Women in Horror Month: Horror Recommendations from Quirk’s Editors

Posted by Quirk Books Staff

Looking for your next horror read? Quirk Books editors Rebecca Gyllenhaal and Jess Zimmerman have recommendations for you based on movies, books, and TV shows you already know and probably love. If you don’t vibe with horror but still want to be in the know, don’t worry—there’s a rec for you, too. Explore Rebecca and Jess’s picks below!


If you like: Showtime’s Yellowjackets or The Ruins by Scott Smith

You’ll love: This Wretched Valley by Jenny Kiefer

Rebecca Gyllenhaal: If you’ve spent hours on the Wikipedia page of the Dyatlov Pass incident, trying to parse your own theory of what happened; if you’re really into (or really scared of) camping or rock-climbing; and if you want to read a horror novel where the dog lives, you’ll love This Wretched Valley. It’s survival horror at its finest, with a sentient forest where only poisonous plants thrive, paths that lead nowhere, a strangely magnetic rock wall, and plenty of supernatural scares. It’s loosely based on the Dyatlov Pass Incident, but transposed into the backwoods of Kentucky, where a rising-star rock climber is hoping to be the first to scale a previously undiscovered rock wall. It’s tense enough for the mystery fans and scary enough for the horror diehards, with a shocking third act twist that will completely blow your mind. The author, Jenny Kiefer, is both an avid rock climber herself and the co-owner and manager of Butcher Cabin Books, an all-horror bookstore in Louisville, Kentucky.


If you like: Poor Things

You’ll love: Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson

Jess Zimmerman: Sure, yeah, we’re all excited about a Frankenstein story with a woman in the role of the monster. But what about a Frankenstein story with a woman in the role of the diabolical genius creating the nigh-invulnerable but misunderstood monster from scraps? Well, that’s just Frankenstein, folks—the genius is Mary Shelley, and the immortal monster is Frankenstein (the doctor), Frankenstein (the novel), and the whole genre of science fiction. Monster, She Wrote gives you the lowdown on the women who created and shaped horror and speculative fiction—not just the obvious, like Shelley, Daphne du Maurier, and Shirley Jackson, but underappreciated talents like Jewelle Gomez and Everil Worrell. You could stock your TBR for months from this compendium alone. Bonus, no Midjourney-ass visuals (it has cute illustrations, actually!), and it doesn’t weirdly sexualize anyone who’s explicitly set up as having the mind of a child! Sorry, I did not like Poor Things but I do like this book.


On Sale May 7, 2024

If you like: Shaun of the Dead, but you wish it were gayer

You’ll love: The Z Word by Lindsay King-Miller

Jess Zimmerman: You know how Shaun of the Dead is a “comedy,” in the sense that it’s very funny, but it’s also a brilliant pastiche of the zombie genre and a deeply empathetic character study that is full-on scary and occasionally emotionally devastating? Well, imagine if it were also extremely gay. Sound perfect? Then pick up The Z Word, a biting (ha) satire of corporate pinkwashing that’s also a gory, sexy good time. The Z Word follows Wendy, a chaotic bisexual who’s trying to simultaneously deal with the breakup of her relationship and the breaking of a condom during the most apocalyptic Pride week her small town has ever seen. As a zombie plague rips through San Lazaro, Arizona, Wendy and her friends (and her ex) (and a mysterious, very stoned pizza delivery person) have to not only keep themselves and each other safe but figure out who’s behind the outbreak. It’s a good choice for people who are nervous about horror novels, since it’s tense and bloody but not nightmare-level scary. And like Shaun of the Dead, it makes me ugly-cry every time even though I’ve read it so many times. (More than I had to! Obviously reading this book a million times is part of my job but every time I pick it up I start reading it, even when I’m off the clock.)


On Sale August 6, 2024

If you like: True Detective: Night Country or The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

You’ll love: The Unmothers by Leslie J. Anderson

Rebecca Gyllenhaal: Calling all horse girls*! Whether you love horses or think they’re freaky as hell, you’ll love The Unmothers. And if you don’t feel any type of way about horses—you’re about to. In The Unmothers, Carolyn Marshall, a grieving journalist, is sent to a small town to investigate a ridiculous rumor: that a horse has given birth to a healthy, human baby boy. But after a grisly murder, she realizes that this impossible story may be the key to a dark secret that has haunted the women of the town for generations. Marshall is a chain-smoking, pragmatic protagonist in the vein of Mare from Mare of Easttown, and she’s utterly at odds with the superstitious town of Raeford, where horses have human eyes, the townsfolk are afraid to walk through fog, and the priest leaves out milk and sugar for the dark creature that stalks the woods. The Unmothers is both a truly masterful work of folk horror and a blistering parable of generational trauma, female rage, and reproductive autonomy in a post Roe v. Wade world. I dare you not to sob your way through the cathartic, poignant climax.

*I’m using “girls” in the gender-inclusive sense here–anyone can be a horse girl!


On Sale September 3, 2024

If you like: the Wikipedia summaries of films you’re too scared to watch

You’ll love: Horror for Weenies by Emily C. Hughes

Jess Zimmerman: Listen, I get it. I also immediately turn to Wikipedia when my friends and loved ones start talking about a brilliant, classic, or influential horror movie I know I’ll never be brave enough to watch. But let’s be honest, the Wikipedia film summary style leaves a lot to be desired. I leave those writeups thinking “I can just about understand the plot from this, sort of, but I have no idea what everyone is so excited about.” What if there were a book written specifically with us in mind—a crib sheet for people who want to get the jokes, understand the references, and see what the big deal is, but who don’t at any point want to be scared? That’s the concept behind Horror for Weenies, and let me tell you from experience, it works. After working on this book I got jokes I would have missed, had conversations I would have been shut out of, and understood a lot more about what makes the most widely-cited horror movies so interesting. Plus, I was never scared once, and I laughed a LOT. Wikipedia plot summaries could never.


Read an excerpt from Horror for Weenies in this blog post!

Explore Quirk's Horror Books Written by Women!

Monster, She Wrote

The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction

Horror for Weenies

Everything You Need to Know About the Films You're Too Scared to Watch