Read Harder

Read Harder Task #19: Read a Horror Novel by a BIPOC Author

Alright. I’m just going to come out and say it. Horror is the best genre out there. Good horror is thought-provoking, emotional, propulsive, and unforgettable. And I just can’t get enough of it. It was hard to narrow it down when it came to choosing which books to share with you for this challenge. But these are some of my personal favorite horror novels for this Read Harder 2022 Challenge: Read a Horror Novel by a BIPOC Author.

What was the first horror novel you read? For me, it was Stephen King’s It. For a lot of readers, King was probably one of their first introductions to the world of horror fiction. And that’s great and all, but there’s so much more horror fiction out there, and so many incredible horror books from BIPOC authors. Here are eight horror books that do all the good things that horror books should—they’re thought-provoking, emotional, propulsive, and unforgettable. Even if you’re a person who normally shies away from horror stories, I promise these are worth the risk of being a little scared.

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

the only good indians

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Speaking of unforgettable reads, Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians is one that I’ll never be able to get out of my mind, and one I can’t stop recommending to people, which is why it’s #1 on a list that’s otherwise in no particular order. When four Blackfoot Indian men go hunting, they end up doing something that will haunt them forever. Quite literally. Now there’s a supernatural entity that’s hunting them, hellbent on revenge.

White Smoke cover image

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

If you love YA horror, please do yourself a favor and read White Smoke. When teenager Marigold moves with her family from California to the Midwestern city of Cedarville, everyone thinks it’s a chance for them to start over. But in horror language, we know what moving to a new house for a chance to start over means. It means the house is haunted, right? As soon as Marigold and her family move in, things seem off. The neighborhood is practically deserted, and they keep hearing weird sounds (and smelling weird smells) throughout the house. Is it just Marigold’s mind playing tricks on her, or does the house really want them out?

cover of Sorrowland

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Sorrowland is horror meets sci-fi meets Afrofuturism meets wilderness survival tale. Vern is seven months pregnant when she escapes from the strict religious compound where she was raised. Now she finds herself alone in the wilderness, caring for her twin children, unable to trust anything in the world around her. But the religious compound she fled from isn’t willing to let her go that easily. And she feels herself going through unsettling changes.

Cover of The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

The Year of the Witching is a dark fantasy/horror novel set in the puritanic lands of Bethel where Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy because she is proof of her mother’s tryst with an outsider of another race. But her mother was hiding even more secrets than Immanuelle could have imagined, and something is calling her out to the woods surrounding Bethel.

cover of empire of the wild by cherie dimaline

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Empire of Wild is inspired by the traditional Métis story of the Rogarou, a legendary werewolf-like creature. Joan’s husband Victor has been missing for over a year, but Joan refused to give up hope and keeps searching for him. Then one day in a Walmart parking lot, there he is. At first she’s relieved to see him, but he insists he is not her husband and that he does not recognize her at all. He says he is the Reverend Wolff and that he only wants to bring people to Jesus. But of course, it turns out that’s not his only mission.

white is for witching by helen oyeyemi

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Looking for more haunted house-y type stories? Okay, you’ve got it. Here’s White is for Witching, a story about the Silver family, who moves to a mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover in the hopes of starting up a bed-and-breakfast. The matriarch of the family has gone missing, and the daughter, Miranda, feels the spirits within the strange house and the women who haunt the walls. And they are quickly pulling her in.

cover of fledgling by octavia butler

Fledgling by Octavia Butler

What would a horror novel list be without at least one vampire story? Although I guess calling Fledgling a vampire story is oversimplifying things… by a lot. Shori is 53 years old, but on the outside, she looks like a young girl. When we first meet her, she has no memory of who she is and she’s exhausted and hungry. But when she’s picked up by a man named Wright, together the two begin to uncover the secrets of her past and a world of vampire-like creatures that are unlike anything you’ve ever read about before.

Beloved Book Cover

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved is the most haunting ghost story you will ever read. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is the story of Sethe, who was born into slavery but escaped to Ohio. Still, eighteen years later, living with her daughter Amy, Sethe still does not feel free. She’s haunted by the memories of her past and the horrifying things she had to endure to find freedom. Then a teenaged girl who calls herself Beloved shows up at her doorstep, and all of Sethe’s horrors of the past come to meet her in her present.

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And those are my recommendations! Want even more? Here are 20 horror books by authors of color. I’m so excited to read some good horror with everyone this year. Good luck with the Read Harder challenge!

Click here for the full Read Harder 2022 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.