song if it was haunted? What if it was only really haunted one month of the year? Margaret has decided she can. When she and her husband have their first September in their gorgeous Victorian home, and truly frightening things start happening, they are justifiably terrified. But Margaret figures out a pattern and decides that it’s worth navigating the September scaries to live there. Her husband Hal agrees at first, but as the horror intensifies, he flees after the fourth year. Margaret is fine with this arrangement, but when her daughter calls, telling her no one has heard from Hal, she realizes she may have to share her secrets to get the answers.

cover of Schrader's Chord by Scott Leeds; image of a skull with a vinyl record on the side

Schrader’s Chord by Scott Leeds (Tor Nightfire, September 5)

When Charlie’s father dies, he leaves him his record store and a small assortment of special records. These aren’t just rare albums — supposedly, they open the doors to the land of the dead. Thinking it’s a hoax, Charlie plays the records at a small gathering. Wow, are they sorry they did. Now that the dead are back and looking to boogie, and darkness covers the land, they must rely on an expert to help them return the world to how it was — Charlie’s dead father.

cover of What Kind of Mother by Clay McLeod Chapman; image of a baby's crib with dirt, rocks, and sticks in it

What Kind of Mother by Clay McLeod Chapman (Quirk Books, September 12)

Madi Price is a down-on-her-luck single mother who makes the hard decision to return to her hometown. Once there, she takes up work as a palm reader, which leads her to a fateful encounter with her ex-boyfriend, Henry. Henry is mourning his son, who disappeared five years before. But Madi is struck with terrifying visions that tell a different truth, and those horrors are now coming for her, too.

book cover of Nails and Eyes by Kaori Fujino; image of two contact lenses

Nails and Eyes by Kaori Fujino, Kendall Heitzman (translator) (Pushkin Press, September 12)

This is a collection of terrifying tales from an exciting new name in Japanese horror! The title story is about a child who has lost her mother and the new woman her father brings home. As she sets about making the home her own and starting her new family life, she begins to realize things in the house, and with the child, are anything but normal.

cover of Red Rabbit by Alex Grecian; illustration of a horse-pulled wagon against a giant full moon

Red Rabbit by Alex Grecian (Tor Nightfire, September 19)

In this wild Western, a ragtag group in a red wagon is on a mission to capture a powerful witch and claim the reward. But the lands they must pass through first are filled with criminals, demons, and corpses. Not to mention that the witch isn’t going to surrender quietly. As they encounter one horror after another, the group soon discovers that maybe the witch isn’t the most terrible thing out there.

cover of Black Sheep by Rachel Harrison; pink with black splatter image of a sheep with red eyes

Black Sheep by Rachel Harrison (Berkley, September 19)

From one of the best new horror writers of the last decade comes a story about a woman who escaped her religious extremist family as a teen. Now, she has been invited back, no strings attached, to attend the wedding of her beloved cousin. Maybe all is okay now. But shortly after Vesper returns home for the wedding, she discovers she has made a huge mistake, as dark secrets threaten to consume her.

cover of Black River Orchard by Chuck Wendig; image of dead tree with one perfect red apple hanging from a branch

Black River Orchard by Chuck Wendig (Del Rey, September 26)

Chuck Wendig’s books are always a good time! This novel is one that is best read knowing as little as possible about it. It’s about a special apple orchard in the town of Harrow that grows apples unlike any other. People clamor for the apples, but they come with a cost. And in this tale, an apple a day won’t keep the nightmares away…

Children’s Horror Books

cover of Finch House by Ciera Burch; illustration of a young white boy and a young Black girl standing in front of a house at night

Finch House by Ciera Burch (Margaret K. McElderry Books, September 5)

Micah lives with her grandfather, where they spend their time together hunting for treasures in the trash. There is one place Poppop has told her she must never visit, though — the Finch House. Despite his warning, Micah’s curiosity gets the best of her. At the house, she meets a nice young man named Theo. But when she returns home, Poppop is missing. Seeking help with finding him, she returns to Finch House — but this time, it isn’t going to let her leave.

cover of Nightmare King by Daka Hermon; illustration of a frightened-looking young Black man with a scary skeleton figure behind him

Nightmare King by Daka Hermon (Scholastic Press, September 5)

After Shane’s near-death experience, he’s been having terrible nightmares. The Nightmare King wants to collect Shane, the one who slipped through his grasp. Shane can’t avoid sleep forever, so he needs a plan. Can Shane defeat the Nightmare King and free all the other children from his realm?

cover of The Otherwoods by Justine Pucella Winans; illustration of a young person with dark hair, with a blue cat sitting on their shoulders and the image of a scary forest on their shirt

The Otherwoods by Justine Pucella Winans (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, September 12)

River has had special abilities for many years. They can see monsters and travel in the spirit realm known as The Otherwoods. But since no one else believes them, River works to ignore these abilities. Until the day River’s friend Avery is kidnapped and whisked away to The Otherwoods. Now, River will have to face their fears and traverse the terrifying terrain (with the help of a cat) to get Avery back.

If you love horror, check out the 25 Best Horror Books of 2023, and be sure to sign up for The Fright Stuff, our horror newsletter.

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.