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We’ve all been there. It’s summer. The weather is finally warming up and your long-awaited vacation has just kicked off.  But then, of course, something kind of spooky happens. Maybe the cruise bartender has a sinister scar running down his face. Maybe the cabin you rented suddenly feels a little too secluded. Or perhaps you just ran out of gas on a long and desolate highway. And then someone finally says it: “This is totally how a scary movie would start!” Luckily for you, most vacations don’t play out like a horror film. But if you’re still in the mood for a scare in your downtime, you can always bring some along with you. Here are our top recommendations for scary novels to bring on your upcoming summer vacation.

 

For your Upcoming Beach Vacation

Night of the Crabs by Guy N. Smith

If ever you were to judge a book by its cover, please oh please, let it be Night of the Crabs by Guy N. Smith. Something of a cult classic among horror lit buffs, Night of the Crabs promises just that: an onslaught of flesh-craving crustaceans worthy of its George A. Romero namesake. This summer, when you’re heading to the beach, don’t forget to pack this paperback gem. Night of the Crabs will have you asking, "JAWS? JAWS who?"

 

 

For Your Upcoming Camping Trip

The Troop by Nick Cutter

For those of you that sleep better in a tent than on a Tempur-Pedic, we recommend Nick Cutter’s The Troop. When Scoutmaster Tim Riggs and his troop head out for an annual camping trip, they expected a normal weekend of roughing it. But what they got was no picnic. In fact, they’ve become the picnic…

 

In Preparation for Your Upcoming Hike

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

VanderMeer is a master of genre-bending. Part fantasy, part horror, Annihilation will whisk you away to a magical landscape before turning its hidden maw on your psyche. Set in the mysterious Area X, Annihilation chronicles the events of a doomed expedition’s trek into The Shimmer, a bizarre new landscape that’s been slowly edging its way toward civilization. Things in The Shimmer don’t act the way they ought to, including the people. So, keep an eye out while you're marching up that mountain this summer. Don’t walk through anything too shiny…

 

 

For Your Upcoming Small-Town Getaway

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

When the creators of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast published their first novel, we couldn’t have been more excited. Any opportunity to dive into the strange and backward world of Night Vale is a welcomed one. Every small town has its secrets, so think of this book as a training guide for your upcoming vacation. Keep your eyes peeled for faceless old women, levitating cats, and multiplying suns. ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY GLOW CLOUD!

 

 

For Your Upcoming Road Trip

Lost Highways: Dark Fictions from the Road (Anthology)

These days, it can be hard to escape the constant safety of connectivity. No matter where you go, odds are good that Instagram and GrubHub are there waiting for you. But nothing restores our sense of isolation faster than a long stretch of lonely highway. With sixty miles between you and the next gas station, anyone might feel a little bit nervous. So, this summer, as your braving the great American expanse, check out Lost Highways: Dark Fictions from the Road. It might make you think twice about taking that “short cut."

 

 

For Your Upcoming Stay in that Beautiful Resort

The Grand Hotel by Scott Kenemore

Let’s be honest, if you’re looking for a good hotel horror story, there’s none better than King’s The Shining. But if you’re looking to check into a lesser-known establishment, we recommend The Grand Hotel by Scott Kenemore. Set in a beautiful and sprawling hotel, this novel is made up of a series of spooky, interconnected shorts stranger than the last. Sure, that all-inclusive resort your checking into might have waterslides and bottomless mimosas, but we’re betting it doesn’t have half as many buried secrets as The Grand. Time to upload some mystery to that Kindle. 

 

 

For your Upcoming Cruise

Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin

Most of us know Martin for his work on a tiny, little story called Game of Freaking Thrones. But a lot of folks don’t know that Martin’s archive runs pretty deep. In 1982, he penned a vampire novel called Fevre Dream, in which a mysterious aristocrat invests in a failing riverboat venture. For captain Abner Marsh, this is a turn of fortune. However, it soon becomes clear that this strange investor has his own plans for the captain’s boat—Vampires? Riverboats? George R. R. Martin? Permission to come aboard, Captain!? With so many exciting things packed into one novel, you can be sure that we’ll be clutching Fevre Dream as we set sail into vampire-infested waters. 


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J. B. Kish's picture

J. B. Kish

J. B. Kish grew up in the American Southwest and spent most of his childhood concocting strange stories with spooky monsters. Now, he lives in the Pacific Northwest and has begun publishing those childhood nightmares for others. He is the author of two novels, including the paranormal thriller A Wall for Teeth and Stingers, which takes place in both Arizona and Oregon. He has the same birthday as Captain Kathryn Janeway, which is a thing he takes very seriously. Probably too seriously.