Today is spooky day! Leaves are falling. The full moon peaks out from behind rainclouds. There’s a pandemic raging through communities. Reality sorta sounds like the start of a horror novel these days. Instead of dwelling on our real-life horror, perhaps now is a good time to escape into some fictional horror. (Besides, you should be staying home, and reading is always a good excuse.)

To that end, I thought it’d be a great idea to follow my lead from last year and recommend three great horror reads for your 2020 Halloween. Since I’ve been reading horror since I was a kid, I figured I’d limit myself to books I’ve only read in the last few years. You can see my reading list for 2018 and 2019 here on my blog, and you can view my current list for 2020 over on Goodreads.

What three did I choose? Why let me show you…

In the Valley of the Sun

by Andy Davidson

I just finished this, and I was blown away. A deeply unsettling sun-baked vampire novel set in Texas that has become a new favorite. Tense in unexpected ways. Character focused and driven. Brutal. Anguished. Tormented. Bloody. Lyrical in ways that remind me of Cormac McCarthy without the weight. Davidson has a new book out this year, The Boatman’s Daughter, and after In the Valley of the Sun, it’s rocketed up my TBR list.

The Cipher

By Kathe Koja

It’s hard to categorize this one. But it’s perfect for the spooky season. Part haunted house story, part body horror, part descent into madness tale all told in the style of Transgressive Literature. The Cipher is one of those stories I was shocked I hadn’t read until this year. Koja writes stunningly physical characters and knotted complex relationships that feel eerily familiar to anyone who’s spent time in artist circles. Enjoy the Fun Hole.

The Only Good Indians

by Stephen Graham Jones

At its heart, this is a horror novel about growing up poor and native in western Montana. But The Only Good Indians also a novel about revenge, mistakes, and their extended consequences. I blew through it. I grew up not too far from where this novel is set, and I have yet to find a recent author that captures the behavior and actions of the rural poor quite as well as Jones. You’ll never look at elk the same way again.

So those three books are my picks for 2020’s Halloween reads. Funny enough, I’ve read all three this year. I think any one of them would be perfect for our extended autumn nights and a nice escape from the daily chaos of a pandemic stricken world. (And you just might learn something about humanity. All three have a lot to say about people and our behaviors, both good and bad.)

What are your favorite horror novels from the last few years? What would you recommend as a Halloween read? Leave a comment below and let everyone know!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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