Summer Reading to Chill Your Bones

It’s that time of year again when the weather is horrifically hot and the sun is just too damn bright for us horror fans. Time to curl up with a good book in the darkness of your home and crank up the AC. With that in mind, here is a hopefully helpful list of “Summer Reading to Chill Your Bones”.

This is definitely not a complete catalogue, and I would love to hear from folks who have their own recommendations so please feel free to add your comments below.

And away we go…

Summer Reading to Chill Your Bones1) THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin. This is turning into THE book to read this summer, and for good reason. It is one part Stephen King’s The Stand combined with Robert McCammon’s Swan Song and a soupcon of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The first part of a trilogy with the movie rights already purchased by Ridley Scott, this 750+ pager should keep readers busy and scared for at least a few weeks. Published by Ballantine.

2) THE DEAD PATH (aka THE DARKENING in the UK) by Stephen M. Irwin. This probably isn’t a fair selection as it won’t be released in the US until October, but you CAN order it from Australia, which is both the setting of the story and the residence of the author. Try dymocks.com. A seriously creepy tale somewhat reminiscent of King’s It with a decidedly Aussie flavor and some elements of VERY dark fairy tales. Put it on your must-read list if you don’t order it from Down Under. Published by Doubleday.

3) DRUMMER BOY (aka THE JANGLING HOLE) by Scott Nicholson. On the eve of its annual Civil War re-enactment, the small North Carolina town of Titusville finds itself dealing with some seriously honked-off Confederate and Union “ghosts” (just read the book and you will understand why calling them “ghosts” isn’t quite right). Published by CreateSpace.

Summer Reading to Chill Your Bones4) THE CORPSE KING by Tim Curran. If you loved Glass Eye Pix’s film I Sell the Dead, then you should find much to like in this novella of two 18th century graverobbers who encounter something dreadful while plying their trade. From a satisfied reader on Amazon: “Readers who relish a throwback horror thriller with Poe-like gloomy environs and slimy lead characters, including the rapaciously hungry title protagonist, will enjoy The Corpse King“. Published by Cemetery Dance.

5) SNOW by Ronald Malfi, who clearly understands the concept of providing resolution without explaining everything away. Strangers stuck in O’Hare Airport during a blizzard rent an SUV but are waylaid in the middle of nowhere by an accident created by “snow” creatures who kill their prey and then wear their victims like a “skin suit”. Scary. Published by Leisure Books.

6) WORMFOOD by Jeff Jacobson. Set in a small Northern California town but with most of the trappings of a Southern Gothic: redneck residents, a greasy spoon, and this one has human flesh on the menu. Yum. Published by Medallion Press.

Summer Reading to Chill Your Bones7) DOG BLOOD by David Moody. This is the sequel to Moody’s best-selling Hater. ‘Nuff said. Just read it. Published by Thomas Dunne Books.

8) CURTAINS by Tom Jokinen. Subtitled “Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training”, a Canadian investigates what REALLY goes on behind the scenes in funeral homes. Disturbing, gross, and funny all in the same book. Published by Da Capo Press.

9) IN THE LAND OF LONG FINGERNAILS: A GRAVEDIGGER IN THE AGE OF AQUARIUS by Charles Wilkins. Similar to Curtains, only this time the author has apprenticed as a gravedigger for a summer. Confronted daily with mortality and the physical and emotional implications of death, Wilkins explores the grim details of working in a cemetery and how the experience ultimately shaped his journey to adulthood. Published by Skyhorse Publishing.


Summer Reading to Chill Your BonesSUMMER OF NIGHT by Dan Simmons

SWAN SONG by Robert McCammon

THE ELEMENTALS by Michael McDowell

THE ABSENCE by Bill Hussey

THE TERROR by Dan Simmons

IT by Stephen King

GRIMM MEMORIALS by R. Patrick Gates

GHOUL by Michael Slade


BIRDMAN by Mo Hayder

Summer Reading to Chill Your BonesTHE OTHER by Tom Tryon (made into an uber-creepy movie of the same name)

CREEKERS by Edward Lee

URBAN GOTHIC by Brian Keene


NIGHT BOAT by Robert McCammon

THE BEGUILED by Thomas Cullinan (made into THE creepiest film Clint Eastwood ever starred in)

BLACKWATER SERIES by Michael McDowell (long before Stephen King and John Saul published their serial novels, McDowell scared readers to death with his saga of the Caskey family of Perdido, Alabama)

Have a ghoulish summer!

Elaine Lamkin

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  • James Coker

    HEY EVERYBODY!!! speaking of the Summer what do all of you guys think are Essential Summer Horror Films to watch, You know… Horror films that have that strong Summervibe to them???

  • Vanvance1

    What a great article!

    I took a few notes and will definitely be snagging some of the reading material I’ve missed.