Halloween may already be here but it’s not too late to squeeze in some late night horror reads. But let’s be honest, not all of us have the time to slog through a 700-page horror epic. For those who want to experience the thrill without the time commitment, short horror novels are a great way to go. Here’s a curated list of contemporary short horror novels that are perfect for a quick yet satisfying Halloween reading session.
5“The Last Final Girl” by Stephen Graham Jones
Remember the “final girl” trope in slasher films? Stephen Graham Jones flips the script in this inventive novel. “The Last Final Girl” explores what happens to the survivor after she defeats the killer, adding a layer of meta-awareness that will keep you hooked.
4“The Ballad of Black Tom” by Victor LaValle
Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, Victor LaValle’s “The Ballad of Black Tom” offers a new perspective on cosmic horror. Set in 1920s Harlem, the story follows Charles Thomas Tester, a street musician who gets embroiled in eldritch horrors. LaValle manages to pay homage to Lovecraft while simultaneously critiquing his racial views.
3“Mapping the Interior” by Stephen Graham Jones
Another gem by Stephen Graham Jones, “Mapping the Interior” is a haunting coming-of-age story. A young boy starts seeing the apparition of his deceased father in their home, setting off a chain of events that are both poignant and terrifying. This novella expertly blends emotional depth with unsettling elements.
2“Come Closer” by Sara Gran
Psychological horror at its best, Sara Gran’s “Come Closer” takes you into the troubled mind of Amanda, who believes she is being possessed. The novel does a brilliant job of blurring the lines between paranoia and demonic possession, making you question what’s real till the very end.
1“Annihilation” by Jeff VanderMeer
If you’re a fan of atmospheric and existential horror, “Annihilation” is a must-read. A group of scientists is sent to explore the mysterious Area X, a landscape that defies all known laws of nature. As they delve deeper, they encounter unsettling changes in the environment and within themselves.
So there you have it—a list of short horror novels that pack a quick punch. Whether you’re a fan of psychological, existential, or good ol’ slasher horror, there’s something on this list for everyone. Make your Halloween a bit spookier this year by diving into one—or more—of these chilling tales.