To celebrate February being Women in Horror Month, I’ve compiled a list of twenty-nine books (novels, collections & anthologies) by some of my favourite female horror writers – one for each day of the month.
1. “Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction”
Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson (Quirk Books, 2019)
Part biography, part reader’s guide, an exceptional guide to who’s who in the realms of female-driven horror and dark fiction.
2. “All The Fabulous Beasts”
Priya Sharma (Undertow Publications, 2018)
A mix of 16 stunning stories of the macabre. Explores themes of love, loss, grief and literary horror, written in gorgeous, layered prose.
3. “Sing Your Sadness Deep”
Laura Mauro (Undertow Publications, 2019)
A stunning debut of short, strange, shocking fiction. Beautifully told and immaculately crafted. A haunting collection.
4. “Suffer Little Children”
Penny Jones (Black Shuck Books, 2019)
Excellent debut collection of juvenile peril. Penny’s creepy children will live inside your head forever. And ever. Absolutely stunning writing coupled with ingenious plot twists. A masterful collection; every story brings something new and terrifying.
5. “Perfect Little Stitches, and Other Stories ”
Deborah Sheldon (IFWG Publishing Australia, 2017)
Beautiful, dark & eerily haunting, a collection of genuinely chilling and uniquely clever stories, each one immaculately crafted by an award-winning author.
6. “This House of Wounds”
Georgina Bruce (Undertow Publications, 2019)
Emotional debut by an award-winning author. Gorgeous prose, a wonderful ability to twist themes into something honest and raw, and a skill of sewing threads of meaning through every story.
7. “Into Bones Like Oil”
Kaaron Warren (Meerkat Shorts, 2019)
Dark, disturbing and devastatingly raw. Pain and redemption feature strongly, with the real horror often being who we are.
8. “Into the Mist”
Lee Murray (Severed Press, 2018)
Action and adventure and visceral bloody horror. The threat and excitement is palpable on the pages. A Kiwi-flavoured creature-feature to be reckoned with.
9. “In Dreams We Rot”
Betty Rocksteady (JournalStone – Trepidatio Publishing, 2019)
A powerful collection. Rocksteady writes of trauma and loss, of weird sex and even weirder dreams. Her visceral & beautiful voice captivates you from the start as she explores the many dark facets of human nature. And she brings cats.
10. “Garden of Eldritch Delights”
Lucy A. Snyder (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2018)
A Lovecraftian collection of dark horror, weird sci-fi and haunting fantasy from a Bram Stoker award winning author.
11. “The Rust Maidens”
Gwendolyn Kiste (JournalStone, 2018)
While their town falls to pieces, so do they. A haunting tale of metamorphosis and loss written in a deeply personal and intimate style.
12. “Final Girls”
Mira Grant (Subterranean, 2018)
A hauntingly beautiful tale that seamlessly melds horror with science fiction and adds in a skilfully weaved feminist twist. Steeped in metaphor and layers of unease. Will make a home in your head and linger.
13. “Dear Laura”
Gemma Amor (2019)
A story of human evil and horror, this dark tale is twisted enough to disturb you but thrilling enough to keep you hooked. An intriguing and gut-wrenching story.
14. “True Crime”
Samantha Kolesnik (Grindhouse Press, 2020)
An absolutely riveting but deeply uncomfortable read, this a masterful psychological horror which never lets up its relentless pace right from the start.
15. “Metamorphosis, A Collection of Short Stories”
Claire Fitzpatrick (IFWG Publishing Australia, 2019)
A wickedly gruesome collection of horror shorts; some shocking, some terrifying, all highly emotionally charged. Inspired by her struggles with BPD, Fitzpatrick writes honestly and openly, and her work is both engaging and darkly beautiful.
16. “We Have Aways Lived In The Castle”
Shirley Jackson (1962)
Whatever it is you think you know, you don’t. A strange, eerie, gothic horror where everything is dangerous and everyone might possibly be mad. Exceptional.
17. “Sharp and Sugar Tooth: Women Up To No Good”
Edited by Dr. Octavia Cade (Upper Rubber Boot Books, 2019)
Anthology of dark fiction for the weirder appetites: consumption as horror; gender and sex. This anthology makes some excellent metaphors for the way our hunger drives us. Which do you want: cake or death?
Octavia E. Butler (Grand Central Publishing, 2007)
A vampire novel unlike any other vampire novel, the horror in humanity is raw and real, with love for the Other a powerful theme. Sex, race and religion are all explored in nuanced detail. A stunning book.
19. “Broken Monsters”
Lauren Beukes (Harper, 2001)
More easily described as paranormal crime, this is a horror-adjacent tale of sadism and destruction that is immaculately-crafted with an intriguing twist.
20. “The Winter People: A Novel”
Jennifer McMahon (Anchor, 2014)
Creepy, unsettling and very gothic, this book should come with a warning – let the dead stay dead. A twisting, curious ghost story with some interesting use of legend and psychological horror.
21. “Things We Lost In The Fire”
Mariana Enriquez (Hogarth; translation edition, 2007)
Drugs, pain and black magic – this is sexual and unsettling collection of gruesome events and chilling circumstances. Eerie and unique.
22. “White is for Witching”
Helen Oyeyemi (Picador, 2010)
A stunning modern gothic or unimaginable horror and distress – it’s weird and witchy and very, very raw writing, which flips the haunted house trope on its head.
23. “The Woman In Black”
Susan Hill (1983)
A fabulous, haunting, gothic horror, where grief and despair hold the characters hostage as much as the malevolent force in the house.
Kinae Minato (Mulholland Books, 2014)
Punishment, despair, loss and revenge – a deeply unsettling door-adjacent novel of vulnerability and destruction. Dark, twisted and genuinely surprising.
25. “Now You Are One Of Us”
Asa Nonami (2007)
Described as Japanese gothic, this is so chilling as to be almost claustrophobic. Excellent psychological horror and suspense will make you question everything you are told.
26. “A Nest of Nightmares”
Lisa Tuttle (1986)
A sinew-tight collection of gripping horror and dark fantasy. These stories explore loss and pain and really nasty bugs, this is bleak, edgy and disquieting and will leave you feeling like your skin is crawling.
27. “Sharp Objects”
Gillian Flynn (Random House, 2015)
Horror-adjacent where humanity is the real threat, this is unflinching and raw, with a web of intriguing plot twists and some slow-creep nastiness.
28. “Her Body and Other Parties: Stories”
Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press, 2017)
Horror, fantasy, surrealism and the macabre – strange and experimental, this is feminist, psychological horror at its best.
29. “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”
Mary Shelley (1818)
Quite possibly the original female gothic-horror masterpiece. Monsters are created, nurtured and unmasked as humanity and religion are put under intense scrutiny and explored.
If you are the author of any of these books, please feel free to use my micro-review (micrev) of your work on your social media platform, website or blog.