The Fright Stuff

Evil Mountains, Witches, and Space Ghosts (Oh My!)

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

It’s that time again, folks! It’s new releases day! In fact there are so many incredible new releases coming out across the dark fiction genres this month that it was physically painful to pick only a handful to feature here. Which is why I’m going to keep this week’s intro short and sweet, so we can get right to the good stuff!

Cover of Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (February 8)

Echo is the sort of queer horror love story that I desperately need more of in my life. Don’t be dissuaded by the official synopsis, because I don’t think it describes the book particularly well. Yes, Echo is about Nick surviving a terrible mountaineering accident that killed his climbing buddy Augustin and left Nick horribly scarred, haunted by the mountain Maudit that nearly took his life. But Echo isn’t just Nick’s story, it’s also about his boyfriend Sam. The pov passes back and forth between the two of them (Sam’s reality vs Nick’s written account of what happened) and Echo is as much about their pasts and their relationship as it is about trying to break Nick free of the mountain’s hold. It’s honestly so good, so emotional, and beautifully written.

Cold cover image

Cold by Mariko Tamaki (February 8)

Cold is a YA thriller with a bit of ghost story thrown in, told from the dual perspective of Todd and Georgia, two queer teens and social outcasts who didn’t know each other before Todd’s death brought them together. Sort of. Because all that’s left of Todd is a ghost, hovering over his own murdered body, recounting the events that led to his corpse being abandoned in the snow. And though they were strangers to each other, when she hears about Todd’s death, Georgia feels compelled to find out what happened to him. Cold is kind of heartbreaking, to be honest. On the surface it seems like the set up for a perfect murder mystery, with a bit of paranormal ghostliness thrown in. But at its heart, Cold is more of a character study of Georgia and Todd as they navigate a world that seems to have no place for them and that, for one of them, proved fatal.

Cover of Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes (February 8)

Oh my god where do I START with Dead Silence. This book terrified me. I had to put it down at one point because I was reading and there was too much empty space around me. For real, I couldn’t even look at a dark, open doorway. Dead Silence is about an ill-fated attempt by an about-to-be-unemployed ship’s crew, staffing a small vessel tasked with repairing communications beacons. Their last beacon, way at the edge of the system, picks up a distress signal coming from outside the network, somewhere beyond the edge of “civilized” space. A signal that belongs the the Aurora, a luxury space liner that vanished into thin air on its maiden voyage, never to be seen again… Barnes is giving you Titanic but make it scary, she’s giving you Event Horizon, she’s giving you Ghost Ship; for real, this book will make your skin crawl.

cherish farrah book cover

Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow (February 8)

You had me at “slow-burn social horror” about race and class. This is definitely going to be one of those books that keeps you in a perpetually paranoid state of not knowing who to trust. Which of course is exactly what you want from a thriller, right? Farrah Turner and Cherish Whitman are best friends, and the only two Black girls at their country club. But while Farrah lives with her biological parents, Cherish lives with her wealthy, white adopted parents who adore and spoil their daughter. When Farrah’s own family encounters sudden financial hardships, she starts a calculated campaign to – for all intents and purposes – take over Cherish’s life. While staying at Cherish’s house, Farrah begins trying to manipulate her way into the Whitman family, only to realize that things beneath that loving, pristine façade are not quite what they seem. As events inside the house begin to escalate and grow ever stranger, Farrah’s legendary control begins to falter, leaving her to wonder if she ever had control of the Whitmans to begin with.

cover of claire legrand's extasia

Extasia by Claire Legrand (February 22)

Extasia is the perfect blend of The Year of the Witching with a healthy dose of The Village thrown in for that wonderful “what the hell just happened” feel. I thought I was getting “witchy Sapphic girls band together to save their village from evil” and instead I got “witchy Sapphic girls burn down the patriarchy” and I couldn’t be happier. Our heroine starts out the book without a name, because her birth name doesn’t matter, all that will matter is the name she takes when she becomes one of the saints that protects her village from the evil picking off their men one by one. But when saving her home means crossing the line from sainthood into witchcraft, she quickly finds out that the people she’s determined to protect may not be worth all that she’ll have to sacrifice. Extasia is gorgeous, dark, gloriously queer, and wow did it make me want to rage. It’s not an easy book to read in the world we’re currently living in, but it’s also incredibly cathartic! (Particularly the “burn shit down” part.)

This is just a preview of all the amazing books coming out this month! If you’re looking for more recommendations, as always I highly suggest you go check out Nightfire’s amazing list of all the 2022 horror titles they’re excited about.

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.