My Top Twenty Horror Books of 2022


My Top Twenty Horror Reads of 2022

The following books are my top twenty horror reads in no particular order. This has been a great year for horror I have read only a fraction and can't wait to find more gems to read.  Feel free to add your recommendations in the comments section.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again..."

Ancient beautiful Manderley, between the rose garden ad the sea, is the county's showpiece. Rebecca made it so - even a year after her death, Rebecca's influence still rules here. How can Maxim de Winter's shy new bride ever fill her place or escape her vital shadow?

A shadow that grows longer and darker as the brief summer fades, until, in a moment of climatic revelations, it threatens to eclipse Manderley and it's inhabitants completely...

Rebecca is a gothic masterpiece, a book that I make a point of reading each year, it's one of those rare magical books that seems to change with each read.  

Slash-Her : A Women of Horror Anthology

Kandisha Press proudly presents SLASH-HER. 21 women from across the world come together to explore the slasher sub-genre. Some embrace the tropes, some rip them to shreds. These powerful tales are provocative, contemporary and need to be told. Featuring own voices toy will discover the pen is mightier than the machete.
Serial killers, revenge, lust and even the supernatural are just some of the elements in SLASH -HER. These stories are strong. They are bloody and they pack a punch.
Are you ready?

This anthology was such a joy to read, its so much fun and full of female rage being born into the world. 

The Burning Girls C.J.Tudor

An unconventional vicar moves moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present- and intent on keeping its dark secrets - in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C.J.Tudor.

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen year old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kits and a note quoting scripture. "But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known."

The more Jack and her daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the villages bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.

Bottled by Stephanie Ellis

The house was his, an unwanted and unwelcome inheritance. As a child, Tyler Torrence spent many miserable hours beneath its roof, hating his grandfather and the man's housekeeper, Mrs Waites. His only escape during those visits had been via the impossible bottles created by his granddad; bottles holding miniature worlds in which he could lose himself for hours. Sometimes however he sensed something else living in the house and in the bottles and when he returned home, he took the nightmares with him. Now an adult, Tyler decides one last visit can do no harm, will allow him to finally shake off his nightmares. 
The bottles however, are waiting - and so is Mrs Waites. As both house and bottles gradually yield up their secrets, it is made clear to Tyler what is expected of him and what would happen should he fail. Is Tyler master or servant of the house?

Entropy in Bloom by Jeremy Robert Johnson

For more than a decade, Jeremy Robert Johnson has been bubbling under the surface of both literary and genre fiction. His short stories present a brilliantly dark and audaciously weird realm where cosmic nightmares collide with all-too-human characters and apocalypses of all shapes and sizes loom ominously. In "Persistence Hunting" a lonely distance runner is seduced into a brutal life of crime with an ever-narrowing path for escape. In "When Susurrus Stirs" an unlucky pacifist must stop a horrifying parasite from turning his body into a sentient hive. Running through all of Johnson's work is a hallucinatory vision and deeply- felt empathy, earning the author a reputation as one of todays most daring and thrilling writers.

Featuring the best of his previously independently-published short fiction, as well as an exclusive, never before published novella "The Sleep of Judges" - where a father's fight against the denizens of a drug den becomes a mind bending suburban nightmare. Entropy in Bloom is a perfect compendium for avid fans and an ideal entry point for adventurous readers seeking the humour, heartbreak and terror of JRJ's strange new worlds.

Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia 

After receiving a frantic letter form her newly wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemi Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She's not sure what she will find- her cousin's husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemi knows little about the region.

Noemi is also an unlikely rescuer; She's a glamourous debutante and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she's also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid. Not of her cousin's new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemi; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi's dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family's youngest son. Shy and gentle he seems to want to help Noemi but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family's past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family's once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes but as Noemi digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemi, mesmerised by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste 

For fans of Mexican Gothic, from three time Bram Stoker Award- winning author Gwendolyn Kiste comes a novel inspired from the untold stories of forgotten women in classic literature - from Lucy Westernra, a victim of Stoker's Dracula, and Bertha Mason, from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre - as they band together to combat the toxic men bent on destroying their lives, set against the backdrop of the Summer of Love, Haight-Ashbury 1967.

Reluctant Immortals is a historical horror novel that looks at two men of classic literature, Dracula and Mr Rochester, and the two women who survived them, Bertha and Lucy, who are now undead immortals residing in Los Angeles in 1967 when Dracula and Rochester make a shocking return in the Haight- Ashbury district of San Francisco.

Combining elements of historical and gothic fiction with a modern perspective, in a tale of love and betrayal and coercion, Reluctant Immortals is the lyrical and harrowing journey of two women from classic literature as they bravely claim their own destiny in a man's world.

Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper 

Winner of the Bram Stoker Award.

Within 48 hours, Yaya Betancourt will go from discovering teeth between her thighs to being hunted by one of the most powerful corporations in America.

She assumes the vagina dentata is a side effect of a rare genetic condition caused by AlphaBeta Pharmaceutical, decades ago, when she and several thousand others were still in the womb.

But when ABP corporate goons upend her life, she realises her secondary teeth might be evidence of a new experiment for which she's the most adapted test tube...a situation worsened when Yaya's condition sprouts horns, tentacles and a mid of its own.

On the run and transforming, Yaya may be either ABP's greatest success, or the deadliest failure science has ever created.

Below by Kev Harrison 

Nick has revered his grandfather his entire life. The absent hero, his namesake, buried alive in his final act of courage an ocean and thousands of miles away. Jess has outgrown her status as an all action social media celebrity and the endless demands that come with it.

Adventure Travel TV has thrown this unlikely duo together, promising Jess the launchpad she craves and Nick the chance to tell his grandfather's story first-hand, in the newly uncovered mine that still holds his remains from the twilight days of the gold rush. Is it a dream come true or a nightmare as someone or something stirs...Below

Marionette by Antonia Rachel Ward

On the run from a life of prostitution and poverty, exotic dancer Cece Dulac agrees to become the main attraction at an erotic seance hosted by enigmatic mesmerist Monsieur Rossignol. As the seance descends into depravity, Cece falls prey to Rossignol's hypnotic power and becomes possessed by a malevolent spirit.

George Dashwood, an aspiirng artist, witnesses the seance and fears for Cece. He seeks her out and she seduces him, but she is no longer herself. The spirit controlling her forces her to commit increasingly depraved acts. When the spirit's desire for revenge escalates to murder, George and Cece must find a way to break Rossignol's spell before Cece's soul is condemned forever.

Marionette is an erotic horror novella inspired by traditional folk tales and set in fin de siecle Paris

Midnight in the Pentagram edited by Kenneth W.Cain

As the clock's pendulum steadily counts down towards the midnight hour, the growing scent of brimstone hangs heavy in the air. The universal symbol of all that is evil, the pentagram, or the inverted pentacle, has been carved in the hardwood floor. It's shape is often described as the goat of lust attacking the Heavens with its horns during the witches sabbat. Five obsidian candles flicker as the incantations begin. Who will be summoned during this unholy evening? Will it be Baphoment? Or Belial? Maybe even Lucifer himself? The roof timbers groan. Stressed plaster drops to the floor. The demon approaches, holding its ancient grimoire filled with evil stories, written in blood...and here they are

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

Following the "propulsive and mesmerizing" (New York Times Review) Things We Lost in the Fire comes a new collection of singularly unsettling stories by an Argentine author who has earned comparisons to Shirley Jackson and Jorge Luis Borges.

Mariana Enriquez has been critically lauded for her unconventional and sociopolitical stories of the macabre; populated by unruly teenagers, crooked witches, homeless ghosts, and hungry women, they walk the uneasy line between urban realism and horror. The stories in her next collection are as terrifying as they are socially conscious, and press into being the unspoken - fetish, illness the female body, the darkness of human history- with unsettling urgency. A woman is sexually obsessed with the human heart; a lost rotting baby crawls out of a backyard and unto a bedroom; a pair of teenage girls can't let go of their idol' an entire neighbourhood is cursed to death by a question of morality they fail to answer correctly.

Written against the backdrop of contemporary Argentina and with resounding tenderness towards those in pain, in fear and in limbo, this new collection from one of Argentina's most exciting writers finds Enriquez at her most sophisticated, and most thrilling.

Awake in the Night by Shauna McEleney

Jessica and Nicole think they've finally found their dream house- by the sea, in the West of Ireland. 17 Montpellier Street has history, character...and so many rooms you could easily lose your way if you don't tread carefully.

It has memories, too - so many memories. The new owners haven't learned them yet. But the girls who lived there decades before, when the church used Montpellier Street to hide away its secrets- they've never forgotten.

The ones who survived, anyway.

Montpellier Street remembers everyone of those horrors those girls suffered at the hands of the priests, nuns and doctors who should have been their carers. And Jess and Nicole...they're about to start reliving them, night after night.

Sleep may never come easily again.

This is Where We Talk Things Out by Caitlin Marceau

This is Where We Talk Things Out by Caitlin Marceau, author of Palimpset: AS collection of Contemporary Horror, follows the gut-wrenching journey of Miller and her estranged mother, Sylvie, who have always had a tense relationship.

After Miller's father dies, she agrees to a girls' vacation away from the city to reconnect with the only family she has left. Although she's eager to make things work, Miller can't help but worry that her mother is seeing the countryside retreat as a fun weekend getaway instead of what it reallt is; a last ditch effort to repair their relationship.

Unfortunately, that quickly becomes the least of Miller's problems.

Sylvie's trapped in the past and if Miller's not careful, she will be too. A cross between Stephen King's Misery and Stephanie Wrobel's Darling Rose Gold. This is Where We Talk Things Out explores the horror of familial trauma, mother-daughter relationships, and what happens when we don't let go.

Sundial by Catriona Ward

Sundial is a new, twisty psychological horror novel from Catriona Ward, internationally bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street.

You can't escape what's in your blood...

All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it too; a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of a family she left behind.

She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive...

The mother and daughter embark on a dark desert journey to the past in the hopes of redeeming their future.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

Out story begins in 1902, at The Brookhants School for Girls, Flo and Cara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it The Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and ultimately their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary's book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, The Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever-but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way.

Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkid writer, Merritt Emmons, publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the "haunted and cursed" Gilded-Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill fated heroine Flo, opposite B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells and Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern heroines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled - or perhaps just grimly exploited- and soon its impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.

Piece of Me by Steve Stred 

Over a decade ago, Kari's husband and son went hunting and never returned.

As she prepares for another long winter she longs for their return.

Then one day things change. The night creatures who live in the dark have visited the day and a mysterious figure who arrives may hold the key to reuniting her with her family.

For Kari the question becomes - just how far will she go to be reunited.

Dracula by Bram Stoker 

When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes a series of horrific discoveries about his client. Soon afterwards, various bizarre incidents unfold in England: an apparently unmanned ship is wrecked off the coast of Whitby; a young woman discovers strange puncture marks on her neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the "Master" and his imminent arrival.

In Dracula, Bram Stoker created one of the great masterpieces of the horror genre, brilliantly evoking a nightmare world of vampires and vampire hunters and also illumination the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

It was a cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred.

Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared.

They never returned.

Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction the reader must decide for themselves.

Iron Maidens by Sarah Jane Huntingdon 

A 13 story collection of twisted tales, all featuring Killer women.

Supernatural creations hell-bent on revenge. 

Cosmic terrors from beneath the surface.

Women with unusual afflictions.

The kind housewife with a collection of pickling jars.

The beginnings of a serial killer and more.

Villains, Vigilantes, Voyeurs and Vengeance.

You won't forget these women in a hurry

About Sarah Budd

Sarah Budd is a horror writer based in London, her short fiction has been released via Brigid's Gate Press, the NoSleep Podcast, Demain Publishing, and featured in many acclaimed anthologies such as Slash-Her, Diabolica Britannica and Vintage Ads.

Her debut novella was released in November 2022 via Brigid's Gate Press 

You can purchase a copy of Enter the Darkness here via Amazon


Popular posts from this blog

The Stone Road by G.R.Matthews

Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste

Terror Forming by P.A.Sheppard