Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father’s dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbors soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle.

Audition by Ryu Murakami

In this gloriously over-the-top tale, Aoyama, a widower who has lived alone with his son ever since his wife died seven years before, finally decides it is time to remarry. Since Aoyama is a bit rusty when it comes to dating, a filmmaker friend proposes that, in order to attract the perfect wife, they do a casting call for a movie they don’t intend to produce. As the résumés pile up, only one of the applicants catches Aoyama’s attention―Yamasaki Asami―a striking young former ballerina with a mysterious past. Blinded by his instant and total infatuation, Aoyama is too late in discovering that she is a far cry from the innocent young woman he imagines her to be. The novel’s fast-paced, thriller conclusion doesn’t spare the reader as Yamasaki takes off her angelic mask and reveals what lies beneath.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.

The Victorian Book of the Dead by Chris Woodyard

Chris Woodyard, author of the The Ghosts of the Past series, digs through long-buried newspapers and journals, for this fascinating look at the 19th-century obsession with the culture of death. The Victorian Book of the Dead unearths extraordinary tales of Victorian funeral fads and fancies, ghost stories, bizarre deaths, mourning novelties, gallows humor, premature burial, post-mortem photographs, death omens, and funeral disasters. Resurrected from original sources, these accounts reveal the oddities and eccentricities of Victorian mourning. Packed with macabre anecdotes, this diverting, yet gruesome collection presents tales ranging from the paranormal and shocking to the heartbreaking.

Vic and Blood [Stories] by Harlan Ellison

The cycle begins with “Eggsucker,” which chronicles the early years of the association between fourteen‑year‑old loner Vic and his brilliant, telepathic dog in a post-apocalyptic world. The saga continues and expands in “A Boy and His Dog,” in which Blood shows just how much smarter he is than Vic, and Vic shows how loyal he can be. The story continues in “Run, Spot, Run,” the first part of Ellison’s promised novel of the cycle, Blood’s a Rover. Here Vic and Blood find surprising new ways to get into trouble—but getting out of it may be beyond even their combined talents. 

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

This Gothic novella tells the story of a young woman’s susceptibility to the attentions of a female vampire named Carmilla. Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years. Although Carmilla is a lesser known and far shorter Gothic vampire story, Stoker openly explained his influence by Le Fanu’s short story.

Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell

“Who Goes There?”: The novella that formed the basis of “The Thing” is the John W. Campbell classic about an antarctic research camp that discovers and thaws the ancient, frozen body of a crash-landed alien. The creature revives with terrifying results, shape-shifting to assume the exact form of animal and man, alike. Paranoia ensues as a band of frightened men work to discern friend from foe, and destroy the menace before it challenges all of humanity! The story, hailed as “one of the finest science fiction novellas ever written” by the SF Writers of America, is best known to fans as THE THING, as it was the basis of Howard Hawks’ The Thing From Another World in 1951, and John Carpenter’s The Thing in 1982.

The Ritual by Adam Nevill

When four old University friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect with one another. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise. With limited experience between them, a shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives. Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, Luke figures things couldn’t possibly get any worse. But then they stumble across an old habitation. Ancient artifacts decorate the walls and there are bones scattered upon the dry floors. The residue of old rites and pagan sacrifice for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. As the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn’t come easy among these ancient trees . . .

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji

In the spring of 1998, Koichi Sakakibara transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School. In class, he develops a sense of unease as he notices that the people around him act like they’re walking on eggshells, and students and teachers alike seem frightened. As a chain of horrific deaths begin to unfold around him, he comes to discover that he has been placed in the cursed Class 3 in which the student body head count is always one more than expected. Class 3 is haunted by a vengeful spirit responsible for gruesome deaths in an effort to satisfy its spite. To stop the vicious cycle gripping his new school, Koichi decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but is he prepared for the horror that lies ahead…?

Cujo by Stephen King

Outside a peaceful town in central Maine, a monster is waiting. Cujo is a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard, the best friend Brett Camber has ever had. One day, Cujo chases a rabbit into a cave inhabited by sick bats and emerges as something new altogether.

Meanwhile, Vic and Donna Trenton, and their young son Tad, move to Maine. They are seeking peace and quiet, but life in this small town is not what it seems. As Tad tries to fend off the terror that comes to him at night from his bedroom closet, and as Vic and Donna face their own nightmare of a marriage on the rocks, there is no way they can know that a monster, infinitely sinister, waits in the daylight.