A vast majority of us, once we hit working age, enter the workforce and don’t leave for decades. We might swap positions, promote up, or branch out, but work is a major part of our lives. According to data in this Psychology Today article, we spend 90,000 hours working in our lives. 90,000! That’s 10 years of our lives spent at our desk or station or wherever it is we do our work.
It’s no wonder the workplace is such a wealth of horrors for authors to tap into. Creepy supervisors, ethical dilemmas, being forced to work like a machine, it all edges on the horrific with just one exaggeration or alteration. There is workplace horror in spades out there, as it is a great source of terror and catharsis to cope with where we spend one-third of our days. Maybe your seemingly-normal job is a front for discovering some secret power. Maybe your shady supervisor isn’t just a creep but an actual monster. Maybe the night shift really does have creatures lurking in the dark.
If those scenarios hit too close to home in a thrilling I-want-to-read-that-ASAP kind of way, start with these 10 workplace horror novels to introduce you to the sub-genre.
Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier
Vanessa Castro’s first day on the job as Deputy Police Chief in Seaside, Washington, brings her to Wonderland, an amusement park with a Clown Museum and House of Horrors inside and a shady history. A dead body turns up inside the park’s gates and an employee goes missing, setting Vanessa down a path into the past.
Several People are Typing by Calvin Kasulke
Gerald works from home, using Slack to communicate with his coworkers. Well, sort of. He’s more…part of Slack, leaving his body behind somewhere. Not that his bosses mind much with his productivity off the charts. But life inside Slack isn’t exactly enjoyable and Gerald wants to get out and get his body back. But, how? Told through Slack messages and emojis, this one taps into the horrors of Slack and working from home.
The Consultant by Bentley Little
After a failed merger, video game company CompWare needs help to keep their reputation up in the public eye. It makes sense, then, to hire a consultant to help them figure out best practices. The consultant who arrives, Mr. Regus Patoff, is a little strange, asking odd questions, and making unexpected visits to employees’ homes. Disobedience is punished and not conforming to the new way of things is deadly.
Lakewood by Megan Giddings
When Lena gets a letter in the mail about a high-paying job, she jumps at the chance. Her grandmother recently passed away and the responsibility for caring for her ailing mother now falls on her shoulders. And, how bad could a research study be? But there’s a reason the study has to be kept secret and the more the facility pushes her boundaries, the more Lena has to give up to keep her family afloat.
The Overnight by Ramsey Campbell
Woody runs a bookshop in a strip mall, striving to make it the best it can be before the upcoming inspection. But each time the staff arrives to open the store, the organized shelves are in disarray. Add to that malfunctioning computers and a hit-and-run in the parking lot, and Woody’s high hopes for the store fray at the edges. He decides to do an overnight inventory, gathering everyone together to get the place in ship shape. But they find something far more sinister than damaged books.
Chopping Spree by Angela Sylvaine
The mall in Eden Hills is its crowning achievement in all of its 80’s-inspired glory. When Penny gets a job in a clothing store there, she’s stoked to work with her best friend and her crush. So what if they’re cryptic about the weird symbols they all wear? When Penny stays late for a party, a killer in a mask makes an appearance. Locked in the mall with no cell service, the teenagers have to get free before the killer comes for them too.
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, Translated by Sarah Moses
After a virus takes out most of the animals, society has to turn to eating human meat, dubbed “special meat” to survive. Marcos works at one of the slaughterhouses, isolated from physical touch. But when he starts to treat one of the “specimens” with compassion, the weight of what he does and what he’s lost is crushing.
Thirsty by C. Allison Devesly
Susan has finally found the perfect spot to open her own dental practice. There are even tools left behind by the previous tenants for her to use. But when one of the tools is embedded with something evil, she’s compelled by it to bring victims to the practice for their blood. Teaming up with the local coven, Susan is determined to stop the evil before it takes over her dental office for good.