May’s new horror books include tales of killer mermaids and plague doctors, a vengeful ghost in an S&M dungeon, a queer Frankenstein retelling, an insect horror anthology, and much more.
These monthly lists are derived from my annual masterlist, but I’ve gotten a good amount of feedback saying the smaller lists are helpful reminders and easier to digest–they can all be found here. And as always, you can view the full 2023 list right here.
May 2023’s new horror books:
- Conjuring the Witch, Jessica Leonard (May 2, Ghoulish Books): There are witches in the woods. These are the words the reverend of the Lilin Assembly of Our Lord repeats to his parishioners each week. Steve and Nicole Warby think it’s just a metaphor, until Nicole takes a walk in those woods and comes back changed. Something came out of them with her, and the simple small-town life they’ve always known is forever altered when they discover the dark secrets buried deep and those intent on keeping them there. Fearing for his wife’s sanity, and his own comfortable status in the church, Steve is unsure if he wants to help or ignore the problems. The reverend believes there are witches in the woods, and he thinks Nicole is only the most recent. Conjuring the Witch is a dark, haunted story about what those in power are willing to do to stay in power, and the sins we convince ourselves are forgivable.
- The Salt Grows Heavy, Cassandra Khaw (May 2, Nightfire): From USA Today bestselling author Cassandra Khaw comes The Salt Grows Heavy, a dark and deliciously twisted mermaid tale. You may think you know how the fairy tale goes: a mermaid comes to shore and weds the prince. But what the fables forget is that mermaids have teeth. And now, her daughters have devoured the kingdom and burned it to ashes. On the run, the mermaid is joined by a mysterious plague doctor with a darkness of their own. Deep in the eerie, snow-crusted forest, the pair stumble upon a village of ageless children who thirst for blood, and the three “saints” who control them. The mermaid and her doctor must embrace the cruelest parts of their true nature if they hope to survive.
- The Scarlet Boy, Arthur Calder-Marshall (May 2, Valancourt Books): First published in 1961, Arthur Calder-Marshall’s haunted house novel The Scarlet Boy is a gripping story of suspense that will keep readers turning the pages.
- The Stradivarius, Rae Knowles (May 3, Brigids Gate Press): When a surprise inheritance and whirlwind romance offer Mae a chance to escape her repressive aunt, she’s all too eager to elope and start life anew in her childhood home. But when she and her new husband arrive, the towering Victorian sits in disrepair, and Mae learns that her father’s decade-old, unsolved murder is still a source of rumor and speculation in town. Leading the charge to unravel the mystery surrounding her father’s death is Ollie, a vibrant genderqueer and an outsider in their hometown. Sure that solving the cold case will land them a coveted job in the police department, Ollie gains access to the Victorian by agreeing to do maintenance work on the property. Mae fears the house is haunted by her father’s spirit, her husband believes she’s going the way of her mother–slipping into madness, but Ollie suspects something more sinister is at play. If Ollie and Mae can’t work together to uncover the Victorian’s secrets, Mae will join her mother in an institution or her father in the grave.
- Beleth Station, Samantha Kolesnik & Bryan Smith (May 9, CLASH): Authors Samantha Kolesnik and Bryan Smith present two unique tales of brutal terror in this novella duo featuring Kolesnik’s A Night to Remember and Smith’s The Gauntlet. Set in the same town and in a shared universe, Smith and Kolesnik present two sides of the same sordid coin as we follow lovebirds Nick and Krista into the heart of Beleth Station, where corruption and depravity reign.
- The Briars, Stephanie Parent (May 9, Cemetery Gates): A gothic haunted house story transplanted to an S&M dungeon, in which two sex workers battle an increasingly vengeful ghost.
- Graveyard of Lost Children, Katrina Monroe (May 9, Poisoned Pen Press): Baby Teeth meets The Invited in a haunting story of the sometimes-fragile connection between a woman’s sense of self and what it means to be a “good” mother.
- A Hunter Called Night, Tim Waggoner (May 9, Flame Tree Press): A sinister being called Night and her panther-like Harriers stalk their quarry, a man known only as Arron. Arron seeks refuge within an office building, a place Night cannot go, for it’s part of the civilized world, and she’s a creature of the Wild. To flush Arron out, she creates Blight, a reality-warping field that slowly transforms the building and its occupants in horrible and deadly ways. But unknown to Night, while she waits for the Blight to do its work, a group of survivors from a previous attempt to capture Arron are coming for her. The hunter is now the hunted.
- Our Hideous Progeny, C.E. McGill (May 9, Harper): Historical fiction with a dark twist in the spirit of Circe, Ariadne, and Mexican Gothic, Our Hideous Progeny is a brilliant revisiting of Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein that unfolds with a fresh, provocative, queer twist.
- What Draws Us Near, ed. Keith Cadieux & Adam Petrash (May 14, Little Ghosts Books): Why do we want what we should not have? Or worse yet, why are we captivated by what we know to be dangerous? Is it a self-destructive impulse that comes from inside of us? Or does something darker from outside pull us in. From the images contained on a mysterious videotape, or the figures depicted in a medieval mural, to a conversation that might have been, or the last words a benefactor wants to hear on their deathbed. Each one of these stories explores what draws us near. You should stop reading, but you know you won’t.
- All the Dead Lie Down, Kyrie McCauley (May 16, Katherine Tegen Books): The Haunting of Bly Manor meets House of Salt and Sorrows in award-winning author Kyrie McCauley’s contemporary YA gothic romance about a dark family lineage, the ghosts of grief, and the lines we’ll cross for love.
- Court of the Undying Seasons, A.M. Strickland (May 16, Feiwel & Friends): When a teen girl is forced to attend a vampire school, she must decide whether to blend in or cling to her humanity in this dark YA fantasy from author A.M. Strickland.
- The Disappearance of Tom Nero, TJ Price (May 16, Spooky House Press): The Disappearance of Tom Nero concerns a young man’s investigation into the impossible disappearance of a friend. As he learns more about the circumstances and searches for answers, the re-emergence of a metatextual horror from legend puts not only him, but his new lover, in jeopardy.
- A Long Time Dead, Samara Breger (May 16, Bywater Books): Somewhere foggy, 1837, Poppy wakes up a new lady of the night—one who lusts for blood as well as body. Poppy had always loved the night, which is why it wasn’t too much of a bother to wake one evening in an unfamiliar home far from London, weak and confused and plagued with a terrible thirst for blood, to learn that she could no longer step out into the day. And while vampirism presented several disadvantages, it more than made up for those in its benefits, including Roisin, the mysterious woman who has lived for centuries, who held Poppy through her painful transformation, and who, for some reason, is now teaching her how to adjust to her new, endless life. The time they spend together is as transformative to Poppy as the changes in her body, and soon, she finds herself hopelessly, overwhelmingly attached. But Roisin has secrets of her own, and can’t make any promises; not when vengeance must be served to the one woman who is capable of destroying everything Poppy and Roisin hold dear.
- No One Will Come Back for Us (and Other Stories), Premee Mohamed (May 16, Undertow): Premee Mohamed’s debut collection of contemporary cosmic horror and dark fantasy heralds the arrival of a new and vibrant voice on the cutting edge of modern speculative fiction.
- What Happened Was Impossible, E. F. Schraeder (May 16, Ghoulish Books): Everyone knows the woman who escapes a massacre is a final girl, but who is the final boy? What Happened Was Impossible follows the life of Ida Wright, a man who knows how to capitalize on his childhood tragedies… even when he caused them.
- Hungers As Old As This Land, Zachary Rosenberg (May 17, Brigids Gate Press): The settlement of Grey’s Bluffs is a prosperous town. An independent community dwelling in the shadows of the mountains known only as The Hungers. Esther Foxman and Siobhan O’Clery have grown up in Grey’s Bluffs, thriving out on the western territories in the aftermath of the Civil War. Devoted to one another and their home, the two set out to complete a regular pact at the Hungers to ensure that Grey’s Bluffs continues to prosper. Cyril Redstone is a man who knows death well. Becoming a mercenary after the Civil War, Cyril leads the marauding Blackhawks from one slaughter to the next. Hired to destroy Grey’s Bluffs, Cyril cares little for morality, nor that he owes its founder his life. Esther and Siobhan are left to defend the only home they have ever known from the Blackhawks, their confrontation driving them deep into the mountains. Where the darkest secrets of the Hungers await them.
- The Devil’s Pocketbook, Ross Jeffery (May 23, DarkLit Press): Erik and Lara are in mourning for their daughter, who was born “incompatible with life.” To get away from their suffocating grief and the ever-present shadow of their daughter, and desperately trying to recover their increasingly rocky relationship, they take a trip to the seaside town of Polperro, in Cornwall. But no sooner have they arrived then they realize that their grief cannot be so easily eluded. Drawn to the waters, Erik and Lara discover a large mermaid’s purse, and inside: the miracle child they could never have. Scylla. Is the young girl a gift from the sea? A dangerous shared delusion? Or something even more sinister? As reality slips away from the couple, they begin to realise they are contending with forces as powerful as the undertows of the ocean, and just as inescapable.
- Killing It, Mike Bockoven (May 23, Polis Books): From the twisted and imaginative mind of Mike Bockoven, author of the cult classic Fantasticland, comes a wholly original and witty new novel of terror. Since the late 1980’s, The Square has been one of the most important clubs in New York for the alt-comedy scene. But before that it was something much darker, and is now a place where evil lingers, waiting for a chance to spill blood. After a night of killing on stage, four comics find themselves in a desperate situation as the spirits of the past come out to play, and a fight for laughs becomes a fight for survival in the most unlikely of places.
- This World Belongs to Us: An Anthology of Horror Stories about Bugs (May 23, From Beyond Press): From Beyond Press is launching with a bang—or a squirm, or the sound of too many legs skittering in the dark. This World Belongs to Us is an anthology of horror stories about bugs, writ large—we’re not scientists, so spiders and slugs and scorpions (oh my!) are in here too.
- The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal, Grayson Daly (May 23, Nosetouch Press): Set in the fictional island city of Lenorum, the novel focuses on Maeve, who is a member of the Sisterhood of Good Death—a religious order whose mission is to help the dead transition toward their next life. A random cemetery encounter with the mysteriously murdered poet, Imogen Madrigal, who has somehow returned from the dead, thrusts Maeve into solving Imogen’s year-old murder, and, in the process, come to terms with what it means to live a good and fulfilling life.
- Pet Peeves, Nicole Goux (May 25, Avery Hill Publishing): In this horror graphic novel, the new dog that aspiring musician Bobbie has adopted is cute, but also stealing her life. This debut solo graphic novel from breakout author Nicole Goux explores the struggles of a young artist – haunted not only by debt and society, but by more sinister (though adorable) canine forces.
- The Alchemy of Moonlight, David Ferraro (May 30, Page Street Kids): When Emile’s aunt declares he must marry or be disowned for being gay, he runs away to hide as a servant in Count Montoni’s mansion. In their service, Emile tends to the family who all suffer a strange affliction on the full moon. And after overhearing suspicious family arguments, he finds a body on the estate, drawing the attention of a handsome doctor as well as the count’s charismatic nephew, Henri.
- How The Skin Sheds, Chad Lutzke (May 30, Death’s Head Press): When Garrett Walkinshaw pays a visit to his sister, he finds her murdered— throat sliced and nipples missing, his albino niece left emotionally scarred on her bed. Determined on getting revenge, the two set out after the killer, following a bloody trail of skin-lacking bodies. After Garrett’s best friend— a recently freed slave— joins the road-trip hunt, they’re forced to teach Garret’ s niece the dark world of survival and assassination in the gritty, wild west, where they’re met with myriad of roadblocks in the form of evil lawmen, bizarro brothers, a swamp witch, and more.
- Dead Meat, Kyle Wright (May, Journalstone): A splatter noir novella.
One thought on “All the New Horror Books Coming in May 2023”
Thanks for this, Emily. How inspiring to see just how creatively diverse this genre — and its writers — are!
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