If you thought the polar vortex was the scariest thing to happen in February, beware of Women in Horror Recognition Month. The celebration's aim is to support and promote female horror genre artists — from screenwriters to directors to novelists — in a traditionally male-dominated space. This February marks Women in Horror Month's 5th annual celebration, marked with blood drives, art shows, and film screenings, which the creators hope will support "the achievements of women who utilize the most extreme mirror available in storytelling: horror," according to the WiHM website.
Women have voices like Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, and Mary Shelley to look up to in the horror literature space, but we still have a long way to go to gain the acceptance that male genre authors, such as Stephen King, have achieved. In keeping with the mission of WiHM, turn of the lights, grab a flashlight, and climb under the covers with one of these eight creepy reads by current YA and Adult novelists
'The Harrowing' by Alexandra Sokoloff
What if The Breakfast Club students were tormented by a ghost during their detention? Alexandra Sokoloff’s The Harrowing can tell you. Instead of high school, these five lonely students — including your jock, musician, and academic — are all stuck in their 100-year-old college residence hall over Thanksgiving break. Instead of wondering how they all got detention, the secret is why each has bypassed a holiday at home. But the fun really starts when they become aware of a 6th presence, stuck with them as a storm hits. It will make you wish for the good old days when the only thing tormenting students was Principal Vernon.
'The Whisper Jar' by Carole Lanham
Shhh! Carole Lanham’s short horror story collection The Whisper Jar is all about the secrets we keep. Don’t let its whimsy fool you, these stories, and the children that populate them, are downright creepy. In the stories and two poems, small children all explore dark places across the globe, and in their own minds. And sometimes the scariest stories start with a playfulness that devolves into the macabre.
'Another Little Piece' by Kate Karyus Quinn
Kate Karyus Quinn’s startling debut novel Another Little Piece is chock-full of eerie psychological mysteries. One year ago, Annaliese stumbled out of the woods onto a high school party, drenched in blood and screaming. But that wasn’t even the creepy part. After that, she vanished, only turning up one year later, roaming the streets hundreds of miles away. She can’t remember anything, but she’s haunted by visions and this uncanny feeling that she’s not really Annaliese. Mixing tropes from both current and legendary horror/mystery writers, Another Little Piece has been marketed as a combination between the horror of Stephen King and the mystery of Pretty Little Liars.
'A Tree of Bones' by Gemma Files
New Mexico in 1867 may not seem like an ordinary horror story setting, but Gemma Files’ Hexslinger series isn’t an ordinary horror series. The series finale, A Tree of Bones, is a genre mashup, from Western, to horror, to supernatural, to LGBT, to steampunk — it has a little something for everyone. But make no mistake, it is creepy. Files is no horror slouch; her story “The Emperor’s Old Bones” won the 1999 International Horror Guild award for Best Short Fiction.
'Dead Reflections' by Carol Weekes
Dark fiction writer Carol Weekes’ collection Dead Reflections is composed of one novel, five short stories, and two poems, all focused on holding up a looking glass to reality and watching it unhinge. In the novel section, a family moves into an old house, where the son finds something eerie in an old bathroom mirror. If Bloody Mary or Candyman (or, like me, an old Are You Afraid of the Dark episode) already made you scared of mirrors, you might want to avoid this one.
'This is Not a Test' by Courtney Summers
Six months prior, Sloane’s world as she knew it collapsed. Which is fitting, because now the whole world is collapsing. She’s trapped in a high school with a handful of other people, while the dead are rising up and banging down the barricades. Courtney Summers’ This Is Not a Test is not just another zombie novel, though; she’s more concerned with the hopelessness and horrors that are happening inside than the dead lurking outside.
'Ten' by Gretchen McNeil
Reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, Gretchen McNeil’s Ten is set on a stormy island, cut off from the mainland with no phones, no Internet, and no ferry for two days. What was supposed to be the biggest rager in history turns sinister when teenagers start dying. You had me scared at “no Internet.”
"Long Lankin' by Lindsey Barraclough
Legendary evil, eccentric aunts, isolated towns — Lindsey Barraclough’s creepy Long Lankin has all of the atmospheric elements of a true horror story. And this British author’s debut novel certainly hits readers hard. As one reviewer on Goodreads says, ”Um… yeah, just going to make sure my window is closed properly. And double glazed. And bolted… twice.”