Fear Not – LJ Genre Spotlight on Horror

Terrified to recommend horror in your library? RAforAll.com / horror guru Becky Spratford‘s recent Library Journal genre spotlight on horror has you (and Macmillan) covered:

According to Melissa Ann Singer, senior editor at Tor/Forge, horror “becomes increasingly popular during times of societal unease. When people are worried that the world is going to pieces around them, when they have lost faith in the idea that things will soon (or even someday) be better than they now are…. The struggle of the horror novel is often the struggle to restore order and normality to a chaotic world, community, or family.”

Horror is also a genre in which critically acclaimed authors of color, such as Victor LaValle (THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM), Linda Addison, Carmen Maria Machado (HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES), Silvia Moreno-Garcia (CERTAIN DARK THINGS; THE BEAUTIFUL ONES), and Stephen Graham Jones (MAPPING THE INTERIOR), are seeing critical and commercial success, offering inclusive tales that mine terror from both real-world racism and supernatural monsters.


The conclusion of Glen Hirshberg’s “Motherless Children Trilogy,” NOTHING TO DEVOUR (Tor, Nov.), contemplates how far a mother—both a human mother and an undead one—will go for her children.

As Michael Homler, an editor at St. Martin’s, explains, the horror genre is ever evolving. “You can have a story that relies on victims getting killed in very painful ways or stories that are more psychological or ones that deal with race and/or religion. They can be literary; they can be commercial. It’s not a one-fits-all genre ­anymore.”

One sign that horror is becoming more mainstream is the willingness of major publishers to take a chance on newer voices. Beginning in July, Rio Youers’s supernatural thriller HALCYON (St. Martin’s) is set on an island oasis in the middle of Lake Ontario, where paradise comes at a horrifying price.

Come September, Brendan Deneen takes the mundane fear of adult responsibility and melds it with the haunted house trope in the fast-paced, chillingly twisted THE CHRYSALIS (Tor).


Yet arguably even more popular than Lovecraft right now are the hordes of international horror authors dragging themselves onto American shores. One of the most well-known names is Sweden’s John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Lindqvist’s new book, I AM BEHIND YOU (St. Martin’s, Oct.), centers on four families on vacation who wake up at their campsite to find that the entire world as they have always known it has disappeared.

There are also a few new voices on the horizon, such as Shirley Barrett from Australia, whose THE BUS ON THURSDAY (Farrar, Sept.) may sound innocuous but is assuredly not. Think Maria Semple meets The Exorcist in a remote Australian town. Be ready to laugh as goose bumps rise.

“At the end of the story, when good triumphs, we feel a cathartic release,” says Tor/Forge’s Singer about the appeal of the genre. “All has been restored or saved. The world makes sense again. Even if this moment of calm is transient, for now, all is right with the world…. The reader has…survived. It’s a chance to take a deep breath and relax, to have faith in human nature.”

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