Editor, U.S.; California (@m_galgana)

It’s rare that we review books on ScreenAnarchy, but every now and then, something so cool breaks through the din that we just have to write about it. From Page Street Publishing, 101 Horror Books to Read Before You’re Murdered by Sadie Hartmann is exactly the kind of gem I love discovering in the maelstrom of things to read out there.

Influential social media book personality, editor at Dark Hart Books (an imprint of Dark Matter Magazine), and co-owner of the rad, genre book subscription service Night Worms, Hartmann has added the profession of author to her resume. As you can imagine, she’s read a LOT of books. 

To keep it somewhat digestible, Hartmann’s compendium focuses on her picks of the best fiction genre books from 2000 - 2023. 

“I was invited by my editor, Alexandra Murphy, to write this book and the initial thought was both terrifying and daunting. But after spending time really imagining myself writing it, I realized that this book was my opportunity to share with the world all the love I have for horror fiction and how much love horror fiction has for us,” Hartmann says.

You may ask why a book about fiction prose books is featured here, since we’re mainly a film review and news site. Well, there’s lots of source material listed in 101 Horror Books to Read Before You’re Murdered, mainly in the author spotlights, which I mention again further down in this article. Seen the film adaptation and loved it? Go read the book, and love the story even more! 

Of course, there are even more works here with films or shows in development, according to the trades and IMDb, so take this opportunity to read the book now. For instance, Brother and Seed, both written by Ania Ahlborn are in development, as is Red Widow by former senior intelligence analyst Alma Katsu. I'm willing to bet that there are lots of books in here optioned by production companies or currently out to market that we don't know about yet.

Hartmann’s writing is enthusiastic and infectious; reading about these books feels like you’re getting the most exciting recommendations from your best friend while pausing for tea at a bookstore cafe. This book is about very dark subjects, but it’s so much fun. To be quite honest, reading and learning about the myriad stories and themes within was invigorating and inspiring. It actually helped get me out of a creative funk!

The layout and format of the book alone is enjoyable, too. Featuring gnarly cover and inner illustrations by Marco Fontanili, 101 Horror Books to Read Before You’re Murdered also sports a great introduction by bestselling horror novelist and musician Josh Malerman (Bird Box, Pearl, Spin a Black Yarn). 

To make it even more readable, the book is broken into satisfying, themed sections: 

  • Paranormal (haunted houses, ghosts, and creatures & cryptids)
  • Supernatural (demons & possession, the occult & witchcraft, and cosmic horror)
  • Human monsters (coming of age, grief, loss & death, cults, slashers & serial killers, creepy kids, body horror, and crime & investigation)
  • Natural order horror (apocalyptic, dystopian & sci-fi and eco horror)
  • Short story collections

Author spotlights some of the most talented and experienced writers in the game right now, along with recommended books by Tananarive Due, Christopher Buehlman, Grady Hendrix, Ania Ahlborn, V. Castro, Daniel Kraus, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Adam Nevill, Stephen Graham Jones, and Alma Katsu. As you might guess, there are tons of books here which have been or are currently being adapted into films and series. More source material is peppered in among the rest of the book, such as Max Booth III's We Need to Do Something.

Additionally, 101 Horror Books includes essays from exciting new voices in the genre. You’ll hear from Cassandra Khaw (Nothing But Blackened Teeth), Hailey Piper (Queen of Teeth), Eric LaRocca (Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke), RJ Joseph (the nonfiction The Streaming of Hill House), and Daniel Kraus (The Shape of Water with Guillermo del Toro).

These essays include a brief bio of these authors, but more importantly, the essays give them a chance to discuss what’s personally important to them in horror, and why. 101 Horror Books shines even more here; the book is quite inclusive of the authors it gathers, going way above and beyond the usual list of straight white guys. If you want more flavor in your horror diet, Hartmann tells you exactly where to find it. 

There are also helpful suggestions on where to find more horror books, as well as a handy checklist of all the books, by title, if you’re really committed to reading everything listed.

If you love horror, you’re going to want to add 101 Horror Books to Read Before You’re Murdered to your home library as soon as you can.

Though the book won’t be out until August 8, if you pre-order through Barnes & Noble today, you’ll get 25% off this wonderful book and any other pre-orders with the code: PREORDER25. You can also find it on Amazon, and I’m sure your favorite indie shop would be happy to order it for you, as well.

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101 Horror Books to Read Before You're Murderedbooksfictionfilm adaptationhorrorhorror fictionPage Street PublishingSadie Hartmann

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