It’s time for another Book Unicorn category: sapphic horror novels!
Horror novels generally aim to invoke feelings of dread, fear, and anxiety in readers. In short: These books are meant to be scary!
There’s some overlap with other genres such as psychological thrillers and paranormal and other speculative fiction since the scary element is often a supernatural entity such as demons, zombies, ghosts, etc.
What is the Book Unicorn?
A quick reminder: The Book Unicorn is a bonus level that you can pick either by itself or as an additional goal. The goal is to read at least 10 sapphic books from a list of 12 harder-to-find genres and themes. You can download a PDF with all 12 categories here.
15 sapphic horror novels
Here are the 15 books I picked for the “sapphic horror novels” category:
Cold as Hell by Neen Cohen
The town of OpenFields is cold as hell…
Magic exists in OpenFields, and everyone but Adie plays their part. So what happens when murder and strangers visit the secret town?
Adie’s normal isn’t “normal.” Cameras watch her sleep, the eyes of the townsfolk narrow at her sight, and when she discovers her bosses’ office in disarray, and a stranger who makes her heart thunder, her world changes forever.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Everyone loses something to the Tox; Hetty lost her eye, Reese’s hand has changed, and Byatt just disappeared completely.
It’s been 18 months since the Raxter School for Girls was put in quarantine. The Tox turned the students strange and savage, the teachers died off one by one. Cut off from the mainland, the girls don’t dare wander past the school’s fence where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure as the Tox takes, their bodies becoming sick and foreign, things bursting out of them, bits missing.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie in the wilderness past the fence. As she digs deeper, she learns disturbing truths about her school and what else is living on Raxter Island.
Outsider by W. Freedreamer Tinkanesh
Sid is a medicated musician who has lost her rhythm, but strangely is finding her voice as a writer. Her involvement in this story starts when she attends one of Second Look’s gigs for the first time. The rock band inspires her to write short stories sprinkled with monsters.
For Joy, the bored blood-drinker, it might have started when a powerful vampire turned her into a creature of the night at the dawn of the 20th century. Death would probably claim that it started at Sid’s birth, when she thought this soul would make a perfect travelling companion.
For Toni and Dee-Dee, it was the night the mighty predator made the unwilling musician into an extremely angry fledgling. The entity known as Life, meddling with mortals’ private lives and nights, clinched her own private deal.
The curious Sid wonders and inquires about vampires. The cynical Joy rediscovers the art of feeling and finds herself willing to protect her mortal lover, even against an over-righteous vampire.
Dead Lez Walking by G Benson
One hospital. One zombie virus. One desperate group. One way out.
A new virus has appeared, and all Taren can do is groan. Being a nurse in Accident and Emergency has its downsides, and dealing with the flood of people freaking out over symptoms they don’t really have is definitely one of them.
Joy, an exhausted surgeon, is just trying to find somewhere to relax after a horrendous night on call—and somewhere she can avoid Taren, since Joy blew her off after an incredible date weeks ago. When she wakes up after an accidental nap, her pager has gone dead, and the doors outside are barricaded. This can’t be about the virus, can it?
Yes, it can. The dead are rising, and they are hungry. Joy and Taren are trapped with a group of others as they try to fight for their lives and get out. The rest of the group think it would be great if Joy and Taren would stop making moon eyes at each other when they are oh, you know, just trying to survive the zombie apocalypse.
The Curse of Doll Island by Ocean
In 1732 a Shaman performed ‘The Curse of the Damned’ on two women, trapped their tormented souls in wax dolls, and banished them to a tiny island.
Fast forward 287 years. Rosie Moorea is a simple girl who lives an unassuming life. Her friends convince her that she needs to give herself a fun adventure. Overcoming long standing anxieties, she books a solo vacation. All is uneventful until she meets the charismatic, professional skateboarding movie star, Devin Fitzroy, who convinces her to go on a picnic. With a setting sun and an approaching storm, they end up on an island rumored to be haunted by cursed dolls.
Rosie and Devin don’t believe the superstitions that the dolls come alive when the sun goes down. However, they’re about to discover there’s more to worry about than bugs and snakes when they find themselves stranded on an island that holds many secrets, most of them evil.
Forced to confront their own fears and insecurities, the women are thrown into situations that require quick wit and bravery to survive. Will they make it through the night to see the sun rise or will something more evil than they could ever have imagined get to them first?
Paradigm by Yvonne Heidt
Work can be hell. Especially when you’re working nights in the most haunted sanitarium in the USA. Jazz Miller is in charge of special effects. Her job is to orchestrate the creepiest and most terrifying experiences for thrill-seeking tourists. But not all of the disturbing occurrences that take place on these tours are part of the show. There is something more sinister at work.
Missing her ride one night, Jazz is inadvertently locked in the chilling building…alone. The experience is terrifying, and she barely survives the shock. But the horror doesn’t stop at one night. Something had found her that night and it won’t let her go. Thirteen years later and at her wits end, she tries to escape its malignant clutches one last time. California seems the perfect destination, it’s sunny, warm and home of her best friend Billy. But the ominous entity can’t be shaken so easily.
Gypsy Tanner is the host of the popular television show Paradigm, an investigative series that not only takes a deep look into paranormal occurrences but also enlists experts in the field to try and help the victims. Her last investigation was a particularly difficult and ominous one. When disturbing things begin to happen afterwards, she is convinced that something may have stayed with her.
When Jazz and Gypsy meet, the attraction between them is electric. It’s hard to ignore the pull they feel toward each other but how can either focus on a new relationship under these circumstances? If bad things happen in the dark, can their love be the light that frees them from the malevolent shadows?
Bad things happen in the dark.
Leave the lights on.
The House by Eden Darry
Sadie, Fin, and their two children were a perfectly ordinary family. Even if Fin felt taken for granted sometimes. Even if their introverted son, Liam, had terrible nightmares and knew things he shouldn’t.
But everything changes the night Sadie is viciously assaulted by former client Lance Sherry. Sherry knows where they live, and when the police fail to catch him, Sadie and Fin are forced to run. They think they’ve found the perfect place to start over. The house is everything Fin dreamed of, but as they settle in, Sadie discovers their home may not be what it seems, and daughter Lucy’s imaginary friend might not be imaginary at all. Or even a friend. With Lance Sherry hunting them, the house could be the least of their problems. He’s coming to finish what he started. And he won’t stop until he finds Sadie.
Castle Wrath by Karin Kallmaker
A bubbly ingenue falls heir to a remote, storm-drenched castle in a foreign land. All hers – if she can outlast the dangerous and too delicious competing claimant.
Strange happenings, a curious (and disconcertingly attractive) caretaker, plus sensuous nightmares may be far more than California girl Brittany Brannigan can handle.
Beyond and Begone by Lois Cloarec Hart
Erin has retreated from the world after the loss of her wife, Gwen, in a hit-and-run accident. Her best friend, Mariel, who is also her late wife’s sister, is the only person she’s interacted with for years.
Finally, Erin dips her toes back into the dating pool, only to find that very odd things begin to happen. Mariel’s medium, Zahra, insists that Gwen is trying to reach her with a warning. Erin has no use for psychics, but as the incidents mount, she reluctantly turns to Zahra for help and finds herself swept into a maelstrom of danger and intrigue.
Can the love of her life save her? Or will she join Gwen, beyond and begone?
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.
Instead, she got Em.
Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .
As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.
But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?
The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé
Something is wrong with Marianne.
It’s not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.
She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.
But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has—everything it’s convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.
Dark Dreamer by Jennifer Fulton
Best selling horror author Rowe Devlin has had two flops in a row and keeps falling in love with straight women. Seeking inspiration and a fresh start, she abandons life in Manhattan for an old Victorian house in Maine.
But Dark Harbor Cottage is a far cry from the tranquil writing environment she envisioned. For a start, the place is haunted, and the ghost is none too friendly. To make life even more difficult, her neighbors are a huge distraction. The Temple twins, Phoebe and Cara, are identical and profoundly alluring, and Rowe is soon under their spell, unable to decide which of the two she is more in love with.
Just when it seems things can’t get any worse, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery more bizarre and frightening than anything she’s ever written.
Valley of the Dead by Crystal M. Romero
Gay Pride weekend this year was bound to go down in history because of the nation’s advances in equality. Across California’s Silicon Valley, couples gathered for numerous weddings, and people showed their pride at a downtown park. Even the usual religious protesters failed to ruin the celebration. Unfortunately, history would not remember this as the day of celebrating equality but as the day the zombies overran the world. Revelry quickly turned to chaos as the crowds fought for their lives.
Yvonne Martin just wanted to relax at home this year, but a frantic call from her best friend set her on a terrifying mission to save him. Along the way, they are thrown together with Captain Jacqueline Rhodes and her partner, the last surviving officers of the police force. Together with some of their neighbors, they must make their escape from this Valley of the Dead.
Keepers of the Cave by Gerri Hill
While the investigations go on in Dallas and Baton Rouge after the disappearance of a senator’s daughter, FBI agents CJ Johnston and Paige Riley are assigned to the sleepy backwoods of East Texas for a dead-end assignment to infiltrate an all-girls school.
Random disappearances dating back fifty years and more raise red flags that point to the tiny, isolated community of Hoganville. But CJ and Paige fear there will be little distraction from the memories of the one-night stand they shared six months ago.
Nevertheless, they integrate themselves into the lives of the teachers and staff, but soon the odd behavior of the townspeople has them convinced something sinister lurks there. Something, perhaps, that even the residents of Hoganville don’t know about.
The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado
Shudder-To-Think, Pennsylvania, has been on fire for years. The coal mines beneath it are long since abandoned. The woods are full of rabbits with human eyes, a deer woman who stalks hungry girls, and swaths of skinless men. And the people in Shudder-to-Think? Well, they’re not doing so well either.
When El and Octavia wake up in a movie theater with no memory of the last few hours of their lives, the two teenage dirtbags begin a surreal and terrifying journey to discover the truth about the strange town that they call home. Like so many women in Shudder-to-Think before them, all they have is a void where the truth once was. But as time passes, El finds herself needing to know more about what has happened, while Octavia wants nothing more than to forget the forgetting. Can these two teens reconcile their differences before the horrible things lurking beneath their town emerge and swallow them whole?
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1 thought on “Sapphic horror novel (Book Unicorn #10)”
One of my favourite finds this year were Justina Ireland’s -Dread Nation and Deathless Divide. I guess they are a bit of a genre mashup, because its an alternate history- where after the American Civil War the dead raise as Zombie…. although they are not scary as such but so so good! Definitely recommend!