2020’s Top Horror Novels

Posted by Cybil on October 5, 2020


You’d think that with, well, everything this year has had in store for us, readers would flock to sweet stories with happy endings. But as we’ve peered into our data, we’ve seen a consistent trend of horror reading among Goodreads’ members in 2020.

And it’s been a great year to dig into the genre, with many of the biggest books serving up the terror and chills. From the creepiness of Mexican Gothic to the jump-while-reading scares of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, straight-up horror novels are having a moment. This darkness is also seeping into other genres, as hit mysteries including Home Before Dark and The Shadows fully embrace the trappings of the horror novel.

Below you’ll find readers’ most popular horror novels of the year, with a type of fright for every October vibe, from classic ghost stories to sci-fi–slanted dread to ghoulish mysteries to young adult wickedness.
 
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Which of these new terrors are you most intrigued by? Let us know in the comments below!


 

Comments Showing 1-50 of 68 (68 new)


message 1: by Rafael (new)

Rafael I’m a huge fan of Grady Hendrix and I have to say, “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” is probably his best since “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” and definitely on my top 5 this year. “Mexican Gothic” was also throughly enjoyable as was “Home Before Dark”.


message 2: by Randy (new)

Randy Money I'll second Mexican Gothic.


message 3: by Urwa (new)

Urwa Mexican Gothic is a must-read. I enjoyed The Year of the Witching too, but it was slightly disturbing.


message 4: by JJMill (new)

JJMill Go Mexican Gothic!


message 5: by Nicola (new)

Nicola Brami I'm honestly surprised about all the raving comments about Mexican Gothic. I thought everything about it was average at best. I haven't read a lot of books in this list, but my favourite so far is, without a doubt, The Only Good Indians. Stephen Graham Jones outdid himself. A true masterpiece.


message 6: by Alex (new)

Alex Home Before Dark was amazing. If you're a fan of Hillhouse tv show, must read.


message 7: by Joelle (new)

Joelle Yes! I loved Mexican Gothic and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.


message 8: by Joy (new)

Joy The Boatman's Daughter was fantastic. One of the best southern grit horror books I've read in a long time.


message 9: by Qi (new)

Qi Mexican Gothic is a MUST READ for any fan of Gothic horror. Home Before Dark was enjoyable too.

Wasn't a huge fan of Survivor Song (even though I loved A Head Full of Ghosts)--the protagonist's friend was too annoying tbh. Similarly, wasn't a fan of If It Bleeds bc a good third of it is about Holly. Oh well.

Really looking fwd to The Only Good Indians and Lakewood and The Ancestor.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* There's several of these on my wishlist or that I'm wanting to read soon and own. We got a lot of good horror releases this year.


message 11: by AFObuy (new)

AFObuy Shop Yes! I loved Mexican Gothic and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampire https://cialisgeneric2019.com/


message 12: by Emerson (new)

Emerson Malorie really interests me. I loved - LOVED - Birdbox and I can’t wait to read it. But I live in New Zealand and books take so long to get here, and then factor in Covid and I have a long wait. :(


message 13: by Rttttt (new)

Rttttt Rtt


message 14: by Toffeesmum (new)

Toffeesmum So surprised not to see any HP Lovecraft in the top 20. After 40 years I still can't bring myself to re-read some of his stories!


message 15: by Ty Antony (new)

Ty Antony Toffeesmum wrote: "So surprised not to see any HP Lovecraft in the top 20. After 40 years I still can't bring myself to re-read some of his stories!"

This whole list consists of books written in the last year. But even on the other more extensive lists they put together recently for the Horror genre you won't find any Lovecraft. Unless you want to count a book which merely uses his name for a title.
My guess is Lovecraft must be considered verboten by whoever creates the lists because his very name is synonymous with the genre as evidenced by the previously mentioned work cashing in on the name recognition.
I haven't read any of Lovecraft's work yet myself. Not sure where to start since his body of work is so prolific.


message 16: by Erica (new)

Erica  Skrine Inkish wrote: "Help a small blogger!

Check this for Halloween books: https://inkishkingdoms.wordpress.com/...

Check this for Vampire books:
https://inkishkingdoms.wordp..."

I love it! Good list.


message 17: by Megan (new)

Megan Nicola wrote: "I'm honestly surprised about all the raving comments about Mexican Gothic. I thought everything about it was average at best. I haven't read a lot of books in this list, but my favourite so far is,..."

I wasn't super impressed with Mexican Gothic, either.


message 18: by Fran (new)

Fran Harvey Slade House by David Mitchell,spooky,eerie an excellent read.


message 19: by Nancy (new)

Nancy The scariest book I've ever read was Stephen King's Salems Lot. I couldn't look out my window at night!!


message 20: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen Nancy wrote: "The scariest book I've ever read was Stephen King's Salems Lot. I couldn't look out my window at night!!"

Ditto and I was on the 2nd floor. :)


message 21: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Kalchik Check out my review for "The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires"

https://www.jennandtoniclife.com/post...


message 22: by Missy (new)

Missy Toffeesmum wrote: "So surprised not to see any HP Lovecraft in the top 20. After 40 years I still can't bring myself to re-read some of his stories!"

If Goodreads existed, he would have possibly been in their Best Horror books of 1920 list, but don't think he's released anything new in 2020.
:)


message 23: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Powanda The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus should be on this list.


message 24: by Missy (new)

Missy Jeffrey wrote: "The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus should be on this list."

But that book came out over 10 years ago and would not make sense on a list of Top Horror from 2020.


message 25: by Jim (new)

Jim Ty Antony wrote: "Toffeesmum wrote: "So surprised not to see any HP Lovecraft in the top 20. After 40 years I still can't bring myself to re-read some of his stories!"

This whole list consists of books written in t..."


H.P. Lovecraft gets slammed by some readers - and rightfully so - because he was a racist. So refusal to read him can be a personal thing for sure. I have read a lot of his work, and even his bad stuff is quite amazing. It is even more so because of when it was written. Most modern Cthulhu authors have borrowed from him rather extensively.


message 26: by Jim (new)

Jim Missy wrote: "Toffeesmum wrote: "So surprised not to see any HP Lovecraft in the top 20. After 40 years I still can't bring myself to re-read some of his stories!"

If Goodreads existed, he would have possibly b..."


He actually has a new novel coming out next year. The pandemic slowed publication :)


Rachel (Royal_Reading_Company) Rafael wrote: "I’m a huge fan of Grady Hendrix and I have to say, “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” is probably his best since “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” and definitely on my top 5 this year. ..."

Looking forward to ALL these reads!


message 28: by Scooter (new)

Scooter McDermitt Mexican Gothic is an easy recommendation, but Only the Good Indians is easily the best horror novel of 2020.

Survivor Song, it pains me to admit, is the most disappointing.


message 29: by Lisa (new)

Lisa What about Simone St. James' The Sun Down Motel?! I am admittedly a wimp and don't read a lot of horror, but this one totally creeped me out and was good too. I read The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires and was disappointed with it.


message 30: by A Home Library (new)

A Home Library Very fun :)


message 31: by Chrysten (new)

Chrysten Lofton If anyone needs more horror readers in their friend feed, add me! I love the occasional recommendation and I review everything I read =]


message 32: by Shawn (new)

Shawn Nicola wrote: "I'm honestly surprised about all the raving comments about Mexican Gothic. I thought everything about it was average at best. I haven't read a lot of books in this list, but my favourite so far is,..."

I haven't read Mexican Gothic yet, but I thought "The Only Good Indians" was pretty terrible. Just goes to show how different we all are I guess!


message 33: by Mark (new)

Mark Hengst Mexican Gothic was a rare case where the hype lived up to what I read. Solid story that actually surprised me.

The Only Good Indians was mostly okay. The author has an interesting prose on hand and it started creepy and sort of peaked early.


message 34: by Randy (new)

Randy Money Mark wrote: "Mexican Gothic was a rare case where the hype lived up to what I read. Solid story that actually surprised me.
..."


I thought Mexican Gothic was very, very good, merging Gothic with Gothic Romance (to a degree, and not sappily), fairy tale, Weird Tale, coming-of-age, and social commentary. A terrific tightrope walk that started a bit slow but when it engaged me, it captured my full attention.


message 35: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Jim wrote: "Missy wrote: "Toffeesmum wrote: "So surprised not to see any HP Lovecraft in the top 20. After 40 years I still can't bring myself to re-read some of his stories!"

If Goodreads existed, he would h..."


Ha! good one!


message 36: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Guss Nancy wrote: "The scariest book I've ever read was Stephen King's Salems Lot. I couldn't look out my window at night!!"

I need to reread that one :)


message 37: by Erik (new)

Erik Missy wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus should be on this list."

But that book came out over 10 years ago and would not make sense on a list of Top Horror from 2020."


Missy wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus should be on this list."

But that book came out over 10 years ago and would not make sense on a list of Top Horror from 2020."


That book was published in August of this year.


message 38: by TJ (new)

TJ A good list, but you missed one... "The Raven" by Jonathan Janz is a terrific book. It's imaginative, churning horror that's impossible to put down.


message 39: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Powanda The Living Dead was published August 4, 2020. It’s not 10 years old. I’ve read it and believe it’s as good as The Stand by Stephen King and Swan Song by Robert McCammon.


message 40: by Alreds (new)

Alreds Emerson wrote: "Malorie really interests me. I loved - LOVED - Birdbox and I can’t wait to read it. But I live in New Zealand and books take so long to get here, and then factor in Covid and I have a long wait. :("

Order ebooks, as you'll receive them instantly in your ereader


message 41: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Greaves Emerson wrote: "Malorie really interests me. I loved - LOVED - Birdbox and I can’t wait to read it. But I live in New Zealand and books take so long to get here, and then factor in Covid and I have a long wait. :("

Ebooks are instantly downloadable on their release date. I love my Kobo!!


message 42: by Michael (new)

Michael Prentice I'm revved up for "The Shadows". I quite enjoyed Alex North's first book, "The Whisper Man", and can't wait to see what he has in store the second time around.


message 43: by Ash (new)

Ash Alex wrote: "Home Before Dark was amazing. If you're a fan of Hillhouse tv show, must read."
I actually found it meh compared to the haunting of hill house but I enjoyed it none the less


message 44: by Maja (new)

Maja I'm really surprised to see The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires as one of the top picks... Really? The book is insanely slow and there was no suspense whatsoever.


message 45: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Murchison Rafael wrote: "I’m a huge fan of Grady Hendrix and I have to say, “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” is probably his best since “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” and definitely on my top 5 this year. ..."

Agree!


message 46: by Janet (new)

Janet Martin Toffeesmum wrote: "So surprised not to see any HP Lovecraft in the top 20. After 40 years I still can't bring myself to re-read some of his stories!"

This is for books published in 2020


message 47: by Dawn (new)

Dawn Zelinski If you are looking for a different kind of demon story, take a look at Hag, hot off the press in time for Halloween 2020.

Kindle "Count Down" promotion running for a week starting Oct 10. See: https://www.amazon.com/Hag-Dawn-Zelin...


message 48: by JasonAA (new)

JasonAA Jeffrey wrote: "The Living Dead was published August 4, 2020. It’s not 10 years old. I’ve read it and believe it’s as good as The Stand by Stephen King and Swan Song by Robert McCammon."

That's pretty high praise. You just convinced me to put this pretty high on my to read list.


message 49: by Mary (new)

Mary Megan wrote: "Nicola wrote: "I'm honestly surprised about all the raving comments about Mexican Gothic. I thought everything about it was average at best. I haven't read a lot of books in this list, but my favou..."

Mexican Gothic was good, but didn't live up the hype.


message 50: by Mary (new)

Mary My favorite is The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires. Grady rocks. Malorie was good too!


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