Summer Scares 2019 Resources

Click here to immediately access the Summer Scares FAQ and Resource page so that you can add some professionally vetted horror titles into your reading suggestions and fiction collections for all age levels.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Library Journal's 2019 Best Horror

In my role as the new Horror Columnist for Library Journal, I was part of the team that got to pick the Best Horror of the Year 2019.

Last year was the first time LJ pulled Horror out from Science Fiction and Fantasy, but they only consulted me quickly for my opinion and they only picked 5.

This year, I was part of the entire process and they gave us 10 books.

These authors showcase what makes horror such a popular genre right now. These are stories dealing with important issues, making readers think about their world. These are tales that are terrifying, but that are also really fun and enjoyable to read.

This is also a diverse group of titles and authors, covering all types of scares from he subtle to the terrifying. You will find stories, novels, collections, and anthologies, from presses big and small.

Below is the list of titles we decided upon. I am very proud to present this list and highly suggest you add every title to your library. In fact, I bet you have many of them already.
Best Horror 2019
by Stephanie Klose, Kiera Parrott, Becky Spratford Nov 18, 2019 | Filed in Reviews+
Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories. ed. by Ellen Datlow. Saga: S. & S. ISBN 9781534413467.
Best-selling authors Richard Kadrey, Nathan Ballingrud, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Tremblay, Alice Hoffman, and others offer up ghost stories perfect for a dark and stormy night. 
Iglesias, Gabino. Coyote Songs. Broken River. ISBN 9781940885490.
In this mosaic novel set on la frontera, various characters confront the darkness at the heart of modern America—evils both supernatural and all too real. 
Jacobs, John Horner. A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror. Harper Voyager. ISBN 9780062880826.
Jacobs offers two novellas—both of which revolve around the discovery of hidden works—that mine the deepest, darkest reaches of the human mind. Lyrical, hallucinatory prose captivates and terrifies. 
Janz, Jonathan. The Dark Game. Flame Tree. ISBN 9781787581876.
Best-selling author Roderick Wells hosts ten aspiring authors at a writers’ retreat. Everyone has secrets and their host may be a madman. Janz uses a well-mined genre trope to craft something unique and gloriously twisted. 
Kingfisher, T. The Twisted Ones. Saga: Gallery. ISBN 9781534429574.
While cleaning out her deceased grandparents’ home, Mouse discovers a journal describing the diabolic creatures who live in the surrounding woods—and soon encounters them herself. A modern, menacing Lovecraft-inspired tale. 
McMahon, Jennifer. The Invited. Doubleday. ISBN 9780385541381.
Helen and Nate move into a new home in Vermont, adjacent to a bog. Things get weird after Helen begins collecting artifacts from the town’s past, including a beam hewn from the tree used to hang a witch. Meanwhile, neighbor Olive searches for the haged witch’s hidden treasure in the bog. A thriller inside a murder mystery inside a ghost story. 
Moulton, Rachel Eve. Tinfoil Butterfly. MCD x FSG Originals. ISBN 9780374538309.
An intense and chilling story of a troubled woman and a young boy as they face down their demons and a coming snowstorm in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Moulton crafts a violent yet beautiful exploration of love, guilt, and pure evil. 
Thomas, Scott. Violet. Inkshares. ISBN 9781947848368.
After the tragic death of her husband, Kris returns to the place she first experienced pain and grief—her hometown of Lost Lake. The town is decaying and something evil grows at its core. The sense of dread builds slowly in this atmospheric, character-driven tale. 
Tremblay, Paul. Growing Things and Other Stories. Morrow. ISBN 9780062679130.
Tremblay tackles a range of mysterious subjects in this collection, from the title story about two young girls “Growing Things” in their basement to a tale in which a novelist’s fiction become fact. Tremblay’s unnerving creations leave just enough room for readers’ own imaginations to fill in the gory details. 
Wendig, Chuck. Wanderers. Del Rey. ISBN 9780399182105. 
After a comet passes over the Earth, dozens—and soon hundreds—of people begin sleepwalking toward an unknown destination. Responses across the world range from religious zealotry to apocalyptic ravings. Wendig shatters the boundaries of genre and literary fiction in this deeply unsettling saga.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

31 Days of Horror: Day 31-- Summer Scares 2020 and Librarians Day!

Happy Halloween! Today marks the end of 31 Days of Horror and the beginning of Summer Scares 2020. Below is the official press release, but I wanted to pull out a few pieces from that release and add a few extra details for my readers ONLY!

First, we are excited to announce that 2019 Summer Scares selected author Stephen Graham Jones has agreed to join our team as the 2020 Spokesperson for the program.

This means that Jones will be working to help us select the titles and prepare supplementary materials for the program. You can read more from Jones about his involvement in the full press release below. It was a pleasure to work with him after Mongrels was selected for the 2019 program, and we are thrilled that he is able to serve as our spokesperson for 2020.

This also means that Jones will be appearing at the 4th Annual HWA Librarians Day, which is also announced in the press release below. That event will be a stand alone event this year because StokerCon is in the UK. As many of you know, their library situation is very different than ours, so getting library workers to attend would be difficult.

Instead, Librarians Day 2020 will take place on May 7, 2020 at the Naperville Public Library 95th Street Branch. Details and signups will begin in January, however, I can confirm that along with Stephen Graham Jones, Summer Scares Programming Consultant, Konrad Stump will be in attendance, as well as author Daniel Kraus, who has confirmed with his publisher that every attendee will receive an advance copy of his hotly anticipated, sure to be a bestseller, summer release, The Living Dead, which he co-wrote with the late George A. Romero [and his estate] from a manuscript that was left behind when Romero passed away.

Happy Halloween! We have definitely given you many reasons to celebrate.

I hope you have enjoyed the last 31 Days as much as I have. Remember you can relive the October glory from this year or any year by clicking here to access past 31 Days of Horror posts, and you can do that all year long, not only in the month of October.

Now go eat some candy and get ready for another year of Summer Scares.




Los Angeles, California, October 30, 2019
The Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Library Journal/School Library Journal, is proud to announce the second annual Summer Scares Reading Program. Summer Scares is a reading program that provides libraries and schools with an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, young adult (teen), and middle grade readers. It introduces readers and librarians to new authors and helps start conversations extending beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come.

Award-winning author Stephen Graham Jones and a committee of four librarians will select three recommended fiction titles in each reading level, totaling nine Summer Scares selections. The goal of the program is to encourage a national conversation about the horror genre, across all age levels, at libraries nationwide and ultimately attract more adults, teens, and children interested in reading. Official Summer Scares designated authors will also make themselves available at public and school libraries.

“The first stories told around campfires forever ago,” Jones says, “were about monsters the hunting party had seen one valley over, and when the hunter describing this creature raised their arms to re-enact this scary encounter, the shadow the flames threw back from those upraised arms went for millennia. We're still cowering in that shadow. To be afraid is to be human. Horror gifts that back to us with each story, each book, each movie, each story told around all our many campfires.”

The committee’s final selections will be announced on February 14, 2020 — National Library Lover’s Day. Jones, along with some of the selected authors, will appear on a panel to kickoff Summer Scares at a special stand-alone Librarians Day on May 7, 2020 at the Naperville, IL Public Library. Details on the event and sign up materials will be available in January, 2020. 

Between the announcement of the titles and the kickoff event, the committee and its partners will publish lists of more suggested titles for further reading. Official Summer Scares podcasting partner, Ladies of the Fright Podcast, will also record episodes in conjunction with Summer Scares.

Look for more information coming soon in Library Journal, School Library Journal, and Book Riot, as well as from United for Libraries and at the HWA’s website: For more information about Summer Scares, contact JG Faherty, HWA Library Committee Chair (, or Becky Spratford, HWA Secretary (

In addition, this year the Summer Scares program is pleased to welcome Konrad Stump as the new Summer Scares Library Programming consultant. Konrad is the Local History Associate for the Springfield-Greene County Library District in Missouri. Library workers and authors who are interested in cultivating horror programming can contact Konrad at for free assistance.

Summer Scares Committee Members:

Stephen Graham Jones is a former library worker and the author of sixteen or seventeen novels—including Mongrels, a previous Summer Scares selection—six collections, some comic books and novellas, and better than three-hundred short stories. Next are The Only Good Indians, Night of the Mannequins, and Memorial Ride. Stephen lives in Boulder, Colorado, where he's a Professor of Distinction and the Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in fiction, the Bram Stoker Award, and four This is Horror awards.

Becky Spratford is a library consultant and the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, second edition, and is currently working on the third edition. She reviews horror for Booklist Magazine, is the horror columnist for Library Journal and runs the Readers’ Advisory Horror blog, RA for All: Horror. Becky is also a Library Trustee member of United for Libraries and is currently serving as Secretary for the Horror Writers’ Association.

Carolyn Ciesla is a library director and academic dean at Prairie State College in the Chicago suburbs. She has worked as a teen librarian and reference librarian, and reviews horror titles for Booklist Magazine. She’s currently enjoying providing all the scary books to her teen daughter, and revisiting a few along the way.

Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for Library Journal and School Library Journal, where she oversees the review of more than 14,000 titles annually. Before joining the Journals, Kiera was head of children’s services at Darien Library (CT), and began her career as a librarian at the New York Public Library. Kiera is a lifelong horror fan and loves nothing more than curling up with a blood-curdling read on a rainy day. You can find her on Twitter @libraryvoice.

Kelly Jensen is a former librarian who works as an Editor for Book Riot (, where she runs the bi-weekly "What's Up in YA?" young adult newsletter and cohosts the popular "Hey YA" podcast about young adult literature Her books include the award-winning (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health and Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, both from Algonquin Young Readers. She's also a well-known and long-time co-blogger at Stacked ( A life-long lover of all things scary, she finds herself eager to scream about horror reads for teens with those who love good thrills and chills.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

31 Days of Horror: Day 30-- The Final Word on Summer Scares 2019 with Grady Hendrix

Today is the final day of Summer Scares 2019! Tomorrow we announce the 2020 Spokesperson. But first,  I wanted to give our inaugural Spokesperson and true friend of libraries everywhere, Grady Hendrix one last chance to speak directly to all of you.

Thank you Grady for all you have done to help make Summer Scares a reality and to make it successful. For more of Grady's work on Summer Scares go to the Summer Scares Resource page. We have interviews Grady did with some of our authors, lists and essays he wrote specifically to help you help readers, and even a recording of the Circulating Ideas Podcast [recorded live from the PRH booth at ALA Annual] where Grady and I talked about the program.

But right now, here is Grady Hendrix with his take on my "Why I Love Horror" theme. And stay tuned tomorrow to find out who is going to be helping us get 2020 rolling.


Why I Love Horror
by Grady Hendrix

When I was eleven my mother enrolled me in cotillion. We lived in a suburb of Charleston, South Carolina and you enrolled your kids in cotillion because that ensured they were on the invite list for all the debutante balls that would take place when they were older, and the debutante balls ensured you had a foothold in Charleston’s social scene when you were even older and needed to get one of your clients off a DUI charge. 

At cotillion we stood in a ring and rotated from partner to partner, counting under our breaths while stomping out the Foxtrot and the Cha-Cha to EPs of Quiet Riot’s “Come On Feel the Noise” and Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling” played at one-third speed. The girls wore white gloves because touching the bare hands of boys would get them pregnant. We met in South Carolina Sociey Hall, a former orphanage, which had no air conditioning, and we were sweaty little monsters. By the time cotillion ended the girls’ formerly white gloves were gray and dripping. Cotillion taught me that dancing in public should feel like being on a prison work crew.

Every year, I had a birthday party. My best friends came over and carpeted our garage room in wall-to-wall sleeping bags and pizza boxes. We’d get jacked up on Coke and once my mom closed her bedroom door at 9pm we’d sneak out of the house and play epic games of Capture the Flag, sneak through people’s yards, run from the police they inevitably called, then regroup for horror movies, then back outside for more mayhem.

We soaked up The Thing with its human bodies stretching and exploding, growing bundles of thrashing tentacles and fanged mouths. Videodrome with James Wood feeding a biorganic VHS tape into the gaping vaginal opening in his stomach. The gore-soaked splat-schtick of Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. We craved the apocalyptic mayhem of Dawn of the Dead, the 80’s vampire murder party of Near Dark, the endtimes automotive apocalypse of The Road Warrior. We’d get pumped up on seeing human bodies folded, twisted, impaled, and mutilated, shot, and exploded, and torn into bits, then we’d rampage through our sleeping suburb on missions to steal lawn ornaments and moon passing cars. 

At school, our dress code stated:

“All attire must be clean, neat, and in good taste, Take pride in your personal appearance and in your school. Bizarre fads and fashions of shoes, clothing, hair, and behavior have no place. It is felt that ample, within school guidelines, room has been provided for students to express their individuality.”

Male students couldn’t have pierced ears or wear sneakers. No denim or camouflage allowed. No logos on clothes. Shirts had to have collars and button up. Female students couldn’t wear culottes or shorts. No bare midriffs. No bare shoulders. No bare legs. No boots. No heels. No above-the-ankle pants. All jewlery must be “simple and modest.” 

Our headmaster, vice-principal, and some over-eager faculty policed the halls and breezeways, dishing out demerits for hair that touched the collar, untucked shirts, pants that had no belt holding them up, running in the halls, or “Anything which draws undue attention.” Talking back to teachers earned you a trip to the front office, but the definition of “talking back” varied. Making an innocent joke during chemistry lab earned you laughs one day and a trip to Saturday school the next.

When we realized my annual birthday parties weren’t enough we began spending the night at Matt Gibson’s because his mom didn’t care what time we went to bed. We watched a professor at medical school get his head cut off and then sexually assault a student with it in Re-Animator. We made the mistake of thinking Evil Dead would be as funny as Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn and traumatized ourselves. We watched Ronald Reagan nuke St. Louis in a vain attempt to stop brain-eating zombies in Return of the Living Dead. Then we’d sneak out of Matt’s house and roam downtown Charleston playing Rehash, a game of tag that involved chewed-up food. It was disgusting, but in our defense, we were 14. 

For eight hours a day, from 7:30am to 3:30pm (or later on days when there was choir practice), and for five days a week (six when you had Saturday school), the lives we led were regimented and proscribed. We marched around in a circle at cotillion. We obeyed a byzantine system of pointless rules at school. We were expected to be obedient and respectful. We addressed our elders as “ma’am” and “sir”, we did our homework, we ate our vegetables, we drank our milk.

But we snuck Stephen King books into our bedrooms and read about a plague wiping out humanity and a few brave survivors who started the whole circus over again from scratch. We read about abusive dads with roque mallets trying to beat their kids to death. We read about small towns like ours overrun by vampires and the adults too stupid, venal, and morally compromised to stop it. We read Clive Barker. We read V.C. Andrews. 

It all made sense to us. In fact, horror looked more like the real world than the Disney movies and laff-tracked television shows we grew up on. We’d been sold a vision of a world that was homework and Saturday School and honor rolls and everyone marching around in a circle, but we suspected the real world was a lot more like those gray, wet gloves the girls wore. And the world we wanted to live in was full of mess, and chaos, and gleeful anarchy, and blood squibs erupting like an exclamation point out of someone’s skull. Tell John Carpenter that the Thing’s six foot long screaming head couldn’t wear culottes. Tell Near Dark’s hillbilly vampires their hair couldn’t touch their collars. 

To us, all those monsters and murders weren’t about hurting people. They were about taking Jason’s machete and using it to hack open a door in this wall. We wanted to slide down an escape chute greased with guts, ride to freedom on Godzilla’s back, take this world that had nothing to offer us but demerits and detentions and crack it in half so the mutants could scramble out and rule the earth. 

All of us loved horror, because horror loved us back. And you know what they say about first love. For the rest of your life, nothing else will ever come close.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

31 Days of Horror: Day 29- HWA Stars a Public Mailing List for All to Receive Horror News

I am taking a small break from all the Summer Scares info during this lead up to Halloween to let you know of a brand new service from the Horror Writers Association [which will also let you know about Summer Scares info too].

Click here to subscribe 
Quick Bites is a new, mailing list from the Horror Writers Association that offers notable new releases, upcoming events, tips, news and more, geared toward authors, readers, publishers, librarians, or just anyone interested in the literary world of horror.

This is the first time the HWA is offering a mailing list for anyone and everyone, no need to be a member to receive it. Members do, and will still receive, a monthly newsletter that is quite extensive, is compiled by an editor, and includes columns by members about the craft of writing. This Quick Bites, however, is focused on delivering more tangible informational quickly and to as wide an audience as possible.

We on the HWA Board are excited about this change and hope that with the increased interest in horror from the general public and our uptick in work with all of you in libraries this will make it easier for us to keep you informed.

It will be the go-to newsletter on all things about the world of horror in book form and who better than to give it to you but the authors of said books-- the Horror Writers Association.

I know other writers associations have these newsletters because as a RA Librarian I am subscribed to them in order to stay up to date on as many genres as possible. Now, you can add horror to the mix. And now is the perfect time of year to sign up because you already have the scariest of genres on your mind.

Subscribe to Quick Bites using this link. Sign up today!

Monday, October 28, 2019

31 Days of Horror: Day 28- 2019 Summer Scares Vetted Titles And Resources

As we keep counting down to Halloween and the Summer Scares 2020 kick off announcement, I wanted to remind everyone that they can use the materials we created for the 2019 program, you know, to help those last minute patrons who want something spooky. They will be shambling in like crazy for the next few days. We need to arm ourselves with suggestions.

As a reminder, the official Summer Scares titles selected by the committee in all three age groups were:

Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2017)
My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due (Harper Voyager, 1998)
Earthworm Gods by Brian Keene (Deadite Press, 2012)

Rotters by Daniel Kraus (Ember, 2012)
Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, edited by April Genevieve Tucholke (Speak, 2016)
Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow (Penguin Random House Publisher Services, 2015)

Doll Bones Holly Black (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015)
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014)
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (Algonquin Young Readers, 2016)

To help you book talk these titles, our podcast partner Ladies of the Fright Summer Scares covered each selections in detail with our committee members. They chatted about the appeal of each title, basic plot and most importantly, why horror is a good read all year long. Below is a list where you can choose the episode based on the reading level:
There are also readalike lists, interviews with many of the authors, including multiple authors from the YA story collection, and so much more on the Summer Scares Resource page.

Speaking of the YA collection, you can confidently suggest a book by any author who appears in that Table of Contents, giving you dozens more suggestions.

I know I have been pushing this resource page since last week, but now that we are about to begin year 2, I want to remind you that the resources available here will only grow. The compound interest of the work product we put together each year, will build upon itself, year after year. And here's the best part, you can keep using it, over and over again.

If I am being honest, that is the part I love most about Summer Scares. Yes, each year getting to announce the 9 vetted titles is exciting, but it is the prospect of the compound interest we are creating, that excites me the most. We are helping you to help readers enjoy horror all year long, but we are also ensuring you have a variety of options and choices that will serve you as you suggest horror, for years to come.

Can you tell I am excited for our year 2 announcement?

10/31/19 at 10am across multiple platforms....

Sunday, October 27, 2019

31 Days of Horror Day 27: Middle Grade Horror from School Library Journal

Today I have a link from the Summer Scares Middle Grade expert and editor at Library Journal/School Library Journal, Kiera Parrott
That should keep you busy this Sunday before Halloween.

Remember, Middle Grade Horror is a great option for readers of all ages, especially this close to the holiday. These are spooky books that are good even for adults who are a little to scared to try adult options, but still want to get in the Halloween spirit. 

Also, in general, I have been recommending Middle Grade titles from all genres to more and more adults. I feel like as YA gets more and more relationship focused, it is losing some of the depth it once had and spends too much time on the romance aspects. But Middle Grade, because it doesn't have any romance or coupling issues, has been expanding to be more thought provoking than ever before. Seriously, I am suggesting it more and more to readers of all ages.

Horror is no exception here.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

31 Days of Horror: Day 26-- Kelly Jensen on YA Horror

As I keep featuring the Summer Scares program and committee, today I have invited Kelly Jensen, an editor at Book Riot and our YA specialist on the Summer Scares committee on why she loves horror, but also why it is so appealing to teens in general too.


YA Horror: A Mirror of Adolescence
Kelly Jensen

I don’t remember the first time I picked up a horror book, nor do I remember the first horror movie I saw. What I do remember, though, is finding Stephen King when I was in middle school and falling fast and hard for his work through my teen years. 

On hot summer days, my grandfather would take me to the library in the town next to ours. They had a far better collection than the local library. I’d come home with stacks of books, which I’d read during those long afternoons. My mother worked second and third shift. She was single, and we lived with my grandparents, both of whom were also working.

The recent announcement of another King adaptation, this time for The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, took me right back to that time of my life. I read -- and loved -- that book, reading it every day on my bed, on my mother’s bed, on the couch, and most vividly in my memory, on the stationary bike in my grandfather’s bedroom. 

The love of horror followed me through college, though that came more in the visual format, as opposed to the literary. Stephen King fell off my radar a bit, but I wasn’t afraid to enjoy a good scary film or two. 

But entering my adulthood, post-library school, I rekindled my love and passion for horror because of YA books. And I think that’s, in part, because YA horror reminds me so much of those memories of discovering King. 

Although not all of Stephen King’s stories feature young characters, many do. Certainly, the ones I read did. The most fascinating aspects of even books like It weren’t the adults, even for me as an adult. It was the kids’ stories that kept me paging through the tome and deeply hooked on the new adaptation. I won’t likely skip the second chapter of the film, but I already know it won’t capture my attention the same way. 

The thing about being young is that being young is a time of utter uncertainty. You don’t know what your place is in the world. You don’t know what your body is doing as it grows and expands, shifts and changes. You’re not given the same latitudes to experiment or faulter the ways that adults are -- hell, you can’t even eat ice cream for dinner if that’s what you want to do. The world’s got its cards stacked against you, if only because you don’t know well enough to challenge them. 

YA horror is the story of being young and uncertain. Vulnerable and afraid. Whether the monster at the end of the book is a zombie or a ghost, a chainsaw-wielding murderer or a spell-casting witch doesn’t matter. Those are props in the bigger realities of what it’s like to grow up, to figure out who you are, what it is you want to be, and how you’re supposed to do those very things. 

Young adult horror brings me back to the scariest parts of my own youth: long stretches of loneliness, a deadbeat and absent father, the unbelievably responsibility thrust upon me to know what it was I wanted to do with my entire life by the time I was 18. I keep reading YA horror not because I find that return to the worst days of my life enjoyable, rather I keep returning to them for perspective -- and more, I continue to read and talk about YA horror because those books are comforting. It’s not a teen alone against a clown or a blood-thirsty werewolf though that brings ease. It’s the fact that those things are predictable, understandable. They’re bumps along the road of coming-of-age in a way that allows for escaping from whatever current reality is before me. 

A monster chasing teens on the moon? Sign me up. I know that at the end of the book, the teens will win or the monster will. That even when given the ultimate bad guy in the form of a serial killer, there’s something redeeming enough in that character to encourage me along for 200, 300, 500 pages, to see where it all goes. 

No matter what the conclusion, it’s a ride. A journey full of ups and downs. Twists and turns. Maybe even blood and bones. And that ride is the same ride we take during our young years. It’s intense. It’s lonely. It’s sometimes a straight-up shit show. But we get through the book, just like we get through adolescence. Through our messy, complex young years. 

And at the end of it, we have a host of spooky, spidery stories to tell.