Open book on a rainy park bench

8 Dark Books for the Most Daring Readers 

Sara Roncero-Menendez
March 15 2022
Share 8 Dark Books for the Most Daring Readers 

For some, the fun of reading horror novels is exploring their darkest fears in the spookiest of settings and situations. For others, it’s just seeing how far they can get without having to sleep with the lights on. Horror literature can inspire us to be both fearful and fearless. Whether you’re a connoisseur of the creepy, or just a daring, dedicated reader, here are eight spine-tingling novels we dare you to finish.

Please note that many of these novels deal with topics of sexual violence towards both adults and children, human trafficking, racially motivated violence, child death, torture, suicide, and other potentially triggering themes.

Tender Is the Flesh
by Agustina Bazterrica

If you’ve got a strong stomach, then you might be able to tackle TENDER IS THE FLESH. In the future, a mysterious virus has infected all animals, making their meat poisonous to humans and leading society to practice cannibalism. Marcos, who works in one of these human-meat processing plants, finds himself in the position of dealing with a “live specimen” on top of losing his child. A truly gruesome read about how people take advantage of one another and animals in the most horrific ways, this book’s ending is sure to have you reeling (and ordering the vegetarian option, if you don’t already, for a while).

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
Tender Is the Flesh
Agustina Bazterrica

Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans—though no one calls them that anymore.

His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.

Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Locked-Room Mysteries That’ll Keep You in Suspense

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | July 6, 2022

July eBook Deals: 10 Sizzling Reads to Enjoy in the Shade

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 5, 2022

These FREE Books Will Help You Create Meaningful Connections

By Jonathan Karp | July 4, 2022

The 10 Most Popular Books of June

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 30, 2022

9 Vibrant Queer Reads Perfect for Beach Season

By Sharon Van Meter | June 29, 2022

8 Romance Reads That’ll Light You Up Like Fireworks

By Betel Daniel | June 28, 2022

Close
Animal
by Lisa Taddeo

One of the things horror literature allows readers to do is face trauma in a safe and exploratory manner—and ANIMAL is nothing if not an exploration of the trauma suffered by women. Joan has led a difficult life, full of dark events often perpetrated by men. After witnessing a man killing himself, she flees to Los Angeles to find herself and processes a past traumatic event that she seems to have forgotten. There are a lot of difficult moments in this book, including sexual assault and murder, so keep that in mind when picking up this book. This haunting, beautifully written novel will have its hooks in you till the very end.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
Animal
Lisa Taddeo

Lisa Taddeo illustrates one woman's exhilarating transformation from prey into predator in Animal, the “ferociously beautiful” (Library Journal) debut novel from the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Three Women, named to more than thirty best-of-the-year lists and hailed as “a dazzling achievement” (Los Angeles Times) and “a heartbreaking, gripping, astonishing masterpiece” (Esquire).

I am depraved. I hope you like me.

Joan has spent a lifetime enduring the cruelties of men. But when one of them commits a shocking act of violence in front of her, she flees New York City in search of Alice, the only person alive who can help her make sense of her past. In the sweltering hills above Los Angeles, Joan unravels the horrific event she witnessed as a child—that has haunted her every waking moment—while forging the power to finally strike back.

Animal is a depiction of female rage at its rawest, and a visceral exploration of the fallout from a male-dominated society.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

8 Dark Books for the Most Daring Readers 

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | March 15, 2022

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Debut Novels Making a Splash This Summer

By Alice Martin | July 19, 2021

June Most Anticipated: 12 Radiant Reads for the Heart of Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 4, 2021

Close
The Only Good Indians
by Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is the master of the horror slow burn, lulling readers into a false sense of security before revealing a nightmare beneath. THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS is the best example of this, following four friends who committed a terrible trespass in their youth. One by one, each of them is visited by a vengeful spirit who invades their lives, destroying everything and everyone they love before killing them. Filled with unsettling descriptions and an ever-looming sense of dread, this is the kind of book you couldn’t put down even if you wanted to.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
The Only Good Indians
Stephen Graham Jones

A USA TODAY BESTSELLER
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

In this latest novel from Stephen Graham Jones comes a “heartbreakingly beautiful story” (Library Journal, starred review) of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians is “a masterpiece. Intimate, devastating, brutal, terrifying, warm, and heartbreaking in the best way” (Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts). This novel follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in violent, vengeful ways. Labeled “one of 2020’s buzziest horror novels” (Entertainment Weekly), this is a remarkable horror story “will give you nightmares—the good kind of course” (BuzzFeed).

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Locked-Room Mysteries That’ll Keep You in Suspense

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | July 6, 2022

July eBook Deals: 10 Sizzling Reads to Enjoy in the Shade

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 5, 2022

These FREE Books Will Help You Create Meaningful Connections

By Jonathan Karp | July 4, 2022

The 10 Most Popular Books of June

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 30, 2022

9 Vibrant Queer Reads Perfect for Beach Season

By Sharon Van Meter | June 29, 2022

8 Romance Reads That’ll Light You Up Like Fireworks

By Betel Daniel | June 28, 2022

Close
Let the Right One In
by John Ajvide Lindqvist & Ebba Segerberg

Sometimes the scariest monsters come in the most unassuming packages. John Ajvide Lindqvist’s classic vampire novel LET THE RIGHT ONE IN follows Oskar, a bullied boy who gets a new neighbor, a young girl who appears to be the same age he is. However, as people begin dying around his neighborhood, Oskar notices some strange things about his new friend, including that he only ever sees her at night. What’s truly scary about this novel is not the childlike vampire that drains its victims, but the very human monsters that add to the tension and depravity of the story. If you can make it to the end of this one, you’ve got a spine of steel!

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
Let the Right One In
John Ajvide Lindqvist & Ebba Segerberg

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Locked-Room Mysteries That’ll Keep You in Suspense

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | July 6, 2022

July eBook Deals: 10 Sizzling Reads to Enjoy in the Shade

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 5, 2022

These FREE Books Will Help You Create Meaningful Connections

By Jonathan Karp | July 4, 2022

The 10 Most Popular Books of June

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 30, 2022

9 Vibrant Queer Reads Perfect for Beach Season

By Sharon Van Meter | June 29, 2022

8 Romance Reads That’ll Light You Up Like Fireworks

By Betel Daniel | June 28, 2022

Close
The Hollow Places
by T. Kingfisher

“Pray they are hungry.” With a line like that, you know you’re in for a dark and unsettling adventure. Recently divorced, Kara finds these words written behind a hole in the wall in her uncle’s house. But the discovery isn’t the most exciting part — it’s finding that the place is littered with portals to other realities. The chilling part is when Kara realizes that she’s not the only one navigating to these alternate realms, and they’re not exactly friendly. A fast-paced story of curiosity and its consequences, THE HOLLOW PLACES will make you want to run for cover in the safety of your own bed.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
The Hollow Places
T. Kingfisher

A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and terror in this gripping new novel from the author of the “innovative, unexpected, and absolutely chilling” (Mira Grant, Nebula Award–winning author) The Twisted Ones.

Pray they are hungry.

Kara finds the words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring this peculiar area—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more one fears them, the stronger they become.

With her distinctive “delightfully fresh and subversive” (SF Bluestocking) prose and the strange, sinister wonder found in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, The Hollow Places is another compelling and white-knuckled horror novel that you won’t be able to put down.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

10 Supernatural Reads to Make You Shiver This Summer

By Maddie Ehrenreich | May 23, 2022

8 Dark Books for the Most Daring Readers 

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | March 15, 2022

August 2021 eBook Deals: 12 Exceptional Reads to Add to Your Digital Library

By Off the Shelf Staff | August 4, 2021

10 Charming Novels New in Paperback This October

By Maddie Ehrenreich | October 12, 2020

Close
Crosshairs
by Catherine Hernandez

If you’re looking for a more diverse cast in your horror novel, then look no further than CROSSHAIRS. In the wake of massive floods that have left much of the population devastated, a political faction called The Boots have seized the opportunity to force people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and the disabled into work camps. These gruesome camps are filled with horrors, but former drag queen Kay manages to find a way not only to survive but to meet with others to take on the system. This novel deals with not only issues of oppression but intersectionality, trauma, and systems of power in a way that is both poignant and hopeful.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
Crosshairs
Catherine Hernandez

USA TODAY’s 5 Books Not to Miss
Vanity Fair’s Books To Get You Through the Winter
Marie Claire’s 2020 Books to Add To Your Reading List
PopSugar’s 20 Books Everyone Will Be Talking About
Cosmopolitan’s 20 Books to Read this Winter

A beautiful, unapologetic, and unwatered-down...dystopian [novel] that holds a sobering mirror up to our own world” (Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author) from the author of the acclaimed novel Scarborough.

In the wake of the escalating global battle for economic and social justice, award-winning author Catherine Hernandez has crafted a dystopian tale of love, friendship, and resistance set in a terrifyingly familiar near-future. Crosshairs births an indelible landscape of memory and uncertainty as Kay, the gay son of Filipino and Jamaican immigrants, is on the run from a fascist regime operated by a paramilitary group known as the Boots. Those who fall at the bottom of the Boots’ social stratification are rendered “Other” and subsequently sent to work camps. They suffer violence that pushes them further into this otherness, although the new regime labels these sweeping acts the “Renovation.”

Kay’s account of these events is a silent letter to his lover, Evan, from whom he is separated when the Renovation’s plans fall rapidly into place. When Kay finds himself on the run again, he lands in the front lines of a civilian-led movement called the Resistance. There, he discovers the answer to his question: “I wonder what could possibly happen in my lifetime that would have me running. What would mean enough to me to fight against it?”

Crosshairs grapples with a matrix of oppressive systems perpetuated by environmental disaster and state-sanctioned violence. Amid the flames of hatred and distrust, marginalized communities rise against the repressive structures that see them as anything but human, and with this, a thrilling message of hope is forged.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Locked-Room Mysteries That’ll Keep You in Suspense

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | July 6, 2022

July eBook Deals: 10 Sizzling Reads to Enjoy in the Shade

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 5, 2022

These FREE Books Will Help You Create Meaningful Connections

By Jonathan Karp | July 4, 2022

The 10 Most Popular Books of June

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 30, 2022

9 Vibrant Queer Reads Perfect for Beach Season

By Sharon Van Meter | June 29, 2022

8 Romance Reads That’ll Light You Up Like Fireworks

By Betel Daniel | June 28, 2022

Close
The Good House
by Tananarive Due

Home is where the horror is—that’s how the saying goes, right? It’s certainly the case for the house of Angela Toussaint’s grandmother, which used to be known as the Good House before a terrible tragedy struck. Angela’s young son Corey died in that house, and the cause may have been tied to her grandmother’s dark past. But as rumors swirl that Grandma Marie cursed the whole town, Angela returns to Good House to fight the evil within. This character-driven slow burn of a novel will have you reeling, and that’s even before you get to THE GOOD HOUSE’s twist ending!

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
The Good House
Tananarive Due

The Good House is the critically acclaimed story of supernatural suspense, as a woman searches for the inherited power that can save her hometown from evil forces.

The home that belonged to Angela Toussaint's late grandmother is so beloved that the townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington call it the Good House. But that all changes one summer when an unexpected tragedy takes place behind its closed doors, and the Toussaint's family history—and future—is dramatically transformed.

Angela has not returned to the Good House since her son, Corey, died there two years ago. But now, Angela is finally ready to return to her hometown and go beyond the grave to unearth the truth about Corey's death. Could it be related to a terrifying entity Angela's grandmother battled seven decades ago? And what about the other senseless calamities that Sacajawea has seen in recent years? Has Angela's grandmother, an African American woman reputed to have "powers," put a curse on the entire community?

A thrilling exploration of secrets, lies, and divine inspiration, The Good House will haunt readers long after its chilling conclusion.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Locked-Room Mysteries That’ll Keep You in Suspense

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | July 6, 2022

July eBook Deals: 10 Sizzling Reads to Enjoy in the Shade

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 5, 2022

These FREE Books Will Help You Create Meaningful Connections

By Jonathan Karp | July 4, 2022

The 10 Most Popular Books of June

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 30, 2022

9 Vibrant Queer Reads Perfect for Beach Season

By Sharon Van Meter | June 29, 2022

8 Romance Reads That’ll Light You Up Like Fireworks

By Betel Daniel | June 28, 2022

Close
The Taker
by Alma Katsu

Dr. Luke Findley is trying to get through another shift in the ER in rural Maine when a dark and mysterious woman arrives. Lanore has plenty of secrets, including that she’s bound to another for all eternity, and is immortal. Oh, and she might have committed a murder. In this twisted web of deceit and horror, Luke is her only hope of salvation. And while this may seem like more of a romance, author Alma Katsu has plenty of dark themes, including sexual assault, human trafficking, and torture. Definitely not a read for the faint of heart, but it might just steal yours if you’re not careful.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
The Taker
Alma Katsu

From the author of The Hunger—hailed by Stephen King as “deeply, deeply disturbing, hard to put down”—comes a hauntingly atmospheric tale filled with alchemy, lust, and betrayal.

True love can last an eternity…but immortality comes at a price.

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting another quiet evening of frostbite and the occasional domestic dispute. But the minute Lanore McIlvrae—Lanny—enters his ER, she changes his life forever. A mysterious woman with plenty of dark secrets, Lanny is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. He is inexplicably drawn to her…despite the fact that she is a murder suspect with a police escort. As she begins to tell her story, Luke finds himself utterly captivated.

Her impassioned account begins at the turn of the 19th century in the same small town of St. Andrew, Maine, back when it was a Puritan settlement. Consumed as a child by her love for the founder’s son, Jonathan, Lanny will do anything to be with him. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for all eternity. And now, two centuries later, the key to her healing and her salvation lies with Dr. Luke Findley.

Part historical novel, part supernatural page-turner, The Taker is a “mesmerizing” (Booklist, starred review) story about the power of unrequited love not only to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

8 Dark Books for the Most Daring Readers 

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | March 15, 2022

10 Spooky Reads for a Season of Magic and Mayhem

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 21, 2021

Close

Photo credit: iStock / Emilija Randjelovic

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.