The Warlow Experiment
In Alix Nathan’s The Warlow Experiment, a wealthy man concocts a radical experiment in order to make a name for himself in the scientific community: a subject will live in a three-room basement, with three daily meals provided, never leaving the premises, for seven years. John Marlow, a deeply sympathetic family man desperate for money, applies for the job. Nathan’s debut shows what happens to a quintessentially good guy remains isolated from the world.
T. Marie Vandelly
When Dixie Wheeler was a one-year-old infant, her father killed her mother and siblings, then himself, leaving only her alive. Twenty-five years later, Dixie buys and moves into the home where the horrific tragedy occurred. A creepy, haunting debut that’ll stay with you long after you finish it.
Japanese Ghost Stories
Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn adored Japanese culture, and in his collection of ghost stories, he drew on Japanese folklore to create classic tales that will appeal to any fan of the genre.
A Cosmology of Monsters
A Cosmology of Monsters is a riveting debut novel about a family who can see monsters and who create an immersive horror experience for thrill-seekers called the Wandering Dusk. A wonderful mix of family drama and classic horror, Hamill’s will engross you and scare the hell out of you.
The Haunting of Hill House (Movie Tie-In)
With recent adaptations of her work creating a kind of Shirley Jackson renaissance (which we welcome wholeheartedly), it seems appropriate to go back to the source herself. Jackson was a pioneering horror author, and her novels are among the creepiest and eeriest of the 20th century.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and the recent The Nickel Boys wrote a horror novel in 2011. If that alone doesn’t sell you on Zone One, hear this: after a devastating plague rocks the planet, a small band of unaffected people in a section of Manhattan try to make sense of the world they’ve got left.
A Dark Matter
Set on a college campus where years before a cult enacted a mysterious ritual that left a brutally disfigured body and haunted the participants ever since, Peter Straub (an occasional collaborator with Stephen King) does what he does best in A Dark Matter: he’s created an utterly compelling and absolutely terrifying novel you won’t be able to tear yourself away from.
Seventeen writers attend what they believe to be a writers’ retreat, but soon they find themselves locked in an abandoned theater by the sinister and enigmatic Mr. Whittier. Haunted unfolds as a series of stories the characters tell each other in order to stay sane (and, while they’re at it, prove who’s the best author), resulting in a disturbing novel filled with even darker stories—basically, quintessential Palahniuk.
The title building of Edward Carey’s remarkable debut novel used to be an ancestral mansion but now functions as a derelict apartment complex filled with oddballs and eccentrics. When a new resident moves in, the precarious balance maintained by its proprietor, Francis, is threaten to come completely undone. Observatory Mansions is a brilliant work that is wholly original and undeniably strange.
The Shining, Stephen King’s novel of madness, ghosts, and supernatural gifts, has become a modern classic. It’s the ultimate haunted house story (although of course in this case it’s an enormous, off-season hotel), but it’s also a heartbreaking story of a family torn apart by an unspeakable tragedy.
In the spirit of the season, we present a sampling of books like The Shining for people who entered the Overlook and didn’t want to leave—or, who left that horrifying place only wanting to find another sinister house, castle, basement, or mansion to explore and, hopefully, survive.
Featured image: Jack Nicholson in The Shining (1980), Warner Bros.