The genre of horror won’t go away. Looking for the best horror novels of 2021 to read? We have them listed for you below.
There are always fresh horrors in the world and our lives, and there are new ways that these novels find to shock us, so it doesn’t matter if you think you’ve read everything the genre has to offer.
These books range from psychological horror to the traditional ghost narrative, making us check the locks twice at night.
1. Nothing but Blackened Teeth
- By Cassandra Khaw
An old Japanese haunted house seems like the ideal setting for a destination wedding. In any case, that is what the pals in this novella believed.
The walls of this Heian-era home are lined with the remains of everyone who was offered as a sacrifice to the bride, and the foundation is constructed of her bones.
A group of friends who have gathered at the estate to celebrate a wedding expects a fun-filled evening of games, food, and drinks, but it swiftly turns into their worst nightmare.
Think again if you believe you’ve read every type of haunted house tale there is.
Although Khaw’s novella features some of the minor likable characters in horror literature (to the point that you will actively support their gruesome deaths), her mastery of language is where she excels.
The novel is worth reading only because Khaw can paint the page with mind-melting prose about twisted things.
He can make disembowelment feel like Walden. Nobody working in the horror genre now can write like Khaw.
2. Near the Bone
- By Christina Henry
Next on our list of best horror novels of 2021 is Near the Bone. I adore horror stories that make you wonder which monsters are scarier: those that exist outside or within us.
Mattie has lived with William on a mountain Near the Bone for as long as she can remember.
She knows that she cannot disturb him and that they are alone. She believed she knew that, at least.
When Mattie discovers a dead fox in the woods, she starts to worry about what else might be lurking there.
Near the Bone is utterly captivating. The book’s nearly continual tension results from the conflict between threats from the physical and supernatural realms.
Although it is a challenging read that leaves you bruised, Mattie’s struggle for survival and freedom is something genuinely unique.
3. The Last House on Needless Street
- By Catriona Ward
It’s best to blindly read Catriona Ward’s The Last House on Needless Street since it’s a chilling and perplexing horror novel.
But I’ll tell you this: there’s a spooky boarded-up home there, and a man with many secrets lives there with a black cat named Olivia.
A bonus is that the cat narrates some of this novel. If all of it sounds odd to you, it is! But everything comes together perfectly to make a compelling and scary story.
Catriona Ward altered the game’s rules with The Last House on Needless Street. Fans of I’m Thinking of Ending Things will fit right in here, but even that book cannot adequately prepare you for the plot’s twists and turns.
Peeling back the skin, the Bone, and the brain, Ward skillfully places breadcrumbs throughout the writing that cause the reader to reevaluate what they had previously believed to be accurate.
This leads the reader into an unnamed terror. Even more impressive is the happy ending she managed to produce, which is no easy task given the terrifying trip.
4. My Heart is a Chainsaw
- By Stephen Graham Jones
Teenage delinquent Jade in the little Indiana town of Proofrock notices the warning signals of an impending slasher movie massacre. She struggles to get her last crush ready for the catastrophic conflict.
Although the book’s opening chapters are a little tedious, Jones skillfully intersperses horrific killings to keep the action moving.
Jade is a gifted protagonist battling valiantly against her trauma and disdain for the community while attempting to do good in her oddball manner.
It’s worth reading about her adventure. Think like Friday the 13th crossed with Shirley Jackson. In her little community, Jade Daniels has a sense of alienation.
Her sole means of overcoming the miseries of her unsatisfactory life? You guessed right, Horror movies.
But when a real-life masked killer strikes in Jade’s community, not even her extensive knowledge of all things spooky will be able to save her.
This book is a page-turning thriller and an in-depth analysis of colonialism, American politics, gender norms, and other topics.
5. The Final Girl Support Group
- By Grady Hendrix
The Final Girl Support Group is also one of the best horror novels of 2021.
Lynnette Tarkington, a real-life last girl, has never been able to move on, but at least she has her final girl support group, with whom she has met for more than ten years.
But Lynette realizes her worst worries have come true when one of them is late for a meeting. They are all in danger because a murderer has returned.
In this scenario, our most well-known slasher movies are based on actual murders, and the women who survived those crimes create a support group to cope.
Even if things aren’t going well, they must unite for one final horror movie battle when a force starts assaulting them.
The Final Girl Support Group is Hendrix’s most robust demonstration yet of his mastery of the subject of how atrocities can damage mental health.
His comprehensive understanding of the genre leaves a ton of Easter Eggs writing for the keen-eyed, which adds to the pleasure of the already exciting action. Nobody does comedy and tragedy quite like Hendrix.
6. The Mary Shelley Club
- By Goldy Moldavsky
Next on our list of best horror novels of 2021 is The Mary Shelley Club. The new student in the school, Rachel, seeks solace in scary movies.
She likes the boring affluent kids of Manhattan Prep more than the killers and monsters of the film.
Additionally, there are some memories that she would like to leave in the past.
The Mary Shelley Club, a secretive student organization, seeks her out for membership.
Members of the club plan Fear Tests—pranks on others based on movies and urban tales.
When the Fear Tests intensify, and the competition turns deadly, Rachel loves the power that comes with jokes, but things go crazy.
In the YA horror book The Mary Shelley Society, students at Manchester Prep School form a shadowy club.
The club’s secret objective is to devise a genuinely terrible practical joke that will frighten their classmates.
Up until someone turns the tables and begins focusing on the Mary Shelley Club specifically, everything is amusing.
7. Chasing the Boogeyman
- By Richard Chizmar
Chasing the Boogeyman is a brilliant and spooky piece of metafiction that originally blends true crime and horror.
In a little Maryland hamlet in the summer of 1988, the bodies of females who had been reported missing started to surface. Police suspect a serial killer is still at large based on the evidence.
A rumor that is begging to spread among the town residents claims that the thing stalking the girls isn’t even human.
According to law authorities, the killer is a human, and they are tricking them.
Just as Richard Chizmar, a new college graduate, arrives home, the municipality imposes a curfew.
While preparing for his wedding and starting a new career, he discovers himself in the middle of a true horror story.
Unaware that what is taking place now will haunt him for years to come, Richard starts to compose a firsthand narrative of the killer’s reign of terror.
8. The Hollows
- By Mark Edwards
Nothing is more terrifying than a spooky, dark forest, precisely where this one is set. Tom’s marriage is over, and his professional life is in ruins.
He determines that getting in touch with Frankie, his daughter, who is fourteen, is the best course of action.
He arranges for them to travel to a cabin resort tucked away in the Maine woods.
Whispers in the woods and the sound of windchimes resonating through the forest only heighten the unsettling feeling that permeates the location.
At the resort, Tom runs with a pair of true crime podcasters who caution him about the troubling past of Hollow Falls.
A double homicide managed to close the resort twenty years ago. Since the crime was unsolved, the region is now crowded with tourists fascinated by murder.
Soon Tom and Frankie will realize that something sinister is occurring here and that their idyllic vacation is about to become a nightmare.
9. Come With Me
- By Ronald Malfi
Next on our list of best horror novels of 2021 is Come With Me. The tale’s main character is Aaron Decker, whose life is adversely affected by the death of his wife.
Her absence frightens him, especially because she haunts him in his dreams.
Aaron goes through her things and finds a receipt for a motel room in a remote part of the nation.
He embarks on a quest to learn the details of what his wife was doing in her last days because he is both overtaken by grief and curiosity.
He unearths horrible secrets about himself due to his research, which surprised him.
Aaron’s obsession with learning more grows with each new mystery he discovers about her secret existence, which is full of murder and horror even as he gets closer to passing away due to his search.
10. The Book of Accidents
- By Chuck Wendig
The Book of Accidents is a must-read if you enjoy horror literature that instills a sense of dread from the first page.
In this book, Oliver’s parents, Nathan and Maddie, visit their hometown. They are haunted by the horrors they believed they had put behind them.
Oliver has also acquired a new acquaintance with a troubled past and a fondness for practicing dark magic.
11. A Dowry of Blood
- By S.T Gibson
A Dowry of Blood is also one of the best horror novels of 2021. One of Dracula’s wives, Constanta, is the narrator of this book.
After being saved from death and turning into an undead creature, Constanta is first infatuated with her rescuer.
But as she gets to know him better, she understands how evil and inconceivable things her beloved can do.
12. A Touch of Jen
- By Beth Morgan
Pick up a copy of A Touch of Jen if you prefer your horror with a hefty dose of sarcasm and humor.
This is the tale of Remy and Alicia, a couple who are more closely connected by their love for Jen than by their love for one other.
Jen used to work with Remy, but now she’s pursuing her goals of working as a jewelry designer and Instagram influencer.
They are overjoyed when Jen approaches Remy and Alicia and extends an invitation to go surfing.
However, a vacation that began as a quest for self-actualization quickly devolves into pure horror.
13. The Taking of Jake Livingston
- By Ryan Douglas
The Taking of Jake Livingston is another best horror novels of 2021. This is one of the most disturbing young adult horror books.
Teenage teenager Jake Livingston stands out from his peers in several ways. He is one of only a few Black kids at St. Clair Prep.
Another thing is that he can see dead people everywhere. Most of them behave responsibly and go about their daily lives.
However, there’s also Sawyer, a recent ghost who was a problematic adolescent in real life and now demands much more from Jake.
14. Whisper Down the Lane
- By Clay McLeod Chapman
You’ll enjoy that this new horror book is based on the McMartin preschool trials if you’re captivated by the Satanic Panic.
In the 1980s, amid the height of the Satanic Panic, Whisper Down the Lane is partially set.
Sean, a 5-year-old youngster at the time, told a teacher a falsehood that profoundly altered the teacher’s life.
Thirty years later, Richard is still around, but Sean is no more. And now he will pay for Sean’s dishonesty.
15. The Woods Are Always Watching
- By Stephanie Perkins
Next on our list of best horror novels of 2021 is The Woods Are Always Watching.
Neena and Josie, two best friends, are the subject of The Woods Are Always Watching.
They’ve been best friends since middle school but are ready to part ways now that college is just around the corner.
A three-day trip in the woods is their final opportunity to get to know one another before the big move.
They aren’t the only ones in the woods, though. They’re being sought after.
16. The Girl Who Drank the Moon
- By Lauren DeStefano
The Girl Who Drank the Moonlight is a psychological thriller that explores the idea of what happens when someone drinks blood.
It’s the story of Alice, a girl who moves to New York City with her mother. She meets a man named Charlie, who offers her a job.
Her mother disapproves of the job, so she turns it down. Soon enough, Alice begins drinking Charlie’s blood.
What starts as a way to deal with her mother’s disapproval soon becomes something else entirely.
17. The Nightingale
- By Kristin Hannah
Next on our list of best horror novels of 2021 is The Nightingale. The Nightingale is a novel that takes place during World War II.
It follows Anna Anderson, who is sent to England to live with relatives. While there, she befriends a woman named Rosemary Clooney.
When Rosemary is taken away, Anna must find a way to save her friend.
18. The Boy Next Door
- By Stephen King
Stephen King returned to the town of Derry, Maine, where he wrote many of his classic works. Now, he brings us The Boy Next Door.
The story focuses on Annie Wilkes, who has lived next door to the Bradley family for decades.
She is renowned for her charity and friendliness. But all that changes when she discovers that the Bradleys have adopted a boy named Bobby.
19. The House with Laughing Windows
- By John Bellairs
Last on our list of best horror novels of 2021 is The House with Laughing Windows.
John Bellairs is an author whose work I love. His stories are creepy, mysterious, and sometimes even scary.
The House with Laughy Windows is one of those tales. It tells the story of a family moving into a house that used to belong to a famous writer.
As the children explore the home, strange things begin to happen.
After moving to Maine, Jack Torrance is horrified to discover that his neighbor has moved in next door.
The boy who lives across the street is Danny Wilcox. Danny is a troubled teen who likes to play pranks on people. He also seems to know too much about Jack.
There you have it! The best horror novels of 2021 are in no particular order. Make Halloween last year by curling up with a black cat, some candy corn, and one of these books.