The Exquisite Horror: The YA Authors of His Hideous Heart on Their Favorite Horror Novels

The Exquisite Horror: The YA Authors of His Hideous Heart on Their Favorite Horror Novels

horror novels

Edgar Allan Poe’s terrifying tales have captivated readers for years. This fall, fans of spooky thrills can revisit his classic short stories and authors’ reimaginings of his works in His Hideous Heart. This anthology, edited by Dahlia Adler, features 13 Poe retellings from young adult authors. Here, a few of those authors offer up the horror novels that scared them silly and inspired them to craft their own chilling stories.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

“Through the Woods by Emily Carroll is one of those books that feels like it should be passed around by the light of a campfire. This gorgeously illustrated graphic novel has five unsettling stories reminiscent of folktales–the kind once used to frighten children. I’ve always loved forests and all of the mysteries within, and this whimsical, macabre graphic novel truly captures the feel of a long-forgotten wood–wolves and all.” —Emily Lloyd-Jones, author of The Bone Houses

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

“It was hard to choose a horror favorite that wasn’t authored by someone in this collection, but a brand-new one I love is Wilder Girls by Rory Power, which is such a beautifully creepy body horror set at a boarding school where all the girls have been inflicted by a toxic disease that presents in different ways. It’s a story of survival and reliance and the way those two things intersect for better or for worse, in life and in death. It’s so brutal you want to put it down but you absolutely can’t, which is the best kind of reading experience.” —Dahlia Adler, editor of His Hideous Heart

The Good House by Tananarive Due

“This author, and this book in particular, are responsible for two things in my formative reader/writer years: First, she made me believe there was a place for the people I knew (black, contemporary) in the genres I loved (sci-fi/fantasy/horror) even though those genres often shunned people I knew, and she made me lose a lot of sleep for a long time after I read the final pages of The Good House. In Sacajawea, Washington the Toussaint family home is so picturesque people in town call it The Good House—so you know something really messed up must’ve happened there. When heroine Angela returns to the home for the first time since a horrific tragedy… well, this is a list of horror novels, so you can bet it’s not going to be a Sunday afternoon on HGTV. A terrifying examination of family legacy and guilt that is also a twist on the traditional haunted house tale, I urge you to get your hands on what, in a sane world, should be considered a modern classic.” —Lamar Giles, author of Spin

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell

“I live and breathe horror. Trying to choose just one title makes me sweat, so I’ll go with my first love, Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. It was my introduction to horror and, in a broader sense, to stories that didn’t necessarily let the good guys win on the merits of being protagonists in a kids’ book. Actual consequences, sometimes unfair ones, plus drawings (by Stephen Gammell) worthy of any adult horror zine? Pure adrenaline, and a lifelong fan was born. Long live Harold the Scarecrow.” —Hillary Monahan, author of Mary: The Summoning

Intensity by Dean Koontz

“The first horror novel I ever read was Shadowfires, the story of a woman being stalked by someone—or something—identical to her dead husband. Written by Dean Koontz, it introduced me to a genre I didn’t yet know I loved. But my favorite work of heart-pounding horror is a different Koontz title: Intensity. In this aptly-titled book, a young woman narrowly survives a terrifying and brutal home invasion in the isolated hills of Napa Valley… and then the really scary stuff begins. Featuring little dialogue, the stakes rise on every page, and you will be utterly breathless by the end.” —Caleb Roehrig, author of The Fell of Dark

Usher’s Passing by Robert R. McCammon

“Robert R. McCammon’s Usher’s Passing takes the descendants of Poe’s famously tortured Usher family and places them in a modern setting. The opening finds Walen Usher, the aging head of a multibillion dollar international armament corporation, slowly succumbing to the madness that destroyed Poe’s long-ago Ushers, Roderick and Madeline. It’s not long before Walen’s adult children return to the sprawling Usher estate to discover who will be named heir to the family business—a title each wants and none deserves. Think HBO’s Succession played out against a backdrop of literal horrors that highlight the true cost of cruelty, greed, and denial.” —Stephanie Kuehn, author of When I Am Through With You

The Enigma of Amigara Fault by Junji Ito

“Junjo Ito is the absolute master of his craft, and his surreal, gorgeously terrifying art always evokes in me a frightening sense of wrongness only found among the best of the horror genre. The Enigma of Amigara Fault is one of my favorite works. A series of strange holes appear in a mountain one day and cause people to begin acting… strangely, many claiming some of these holes were made specifically for them–with grotesque results. Ito has an uncanny way of finding our greatest fears and holding them up to us as fractured, beautiful mirrors that compel us to keep looking on in fascinated horror, even as our reflections stare back and begin to gibber.” —Rin Chupeco, author of The Girl From the Well and The Suffering

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

“Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl is not, technically, a horror story. It’s story about abduction and abuse and torture, about living versus surviving. It’s bleak. It’s harrowing. It’s one of those books that burrows into your soul and stays with you long after you’ve read it. It isn’t technically horror, but it is one of the most horrifying books I’ve ever read, and that is exactly its strength. For me, the best horror delves deep into what humans are capable of—both at our worst and against the odds. Living Dead Girl makes even the mundane horrific, and it will not let you go easily.” Marieke Nijkamp, author of This is Where it Ends

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

“I love the slow-building dread and mystery in The Witching Hour as Anne Rice weaves the terrifying story of the Mayfair Witches, who’ve been haunted by a demon familiar for 600 years. The book follows their most recent descendant, Dr. Rowan Mayfair, when she returns home to claim her inheritance. The New Orleans of the 1980s is invoked in lush, creepy detail, as Rowan and her boyfriend investigate the bizarre rules of her new family and try to survive. But my favorite parts are the flashbacks depicting generations of witches and their intimate, frightening relationships with the demon Lasher.” —Tessa Gratton, author of Strange Grace


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