Hello friends! We are really excited to kick off Spooky October – a month long event leading up to Halloween – with our first guest poster of the month, Destiny @ Howling Libraries. Asking Destiny to guest-post for us was a no-brainer, as one of her blog’s focus is horror and her recommendations have never led me astray. We’re excited to present Destiny’s post for you today, so without further ado, let’s jump into it. 🎃
LGBTQ+ Horror Book and Film Recommendations
by Destiny @ Howling Libraries
Happy October! This is my favorite month, and spooky posts are my favorites to write, so I was very happy when Veronika and Sabrina invited me to write a guest feature! When it was time to choose a topic, I realized no theme appealed to me more than taking a moment to write a queer horror recommendations post.
As a queer woman, I know how rare it can be to find good, inclusive horror stories — but thankfully, the past few years has given us this incredible explosion of horror books, especially from queer indie authors. I’ve compiled a few of my favorites here to tell you about, and I’ve even thrown in a few movie recommendations at the end of the post!
1. The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy
This is a delightful horror/fantasy novella with an incredibly queer cast, including an incredible anarcho-punk queer woman as the lead. Danielle Cain goes to the utopian town of Freedom, Iowa seeking clues about her best friend’s death, but when she arrives, finds herself drawn into a shocking turn of events. The townsfolk have summoned a protector spirit to keep everyone in line, but the spirit has begun to turn on its summoners, and it’s up to Danielle to find out why — and if she can save her new friends.
2. Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
If you love Seanan McGuire, but are unfamiliar with Mira Grant, may I have the pleasure of introducing you? Mira Grant is the pseudonym under which Seanan writes her spookiest and most shocking stories, and this one is a delight. It’s the novella prequel to her full novel Into the Drowning Deep, and I highly recommend starting with this precursor. A cruise ship sets off to film a documentary on mermaids, but they never expected to actually find them — or for these creatures to be so vicious. If casual queer and disabled rep coupled with terrifying, murderous mermaids appeals to you, you’re in for a real treat.
3. The Girl in Red by Christina Henry
I feel that this is one of Henry’s lesser-known works, but it might be my favorite. This Little Red Riding Hood retelling features a queer, disabled main character whose entire world has been thrown into chaos with the beginning of a zombie-esque apocalypse. While the end of the world is a terrifying enough thought on its own, Red quickly realizes that the real monsters are usually human, and in a world full of cruel, greedy men, she learns that she, too, can be a wolf.
4. The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
If you’re looking for a horror story that probably won’t give you nightmares but will definitely disturb you, this dark fantasy/horror hybrid novella is just for you. In the city of Elendhaven, there lives a monster: a man named Johann who has learned that he cannot die. When he meets a frail yet wicked magician, the two become an unlikely duo and form a strange, dark romantic bond in the meantime. Be forewarned that this one features a tremendous amount of violence as well as a very messed up relationship, but the writing is captivating and the characters are like a disaster I couldn’t look away from.
5. When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll
Have you ever thought to yourself, “What I wouldn’t give for a gothic horror romance between two monster-ladies in a creepy old castle, but make it a gorgeous graphic novel”? If that sentence sounds like something you might say, you’re going to need this story in your life. Emily Carroll’s art is striking and haunting, and this twisted romance reminds me of everything I love about old gothic horror tales. It’s somehow bloody, erotic, and incredibly quiet all at the same time, and would be the perfect read for a crisp, rainy fall evening with the lights turned low.
6. In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant
I couldn’t possibly make this list without another Mira Grant mention, as she is, in my opinion, one of the legends of queer stories. This novella is for all of my fellow Scooby-Doo lovers, because this story follows a group much like the Mystery Gang (without the dog, though, sadly) who goes on one final hunt together to a crumbling manor by the sea. Once they arrive, they find that something has been protecting the secrets in Spindrift House, and it doesn’t plan to let those mysteries be revealed so easily.
7. To Be Devoured by Sara Tantlinger
First, let me be very clear when I say that this novella is not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach). I tried to primarily compile this list of books that I think most horror lovers would enjoy, but despite knowing this book is the most “extreme” on this list, I had to include it. Not only does it feature a sapphic main couple at its core, but it also has nestled itself so deeply under my skin that I don’t think I could ever forget it. To Be Devoured follows Andi, a young woman who has been stricken with the irrepressible need to know the taste of carrion. While her girlfriend Luna desperately tries to help her through these alien urges, Andi finds herself heading down a path she can never return from. (Available on Kindle Unlimited!)
8. The Whites of Their Eyes: A Collection of Queer Horror by Xen
Anyone who knows me well, knows I adore Cole McCade’s romance books, but you might not know he’s also written a bit of horror under other names! This collection of short stories is chock-full of queer rep, including one of the most lovable elderly asexual couples you’ve ever met. You should go into this collection knowing that Xen, much like myself, is a believer in the idea that if we wish to support queer authors, we have to allow them to explore themes that might not always be comfortable — this is first and foremost a horror short story collection, and characters in horror tales don’t always get happy endings. That said, the representation is delightfully well-done, the writing is beautiful, and these stories chilled me to my core. (Available on Kindle Unlimited!)
9. The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado
If you like a bit of heartbreak with your horror, Carmen Maria Machado always delivers, especially in this graphic novel. This book is absolutely terrifying, full of ghosts and goosebumps, but more than that, there is something horrific and devastating in a very “real world” sense about its final reveal. It features queer women of color as the protagonists, and they are lovable to a degree that I still ache when I think about the horrors they experience within these pages — but if you need a good cry with your spine-tingling chills every now and then, I can’t recommend anything more strongly than this.
10. The Strange Thing We Become and Other Dark Tales by Eric LaRocca
And finally, I’m closing the bookish portion of this list out with a recent favorite short story collection. If you follow the queer horror scene at all, you’ve probably heard of this author, whose novella Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke has topped the charts for the past several months. While I loved that novella, I may have enjoyed this collection even more. Eric has an incredible way with weaving horror and trauma in their stories, so be aware that this is one of the most upsetting and disturbing recommendations I’ve featured here, but if you’re comfortable with the content warnings, I highly encourage you to give it a read.
And now, a few horror films my fellow queer horror lovers might want to check out during this spooky season:
1. The Perfection (2018): One of my favorite horror films in recent years, featuring queer women as two musical prodigies who form an unlikely relationship that quickly turns shocking.
2. Jennifer’s Body (2007): Not a personal favorite, but I had to include it for its iconic casual bi girl rep. That said, this movie is almost 15 years old and absolutely shows its age in some of the verbiage used, so be aware if you’re new to this one.
3. Spiral (2019): In the 90s, a gay couple moves to small town to raise their teen daughter, but nothing is as it seems and they begin to wonder if their new neighbors have sinister motives. As a queer viewer, there was something very real about the stakes in this film.
4. Lizzie (2018): I don’t know why I never hear anyone talk about this film, but it’s an incredibly sapphic take on the Lizzie Borden story, and K-Stew knocked it out of the park. I’m a shameless Kristen Stewart fangirl, so I might be biased, but I thought this quiet, “slow dread” period piece deserved a lot more hype than it got.
5. The Lost Boys (1987): And finally, this one’s an oldie but a goodie. I realized earlier this year that a shocking amount of my friends hadn’t seen this iconic film, and as far as horror films go, it’s not exactly nightmarish, so I especially recommend it for anyone who wants a spooky vibe without being too scared. NOTE: The queer subtext in The Lost Boys is never explicitly outed, but given that the director was an openly gay man, the subtext is remarkably heavy, and the film is widely claimed by the queer community as our own, I felt like it deserved a spot here.
Thank you for reading! I hope you found something eerie and queer to add to your TBR (or watchlist), and I hope you have a delightfully wicked spooky season. 🎃