Although we will forever give our love and appreciation to horror queens such as Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson and more, a good way to help establish an inclusive range of female identifying horror authors is to encourage and read the work of modern and emerging writers.
Within the last decade (2010-2020), many women have published, I've decided to put down some recent horror novels written by women, some I have enjoyed, some are still waiting patiently on my bookshelf.
Hexis - Charlene Elsby
Fresh of the press (aka Clash Books), Hexis by author Charlene Elsby is a dynamic and bold mix of dark comedy and revenge fantasy.
The surreal nature of this book is what gives it such life and interest as the unnamed narrator constantly attempts to kill her childhood partner, each violent encounter described with vivid and horrid imagery. Yet, he cannot be killed. Although the narrator's frustration and obsession with killing this man sink into dark humour, we can still see the overwhelming female rage that is being explored in this narrative and it’s a hell of a ride
Pretty Marys All In A Row - Gwendolyn Kriste
Bram-Stoker Award winner, Gwendoline Kristie's dark urban fantasy ' Pretty Marys All In A Row' projects a dark yet fantastical tale. The book follows, Rhee, the Resurrection Mary and her four sisters, all of whom named Mary, who inhabit an isolated mansion. In order to save herself and her sisters, Rhee must uncover the mystery behind each Mary.
Each Mary is based of various folklore and myths, bringing a uniqueness to each character as well as adding to the mystery and darkness of the narrative. Yet, what makes this novella is its messages in regards to the power of female friendships and women in general. It is not only a haunting read but an empowering one.
Monique Quintana - Cenote City
This one might lean more into magic realism but with some strong horror vibes, Monique Quintana's Cenote City is a definite must-have on the bookshelf.
Cenote City follows the story of Marcrina, who is exiled to the cenote after being unable to stop her endless tears. As Marcina's tears fill the sinkhole as she becomes part prisoner, part carnival attraction, and part saint to those who come to stare at her.
The prose in this novella is poetry and beautifully vivid with Quintana's writing style really adding fuel to this bizarre narrative.
The Possession of Natalie Glasgow - Hailey Piper
Another quick and magnetic read, The Possession of Natalie Glasgow follows the story of supernatural expert, Margaret Willow who stumbles across a very unusual and very dangerous eleven-year-old girl named Natalie.
Piper really pulls you in with this narrative. The story is undeniably creepy and chilling, the nature of Natalie's carnivorous lifestyle enough to make your skin crawl. On top of this, Piper really breathes life into the unfortunately overdone 'possession' story as there are plenty of twists and shocking moments to keep you entertained.
I Am Not Your Final Girl - Claire C. Holland
Based off various classic and modern final girls, 'I Am Not Your Final Girl' is a poetry book that unpacks a seemingly endless list of issues that women face every day. The cinematic 'Final Girl' has been a reflection of the fears women face in the real world and with Holland's poetry tying the journeys and fates of these final girls to the horrors women must face in everyday life from sexuality to motherhood to abuse and more.
Unsettling yet powerful, this is a poetry book is a must-have for horror fans and poetry lovers alike as it not only explores our favourite heroines of horror but the societal monsters that plague them.
The African Immortal Series - Tananarive Due
Now this is technically cheating since the first book of this series was published in 1998 (the year I was born, feeling old yet?). Yet the most recent addition, 'My Soul To Take' was published in 2011 so it qualifies.
The African Immortal Series follows Jessica Jacobs-Wolde, a woman whose life is destroyed when she discovers that her husband, David, who is a part of a brethren who 4,000 years ago traded their humanity and souls for immortality and various blood-thirsty gifts.
The first book 'My Soul To Keep' is a wild ride with its strong prose, heart-stopping plot twists and an utterly devastating ending. The emotion and dynamics layered throughout the plot are exciting with some meaningful exploration placed within the narrative such as Jessica's self-doubt could easily be referred to the doubt and fear in escaping a domestic abuse situation.
Sawkill Girls - Claire Legrand
Claire Lengrad's Sawkill Girls is a refreshing yet horrific coming of age novel. The novel follows shy new girl Marion as she moves to Sawhill Rock. Yet, she discovers a friendly, close-knit community, yet it isn't devoid of dark secrets. Girls have been going missing from Sawkill Rock for years, the blame falling onto an unknown evil that no one had dared to face.
Within this narrative is an amazing feminist tale full of empowerment and female friendship. The daunting atmosphere is built up nicely throughout with the mystery behind the island pulling you along until the very end.