9 Contemporary Horror Novels to Chill You This Summer

It’s a hot summer, friends. Not only is the Earth heating up at an alarming rate but the world is burning in numerous other ways too. That means you need something to chill you out. And no, we’re not talking about a nice cool drink and something relaxing to read. We’re suggesting a selection of books that will send chills down your spine. These brilliant horror novels will grip your attention and haunt your nightmares. From the terror of gentrification to sun drenched cults, ghost filled motels, and more, there’s something for every taste. So grab a popsicle, turn down the lights, and get ready to get scared!

When No One is Watching – Alyssa Cole
The cover for When No One is Watching shows a spooky brownstone with one window lit


Cole is best known for her vibrant and wonderful romance novels. But When No One is Watching showcases her talent for thrilling political horror. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Sydney loves her neighborhood but hates the ever-encroaching gentrification that’s threatening it. When her community starts disappearing, she uncovers a nightmarish conspiracy that plays into her biggest fears. An unputdownable read that’s timely, horrifying, and utterly vital, this is the kind of book you’ll immediately pick back up when you’re done.

The Taking of Jake Livingston – Ryan Douglass
The cover for The Taking of Jake Livingston shows a painting of a young Black boy in a school uniform looking scared

Penguin Young Readers

Jake Livingston has a gift… or a curse, depending on how you look at it. The teenager can see replays of the dead in their last moments. But that’s not the worst he has to put up with. The racist teachers at his prep school give the dead a run for their money regularly. That is, until he meets Sawyer Doon. In life Doon was a school shooter and in death his anger has only grown. As he sets his sights on Jake, he threatens everything the teen holds dear.

The Only Good Indians – Stephen Graham Jones
The cover for The Only Good Indians shows a deers head with the title between the antlers

Saga Press and Titan Books

The word masterpiece gets thrown around a lot in publishing, but it’s rarely deserved. The Only Good Indians not only deserves that praise but lives up to it. It all begins when Lewis, Ricky, Gabe and Cass make a big mistake. It’s one that comes from youthful folly but that will change their lives forever. A decade later that choice begins to haunt them in a visceral and dangerous way. Speaking of haunting, this is the kind of book that redefines that word.

House of Hollow – Krystal Sutherland
The cover for House of Hollow shows a painting of a young white woman's face covered in flowers

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

In this twisted contemporary fairytale we meet three sisters. Grey, Vivi, and Iris went missing as children in Edinburgh, but returned a month later… changed. Gone were the sweet brunettes and instead white-haired, sharp-toothed, ethereally beautiful children appeared in their place. Becoming media sensations, the girls have grown up in the spotlight as gorgeous oddities. But when Grey goes missing years later her sisters have to uncover a terrifying truth to get her back. This is a truly creepy adventure which will keep you up at night in the best way.

Final Girls – Riley Sager
The cover for Final Girls shows the title in large sans serif font on a black background


If you’re a horror lover and haven’t gotten into Riley Sager yet, what are you waiting for? Sager has a way of taking classic horror tropes and reimagining them into vibrant and terrifying horror thrillers. In Final Girls we meet the survivors of horrifying massacres, each of which takes from a classic horror movie archetype. But when someone starts to hunt down the survivors decades later, things become incredibly deadly incredibly fast. Bringing slasher horror to the page is no easy feat but it’s something that Sager does effortlessly.

The Sun Down Motel – Simone St. James
The cover for the Sun Down Motel shows a motel sign with the title on it


Two intertwined narratives drive this terrifying and addictive in equal measure. Viv Delaney is a teen in 1982 who ends up at the Sun Down Motel. Her job as the night clerk should be simple but the creeping shadows and strange guests hint at something darker. Decades later, Viv’s niece Carly Kirk turns up in town desperate for answers about the aunt she never knew. St. James imbues this twisty supernatural crime tale with sisterhood, horror, and intrigue that make it absolutely unforgettable.

The Lost Village – Camilla Sten
The cover for The Lost Village shows a bleak and lonely house against a cold sky


Folk and cult horror are having something of a resurgence. Sten’s delightfully dark Scandanvian-set horror focuses on Alice Lindstedt, a documentary filmmaker. Since childhood she’s been obsessed with the tale of The Lost Village. It’s a strange locale where a whole community disappeared, including her grandmother’s entire family. Gathering up a crew, she decides to head to the village to investigate. But from their arrival the crew is haunted by strange occurrences and soon realize they’re not alone. Terrifying stuff.

The Other Black Girl – Zakiya Dalila Harris
The cover for The Other Black Girl shows a woman's face with an afro with the title superimposed on top

Atria Publishing

Inspired by her own time in the industry, this startlingly powerful debut centers on Nella, the only Black woman at a successful publishing company in New York. But when a new Black employee named Hazel arrives, Nella is filled with hope. Sadly, her new potential ally is anything but. It’s hard to say more without ruining the brutal and brilliant surprises this stark thriller has to offer. But just take our word for the fact that you NEED to read this book.

Goddess of Filth – V. Castro
The cover for Goddess of Filth shows a double negative of a face in pink and purple

Creature Publishing

Fans of The Craft, this is a must read! V. Castro brings her slick horror stylings to this immersive and engaging novel. Lourdes, Fernanda, Ana, Perla, and Pauline are best friends. But their plans for a night of spooky fun are upended when their séance unleashes something terrifying on them all. But it’s Fernanda who really begins to change, leading the girls to come together in order to help their friend in what the author brilliantly calls an “unholy tale of possession-gone-right.”

Featured Image: Atria Publishing, Penguin Young Readers , Penguin 

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