From anthologies to serial tales, story story collections to nonfiction, fairy tales in translation to a critical take on The X-Files, October’s genre-benders are here to cheerfully and delightfully resist categorization. You’ve got potential new literary loves from cult favorites (Shelley Jackson’s Riddance), pop culture icons (Stephen King’s Elevation), small presses (Cristina Rivera Garza’s The Taiga Syndrome) and podcast masters (Joseph Fink’s Alice Isn’t Dead). Which path will you dance down first?
Keep track of all the new releases here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
The Best of the Best Horror of the Year—Ellen Datlow, editor (October 2, Night Shade Books)
Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Ellen Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. In this anniversary edition, Datlow brings back her favorite stories of the series’ last decade in a special edition encompassing highlights from each edition of the work. With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this light creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness as articulated by today’s most challenging and exciting writers. And in this anniversary edition, we share the most important stories which have been covered in the last decade of horror writing.
Devil’s Day—Andrew Michael Hurley (October 2, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Every autumn, John Pentecost returns to the farm where he grew up, to help gather the sheep down from the moors for the winter. Very little changes in the Endlands, but this year, his grandfather—the Gaffer—has died and John’s new wife, Katherine, is accompanying him for the first time. Each year, the Gaffer would redraw the boundary lines of the village, with pen and paper but also through the remembrance of tales and timeless communal rituals, which keep the sheep safe from the Devil. But as the farmers of the Endlands bury the Gaffer and prepare to gather the sheep, they begin to wonder whether they’ve let the Devil in after all.
Silverwood: The Door—Brian Keene (October 3, Serial Box)
Deep within the forest of Silverwood, California, a crack between dimensions has appeared. A dark force that lurks among the trees is growing stronger, determined to return home if it can only gather the strength to open the door—bad news for a Cub Scout troop and the employees of Hirsch Capital on a company retreat nearby. As their darkest fears and impulses power the mysterious force, their bonding exercises take a deadly turn. Will anyone be able to keep their minds long enough to close the door before our world is torn apart?
The Quantum Magician—Derek Künsken (October 4, Solaris)
Belisarius is a Homo quantus, engineered with impossible insight. But his gift is also a curse—an uncontrollable, even suicidal drive to know, to understand. Genetically flawed, he leaves his people to find a different life, and ends up becoming the galaxy’s greatest con man and thief. But the jobs are getting too easy and his extraordinary brain is chafing at the neglect. When a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of secret warships across an enemy wormhole, Belisarius jumps at it. Now he must embrace his true nature to pull off the job, alongside a crew of extraordinary men and women. If he succeeds, he could trigger an interstellar war… or the next step in human evolution.
Tomorrow Factory: Collected Fiction—Rich Larson (October 2, Talos)
Welcome to the Tomorrow Factory. On your left, post-human hedonists on a distant space station bring diseases back in fashion, two scavengers find a super-powered parasite under the waves of Sunk Seattle, and a terminally-ill chemist orchestrates an asteroid prison break. On your right, an alien optometrist spins illusions for irradiated survivors of the apocalypse, a high-tech grifter meets his match in near-future Thailand, and two teens use a blackmarket personality mod to get into the year’s wickedest, wildest party. This collection of published and original fiction by award-winning writer Rich Larson will bring you from a Bujumbura cyberpunk junkyard to the icy depths of Europa, from the slick streets of future-noir Chicago to a tropical island of sapient robots. Twenty-three futures, ranging from grimy cyberpunk to far-flung space opera, are waiting to blow you away. So step inside the Tomorrow Factory, and mind your head.
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror—Thomas Ligotti (October 2, Penguin)
His fiction is known to be some of the most terrifying in the genre of supernatural horror, but Thomas Ligotti’s first nonfiction book may be even scarier. Drawing on philosophy, literature, neuroscience, and other fields of study, Ligotti takes the penetrating lens of his imagination and turns it on his audience, causing them to grapple with the brutal reality that they are living a meaningless nightmare, and anyone who feels otherwise is simply acting out an optimistic fallacy. At once a guidebook to pessimistic thought and a relentless critique of humanity’s employment of self-deception to cope with the pervasive suffering of their existence, The Conspiracy against the Human Race may just convince readers that there is more than a measure of truth in the despairing yet unexpectedly liberating negativity that is widely considered a hallmark of Ligotti’s work.
The Taiga Syndrome—Cristina Rivera Garza, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana (October 2, The Dorothy Project)
A fairy tale run amok, The Taiga Syndrome follows an unnamed female Ex-Detective as she searches for a couple who has fled to the far reaches of the earth. A betrayed husband is convinced by a brief telegram that his second ex-wife wants him to track her down–that she wants to be found. He hires the Ex-Detective, who sets out with a translator into a snowy, hostile forest where strange things happen and translation betrays both sense and one’s senses. Tales of Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood haunt the Ex-Detective’s quest, though the lessons of her journey are more experiential than moral: that just as love can fly away, sometimes unloving flies away as well. That sometimes leaving everything behind is the only thing left to do.
White Dancing Elephants—Chaya Bhuvaneswar (October 9, Dzanc)
A woman grieves a miscarriage, haunted by the Buddha’s birth. An artist with schizophrenia tries to survive hatred and indifference in small-town India by turning to the beauty of sculpture and dance. Orphans in India get pulled into a strange “rescue” mission aimed at stripping their mysterious powers. A brief but intense affair between two women culminates in regret and betrayal. A boy seeks memories of his sister in the legend of a woman who weds death. And fragments of history, from child brickmakers to slaves in Renaissance Portugal, are held up in brief fictions, burnished, made dazzling and unforgettable. In sixteen remarkable stories, Chaya Bhuvaneswar spotlights diverse women of color—cunning, bold, and resolute—facing sexual harassment and racial violence, and occasionally inflicting that violence on each other.
Strange Ink—Gary Kemble (October 9, Titan)
When washed-up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out. But soon more tattoos appear: grisly, violent images not his own which come accompanied by visions of war-torn Afghanistan, murder, bar fights and a mysterious woman – so he begins to dig a little deeper. His search leads him to the sinister disappearance of an SAS hero and his girlfriend, whose torment is reaching back from beyond the grave.
100 Fathoms Below—Steven L. Kent & Nicholas Kaufmann (October 9, Blackstone Publishing)
100 fathoms below … The depth at which sunlight no longer penetrates the ocean. 1983. The US nuclear submarine USS Roanoke embarks on a classified spy mission into Soviet waters. Their goal: to find evidence of a new, faster, and deadlier Soviet submarine that could tip the balance of the Cold War. But the Roanoke crew isn’t alone. Something is on board with them. Something cunning and malevolent. Trapped in enemy territory and hunted by Soviet submarines, tensions escalate and crew members turn on each other. When the lights go out and horror fills the corridors, it will take everything the crew has to survive the menace coming from outside and inside the submarine. In the dark.
Killing Commendatore—Haruki Murakami (October 9, Knopf)
A thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors.
Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return—Martin Riker (October 9, Coffee House Press)
When Samuel Johnson dies, he finds himself in the body of the man who killed him, unable to depart this world but determined, at least, to return to the son he left behind. Moving from body to body as each one expires, Samuel’s soul journeys on a comic quest through an American half-century, inhabiting lives as stymied, in their ways, as his own.
The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2018 Edition—Paula Guran, editor (October 16, Prime Books)
The supernatural, the surreal, and the all-too real … tales of the dark. Such stories have always fascinated us, and modern authors carry on the disquieting traditions of the past while inventing imaginative new ways to unsettle us. Chosen from a wide variety of venues, these stories are as eclectic and varied as shadows. This volume of 2017’s best dark fantasy and horror offers more than five hundred pages of tales from some of today’s finest writers of the fantastique-sure to delight as well as disturb.
Riddance, Or: The Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers and Hearing-Mouth Children—Shelley Jackson (October 16, Black Balloon)
Eleven-year-old Jane Grandison, tormented by her stutter, sits in the back seat of a car, letter in hand inviting her to live and study at the Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children. Founded in 1890 by Headmistress Sybil Joines, the school—at first glance—is a sanctuary for children seeking to cure their speech impediments. Inspired by her haunted and tragic childhood, the Headmistress has other ideas. Pioneering the field of necrophysics, the Headmistress harnesses the “gift” she and her students possess. Through their stutters, together they have the ability to channel ghostly voices communicating from the land of the dead, a realm the Headmistress herself visits at will. Things change for the school and the Headmistress when a student disappears, attracting attention from parents and police alike.
I Am Behind You—John Ajvide Lindqvist (October 16, St. Martin’s Press)
Four families wake up one morning in their trailer on an ordinary campsite. However, during the night something strange has happened. Everything outside the camping grounds has disappeared, and the world has been transformed into an endless expanse of grass. The sky is blue, but there is no sign of the sun; there are no trees, no flowers, no birds. And every radio plays nothing but the songs of sixties pop icon Peter Himmelstrand. As the holiday-makers try to come to terms with what has happened, they are forced to confront their deepest fears and secret desires. Past events that each of them has tried to bury rise to the surface and take on terrifying physical forms. Can any of them find a way back to reality?
Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Guide to The X-Files—Todd VanDerWerff & Zack Handlen (October 16, Abrams)
In 1993, Fox debuted a strange new television show called The X-Files. Little did anyone suspect that the series would become one of the network’s biggest hits—and change the landscape of television in the process. Now, on the occasion of the show’s 25th anniversary, TV critics Zack Handlen and Todd VanDerWerff unpack exactly what made this haunting show so groundbreaking. Witty and insightful reviews of every episode of the series, revised and updated from the authors’ popular A.V. Club recaps, leave no mystery unsolved and no monster unexplained. This collection includes exclusive interviews with some of the stars and screenwriters, as well as an original foreword by X-Files creator and showrunner Chris Carter.
Friday Black—Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (October 23, Mariner Books)
By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day in this country. These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In “The Finkelstein Five,” Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unforgettable reckoning of the brutal prejudice of our justice system. In “Zimmer Land,” we see a far-too-easy-to-believe imagining of racism as sport. And “Friday Black” and “How to Sell a Jacket as Told by Ice King” show the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all.
Slender Man—Anonymous (October 23, Harper Voyager)
One man’s search for the truth about one of the most intriguing urban legends ever—the modern bogeyman, Slender Man—leads him down a dark, dangerous path in this creepy supernatural fantasy that will make you question where the line between dark myth and terrifying reality begins. Lauren Bailey has disappeared. As friends at her exclusive school speculate on what happened and the police search for answers, Matt Barker dreams of trees and a black sky . . . and something drawing closer. Through fragments of journals, news stories, and online conversations, a figure begins to emerge—a tall, slender figure—and all divisions between fiction and delusion, between nightmare and reality, begin to fall.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey—Gordon Doherty (October 30, Ace)
Kassandra was raised by her parents to be fierce and uncaring, the ideal Spartan child, destined for greatness. But when a terrible tragedy leaves her stranded on the isle of Kephallonia, near Greece, she decides to find work as a mercenary, away from the constraints of Sparta. Many years later, Kassandra is plagued by debt and living under the shadow of a tyrant when a mysterious stranger offers her a deal: assassinate the Wolf, a renowned Spartan general, and he will wipe her debt clean. The offer is simple, but the task is not, as she will need to infiltrate the war between Athens and Sparta to succeed. Kassandra’s odyssey takes her behind enemy lines and among uncertain allies. A web of conspiracy threatens her life, and she must cut down the enemies that surround her to get to the truth. Luckily, a Spartan’s blade is always sharp.
Alice Isn’t Dead—Joseph Fink (October 30, Harper Perennial)
Keisha Taylor lived a quiet life with her wife, Alice, until the day that Alice disappeared. After months of searching, presuming she was dead, Keisha held a funeral, mourned, and gradually tried to get on with her life. But that was before Keisha started to see her wife, again and again, in the background of news reports from all over America. Alice isn’t dead, and she is showing up at every major tragedy and accident in the country. Following a line of clues, Keisha takes a job with a trucking company, Bay and Creek Transportation, and begins searching for Alice. She eventually stumbles on an otherworldly conflict being waged in the quiet corners of our nation’s highway system—uncovering a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman. Why did Alice disappear? What does she have to do with this secret war between inhuman killers? Why did the chicken cross the road?
Hark! The Herald Angels Scream—Christopher Golden, editor (October 30, Blumhouse Books)
That there is darkness at the heart of the Yuletide season should not surprise. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is filled with scenes that are unsettling. Marley untying the bandage that holds his jaws together. The hideous children—Want and Ignorance—beneath the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The heavy ledgers Marley drags by his chains. In the finest versions of this story, the best parts are the terrifying parts. Bestselling author and editor Christopher Golden shares his love for Christmas horror stories with this anthology of all-new short fiction from some of the most talented and original writers of horror today.
Elevation—Stephen King (October 30, Scribner)
Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis. In the small town of Castle Rock, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.
The Governesses—Anne Serre, translated by Mark Hutchinson (October 30, New Directions)
In a large country house shut off from the world by a gated garden, three young governesses responsible for the education of a group of little boys are preparing a party. The governesses, however, seem to spend more time running around in a state of frenzied desire than attending to the children’s education. One of their main activities is lying in wait for any passing stranger, and then throwing themselves on him like drunken Maenads. The rest of the time they drift about in a kind of sated, melancholy calm, spied upon by an old man in the house opposite, who watches their goings-on through a telescope. As they hang paper lanterns and prepare for the ball in their own honor, and in honor of the little boys rolling hoops on the lawn, much is mysterious: one reviewer wrote of the book’s “deceptively simple words and phrasing, the transparency of which works like a mirror reflecting back on the reader.”