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.
Well, another Halloween season has come and gone folks. But we all know that Halloween’s a state of mind, and the creepiest of seasons never really ends. Every day is a horror day in this community, and 2022 definitely has more scares to deliver before the year is done!
Pennywise Planter by MyUrbanCrafts
In keeping with this week’s Riot Recommendations theme: once you’re sure that your house plant doesn’t intend to murder you (or perhaps as a bribe to make sure that it doesn’t!) consider replanting it in this delightfully creepy Pennywise planter, inspired by the film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT. Because the only thing creepier than a possibly evil plant is a creepy-ass clown staring at you from across your living room. You’re welcome.
Aliens: Vasquez by V. Castro
V. Castro gives vivid life to the backstory of Alien’s character Jenette Vasquez, including how she came to be one of the Colonial Marines on that ill-fated mission to Hadley’s Hope. Jenette’s life has always been a fight for survival. Imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit, when the Colonial Marines offer her a chance to not only get out of jail but get off of Earth entirely, Jenette takes it. Even though it means leaving behind everyone she loves, including her two newborn children. Fast forward years after the tragic incident on LV-426 and Jenette’s twins are all grown up, but their lives have taken very different turns. Until an unnamed planet with untapped potential puts Leticia and Ramon on a collision course, not only with each other, but with a deadly Xenomorph outbreak.
A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor
I’m always excited to get my hands on a new short fiction collection, especially if it’s from an author whose work I haven’t had a chance to get acquainted with. Collections are one the best ways to get an idea of an author’s style as well as some of the genres and themes they like to experiment with. C.J. Tudor’s debut short story collection, A Sliver of Darkness, is an excellent example as it features a whole range of frightening and strange tales about everything from suspect hat boxes to dinners at the end of the world. So if you enjoyed Tudor’s novel The Chalk Man, be sure to pick up a copy of the new collection, out tomorrow!
For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!
Do you ever wonder about your house plants? Like, what do they really think of you? Sure you remember to water them (most of the time) and they’re not dying. And yeah, you really need to change out their soil and repot some of them sometime soon. But, again, they’re still alive. So what if you kind of forgot to water them for like two weeks that one time. You were busy, and they recovered! And sure both the aloe and the spider plant are throwing out babies in a desperate plea for bigger pots. But it’s not like you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night and find them ringed around your bed, plotting your murder. Right? Right. (Probably.)
The plants in these books, however, are definitely out to kill you.
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
If you haven’t read This Poison Heart yet (or it’s recent sequel This Wicked Fate) I highly recommend adding this delightful dark and fantastical YA series to your list. Plants are at the very heart of this book — from Briseis’ magical ability to grow plants from seed to full bloom with just a touch of her hand (a gift that also renders her immune to some of nature’s most deadly poisons) to the amazing and at times frightening gardens that surround the estate that she mysteriously inherits from an Aunt she never knew existed.
Eden by Tim Lebbon
I finally get to talk about Eden in a newsletter, yay! It’s one of my favorite works of eco-horror, and is about an uncomfortably near future where the planet has been ravaged by climate change. And humanity’s attempts to save the planet by setting aside Virgin Zones — massive swaths where people have been driven out where the land has been given back to nature — has backfired in frightening ways. Of the zones, Eden is the oldest and the most mysterious. Mainly because people who go into the zone tend not to come out again. Which doesn’t bode well for our cast of adventure racers as they set out to cross the zone in record time, not realizing that Eden has secrets she’ll kill to keep.
Evil Roots: Killer Tales of the Botanical Gothic ed. by Daisy Butcher
Part of the British Library Tales of the Weird series, Evil Roots is a collection of stories from writers of the 19th and early 20th century, all about the great and sinister evils of plants. Readers will likely recognize several of the names on the table of contents, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, H.G. Wells, M.R. James, and more. Each story explores some strange, scary, and often lethal aspect of plant life, be it carnivorous plants of the deep jungle or unsettling experiments involving the merger of botany and biology. It’s a fantastical and frightening homage to the stories that birthed the Killer Plant trope we know and love today.
Bonus Short Story Recommendation!
“The Sunflower Seed Man” from All the Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma
Listen, I love this collection from top to bottom. But this freaking story has to be the scariest of the lot. I read it ages ago and it STILL gives me the willies just thinking about the Sunflower Man. It’s a breathtaking story about grief and what we think we’d do to get back the ones we love. I know I’ve recommended this collection a few times in The Fright Stuff, but believe me when I say: buy it for “The Sunflower Seed Man,” stay for all the unforgettable stories that Sharma spins.
Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth
Worried you might have missed out on some great horror books this year? Check out Vulture’s picks for the best horror books of 2022.