content by

Emily Hughes

Horror Recommendations for All Tolerance Levels

As an avid horror reader who’s quick to recommend books to anyone who stays still long enough, I’ve gotten very used to fielding follow-up questions like “But how scary is it really?” and “I can’t watch horror movies at all—should I still read this?” Obviously fear is highly subjective—what slaps my “turn all the lights on, you’re not sleeping tonight” buttons may be entirely snooze-worthy for you—but I’ve come to have a pretty accurate understanding of how people are going to respond to a given book.

While the name of the genre tends to imply a uniformly high scare density, horror is a very broad genre, and there really is something for everybody—whether you’re a horror pro who likes the gore and tension dialed up to 11 or a gentle soul who can’t deal with even a light dismembering.

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5 Sweltering Southern Gothic Horror Novels for the Heat of Summer

There’s an element of tension in so much Southern Gothic that stems from America’s fraught history of slavery, violence, injustice, and class inequality. It hangs over the genre like the humidity before a storm. The ingredients are all there—disillusionment, ennui, macabre details—they’re often inherently horrifying, and you really don’t have to tinker with them all that much before you’ve tipped over into full-blown horror.

All of these books dwell in the space where youth and history intersect (there’s that tension again, the full weight of the past pitched against young lives, full of promise), and many grapple with issues of race, slavery, sex, and poverty. And since horror often works best when it’s tempered with realism, that grounding makes these books that much scarier.

Read on for five deliciously creepy Southern Gothic horror books.

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Series: Five Books About…

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