2020 has been a rough year for everyone, am I right? That said, I have to give credit where it’s due and be honest – the books have been amazing! So many great releases came out this year, and I’ve honestly not even been able to fully keep up – although I have managed to stay on top of most of the stuff I was SUPER excited for at the start of the last year. I’ve read very few things this year that I rated below 4-5 stars; not because I’m a super generous rater, but because the books I’ve been reading have just been that good!
One of my favorite parts of the end of one year and start of the next is going through the websites of my favorite authors and publishers, and compiling a big mega-list of releases I’m super psyched about. I’ll add to this spreadsheet throughout the year, since we all know stuff comes out without tons of warning sometimes (and that’s okay – the more, the merrier!). For the stuff that has been released, I decided to put together a handy post so that if you’re trying to find new books in 2021, you can check out some of the ones I’m looking forward to!
As a reminder, although I do love horror THE VERY MOST, I do love reading lots of different genres. There are some YA books, some fantasy, and some thrillers on this list, too! At the bottom is a little mini-list of books that don’t have a whole lot of information out yet, but are on my radar & I’m super excited to check out this year! For clarity’s sake, this isn’t everything coming out in 2021 – just some stuff I am especially looking forward to!
1) The Gulp by Alan Baxter
(Release Date: January 12)
Strange things happen in The Gulp. The residents have grown used to it.
The isolated Australian harbour town of Gulpepper is not like other places. Some maps don’t even show it. And only outsiders use the full name. Everyone who lives there calls it The Gulp. The place has a habit of swallowing people.
Five novellas. Five descents into darkness.
Welcome to The Gulp, where nothing is as it seems.
2) People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd
(Release Date: January 12)
To her adoring fans, Emmy Jackson, aka @the_mamabare, is the honest “Instamum” who always tells it like it is.
To her skeptical husband, a washed-up novelist who knows just how creative Emmy can be with the truth, she is a breadwinning powerhouse chillingly brilliant at monetizing the intimate details of their family life.
To one of Emmy’s dangerously obsessive followers, she’s the woman that has everything—but deserves none of it.
As Emmy’s marriage begins to crack under the strain of her growing success and her moral compass veers wildly off course, the more vulnerable she becomes to a very real danger circling ever closer to her family.
In this deeply addictive tale of psychological suspense, Ellery Lloyd raises important questions about technology, social media celebrity, and the way we live today. Probing the dark side of influencer culture and the perils of parenting online, People Like Her explores our desperate need to be seen and the lengths we’ll go to be liked by strangers. It asks what—and who—we sacrifice when make our private lives public, and ultimately lose control of who we let in.
3) Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire
(Release Date: January 12)
Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.
When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.
But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem.
4) Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
(Release Date: January 19)
Four years after Bitterblue left off, a new land has been discovered to the east: Torla; and the closest nation to Monsea is Winterkeep. Winterkeep is a land of miracles, a democratic republic run by people who like each other, where people speak to telepathic sea creatures, adopt telepathic foxes as pets, and fly across the sky in ships attached to balloons.
But when Bitterblue’s envoys to Winterkeep drown under suspicious circumstances, she and Giddon and her half sister, Hava, set off to discover the truth–putting both Bitterblue’s life and Giddon’s heart to the test when Bitterbue is kidnapped. Giddon believes she has drowned, leaving him and Hava to solve the mystery of what’s wrong in Winterkeep.
Lovisa Cavenda is the teenage daughter of a powerful Scholar and Industrialist (the opposing governing parties) with a fire inside her that is always hungry, always just nearly about to make something happen. She is the key to everything, but only if she can figure out what’s going on before anyone else, and only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.
5) What Big Teeth by Rose Szaro
(Release Date: February 2)
Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather’s tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak.
When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. “I read this in the cards,” her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn’t see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help.
In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.
6) The Project by Courtney Summers
(Release Date: February 2)
Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.
When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.
7) Paradise Club by Tim Meyer
(Release Date: February 5)
Welcome to Paradise. Sandy beaches. Crystalline waters. An all-inclusive resort with virtually everything you can think of. A true idyllic paradise.
An event is taking place at Paradise Club that wasn’t on the brochure: a dangerous game pitting the hotel’s guests against a gang of bloodthirsty maniacs. Elliot Harper – family man and FBI agent – is about to find out how fast heaven can become hell when every single vacationer is forced to become a ruthless killer in order to survive. A team of killers have been unleashed, and they won’t stop until every single guest is dead.
Let the mayhem begin.
8) Lola on Fire by Rio Youers
(Release Date: February 16)
Brody Ellis is short on luck and even shorter on cash to buy the medication his sister Molly needs. Desperate, he robs a convenience store, but on the way out, he bumps into a young woman and loses his wallet. Just when he expects the cops to arrive, the phone rings. It’s Blair Mayo–the woman he bumped into–and she’s got the missing billfold. Brody will get it back, but only if he does her a favor: steal her late mother’s diamonds from her wicked stepmom. But when he gets to the house, he finds a gruesome crime scene–and a security camera. Brody knows he’s been framed.
Back home, the terrified young man gets another call. The police won’t get the incriminating video footage, Blair says. Instead, her daddy, the notorious mobster Jimmy Latzo, will exact his own kind of revenge. Hitting the road to save their lives, Brody and Molly realize that they’ve become pawns in a mysterious game–one that involves a notorious enforcer named Lola Bear who brutally crossed paths with Jimmy Latzo twenty-six years before. . . a ghost from the past who is intimately connected to their lives.
9) Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo
(Release Date: February 25)
This horrifying retelling of the Pied Piper fairytale set in present-day Chicago is an edge of your seat, chills up the spine, thrill ride. When Detective Lauren Medina sees the calling card at a murder scene in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, she knows the Pied Piper has returned. When another teenager is brutally murdered at the same lagoon where her sister’s body was found floating years before, she is certain that the Pied Piper is not just back, he’s looking for payment he’s owed from her. Lauren’s torn between protecting the city she has sworn to keep safe, and keeping a promise she made long ago with her sister’s murderer. She may have to ruin her life by exposing her secrets and lies to stop the Pied Piper before he collects.
10) Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
(Release Date: March 1)
At an abandoned Japanese manor, five friends – still together despite secrets and fraught histories – gather to celebrate a wedding. Having always wanted to get married in a haunted house, the bride-to-be insists they play a game to tease the dead from their rest.
But they needn’t have called. The house already knows they are there.
11) The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
(Release Date: March 18)
This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.
All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…
You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.
In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think.
12) The Lost Village by Camilla Sten
(Release Date: March 23)
Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.
But there will be no turning back.
Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:
They are not alone.
They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?
13) Goddess of Filth by V. Castro
(Release Date: March 30)
One hot summer night, best friends Lourdes, Fernanda, Ana, Perla, and Pauline hold a séance. It’s all fun and games at first, but their tipsy laughter turns to terror when the flames burn straight through their prayer candles and Fernanda starts crawling toward her friends and chanting in Nahuatl, the language of their Aztec ancestors.
Over the next few weeks, shy, modest Fernanda starts acting strangely—smearing herself in black makeup, shredding her hands on rose thorns, sucking sin out of the mouths of the guilty. The local priest is convinced it’s a demon, but Lourdes begins to suspect it’s something else—something far more ancient and powerful.
As Father Moreno’s obsession with Fernanda grows, Lourdes enlists the help of her “bruja Craft crew” and a professor, Dr. Camacho, to understand what is happening to her friend in this unholy tale of possession-gone-right.
14) A Bright Enchanted Suffering by Eric LaRocca
(Release Date: March 30)
Author Eric LaRocca brings together two chilling never-before-published novelettes which explore the darker aspects of humanity – a world in which horrible things can and will happen in the light of day.
In “You’re Not Supposed to Be Here,” a married couple and their infant child find themselves at the mercy of a seemingly benevolent couple who are eager to play a game with horrifying consequences.
In “Where Flames Burned Emerald as Grass,” a widower and his daughter meet a peculiar gentleman in the Costa Rican rainforest with sinister intentions.
Shocking and disturbing, A Bright Enchanted Suffering plumbs the depths of human depravity and showcases the most fearsome monster of all – our fellow man.
Darkness can still touch you even when the lights are on.
15) The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon
(Release Date: April 6)
When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.
In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.
16) You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes
(Release Date: April 6)
The highly anticipated new thriller in Caroline Kepnes’s hit You series, now a blockbuster Netflix show…
Joe Goldberg is back. And he’s going to start a family – even if it kills him.
Joe Goldberg is done with cities, done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.
He gets a job at the local library – he does know a thing or two about books – and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kaye DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old fashioned way… by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.
The trouble is… Mary Kaye already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s… busy.
True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kaye will do the right thing and make room for him.
17) Near the Bone by Christina Henry
(Release Date: April 13)
Mattie can’t remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that they’re not alone after all.
There’s something in the woods that wasn’t there before, something that makes strange cries in the night, something with sharp teeth and claws.
When three strangers appear on the mountaintop looking for the creature in the woods, Mattie knows their presence will anger William. Terrible things happen when William is angry.
18) The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky
(Release Date: April 13)
New girl Rachel Chavez is eager to make a fresh start at Manchester Prep. But as one of the few scholarship kids, Rachel struggles to fit in, and when she gets caught up in a prank gone awry, she ends up with more enemies than friends.
To her surprise, however, the prank attracts the attention of the Mary Shelley Club, a secret club of students with one objective: come up with the scariest prank to orchestrate real fear. But as the pranks escalate, the competition turns cutthroat and takes on a life of its own.
When the tables are turned and someone targets the club itself, Rachel must track down the real-life monster in their midst . . . even if it means finally confronting the dark secrets from her past.
19) Walking Through Needles by Heather Levy
(Release Date: June 9)
A riveting, dark debut psychological thriller perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, S.J. Watson, and Megan Abbott. When Sam Mayfair was sixteen, her life was shattered by an abuser close to her. News of her abuser’s murder fifteen years later should have put an end to the torture she’s endured because of one decision plaguing her life. But with her stepbrother Eric as the prime suspect, Sam is flung back into the hell of her rural Oklahoma childhood. As Sam tries to help exonerate Eric while hiding certain truths of their past from investigators, details of the murder unravel. And Sam quickly learns some people, including herself, will do anything to keep their secrets buried deep.
20) Bath Haus by P.J. Vernon
(Release Date: June 15)
Oliver Park, a young recovering addict from Indiana, finally has everything he ever wanted: sobriety and a loving, wealthy partner in Nathan, a prominent DC trauma surgeon. Despite their difference in age and disparate backgrounds, they’ve made a perfect life together. With everything to lose, Oliver shouldn’t be visiting Haus, a gay bathhouse. But through the entrance he goes, and it’s a line crossed. Inside, he follows a man into a private room, and it’s the final line. Whatever happens next, Nathan can never know. But then, everything goes wrong, terribly wrong, and Oliver barely escapes with his life.
He races home in full-blown terror as the hand-shaped bruise grows dark on his neck. The truth will destroy Nathan and everything they have together, so Oliver does the thing he used to do so well: he lies.
What follows is a classic runaway-train narrative, full of the exquisite escalations, edge-of-your-seat thrills, and oh-my-god twists. P. J. Vernon’s Bath Haus is a scintillating thriller with an emotional punch, perfect for readers curious for their next must-read novel.
21) Survive the Night by Riley Sager
(Release Date: July 6)
It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing—survive the night.
22) The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
(Release Date: July 13)
The next fast-paced, thrilling horror novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. The Final Girl Support Group is an “homage to slasher films” and follows six girls who belong to a survivors support group that has been meeting for nearly two decades. The girls, the publisher elaborated, “managed to survive the unthinkable—and now someone is coming for them.” Final Girl is set for June 2021.
23) The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould
(Release Date: August 3)
Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.
Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.
24) The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins
(Release Date: August 3)
A traditional backwoods horror story set–first page to last–in the woods of the Pisgah National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Two girls go backpacking in the woods. Things go very wrong.
And, then, their paths collide with a serial killer.
25) My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
(Release Date: August 31)
Jade feels like she’s trapped in a slasher film as tourists go missing and the tension between her community and the celebrity newcomers to the Indian Lake shore heads towards a tipping point, when she feels the killer will rise. Jade watches as the small town she knows and loves begins to head towards catastrophe as yachts compete with canoes and the celebrity rich change the landscape of what was designated park lands to develop what they call Terra Nova.
This new novel from the acclaimed author of The Only Good Indians and “literary master” (Tananarive Due, author of The Good House) Stephen Graham Jones, is a must-read, exploring the changing landscape of the West through his particular voice of sharp humor and prophetic violence that will have you cheering for the American heroine we need.
26) Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
(Release Date: September 7)
Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.
Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.
Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?
27) From the Neck Up by Aliya Whiteley
(Release Date: September 14)
The new collection of beautiful, strange and disarming short stories from the award-winning Aliya Whiteley, deftly unpeels the strangeness of everyday life with her trademark wit. Witness the future of farming in a new Ice Age, or the artist bringing life to glass; the many-eyed monsters we carry and the secret cities inside our bodies.
Fascinating, and unlike any other writer working today.
28) The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor
(Release Date: February 6)
Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.
Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”
The more Jack and daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.
But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.
29) Shiver: A Chilling Horror Anthology edited by Nico Bell
(Release Date: January 11)
Grab a cozy blanket, pour some bourbon in your hot chocolate, and gather around the fireplace. It’s about to get chilly! This un-brrr-lievable anthology presents 30 spooky stories exploring the depths of madness and terror unique to the cold. Whether it’s a chilling twist on the final girl trope, a mysterious Japanese spirit knocking on a cabin door, or something sinister born out of urine soaked snow, this frigid collection is packed with tales that will send a shiver down your spine. Get ready. A blizzard is coming.
30) Shelter for the Damned by Mike Thorn
(Release Date: February 26)
While looking for a secret place to smoke cigarettes with his two best friends, troubled teenager Mark discovers a mysterious shack in a suburban field. Alienated from his parents and peers, Mark finds within the shack an escape greater than anything he has ever experienced.
But it isn’t long before the place begins revealing its strange, powerful sentience. And it wants something in exchange for the shelter it provides.
Shelter for the Damned is not only a scary, fast-paced horror novel, but also an unflinching study of suburban violence, masculine conditioning, and adolescent rage.
BONUS! Here are 7 more titles to keep on your radar that I can’t wait to read! These might not have a ton of info or solid release dates online yet, or I had trouble finding them on Goodreads, etc – but they’re high on my list:
- Cackle by Rachel Harrison
- When We Entered That House by Claire L. Smith
- Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper
- The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
- Song of the Sandman by J. -F. Dubeau
- Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
- Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy by Hailey Piper
What are you most looking forward to in 2021? Did you add any of these to your upcoming TBR? Tell me in the comments!
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