Ten Books Based on Real World Hauntings

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This summer finally sees the release of the latest entry in a surprisingly successful cinematic franchise. 

No, I’m not talking about Loki, or Black Widow, or any part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m talking about The Conjuring universe, which stretches to nine films with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do ItThe Conjuring franchise succeeds where so many other cinematic universes have failed not just because of their strong filmmaking and compelling performances. Many people love the Conjuring films because they tell true ghost stories

Based on the case files of ghost hunters Ed & Lorraine Warren (portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), the Conjuring movies are part of Americans’ long history of fascination with real-world hauntings and paranormal experiences. But before they were blockbuster films, these stories were successful books, which captured victims’ encounters with the mystical in the written word. 

If you just can’t get enough of real-world hauntings, here are ten other collections, sure to keep you up at night. 

The Haunted House – Walter Hubbell

One of the earliest non-fiction haunting novels, The Haunted House set the standard for the genre. Published in 1879 and written by actor/amateur sleuth Walter Hubbell, The Haunted House adapts a diary kept by the author during a summer spent in the Teed House in Nova Scotia, Canada. Hubbell was drawn to the location after learning about teenager Esther Cox, who began undergoing unexplainable phenomena after escaping sexual assault. Even before Hubbell arrived in the town, local witnesses saw the moving furniture and threatening messages left by malevolent forces. The novel captures all these details, which served as the basis of a lecture tour Cox embarked upon after finally escaping the ghosts’ thrall. 

The Amityville Horror Book Cover

The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson

Ghost stories have been around longer than the United States itself. But the modern American version starts with The Amityville Horror. Not only did the story launch one of the longest-running film franchises, but it set the standard for 20th century haunted house stories. The book follows the 28 days in which the Lutz family stayed in their Long Island house on 112 Ocean Drive. A year earlier, young Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six members of his family, reportedly driven to act by demonic voices. Combining strong reportage with powerful prose, Anson brings the reader into the horror that the Lutzes endured during their month of dread. 

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The Haunted – Robert Curran

When Jack and Janet Smurl moved into their new Pennsylvania home in the summer of 1986, they expected a few pests. But nothing could have prepared them for the demon occupying the house since 1974. Written by journalist Robert Curran and based on case notes from the Warrens, who were called upon to investigate the house, The Haunted is one of the classics of true American ghost stories, rivaled only by The Amityville Horror. Curran captures in vivid detail the Smurl’s harrowing experiences, from the ghastly smells that filled the house to the inexplicable pounding they had to endure. 

the world of LORE Dreadful places book cover from he LORE podcast

The World of Lore: Dreadful Places – Aaron Mahnke

Started as a mere experiment in marketing, the podcast Lore by Aaron Mahnke quickly grew into a sensation, spawning two television series and several books. In many ways, the show’s success is no surprise, as Mahnke does diligent research to bridge the gap between creepy folklore and true facts, often revealing that actual history is far more terrifying than anyone could make up. The World of Lore collects some of the best stories that Mahnke has uncovered, from hauntings in Colorado’s Stanley Hotel, the same place that inspired the Overlook Hotel in the Stephen King classic The Shining, to specters floating along the streets of New Orleans. 

The Demon of Brownsville Road Book Cover

The Demon of Brownsville Road – Bob Cranmer and Erica Manfred

When Bob and Lesa Cranmer got a deal on their Pittsburgh dreamhouse, they thought it was just a stroke of good luck. The previous owners were ready to sell and accepted Bob’s lowball offer with no more negotiation. But shortly after the Cranmers moved in with their four children, they understood why the previous owners wanted to leave. Paranormal instances of lights turning on themselves developed into full-on mental attacks on members of the family, forcing them to reach out for help from the Catholic Church. Working with editor Erica Manfred, Bob Cranmer talks not only about his family’s ordeal but traces the evil through the years to 18th-century violence. The Demon of Brownsville Road is available at Horror Hub Marketplace.

Ed & Lorraine Warren's Graveyard Book Cover

Graveyard: True Hauntings from an Old New England Cemetery – Ed Warren

“White Ladies” are one of the most popular genres of true ghost stories, tales about mysterious female figures who float along with fringe spaces in shimmering white clothes. In Graveyard, Ed Warren retells his own confrontations with a White Lady ghost who haunted Connecticut’s Union Cemetery. Although we can no longer see that footage that Warren claims to have shot of the Union Cemetery White Lady, we can read his detailed account of the events. 

Horror in the Heartland strange Gothic Tales from the Midwest book cover

Horror in the Heartland – Kevin McQueen

When one thinks of American horror, it’s usually the deep south or New England that leaps to mind. But in this academic book for Indiana University Press, Dr. Keven McQueen uncovers hauntings in the Midwest. Moving through states better known for their football teams and auto factories, McQueen describes spectral sightings in Wisconsin and unexplained phenomena in Ohio. Well-researched and thoroughly enjoyable, Horror in the Heartland reminds us that mysterious spirits can manifest anywhere. 

The Uninvited - True Story of the Union Screaming House

The Uninvited – Steven LaChance

Many of the books on this list come from ghostwriters or reporters who collected accounts of hauntings from the victims. But with The Uninvited, Steven LaChance shares his encounter with the supernatural. Told from a visceral and immediate first-person perspective, The Uninvited traces LaChance’s initial recognition of odd phenomena in his Union, Mississippi home to more horrific attacks, including murdered pets and even sexual assault. Although the story reads like a gripping paperback thriller, LaChance grounds it in his own life events, which only sharpens the terror. 

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Grave’s End – Elaine Mercado

Although undoubtedly intense, most hauntings tend to be fairly short. After all, who would stay in a haunted house for more than a month? But Grave’s End tells a different type of story, one not of escape but of endurance. Mercado relates incidents of spectral interference that happened to her and her two daughters over a thirteen-year period. Grave’s End features all the chilling detail you would expect from a ghost storybook, but it takes a unique approach, explaining how Mercado and her family found the strength to fight through the horror and make peace with the spirits surrounding them. 

House of Darkness real Haunted House book

House of Darkness/House of Light – Andrea Perron

This list could not be complete without Andrea Perron’s House of Darkness/House of Light, published in 2011. Perron’s account served as the inspiration for The Conjuring, describing the trials endured by her family in 1970. When the Perrons moved into a Rhode Island house, they quickly become inundated by attacks from a hateful spirit called Bathsheba, who targets Andrea’s mother Carolyn. Like many of the other books on this list, the story does involve intersession from the Warrens. But the real draw is Andrea’s perspective, who tells in her own words her family’s petrifying encounters. 

The 10 Scariest Podcasts Out There

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It seems that podcasts are a dime a dozen these days, but fortunately for horror fans, the quality quite closely matches the quantity. We have scoured the web to find you the scariest podcasts. Also, quite luckily for the fans of the horror genre, the popularity of podcast creation is still on the rise. Like audiobooks, horror podcasts have turned into a popular form of entertainment because it only requires that we listen. We can listen to music, an audiobook, and even a scary podcasts while we’re doing our daily routine–when we’re getting ready for work in the morning, while we’re working out, while we’re commuting to or from work, and when we’re taking a relaxing bath… With horror podcasts, we especially enjoy allowing these creepy stories into our brains during the relentlessly sleepless nights, when an audio-only creepfest entitles us to retreat to the safety of our comfiest blanket while the darkness envelopes us entirely. Check out the ten scariest podcasts below.


10. Ghosts in the Burbs

Ghosts in the Burbs is a podcast made by a children’s librarian, who interviews her neighbors in Wellsley, Massachusetts about stories that no one would ever want to tell children. While she doesn’t bring all the special effects of music, special editing, or anything extraordinary, it’s her content that drives the creepy content of her podcast–while the stories don’t need to be heard in any particular order, we still recommend that you start at the beginning so you can get the full experience that Liz brings us with her dark tales that lurk in the otherwise sunny Wellesley.


9. The NoSleep Podcast

If you follow the NoSleep subreddit, then you’re probably not a stranger to the NoSleep Podcast, but if you’ve never heard it before, then give it a listen–there are so many plausible horror short stories that are a variety of styles as well as perspectives, but the one thing that they all share is the quality of scares. You’ll be consistently spooked by the stories told by NoSleep and you can thank us later.


8. PseudoPod

It seems like PseudoPod is kind of a horror-household name, they have amazing narrators, read some of the best horror short stories, that have come from some of the best authors around. There is something for everyone with this insanely simple and blood-curdling story-telling experience, it stands to reason if you don’t like one you should try another one, you’ll find something that you’re bound to enjoy.


7. Knifepoint Horror

Where other podcasts have an amazing track, or melodious narrators with voices of angels, who can emote through their presence of voice alone, Knifepoint Horror seems to only use the strengths of the narrator voices as well as limited sound effects somehow makes it feel like you’re there in the room with the characters. It makes you feel as if you might be the one that will next fall victim to the horrors that the characters are made to face. We highly recommend this horror podcast if you want something that will make your skin crawl at its best points and intrigue you at its slowest parts.


At number 6 in our scary podcast recommendation list is a self-proclaimed modern take on the Twilight Zone, it doesn’t fail to deliver with its eclectic collection of author contributions as well as narrators along with stellar audio effects make this an immersive experience, but what really makes this podcast special is the agonizingly spooky and mysterious nature of these short stories. The variety available with The Other Stories is perhaps one of its most attractive qualities of this horror, sci-fi, and thriller fiction show–but there’s also the themes that they tackle with each chapter. We even came up with a list of our favorites, so take a look at this podcast, we guarantee you won’t regret it!


5. Limetown

This horror mystery podcast gives the feeling that there is something real going on, it has the depth of a real news story–kind of like a forensic crime documentary. There is something wonderful about the production value of this particular podcast, as it features a fictional host of the fictional American Public Radio who is trying to solve the mystery of several hundred people vanishing from a town in Tennessee a decade ago. The interesting thing about this particular ongoing story is that there are moments where, despite being reminded that it’s pure fiction, that you can’t really be sure of whether or not it’s real. What’s more, there are moments where you might entertain conspiratorial beliefs about it being an elaborate cover-up. Regardless, it smacks hard of the Orson Welles’ adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic War of the Worlds as a radio broadcast that convinced many people that the world was being invaded by creatures from another planet.


4. Video Palace

So if you were to stumble upon Video Palace without any previous knowledge of what they were about, you might think that the narrative was a true story–it starts when the narrator’s girlfriend wakes him up after he began sleep-talking in a non-existent language. They decide to do a full investigation into what could be causing this and what they end up finding is something of a mystery that needs to be solved. The thing that really makes this fictional podcast feel all-the-more real, is the real-life writers, bloggers, and filmmakers that have their own history in the horror genre.


3. Unwell

There’s something very unwell about Mount Absalom, Ohio–even if everything about it screams hospitality. When Lily Harper returns home to Mount Absalom to look after her mother, Dot, she encounters all of the things she hated about visiting her mother during the summers. This podcast is amazingly done, with impeccable audio and a quirky sense of humor that doesn’t overwhelm the darkness and malice that lays beneath the facade of niceties. If you want to disappear into a story, then this is an incredible one to immerse yourself in.


2. The Magnus Archives

Another anthology podcast with a classical sense of tone, the cadence of the narration weighs heavily upon the mood that is delivered–there is something soothing, but utterly petrifying about the way the words are spoken. Something that we find wonderful about the Magnus Archives is the fearless nature in which it tackles each of the episodes–the eerie ability to pull you into a story–submerse yourself in the Archives.


1. Alice Isn’t Dead

There isn’t a way to describe this podcast without gushing like a complete geek–there is something in the production value of this podcast that truly pulls you into the story. We’re following a female truck driver as she searches for her previously thought-to-be dead wife through a desolate landscape of mystery, allure, and a darkness that is difficult to capture through words. With a stunningly capturing score, an entrancing voice actress who gives us a narrative that we don’t want to quit. Just take a listen and tell us you didn’t want to keep listening through to the end.

We hope that you enjoyed this discussion on horror podcasts–it’s an eclectic bunch of channels, but if you’re a horror junkie, you now have hours of content at your fingertips and all for the low-low price of your time and attention! The popular Lore Podcast did not make the cut here, as it isn’t fully horror-based, but we do have a list of some of the scariest Lore episodes you can check out. Let us know what you think about these podcasts and let us know if you feel we should include other horror channels in any future podcast discussions?

The Accursed Film and Bad Ass Women in Horror

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The Accursed is a beautifully crafted folk horror tale of betrayal and a curse that spans generations. Hana spends twenty years suppressing a maleficent curse that was placed upon her bloodline, only to have a family member knowingly release it forcing her to kill or to be killed. This creeping darkness of a film is beautifully set, acted, and filmed. The music by Tasos Eliopoulos sets the mood perfectly behind the scenery. Fun fact – they did the entire music production over zoom. 10 extra stars for making it happen during a pandemic.

From witches to New Orleans based hexing the Accursed blends lore from different cultures to bring you one cohesive, scary storyline. Salting the earth to block evil from touching you – check, egg shells to protect against angry spirits – yep. It’s a well paced slow burner, but not without jump scares and some real graphic horror scenes in the end.

Who is Behind This Dark Horror Film?

The short answer is “bad ass women.” Almost Normal  Productions was born through relationships that span two decades back to 1999 in Chicago where founders Kathryn Michelle and Elizabeta Vidovic met in an acting class. Elizabeta’s daughter Izabela Vidovic is the third member of the team. She has her own history of acting in films and TV including horror shows such as Zombieland the series (a favorite around here) and iZombie. Switching from acting to producing was natural for Elizabeta and Kathryn as they sought to create films that were better content for themselves. Izabela who still does a lot of acting readily tackles a lead role in The Accursed. They are all on a mission to change how women are perceived in horror — they simply want “more women that save their own asses.”

Almost Normal Productions Crew Kathryn Michelle, Elizabeta Vidovic, and Izabela Vidovic

Elizabeta Vidovic brings in her roots from Bosnia into the feel of The Accursed with small details like traditional tattoos she recalls from her childhood. The setting and actors create a specific eerie tone and it feels like you are somewhere in Eastern Europe living the curse, with the family throughout the film.

This team is close and the entire time I spoke with them I felt like I was speaking to one extended family. Izabela has been working with Kathryn and Elizabeta since she was 7. They have worked through growing families, pregnancy during fundraising, and it all shows in the passion and connectedness they have on and off screen. The Accursed is just the beginning with horror for this group.

I’d be missing my right arm without Kathryn

Elizabeta Vidovic co-founder Almost Normal Productions

We explored their roots of horror, which included the classic 80’s and 90’s slashers like Halloween, Motel Hell and Scream to Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. But, even with the usual classics in the arsenal they see women in horror making a different impact on the genre.

Female voice becoming more prevalent – We’re seeing a shift in horror because women are getting more opportunities. More and more female filmmakers are entering the genre. This will shift the industry. It’s a good time to be a female in the industry. Women simply explore different topics in horror.

Kathryn Michelle – co-founder Almost Normal Productions

The Accursed reached the #1 Indie Horror film spot on Apple TV soon after release, Nov 12th 2021. It remains popular and available on most streaming channels such as Amazon, Apple TV, and many more streaming options which you can view here.

When asked what to expect next from them.

You can expect Badass women

Izabela Vidovic co-founder Almost Normal Productions

With all up and coming artists we talk to the question of advice comes up. When asked what would you tell your past self heading into the daunting task of creating a film production company the group responded with wisdom that only real experience can bring.

Elizabeta – “This is going to take a minute” 

Kathryn — “It’s not as scary as you think, don’t let anybody tell you should not be in film making”

Izabela — “It’s not that complicated, so don’t stress so much”

This is a bright, talented, and energetic team and I for one cannot wait to see what they create next. I really hope it’s more horror!

The Autumnal – Folk Horror is Always in Season

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Something strange is happening at Comfort Notch. Joining the ranks of other malevolent township imaginings such as Derry, Arkham, and Riverdale, this New England-inspired setting may fool you at first only to violently push you in a pile of leaves. Is it eco-horror or something more cosmic? Judging by the first three issues of The Autumnal (2020) we’re still early from raking in any answers, but that doesn’t stop the shadowy warnings from creeping into your subconscious.

Kat Somerville -donning a black leather jacket and a pair of sunglasses- is on her way to the principal’s office again to discuss another incident involving her daughter. Underneath the shades hides a black eye that gives a hint to her vices and proclivity toward violence. Her daughter, Sybil, shares that tendency (medically diagnosed as “Intermittent Explosive Disorder”). Kat – prior to the meeting- learns that her estranged mother has passed away, and that a mysterious party has bequeathed her the deceased’s home. So when things turn dicey at the principal’s office, they flee to Comfort Notch, New Hampshire leaving behind her daughters school and Rich Sybil’s absent father. Will this Fall-painted town offer the new beginning that she’s hoping for?

An overarching mother-daughter story is at the heart of The Autumnal, contrasting Kat’s protective relationship with Sybil against the – seemingly- non-existent one with her own mother. Surprisingly, Kat isn’t the only one with disdain for her matriarch Trudy, as the entire town appears to share the sentiment, resulting in an empty church for her funeral and the seemingly-chipper townsfolk to openly speak ill of her. Left with a house full of metaphorical ghosts and nothing but time to investigate, Kat will soon learn the reasons behind her mother’s questionable actions, and how she might be connected to the weirdness in this very uncomfortable town. 

Sometimes the best use of horror comes from evoking fear in the mundane. Look at how Hitchcock made you look twice before hopping in the shower, or how The Conjuring (2013) triggered audiences with a simple clap. Thanks to the artist, Chris Shehan, and colorist, Jim Campbell, The Autumnal somehow manages to transform fall foliage into an ominous void. Orange leaves clog the gutters between panels making for a menacing motif once we arrive at the enigmatic town. The townsfolk are constantly observed raking leaves and warning the characters to stay out of the piles leaving you to wonder what’s lurking beneath. Even worse, leaves are shown in more graphic imagery as part of strange deaths and odd funerary rituals. Nature aside though, the town itself is absolutely suspicious as we encounter haunting nursery rhymes and creepy infantile scribblings all hinting to something mysterious and sinister living in the trees.

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The Autumnal Horror Comic Cover Featuring Scary Girl with sticks

Part of the joy of reading The Autumnal comes from the storytelling of author Daniel Kraus, who received recent praise for his co-authorship on George A. Romero’s posthumous novel, The Living Dead (2020). Kraus has also worked with Guillermo Del Toro on the novel adaption of the Oscar-winning film, The Shape of Water (2017). Clearly influenced by the previously mentioned counterparts, Kraus is soaring through the literary world at lightspeed and with a range that leaves you wondering what he’ll possibly unleash next. However, based on Kraus repertoire, we’ve just touched the surface of The Autumnal and we are most likely in for a treat.

These first three issues introduce us to an intriguing and authentic mother-daughter duo that I’m eager to watch develop in the coming issues. There’s also much to be learned about the pastoral town and whatever diabolical secret it appears to be hiding. This is definitely a series that you’re not going to want to fall behind on. However, while you wait for the remaining issues maybe it’s best that you avoid frolicking through any of those enticing-looking piles of leaves

The Best Cosmic Horror Books

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One thing that is evident when you look for and inevitably read books, is that are a lot of authors that have been influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. Some take influence by crediting his creations, some crediting his name–others his style, short story form that truly resonate within the genre. Others still have found their own path within the genre, by taking the essence of cosmic horror and making it their own. Finding something genuinely original can oft be an exercise in futility, due to the very nature of this sort of horror, but when that originality is found it is truly like discovering gold. Here are Puzzle Box Horror’s best of cosmic horror book recommendations.

The best of Old-school Cosmic Horror books

What sets old-school cosmic horror apart from the newer literature within the genre, is pretty much what sets old classic literature apart from newer literature in any genre–language, surrounding culture, and societal advantage. It goes deeper than that of course, but what is important when getting acquainted with any form of literature is understanding the time within which it was created.

The Willows (1907)

The Willows book cover (1907) by Algernon Blackwood

While not exactly a book, The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, is technically the first cosmic horror novella that began to establish the cosmic horror genre. It was originally published among a series of other stories in 1907, as a part of his collection The Listener and Other Stories. It’s a great example of early modern horror and despite not receiving the credit it was due, was very much connected within the literary tradition of “weird fiction,” a genre later realized as cosmic horror.

The Willows is a story that invites fear of the unknown, there is a sense of agitation, fear, exhaustion, and eternal trepidation that does not leave the characters or the readers, because there is never a relief from the situation at hand. Available on Amazon here.

And, apart quite from the elements, the willows connected themselves subtly with my malaise, attacking the mind insidiously somehow by reason of their vast numbers, and contriving in some way or other to represent to the imagination a new and mighty power, a power, moreover, not altogether friendly to us.

Excerpt from The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

Listen to Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows below through HorrorBabble.

The Man Who Found Out (1912)

Another shorter existential horror story, Algernon Blackwood’s The Man Who Found Out really just begs the question about personal religious beliefs–what is the ultimate question and answer when it comes to a higher power, particularly that of “God?” Do we really know anything with any certainty? Or is belief and faith what matters most when seeking a higher truth? These unanswered questions are what make this one of the best cosmic horror books out there. Available on Amazon here.

LibriVox has given us Blackwood’s The Man Who Found Out through audiobook and it’s worth checking out.

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (1927)

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories book cover (1927)

It seems that the most successful additions to the cosmic horror genre are generally shorter stories; short stories are benefitted in this particular genre due to the fact that they limit the amount of information that can be conveyed within the confines of the short story’s maximum of ten thousand words.

All of the stories that appear within this particular anthology are by H.P. Lovecraft and are, of course, part of the public domain, so we have included a list of the stories with external links to the stories themselves. Those interested in reading some of the most well-known cosmic horror pieces can find them below. The entire anthology is available on Amazon here.

What Stories Appear Within This Anthology?

Shadows of Carcosa (2014)

Shadows of Carcosa book cover (2014)

Yeah, we know that this book came out in 2014–but that doesn’t discount the fact that it is actually full of old-school cosmic horror, because it’s actually an anthology from some of the best horror writers that literary culture has ever had to offer. These stories span almost an entire century, which illustrates how many authors can be credited for their contributions to cosmic or existential horror.

Luckily for readers who haven’t been well-enough introduced to cosmic horror by now, all of these stories are also within the public domain; we hope that these stories from Shadows of Carcosa (2014) give readers a full picture of what cosmic horror is truly about. The collection is available on Amazon here.

What Stories Appear Within This Anthology?

The best of Modern Cosmic Horror Books

Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe (1985)

Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe book cover (1985)

Thomas Ligotti’s debut short horror story collection Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe possibly made his career–he’s often spoken of in the same manner as authors such as Poe and Lovecraft, and has been referred to as “horror incarnate.” Ligotti never seems to have to try to make his stories work, they take on settings that immediately put the reader into a mood where horror is inescapable without being presumptuous or predictable.

Ligotti’s style is singular and everything he has put into this particular anthology is wholly worth the time to read. Available on Amazon here.

What Stories Appear Within This Anthology?

Songs of a Dead Dreamer
  • Dreams for Sleepwalkers
    • The Frolic
    • Les Fleurs
    • Alice’s Last Adventure
    • Dream of a Manikin
    • The Nyctalops Trilogy:
      • The Chymist
      • Drink to Me Only with Labyrinthine Eyes
      • Eye of the Lynx
    • Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story
  • Dreams for Insomniacs
    • The Christmas Eves for Aunt Elise
    • The Lost Art of Twilight
    • The Troubles of Dr. Thoss
    • Masquerade of a Dead Sword: A Tragedie
    • Dr. Voke and Mr. Veech
    • Professor Nobody’s Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror
  • Dreams for the Dead
    • Dr. Locrian’s Asylum
    • The Sect of the Idiot
    • The Greater Festival of Masks
    • The Music of the Moon
    • The Journal of J.P. Drapeau
    • Vastarien
Grimscribe
  • The Voice of the Damned
    • The Last Feast of Harlequin
    • The Spectacles in the Drawer
    • Flowers of the Abyss
    • Nethescurial
  • The Voice of the Demon
    • The Night School
    • The Glamour
  • The Voice of the Child
    • The Library of Byzantium
    • Miss Plarr
  • The Voice of Our Name
    • The Shadow at the Bottom of the World
The Imago Sequence and Other Stories book cover(2007)

Laird Barron’s first short story collection The Imago Sequence and Other Stories set a precedent for the rest of his career; what could be expected from him in his other works really was set up with this collection. The fact that it received the Shirley Jackson Award for best collection was not even the most wondrous part of this particular body of work–Barron has an ability to create an image within the reader’s mind that is unlike any other author. He has been compared to the likes of Stephen King, but with the advantage of making his details count for more than just words towards an ultimate goal. Available on Amazon here.

What Stories Appear Within This Anthology?

  • Old Virginia (2003)
  • Shiva, Open Your Eye (2001)
  • Procession of the Black Sloth (2007)
  • Bulldozer (2004)
  • Proboscis (2005)
  • Hallucigenia (2006)
  • Parallax (2005)
  • The Royal Zoo Is Closed (2006)
  • The Imago Sequence (2005)

White is For Witching (2009)

White is For Witching book cover (2005)

Helen Oyeyemi’s White is For Witching reads almost like a journal, which has always given the reader less of a feeling that they’re getting the full picture. Why look at the forest when you can see the trees more clearly? In truth, focusing on the details from a personal perspective often leaves much more to the imagination and that is a huge part of weird fiction and cosmic horror.

When you don’t know what is going on outside of the perspective of the narrator, it leaves you with a sense of emptiness–what is happening beyond their ideal truth? Available on Amazon here.

Cthulhu’s Reign (2010)

Cthulhu's Reign book cover(2010)

Another anthology designed to pay tribute to the father of cosmic horror, this collection of short stories gives a more complete image of what would happen once the old ones have taken over the world as we know it–when humans are no longer the dominant force on the Earth and when we can no longer rely on what we have become accustomed to.

What kind of horror would we endure when the old ones take over the world? What would we be able to expect from an uncaring force of nature and could we really hate the force that overwhelms society as we know it when it is not maliciously ending our world, or would it simply be something that we fear beyond anything else? Available on Amazon here.

What Stories Appear Within This Anthology?

  • The Walker in the Cemetery (2010) by Ian Watson
  • Sanctuary (2010) by Don Webb
  • Her Acres of Pastoral Playground (2010) by Mike Allen
  • Spherical Trigonometry (2010) by Ken Asamatsu
  • What Brings the Void (2010) by Will Murray
  • The New Pauline Corpus (2010) by Matt Cardin
  • Ghost Dancing (2010) by Darrell Schweitzer
  • This is How the World Ends (2010) by John R. Fultz
  • The Shallows (2010) by John Langan
  • Such Bright and Risen Madness in Our Names (2010) by Joseph E. Lake, Jr.
  • The Seals of New R’lyeh (2010) by Gregory Frost
  • The Holocaust of Ecstasy (2010) by Brian Stableford
  • Vastation (2010) by Laird Barron
  • Nothing Personal (2010) by Richard A. Lupoff
  • Remnants (2010) by Fred Chappell

The Croning (2012)

The Croning book cover(2012)

The Croning can be considered, without a doubt, the debut cosmic horror novel by Laird Barron–unlike his collection of short stories, The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, this is a full-length novel within the genre of cosmic horror.

We see cults, dark magic, and a plethora of other themes that are common fixtures of the genre and we can’t look away–we highly recommend this particular literary spectacle, it’s a novel that without which, this list would be incomplete. Available on Amazon here.

Dreams From the Witch House book cover(2016)

Dreams From the Witch House (2016)

This particular anthology, Dreams From the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror, while honoring the origins of the genre is something different and singular. This anthology of short stories contains, as can be derived from the title, stories of cosmic horror that were written by female authors in the genre. Available on Amazon here.

What Stories Appear Within This Anthology?

  • Shadows of the Evening (1998) by Joyce Carol Oates
  • The Genesis Mausoleum (2015) by Colleen Douglas
  • The Woman in the Hill (2015) by Tamsyn Muir
  • The Face of Jarry (2015) by Cat Hellisen
  • Our Lady of Arsia Mons (2012) by Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • The Body Electric (2015) by Lucy Brady
  • The Child and the Night Gaunts (2015) by Marly Youmans
  • All Our Salt-Bottled Hearts (2015) by Sonya Taaffe
  • Every Hole in the Earth We Will Claim As Our Own (2015) by Gemma Files
  • But Only Because I Love You (2015) by Molly Tanzer
  • Cthulhu’s Mother (2015) by Kelda Crich
  • All Gods Great and Small (2015) by Karen Heuler
  • Dearest Daddy (2015) by Lois H. Gresh
  • Eye of the Beholder (2015) by Nancy Kilpatrick
  • Down at the Bottom of Everything (2015) by E.R. Knightsbridge
  • Spore (2015) by Amanda Downum
  • Pippa’s Crayons (2015) by Christine Morgan
  • The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward (2012) by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette
  • From the Cold Dark Sea (2015) by Storm Constantine
  • Mnemeros (2015) by R.A. Kaelin

The Ballad of Black Tom (2016)

The Ballad of Black Tom Book cover (2016)

Victor LaValle grew up reading the horror stories that came from the life of H.P. Lovecraft, but it wasn’t until much later in his life that LaValle realized the excessive amounts of racism and agoraphobia that was present in Lovecraft’s body of work. As an African-American man, he used this eye-opening moment in his life to respond in kind, from one writer to another, by reinventing Lovecraft’s short story The Horror at Red Hook from the perspective of a black man.

LaValle’s re-imagining of this story was invigorating, riveting, and a triumph of creative responses to unacceptable biases–he succeeded in showing that Lovecraft’s work would have been even better had it not been rife with bigotry and bias for those who were not like Lovecraft. Available on Amazon here.

It’s important to understand that while we here at Puzzle Box Horror greatly appreciate the body of work that Lovecraft added to the horror genre, we recognize his biases and do not endorse them or agree with them. We were more than ecstatic when we found that there were actually literary responses to these particular issues and hope that such responses continue to appear within the literary community. Read the original story, by Lovecraft, that this novella was based off of, The Horror of Red Hook, then read Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom.

Lovecraft Country book cover(2016)

Lovecraft Country (2016)

Following The Ballad of Black Tom, the novel Lovecraft Country also addresses the topic of racism within the context of Lovecraftian horror–this particular book has been adapted to screen recently and will soon be seen on HBO as a series–we certainly hope it will be as good as it looks, because the prospect of this one making it to infamy on screen makes us incredibly excited. The novel is available on Amazon here.

From executive producer Jordan Peele, we believe that this production will be worth every minute of time it takes to watch!

The Fisherman (2016)

The Fisherman book cover (2016)

Another from our list of best cosmic horror boos is The Fisherman. Described as a captivating read from beginning to end, John Langan’s The Fisherman gives us a dark, mysterious, fictional assertion of horror and cosmic fantasy. It follows the story of two widowers through their quiet and powerful story of loss and grief, by acknowledging the melancholy situation and the fact that things are never the same after the loss of a loved one. A definite addition to any cosmic horror novel list and one of the best out there. Available on Amazon here.

It would be a lie to say the time passes quickly. It never does, when you want it to.

What the Hell Did I Just Read (2017)

What the Hell Did I Just Read? book cover (2017)

The third installment in the trilogy that started with John Dies at the End (2007), was followed with This Book is Full of Spiders (2012) and finally What the Hell Did I Just Read (2017). This book is largely hinged upon the narrative–we live in a world where we largely base our opinions on the story that the narrator presents, but what happens when the narrator isn’t exactly the most trustworthy of sources? Does it change how we view the story? Do we realize before it’s too late that our entire perception has been incorrect? Available on Amazon here.

The true weird tale has something more than a secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains. An atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; a hint of that most terrible conception of the human brain—a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.

H. P. Lovecraft

We’re curious to know what you thought about these best of cosmic horror books, novellas, and anthologies. Have you read anything that’s not listed here that fits the cosmic horror genre? We’re interested in reading it too, so leave us a comment and let us know!

Don’t feel like reading about cosmic horror? No problem, check out our list of recommended cosmic horror movies too.

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