Summer Gothic and Horror Book Club Picks

If you host or are a member of a gothic book club, here's some picks your group might possibly enjoy reading this summer!

The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert.

I started reading this dark modern urban fairy tale back in May. I'm thoroughly enjoying it, perhaps because the main character, Alice, is so well fleshed out. I really worry about her and wonder what will happen to her. The dark fairy tale overlay is interesting too, and I found myself wanting to know more about the world of the Hinterland. This is a YA book, but a sophisticated one, and your book club members likely will enjoy the world-building and fresh take on fairy tale archetypes.

This book is already slated to be an upcoming film.

There are some book club discussion questions available at LitLovers.

Reviews: Kirkus Review, Goodreads, NPR, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist.

The Hunger, by Alma Katsu.

I'm deeply intrigued by this historical re-imagining of the ill-fated Donner Party, "with a supernatural twist." This book came highly recommended by Stephen King - I do like his taste in other authors' books. Just reading the publishers' blurb about the wagon train survivors wondering if there is something hungry waiting for them in the dark, gives me a bit of a chill. This apparently is a page-turner, though I feel after reading several reviews, I'd need to put it down and take a few breaks now and then!

Will there be much for your book club members to talk about? The author's previous books generally come with thoughtful in-depth reading group guides - this book's guide hasn't yet been created but is likely to appear soon.

Reviews: Goodreads, Locus, USA Today, Kirkus Review, Publishers Weekly, Chicago Review of Books.

A People's History of the Vampire Uprising, by Raymond A. Villareal.

This fictional oral history tells the story of people catching a virus and turning into "Gloamings." They develop an allergic reaction to sunlight, a narcissistic personality, and a radioactivity that makes them not show up on film. The book is a political satire but also a suspense thriller. I'm really intrigued, and will put this as a suggestion to my own book club this summer here in Seattle.

The book has been optioned and will likely become a film destined for the big screen.

As a side note, is it just me, or is the cover sort of annoying and obnoxious? I wish they'd gone with something more attractive or less in-your-face.

Reviews: Kirkus Review, Goodreads, The Washington Post,, Publishers Weekly.

The Wicked Deep, by Shea Ernshaw.

If your book club will tolerate reading YA novels, this one might be a nice quick summer read to enjoy together. "Life and love in a cursed town by the sea" sums it up pretty well. The town of Sparrow has a history of witchcraft and drownings - such a pleasant way to while away a hot summer day, am I right?

Reviews: Goodreads, Bookpage, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Review, Fine Print,

The Witches of New York, by Ami McKay. It's set in Gilded Age New York City. This book is described as "Practical Magic with a Victorian twist." I think it would definitely provoke lots of interesting discussions at your book club meeting.

Reviews: Goodreads, Publishers Weekly; The Globe and Mail,, Kirkus Review.

Reading guide for book clubs:


  1. Thanks so much for including The Hunger! I just wanted to mention that it, too, has been optioned--by Ridley Scott! They're working on a script.

  2. Hi Carrie, Thanks for the list. I just read a great essay on Gothic Literature: Why YA gothic fiction is booming - and girl monsters are on the rise
    Would love to have my novel and bookclub guide added to this list. Do you accept suggestions from authors?


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