The 20 Best Lovecraftian Horror Books – Ultimate Guide

It’s always hard to believe that such prolific and influential writers died in relative obscurity during their time. The works of authors like Poe, Hemingway, and the focus of this list, HP Lovecraft all put out numerous works during their time on earth just to die penniless and unknown, with their stories only being read by niche fiction readers.

Those readers become writers though, and as always when writers become popular, they influence others and those that come after, leading to a newfound rediscovery by the mainstream eventually. That eventually has finally arrived for Lovecraft, with the author’s work seeing even more readers now than ever before thanks to the bones of what would become an extensive, collaborative mythos. These are the 20 Best Lovecraftian horror books to spring from his influence.

The 20 Best Lovecraftian Horror Books

Revival by stephen king.

To be honest it feels like a spoiler to put Revival on this list. The cosmic horror of the book is a constant sense of dread throughout, but everything gets flipped into overdrive in the final act when the literal and figurative curtains are pulled back.

What starts as a man seeking out a miracle worker that helped him long ago through his use of lightning ends up as a terrifying realization about reality and existence beyond anything humans can comprehend. One hell of an escalation, and a terrifying one at that.

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The Croning by Laird Barron

Barron has risen above as a torchbearer of sorts for Lovecraftian horror, even going so far as to inspire his own mythos around the Old Leech character. There’s an entire cosmic pantheon of terrifying beings revealed in The Croning that just scratch the surface of Barron’s horror.

Following one man who uncovers a vast conspiracy of old gods and monsters that have ruled the world for centuries, he has to set out and solve the mystery of just what he and his family have to do with everything, risking everything to find the secret.

The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

This actually predates most of Lovecraft, being published first in 1909. Hodgson was a little ahead of his time though, and this story of two fishermen finding a diary near a chasm in the ground is some of the most cosmic dread to ever hit the page.

The framing story isn’t anything special, but the diary entries are the real meat of the story. The entries start normal enough with a man moving his elderly sister into a strange home the locals avoided. Before long strange happenings and the discovery of a door to an otherworldly abyss in the cellar bring about even more terrors that would later inspire stories like Uzumaki by Junji Ito.

John Dies at the End by Jason Pargin

This was one of my entry points to cosmic horror, and I still have my copy branded with Pargin’s former pen name. This book has everything but the kitchen sink thrown into a tale of cosmic horror and comedy. It’s Everything Everywhere All At Once meets Trainspotting to make the most accurate comparison possible.

Two regular guys try a new street drug called Soy Sauce. The drug actually causes them to see various parallel dimensions filled with terrible creatures beyond their imagination. This leads to a dash through dimensions fighting everything from monsters made from cuts of meat, to gods.

The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umeda

I recently got my hands on the collectors’ editions of this and they’re some of the nicest hardcovers of a manga I’ve ever seen. The art is basic when it comes to the characters and regular settings, but the space beyond the classroom is rendered in stark contrast to everything else which makes it even more terrifying.

The story and writing are what shine, showing a Japanese school in the mid-60s as it’s suddenly plucked from its usual spot and put in a seemingly foreign land, surrounded by deadly wastes and rolling dunes of darkness and sand. We see the story from the perspective of Sho, a sixth grader who goes to school after an emotional argument with his mother.

The horror takes a moment to start, instead introducing Sho and his situation, as well as a couple of other key characters. The mystery of what’s happened to them becomes secondary quickly as the adults of the school spiral into madness, and it becomes the sixth grader’s responsibility to keep the younger children safe.

The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper

Hailey Piper has been making waves in the horror scene, bringing a blend of LGBT+ romances, cosmic horror on the most massive scale possible, and the deconstruction of what we know as Lovecraftian along with it. The Worm and His Kings is a short, fast-paced read that can be rushed through in an afternoon and leave you thinking about it for weeks.

On the surface a story of one woman trying to find her missing girlfriend, but as the book descends into the sewers it also falls quickly into a dark underground full of cults and creatures alike, all serving an ancient power beyond our knowing.

Dead Sea by Tim Curran

There’s nothing more Lovecraftian than unknowable terrors in the deep ocean, which is exactly what Tim Curran does hereafter flipping the premise on its head. There’s a palpable dread of whatever monstrosity could be thrown at the crew of an outdated freighter that gets suddenly transported to another ocean in reality.

The real terror of the book is the isolation of it all though. There’s a skeleton crew at best, with the old ship due for decommission at any time thanks to everything being out of date. Thanks to that it’s a very tight-knit and unknowing POV as they have to rely on a physicist who’s seen too much to get them back.

The Fisherman by John Langan

This book is simply beautiful in how it unfolds, and I love it more every time I pick it up. There’s an amazing amount of depth in both the framing story and historical account nestled within. That said, it does take a hot minute to get going, but when it does it brings along some of the creepiest Lovecraftian energy I’ve ever seen.

The historical record, which is set up as the second act of the book, is a deliciously great slow burn that leads the characters into a descent into literal and figurative madness, culminating in a confrontation with an ancient being of evil.

The framing story is a tragedy of love and loss, following two men going through their respective tragedies and bonding over a love of fishing before one learns of the events of long ago and attempts to change his tragic life.

Move Under Ground by Nick Manatas

Cthulhu versus the Beat Generation isn’t something you would expect, but it works in the strangest of ways here in Manatas’ Lovecraftian tribute to the likes of Kerouac and Ginsberg. The story is more of a sendup of Kerouac’s On the Road, but instead, the road trip is set off by the unrelenting forces of Cthulhu causing the forbidden city of R’yleh to pop up on the American west coast.

The book is fun and has plenty of great easter eggs and little jokes about the very real people behind the characters in the novel, meanwhile, the cultists of Cthulhu they come up against are perfectly creepy.

Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw

One private detective versus an abusive step-father that’s actually an eldritch horror. Seems pretty intimidating until we find out that the detective is also an ancient being that’s not new to this game. Khaw weaves a taut cat-and-mouse piece that can be read in a single sitting but amps up the Lovecraftian spooks and eerie underworld to the max.

The Great White Space by Basil Copper

All at once a thrilling adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones and an overwhelming Lovecraftian horror pervading the background, this novel got relatively foreshadowed in mainstream talk of the genre until recently, making a crawling, slithery comeback to the scene.

An expedition crew sets out to find the “Great White Space” which is supposedly a gateway to another dimension. Journeys through a forgotten underground city is only the beginning of the danger as the team remembers too late that doors open both ways.

Ancient Images by Ramsey Campbell

As a film buff, I love this book and think it deserves far more credit in the Lovecraftian fiction sphere, though Ramsey has made his mark over his long career. The story of a cursed film is one that’s lived on as long as cinema has existed, but this story takes it to another level by involving death, madness, and eldritch terrors beyond understanding.

One man goes on an ever-escalating quest to find the origins of the cursed films, tracking down cast and crew who are keeping secrets from the public about what happened during filmmaking.

The Night Will Find Us by Matthew Lyons

A summer camping trip in the New Jersey Pine Barrens goes horribly wrong as the teens involved are picked off one by one, victims of each other and the surrounding forest. Tense and character-driven, the story doesn’t go quite where you expect as the forest becomes alive and the group begins to splinter even further.

Remina by Junji Ito

I took a nice break the other night and gave Remina another read since it had been a while. It’s even more disturbingly gruesome than I remember, with Junji Ito’s art standing out as some of his creepiest ever made. 

A star appears from a black hole sixteen lightyears from the Earth, and shares both a name and birthday with the daughter of its discoverer, Remina. Unfortunately, the star begins moving toward Earth at an alarming rate and devours everything in its path as humanity decides to sacrifice Remina herself as the only way to stop the impending doom.

That Which Should Not Be by Brett J Talley

Taking from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos directly, Talley forms a story of one man venturing against terrifying cults and untold ancient evil to prevent the end of the world. His mission is undercut by four tales he hears from sailors, all of whom have had some encounter with the unknown he’s looking for.

Reanimatrix by Peter Rawlik

Lovecraftian horror meets pulpy detective novel as one man tries to solve the murder of a girl, uncovering supernatural truths beyond a gruesome underworld. There is a ton of fun in the pulp rush of it while also having great scares littered throughout.

But it on Amazon

Ring Shout by P Dieli Clark

A book set in historic Georgia a small group has to band together to fight the Ku Klux Klan and the cosmic horrors they’re attempting to summon. Clark plays with the conventions in much the same way as Lovecraft Country , turning the tropes and racism of Lovecraft on its head while delivering a terrifying story about overcoming hate and racism.

The Cipher by Kathe Koja

Sometimes when you move into a new place you find something you don’t quite expect. It’s not usual that said thing is a trapdoor leading down into an unknowing abyss though. The new homeowners have fun with the newfound toy at first before discovering that although things can go in, others can come out.

One Last Gasp by Andrew C. Piazza

World War II is already horrifying enough, involving some of the worst atrocities man has ever committed, and One Last Gasp only enhances that with tales of a mansion that defies reason surrounded by dozens of Axis soldiers. The Allied troops within have to think quickly and move even quicker to survive the onslaught outside and the monster within the mansion hunting them.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

Another entry that flips the racism and prejudice of Lovecraft on its head, The Ballad of Black Tom takes the author’s Horror at Red Hook and sets it from the POV of a young black man going through town at the time, witnessing the events of Lovecraft’s classic story unfold.

These twenty Lovecraftian books should keep you thinking about the terrifying knowledge beyond human comprehension, or at least considering it. Taking that terrifying fear of the unknown that Lovecraft established all those years ago, these books will occupy that fine space in your bookshelf that you just might find growing mysteriously over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is lovecraftian horror.

Lovecraftian horror can also be filed under cosmic horror, mostly relating to anything that can’t be explained or known by human perception. Lovecraftian is of course named after the famous author whose works eventually popularized the idea of ancient gods, maddening tears in reality, and humans worshiping things beyond existence.

Who are some Lovecraftian horror authors?

Most authors these days attribute at least a little influence to Lovecraft, and it’s hard not to when the author’s works are nearing a century old. Laird Barron, John Langan, and Hailey Piper are just a few of the big names making waves in the scene.

What defines a Lovecraftian horror?

The strongest indicator that you’re dealing with a Lovecraftian horror is some fear of an unknown factor. The characters won’t know it’s there, but the audience will know that there’s something just beyond their knowledge influencing and crafting whatever may befall the characters.

What is Lovecraft’s best work?

You’re going to find pretty popular (and well-earned) sentiment toward The Call of Cthulhu , and for good reason considering the proliferation the character has gotten throughout the years. At the Mountains of Madness, though, is my personal favorite for getting that true sense of Lovecraft’s signature dread and unknowing fear.

What’s with all the tentacles and fish?

Your guess is as good as mine, but many attribute the appearance of tentacles and fascination with the sea in multiple Lovecraft stories to the author’s fear of the ocean and upbringing on the New England coast. Lovecraft was noted as being an extremely fearful and anxious man, terrified of everything from other races to air conditioners. There’s also the acknowledgment that despite the influence, much of Lovecraft’s writing has strong tones of the author’s racism, unfortunately.

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8 Lovecraftian Fiction Recommendations

Home » All Reviews » 8 Lovecraftian Fiction Recommendations

HP Lovecraft is one of the seminal masters of fiction and created works that blended science fiction, fantasy, and horror together into one fantastic blend of the weird. However, his creations are not the end of his legacy and there is now a hundred years of authors influenced by his writings. As the author of works like Cthulhu Armageddon as well as editor of anthologies like Tales of the Al-Azif and Tales of Yog-Sothoth , there are many wonderful books carrying either his monsters or themes. Here’s eight of the books that I really have enjoyed and hope you will check out.

best new lovecraftian fiction

Blurb: The Exciting Prequel to Lovecraft’s Shadow Over Innsmouth! Innsmouth was a corrupted and fallen town, consumed by its greed and controlled by the Esoteric Order of Dagon. In 1928, the Federal Government destroyed Innsmouth and the nearby Devil Reef based on claims made by a man who had visited the town.

Four years after the mysterious disappearance of Robert Olmstead, the man who sent the FBI to Innsmouth, his closest friend has discovered new evidence into the reality of what Innsmouth truly was: He has found the Journal of Captain Obed Marsh.

The journal paints an intense scene of a vibrant town and how it takes only one man’s good intentions to pave the way to Hell itself. Or in this case…to Y’ha-nthlei. What can test a man so intensely as to break him from his righteous path? Only the journal can shed light on that. These are the Trials of Obed Marsh.

Review: Obed Marsh remains one of HPL’s more fascinating characters despite the fact he never appears on screen. A sea captain, he sold the entirety of his community’s souls and future to the Deep Ones in exchange for gold as well as fish. However, in any time there is economic despair, it becomes understandable when you might be willing to make a deal with the (Sea) Devil. Matthew Davenport is also the author of the Pulpy fun Andrew Doran novels but this remains my favorite of works.

best new lovecraftian fiction

Blurb: Now an HBO® Series from J.J. Abrams (Executive Producer of Westworld), Misha Green (Creator of Underground) and Jordan Peele (Director of Get Out). The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

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.

Review: Probably the most famous book on this, Lovecraft Country has already been adapted into a series by HBO that (sadly) only lasted one season. The story of a family of motorist guide writers who find themselves invited to a millionaire occultist’s home only to become involved in a series of fascinating encounters with the supernaturals. The book is, in my opinion,better than the series as well as significantly lighter. Which is impressive given how dark the book can be at times.

best new lovecraftian fiction

Blurb: Thirteen tales of Elder Gods, Darkness, horror and Lovecraftian madness by Bram Stoker Award Winning author David Niall Wilson. From crazed sculpting tenants, to giant wooden cockroaches, to Tarot cards and a creepy old barber shop, these stories lead through doorways and down corridors that are not of this world. Published for the first time in this volume is the story Anomaly.

Review: David Niall Wilson is the former Horror Writer Association (HWA)’s chief, a multiple Stoker Award winner, and a guy who gave me my big break so I’m horribly biased in this recommendation. However, this collection of HPL-inspired fiction really appealed to me. It’s an assemblage of eldritch stories and weirdness from multiple other publications over the years and I really enjoyed it. My favorite story being “Cockroach Suckers” that is what happens when redneck hustlers find magical power than your typical New England atheist scholar. I recommend the audiobook version of this over the book because the performance by Eric Dove is excellent.

best new lovecraftian fiction

Blurb: In his house at R’lyeh, great Cthulhu lies dreaming… of her.

What would you do if you discovered you were the only one in the world with the hidden power to keep it from being utterly annihilated?

What if you had no idea what that power might even be?

Andromeda Slate, the self-proclaimed most ordinary girl in America, can’t figure out why the gorgeous but mysterious new boy at high school seems to hate her so much. It couldn’t have anything to do with the strange dream she had the night before he first showed up in class, could it? The dream where the very same boy rescued her from a giant, green, tentacled sea monster?

And it couldn’t have anything to do with that time she read aloud from that ancient tome of eldritch magic, the Necronomicon… could it?

Andi Slate never imagined she’d find herself in a situation where somehow she was the key to saving the world.

Her life is about to get a whole lot less ordinary.

Review: Making fun of Twilight is low-hanging fruit and a craze that has long since died down anyway. However, this book was written with Elisa Hansen (Vampire Reviews), Lindsay Ellis (The Nostalgia Chick), and Antonella Insera (Nella) from the former Channel Awesome crowd as a the kind of parody that I am greatly fond of. Specifically, the kind that is both a good example of the fiction its parodying as well as a send-up. Young Adult romance fiction, now with eldritch abominations! Basically, the story is of a young teenage girl Andromeda Slate (which is a parody on the fact Andromeda was meant to be sacrificed to a sea monster), is in love with the teenage boy avatar of Cthulhu. He starts killing the people who annoy her and driving insane others, which only makes the attraction stronger. But is she worth not destroying the world?

best new lovecraftian fiction

Blurb: While browsing in a rare book store in Arkham, Sean finds an occult book with an ad seeking an apprentice sorcerer, from a newspaper dated March 21, 1895. Even more intriguing, the ad specifically requests applicants reply by email.

Sean’s always been interested in magic, particularly the Lovecraftian dark mythology. Against his best friend Edna’s (“call-me-Eddy-or-else”) advice, he decides to answer the ad, figuring it’s a clever hoax, but hoping that it won’t be. The advertiser, Reverend Redemption Orne, claims to be a master of the occult born more than 300 years ago. To prove his legitimacy, Orne gives Sean instructions to summon a harmless but useful familiar—but Sean’s ceremony takes a dark turn, and he instead accidentally beckons a bloodthirsty servant to the Cthulhu Mythos god Nyarlathotep. The ritual is preemptively broken, and now Sean must find and bind the servitor, before it grows too strong to contain. But strange things are already happening in the town of Arkham….

Welcome to the darker side of New England in the first of a new series from Anne Pillsworth.

best new lovecraftian fiction

Blurb: When all is madness… there is no madness.

Is there wisdom in insanity? Enlightenment in blackest despair? Higher consciousness in the depths of chaos? These are the stories of the men and women who choose to cast off from the shores of our placid island of ignorance and sail the black seas of infinity beyond. Those who would dive into primeval consciousness in search of dark treasures. Thos who would risk the Deadly Light for one reason: it is still light.

Martian Migraine Press presents fifteen diverse tales of enlightenment and horror from some of the best new voices working in Weird Fiction today. Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis features poetry from Bryan Thao Worra, stories by Gord Sellar, Kristi DeMeester, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, and the groundbreaking Mythos novella from Ruthanna Emrys, The Litany of Earth. With cover art by Alix Branwyn, interior illustrations by Michael Lee Macdonald, and an introduction by editor Scott R Jones (author of When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality), Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis will plunge readers into a seriously entertaining contemplation of the mysticism and magic inherent to Lovecraft’s fantastical world of cosmic horror and dread. Take the Cthulhusattva Vow! Enter the Black Gnosis!

Review: Cthulhu is a figure who has since moved from the page to New Age occultism, albeit with the heavy tongue and cheek awareness that most people either use him as a metaphor for the supernatural or are deeply stupid. However, the metaphor of an all-seeing yet uncaring embodiment of extraterrestrial forces may not be a terrible one. Indeed, some people believe Lovecraft actually created the Big C as a stealth parody of Christianity. He is, after all, a dead yet living God that will return to destroy the world. A day for which his followers will rejoice and be transformed into immortal beings who live in his holy city no less. The authors here play with Mythos spirituality and create quite a few fascinating tales. Oh and the cover for this is the bomb.

best new lovecraftian fiction

Blurb: For half a billion years, Cthulhu has lain trapped in R’lyeh, dead but dreaming. But now the stars are right, and the Old One is rising. Instant death for hundreds of millions, insanity for many more. And he hasn’t even gotten out of the water yet.

World governments and a desperate and frightened populace scramble to understand, survive, and ultimately fight back against an enemy so powerful his presence could kill every human on Earth without him even noticing we are here.

Buckle up for apocalyptic suspense as you witness what happens when Cthulhu Attacks!

Review: Cthulhu is always rising, ready to destroy the world, but rarely does he ever get to succeed in doing so. The exception being Into the Mouth of Madness, my own Cthulhu Armageddon series, and Cthulhu Attacks! by Sean Hoade. Cthulhu Attacks! follows a group of people in a The Stand-esque story about watching the end of the world from the front lines. Sadly, Sean Hoade suffered a severe medical impairment that prevented him from continuing the series. Thankfully, fellow Neo-Lovecraftian Byron Craft and he have since managed to get the second book out together. Both of them are solid fans and great writers who deserve all the support they can get.

best new lovecraftian fiction

Blurb: The terrifyingly surreal universe of horror master H. P. Lovecraft bleeds into the logical world of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s champion of rational deduction, in these stories by twenty top horror, mystery, fantasy, and science fiction writers.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is among the most famous literary figures of all time. For more than a hundred years, his adventures have stood as imperishable monuments to the ability of human reason to penetrate every mystery, solve every puzzle, and punish every crime.

For nearly as long, the macabre tales of H. P. Lovecraft have haunted readers with their nightmarish glimpses into realms of cosmic chaos and undying evil. But what would happen if Conan Doyle’s peerless detective and his allies were to find themselves faced with mysteries whose solutions lay not only beyond the grasp of logic, but of sanity itself?

In this collection of all-new, all-original tales, twenty of today’s most cutting-edge writers provide their answers to that burning question.

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Lovecraft Minus Lovecraft: The Best Cosmic Horror Books that Reject Lovecraft’s Racism

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Alice Nuttall

Alice Nuttall (she/her) is a writer, pet-wrangler and D&D nerd. Her reading has got so out of control that she had to take a job at her local library to avoid bankrupting herself on books - unfortunately, this has just resulted in her TBR pile growing until it resembles Everest. Alice's webcomic, writing and everything else can be found at

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I love cosmic horror. As the world has become increasingly baffling, nonsensical, and outright terrifying, I’ve been drawn to reading cosmic horror stories more and more. There’s something about humans facing overwhelming powers beyond our comprehension that’s…definitely not comforting, but kind of relatable. H. P. Lovecraft may not be the creator of the cosmic horror genre , but he is perhaps the figure that looms largest in its history. While his stories vary wildly in quality, there are some brilliant moments that have influenced media from books and films to video games and TTRPGs for the past century. However, Lovecraft’s literary legacy is tainted by Lovecraft himself.

H. P. Lovecraft is almost as famous for his racism and antisemitism as he is for his cosmic horror fiction. While many problematic authors of the past have been defended by apologists, with the repeated refrain “they were a product of their time,” this already-flimsy defense cannot be applied to Lovecraft. As Jason Sanford notes in a blog post , Lovecraft was virulently racist even by the standards of the 1910s. Lovecraft is long-dead and long-since public domain, meaning that readers can consume his stories without worrying that they’re funding his positions, unlike with living bigoted authors; however, the racism is still deeply unpleasant to read. Fortunately, there are many books inspired by Lovecraft that have done cosmic horror better in every respect.

I’ve always enjoyed what I think of as “Lovecraft Minus Lovecraft”: cosmic horror stories that draw on the interesting and inventive aspects of Lovecraft’s stories, but excise, or actively hit back, against his horrific beliefs. Here are some of the best Lovecraft-minus-Lovecraft stories for all cosmic horror fans.

The City We Became cover

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin’s The City We Became is one of the best cosmic horror stories and anti-Lovecraft Lovecraftian stories of recent years. First in the Great Cities series, it follows the story of New York gaining sentience through a group of avatars that represent the different boroughs. However, the city’s birth isn’t straightforward — it is threatened by forces from outside the universe, which may be familiar to many Lovecraft readers.

The Croning cover

The Croning by Laird Barron

This creepy horror hits all the Lovecraftian points — mysterious cults, malevolent magic, and monstrous beings hiding just out of sight. Following an academic named Donald Miller, the story delves into how horrific forces can fragment a family and destroy a person’s reality.

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Hammers on Bone cover

Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw

Blending cosmic horror and detective fiction, Hammers on Bone is the first in the Persons Non Grata series by Cassandra Khaw. John Persons is a private investigator, hired by a young boy to kill his abusive stepfather, who may also be a literal monster. Luckily, Persons has a monstrous side of his own; the question may not be whether he can take down McKinsey, but whether he’ll be able to keep himself under control as he hunts.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe cover

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson

Drawing on The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath , Johnson’s book takes Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle and rebuilds it, following Professor Vellitt Boe as she searches for a missing student. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe , with one foot in dreamland and one in the waking world, will appeal to fans of The Sandman as well as Lovecraft.

Agents of Dreamland cover

Agents of Dreamland by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Another cosmic horror that explores the nature of dreams and nightmares, Agents of Dreamland is a step further away from Lovecraft than The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe , but is still a twisty and compelling novella. Telling the story of a cult, the aftermath of said cult’s planned ascension, and an impending apocalypse, Agents of Dreamland is a delightfully creepy read.

The Ballad of Black Tom cover

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

A gut-punching story that blends horror both cosmic and mundane, The Ballad of Black Tom is a retelling of one of Lovecraft’s most notoriously racist stories, The Horror at Red Hook. It follows Charles Thomas Tester, a musician and odd-job man who is drawn into an eldritch world that, despite its horrors, is perhaps less terrible than the real-world racism Tom encounters day-to-day.

The Fisherman cover

The Fisherman by John Langan

Anyone who’s read The Shadow Over Innsmouth knows that Lovecraftian horror often has a fishy edge to it. The Fisherman plays on this, following two widowers, Abe and Dan, as they try to assuage their grief by going fishing. However, when they hear the tale of The Fisherman, they realise there’s a chance to regain what they’ve lost — as long as they’re willing to pay a steep price.

Lesser Known Monsters cover

Lesser Known Monsters by Rory Michaelson

This monstrous cosmic horror story follows Oscar, a young man dealing with first love, friendship, and the fact that monsters are attempting to invade and destroy the world. Together with his best friends Zara and Marcus, Oscar is pulled into a hidden underworld that he doesn’t understand, but has to quickly learn to deal with, before he loses everything he holds dear.

If you’re looking for a grounding in cosmic horror, try our Introduction to the Cosmic Horror Genre . If you prefer your horror closer to home, try 8 Suburban Horror Novels that Prove Monsters Live Right Next Door .

best new lovecraftian fiction

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Cosmic horror: 15 of the most chilling titles to start you off.

Cosmic Horror: 15 of the Most CHILLING Titles to Start You Off

What is cosmic horror? This spine-tingling subgenre is all about the mind-bending terror of the unknown. Knife-wielding slashers might set your heart racing, and a vengeful ghost can make the hair rise on your arm, but cosmic horror is bigger than these tangible fears. It forces you to confront a terrifying suspicion: that you are nothing, in an unfathomable universe full of forces you can’t control.

Cosmic horror is vast in scope. It’s the blood-freezing vacuum of outer space, and the sinister maw of the deep, dark sea. Instead of jump-scares and gore, it trades in subtler, more psychological form of fear, thanks in large part to the precedent set by its progenitor, H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft's extensive work in cosmic horror gave us the tropes associated with it today: paranoid protagonists, helplessness in the face of nature, and humanity as the plaything of grotesque, dispassionate gods. Thanks to his outsize influence over the subgenre, it's often referred to as "Lovecraftian".

If you want to learn how to write Lovecraftian horror, there's no one better to study that its namesake himself. If you want to read it, however, you should know that the genre has evolved immensely since Lovecraft's heyday. Today's cosmic horror writers bring a diversity of experience to crafting novels that are lyrical, thought-provoking, and sometimes funny in addition to being suffused with measureless dread.

To honor their achievements, this post will largely focus on titles other than those written by Lovecraft — not least because we already covered 10 of his must-read works in another post ! Without further ado, dip your toes into this wide-ranging list of 15 chilling cosmic horror titles to get you started with the genre.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of great cosmic horror books out there, you can also take our 30-second quiz below to narrow it down quickly and get a personalized horror book recommendation  😉

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1. What the Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong

If you want to learn how to write cosmic horror with an undeniable sparkle of wit, look no further than What the Hell Did I Just Read . This audacious, absurdist romp comes from the pen of NYT -bestselling author David Wong—the pen name of humor editor Jason Pargin. Of course, he’s not to be confused with hapless everyman Dave Wong, who kicks off the novel by looking into the unexplained disappearance of a local child.

As far as Dave can tell, Maggie Knoll vanished at the hands of a shapeshifting, supernatural entity. But then someone who looks just like him emerges to reveal where Maggie was being held — and the rescued girl identifies Dave himself as a kidnapper. As the book's title might tell you, things only get weirder from there: you can look forward to a wild ride involving false memories, time-traveling cops, and parallel universes ruled by unfathomable ghouls. One thing’s for sure: cosmic horror has never been quite so funny.

2. Shadows of Carcosa by Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, Arthur Machen, Henry James, and more

This collection comes from the twisted minds of many iconic horror and sci-fi writers — including Lovecraft, with his short story “The Colour Out of Space.” However, what’s really interesting is to see other authors, most known for their own particular brand of horror, write with a slightly more “cosmic” inclination.

For instance, Bram Stoker’s story “The Squaw” turns to enigmatic rather than folkloric frights: it implies that the spirit of a grieving woman has followed her enemy to another country, where she intends to enact revenge in a non-human form. And Edgar Allan Poe’s story, “MS. Found in a Bottle,” takes his talent for the uncanny and brings it out to sea — a vast, unknowable expanse where our narrator finds himself unable to save a ship from Antarctic doom (a strikingly similar scenario to Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness ).

In any case, no matter how you feel about each of these authors individually (though hopefully you’re already a fan — especially if you’ve read our list of the 100 best horror books of all time !), this anthology is an unmissable read for any burgeoning cosmic horror lover.

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3. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft

Okay, this collection is admittedly 100% Lovecraft — but we’ve included it because so many contemporary cosmic horror works build upon the mythos of Cthulhu. In that sense, reading The Call of Cthulhu is a prerequisite for the course: it’ll provide context to help you understand the forthcoming material.

The Call of Cthulhu follows our narrator, Francis Wayland Thurston, as he unearths alarming information about the figure of Cthulhu: a titanic monster with tentacles and the wings of a dragon. Thurston realizes that many people are connected subconsciously by the “call of Cthulhu,” which the creature emits from his resting place below the ocean. There’s even a cult devoted to Cthulhu, who chant of his inevitable return. As you can probably tell, Cthulhu is one of Lovecraft’s most compelling creations, both in and out of canon — so this story is definitely worth a read (as long as you don’t find yourself sympathizing with the cultists).

4. Songs of a Dead Dreamer by Thomas Ligotti

Ligotti’s 1986 short story collection contains three sections, each named for different types of dreams: Dreams for Sleepwalkers , Dreams for Insomniacs , and (most chillingly) Dreams for the Dead . As you might expect, the cosmic creepiness escalates as the anthology progresses. However, the subgenre’s influence on Ligotti is clearly evident from the very first story, “The Frolic,” which involves a serial killer corrupted by an unknown supernatural force. Songs of a Dead Dreamer culminates in a story called “Vasterian,” which eerily mirrors many elements of “The Frolic,” but is told from a much more unstable perspective. Needless to say, despite the title, you probably don’t want to pick this one up before bed.

5. The Imago Sequence and Other Stories by Laird Barron

Though “The Imago Sequence” is only one of Barron’s many excellent stories, we’re going to home in on it as an exemplary work from his repertoire. It begins with a cocktail party, described in the author’s signature vivacity, during which our narrator Marvin comes into contact with a valuable photograph that’s part of the three-piece “Imago Sequence.” He’s told that the final photo, entitled “Imago,” remains a mystery to the general public: not only are its whereabouts unknown, but it’s never been displayed publicly.

Marvin soon becomes obsessed with the Imago Sequence, researching its past owners and speaking with people who have viewed the first two paintings. One of his interviewees, Mrs. Chin, informs Marvin that “Imago” does not actually exist — at least not in the way he thinks. Little does our hapless hero know what he’s getting into…

Barron’s poetic style lends a resonantly eerie sense to this already perfectly plotted horror story, gradually amping up the suspense until you almost can’t take in anymore. But when the climax of "The Imago Sequence" arrives, you’ll almost certainly find yourself unprepared for its impact.

6. White is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

You might not think of this one as cosmic horror, probably because it’s been characterized as “ modern Gothic ” in the literary world — more Shirley Jackson that H.P. Lovecraft. However, Oyeyemi is an author of many talents, and cosmicism would seem to be one of them. White Is For Witching masterfully relates the tale of the Dover-dwelling ( classic foreshadowing ) Silver family, which has just lost their matriarch, Lily. Her daughter Miranda is afflicted with pica, which compels her to eat chalk like candy, and Lily’s death only worsens the condition — causing Miranda to become even more disconnected from reality. When she starts communicating with spirits, there’s simply no turning back: Miranda is lost to a world unknown.

But this is only the beginning of the story, which Oyeyemi renders with a mystical air reminiscent of actual legend. Her haunting, lyrical style is unlike any other — you wouldn’t be wrong to say that Oyeyemi herself is a witch of words.

7. Cthulhu’s Reign , edited by Darrell Schweitzer

Cthulhu’s Reign is a particularly innovative collection of Lovecraft-inspired stories, all taking place in a universe wherein the revival of the “Great Old Ones” is not merely prophesied, but has already come to pass. The characters in these stories must contend with a new world, ruled by unimaginably powerful creatures, and try to protect themselves even as they acknowledge the futility of their efforts.

In one story entitled “Spherical Trigonometry,” an eccentric tycoon funds the building of an unusually shaped shelter, in the hope that it will thwart the monsters. In another, “Sanctuary,” a Mexican-American family attempts to stay safe in a crumbling coastal town; here, the cosmic threat of the Great Old Ones boldly parallels the actual threats of discrimination and deportation for immigrant families. Indeed, each of these stories contains insightful commentary about our present-day society — a refreshing change of pace for cosmic horror, which can sometimes be a little too focused on the past (especially with Lovecraft’s pervasive legacy).

8. The Croning by Laird Barron

As one of the most prolific contributors to contemporary cosmic horror, Barron has not only written tons of short stories in the subgenre, but some full-length novels as well — including this 2012 masterpiece, The Croning . It tells the story of Donald Miller and his wife Michelle, who’ve been married for nearly half a century and traveled all over the world, in Michelle’s relentless pursuit of odd anthropological findings. Don has always trailed her happily (from what he can remember, at least), but now — at the age of almost 80 — he’s starting to realize that something about Michelle isn’t quite right.

With the help of various sources, including their children, Don starts to unravel the many layers of mystery surrounding his own wife… but at what cost? He’ll soon understand the horrific truth about Michelle and her dark connections, especially to the “Children of Old Leech” — who, according to the book’s shudder-inducing blurb, “have been with us since time immemorial…”

9. Dreams from the Witch House , edited by Lynne Jamneck

This anthology brings more fresh perspective to cosmic horror with 19 thrilling short stories, all by female authors. These range from pieces written years ago and now finding a new audience, such as Joyce Carol Oates’ “Shadows of the Evening,” to works by up-and-coming authors like R.A. Kaelin (who authored the final story in the collection, “Mnemeros”).

Each story deconstructs or reshapes typical Lovecraftian elements in some way, tending to emphasize individual experiences rather than giving into overwhelming cosmic madness (indeed, it’s very similar to the stories of Cthulhu’s Reign in this sense). As Jamneck notes in the introduction, such stories fill not only a narrative gap, but also a huge cultural one: that of female voices in cosmic horror. “Some of the most exciting Lovecraftian fiction is currently being written by women,” she writes. “[We’re] moving away from the Elder Old Guard who… are in some ways as stifling to diverse perspectives of the unnameable as Lovecraft’s own views on a number of topics.”

10. Cthulhu’s Daughters , edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula Stiles

Like Dreams from the Witch House , Cthulhu's Daughters focuses on women in Lovecraft — though in this case, the women are the characters, rather than the writers. Among them are Lavinia Whateley — a minor character in Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror , who finally gets her own detailed (if disturbing) origin story in "Lavinia’s Wood" — and Shub-Niggurath, one of the few “female” Great Old Ones of Lovecraft’s work. Though certainly not intended to serve as role models — indeed, a few are literal monsters — these thoroughly three-dimensional (and extra-dimensional!) ladies are another much-needed addition to the cosmic horror canon. Cthulhu’s Daughters should entertain and satisfy any reader who’s ever craved more female backstory from Lovecraft’s works.

11. The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

Praised as one of the most nuanced Lovecraft retellings in the twenty-first century, The Ballad of Black Tom begins in 1924 Harlem with the eponymous hustler, Tommy Tester. Tom has always kept a low profile, even as a street musician… until the day he’s recruited by a reclusive millionaire, Robert Suydam, who wants Tom’s help to manipulate a creature of inconceivable darkness. With the introduction of jaded New York detective Malone, this tale twists into a true nightmare, as Malone recounts findings that signify a completely changed world.

Not only is this novella compulsively readable, it’s also another significant contribution to the subgenre: as an African-American man himself, LaValle has noted that The Ballad of Black Tom is a conscious response to Lovecraft’s racism and xenophobia, particularly in his story “The Horror at Red Hook” (upon which LaValle’s work is based). And indeed, by mirroring these prejudices in his book’s setting (which again, is 1920s New York), LaValle has created a brilliantly commentative and deeply resonant modern work that any reader can enjoy.

12. Lovecraft Country by Matt Huff

Similar to The Ballad of Black Tom , Lovecraft Country focuses on a young African-American man who must navigate the perils of both cosmic forces and basic civil rights (this one takes place in 1954, when Jim Crow segregation laws were still in effect). Atticus Turner, our hero, embarks on a journey to find his mysteriously missing father — employing the services of his uncle, who’s written a guide to “safe travel” for black people in the 1950s.

Along the way, Atticus and his companions encounter many obstacles big and small; however, nothing can prepare them for what awaits when they discover his father, held in shocking restraints for a truly pernicious purpose. It’s a Get Out -level plot twist , racial implications and all. And if that comparison intrigues you, get excited for the upcoming Lovecraft Country series, to be produced by none other than Jordan Peele .

13. The Fisherman by John Langan

Coming full circle from the fishermen in House on the Borderland , we now have the fishermen of The Fisherman : Abe and Dan, a couple of widowers who’ve bonded over their shared grief and coping mechanism of fishing. They’ve also both heard fantastical rumors of Dutchman’s Creek, where the fish are endless and easy to catch — the stuff of some kind of ancient Biblical miracle.

Dutchman’s Creek, however, is certainly not the work of God; if anything, it’s the very opposite. Nevertheless, Abe and Dan can only hear so many rumors before they are compelled to try their hands (or rather, their rods) at the spot. Will they be dissuaded by a local who knows the true history of Dutchman’s Creek? This immersive novel will have you biting your nails right alongside the characters, and leave you more haunted than ever by the possibilities of the deep.

14. Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids is a modern classic, as well as a great comic alternative to all the super-dark cosmicism on this list. It follows a Scooby-Doo -like gang of young crime-solvers — once a troupe of actual kid detectives, now in their twenties and living completely separate lives. All have been battling their own personal demons for years: Andrea “Andy” Rodriguez is wanted in multiple states, Kerri Hollis is an alcoholic, and Nate Rogers is locked in an asylum, supposedly communicating with ghosts.

These one-time meddling kids know that the only way to save their present selves is to delve back into the past… so they reunite to get the bottom of a few old mysteries, once and for all. Nostalgic charm meets profound, visionary horror in this totally unique work, which will make you see Saturday morning cartoons and wholesome Hardy Boys plotlines in a whole new light.

15. Agents of Dreamland by Caitlín R. Kiernan

We’ll wrap things up with an exceptional piece of cosmic horror by another female author, Caitlín Kiernan (also a contributor to Dreams from the Witch House ). In her novel Agents of Dreamland , a government agent called “the Signalman” attempts to gather information about an elusive cult, who call themselves the “Children of the Next Level.” The cult members consume strange fungi to psychically elevate themselves — but as the Signalman finds out too late, these are no mere magic mushrooms, but biology-warping weapons from another world. With plentiful body horror and a deeply disconcerting narrative style, this book is all the best (or worst, depending on how squeamish you are) parts of Aliyah Whiteley’s The Beauty and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five — neatly paying tribute to classic science fiction in the same breath as Lovecraftian horror.

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Ranking: Every H.P. Lovecraft Story from Worst to Best

A thorough examination of the author's 68 novels, novellas, and short stories

Ranking: Every H.P. Lovecraft Story from Worst to Best

Editor’s Note: Pick up our Lovecraftian Horror T-shirt — now available at the Consequence Shop .

Howard Phillips Lovecraft came into this world on August 20th, 1890, the only child of a rich mother and a father who would soon be acting strange. By 1893, W.S. Lovecraft’s behavior had become so chaotic that he was committed to Butler Hospital in the family’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. He died five years later of “general paresis,” or general paralysis of the insane. Today, we would call it late-stage syphilis.

The episode had a profound effect on Lovecraft. Whether he knew the truth or not, he later told friends that his father perished of insomnia and overwork. As it turned out, “insomnia” and “overwork” are two of the chief complaints of Lovecraft’s characters when they are hiding a terrible secret.

The horror of H.P. Lovecraft is the horror of insignificance. His characters encounter beings with unfathomable power, and while they mostly live to tell the tale, they suffer through an awful epiphany — that their thoughts don’t matter, their desires don’t matter, and their entire existence is temporary and fragile… a soap bubble ready to burst.

Lovecraft wrote scores of stories, of which 68 were published during his lifetime and after his death. Of the major Lovecraftian themes, the cosmic horror has aged by far the best, and it is upon this foundation that his whole reputation rests. This is what we think of when we think of Lovecraft: the linked tales that make up the Cthulu Mythos (very few of which involve Cthulu), the Necronomicon, and the less-well known Dream Cycle starring Randolph Carter.

Ranking: Every H.P. Lovecraft Story from Worst to Best

He also wrote tales of ghosts and vampires, science fiction, fantasies, parodies, poems, and exceedingly boring accounts of his own dreams. His literary pretensions to be the next Edgar Allen Poe mostly failed, and reading his early poetical works can feel like being cudgeled with a thesaurus. But that is hardly the biggest stain on his legacy.

H.P. Lovecraft was a vile bigot. In his stories, immigrants are slain for the crime of being immigrants, women’s brains are inferior to men’s, and people with darker skin tones are inherently dumber, more “primitive,” and more prone to evil deeds. He consistently returns to body horror themes of mixing white blood with other races or species, and Caucasians are constantly under threat.

For a while in the 1920s, Lovecraft lived in New York City. He hated it, primarily because of the heterogeneous mix of people. This prejudice shows up in his fiction. In “The Horror of Red Hook”, a cop fears for his safety around “swarthy, evil-looking foreigners,” and we’re supposed to tingle with dread as he describes dark-faced youths on corners, “playing eerily on cheap instruments.”

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This is New York City in the Roaring Twenties, remember, and in retrospect, he’s offered an unintentionally hilarious description of jazz. It would be funnier if the author’s perspective weren’t so bleak. It’s all too easy to picture Lovecraft himself walking the streets of Manhattan, quaking with fear and envisioning violence against everyone who didn’t look like him.

Lovecraft’s views don’t improve when compared to his contemporaries: Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. While other (better) authors pushed literature in exciting new directions, Lovecraft’s prose looked backwards, to Poe and to run-on sentences in the Victorian style. Even his prose was regressive.

Ranking: Every H.P. Lovecraft Story from Worst to Best

Today, once-admirable writers like Orson Scott Card and J.K. Rowling have sullied their reputations by scare-mongering about Muslims and non-binary people , respectively. But their literature is kinder than their real lives. Card’s Ender’s Game is about failures of cross-species communication, and in the sequels Ender strives endlessly to understand other perspectives. As for the Harry Potter franchise, it was clearly intended to be an allegory for bigotry, with muggles, mudbloods, and pure families standing in for classist and racist institutions. These authors failed to live up to their own ideals. But in Lovecraft’s world, some people really are better than others, and communicating with strangers could lead to the end of civilization. Even compared to other bigots, he reads as narrow-minded and mean-spirited.

On the other hand, Lovecraft is dead and his works are in the public domain. Studying his oeuvre is not financially supporting prejudice. Besides, he’s a foundational figure in speculative fiction, and those of us who love a good “What if…” must eventually wrestle with that literature’s racist past. I first encountered Lovecraftian horror in games like Diablo,   Starcraft,  and Dungeons and Dragons. His influence is felt in Stephen King, Stranger Things , and so many new and classic tales. We can acknowledge his influence and discuss his craft without forgetting what kind of person held the pen.

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A listicle can be a cumbersome way to do that — after all, how do you rank something bigoted but written with style versus unreadable descriptions of dreams? And what about the less obviously hateful stories? How far down should tales be knocked for brief moments of xenophobia or vile throwaway lines? It can’t be done, at least not in a satisfying way. It’s no good lumping all the racist ones at the bottom — too many of them are racist. Eventually, judgment calls must be made.

But I will say that bigotry has an undeniable impact on quality. Something like “The Street”, with its white nationalism and explicit, abusive language, is full of leaps of logic that make it boring and stupid as well as offensive. It’s clearly in another category from The Shadow over Innsmouth , which is well-constructed, but based in Lovecraft’s own racist fears of mixed and dirty bloodlines. The Shadow over Innsmouth is a liminal moment in speculative fiction — one of the first times that an intense aura of dread was wedded to blockbuster pacing and taut action scenes.

Ranking: Every H.P. Lovecraft Story from Worst to Best

H.P. Lovecraft

The story is to horror writing what The Birth of a Nation  was to film. D.W. Griffith’s silent epic glorified the Ku Klux Klan while innovating new filmmaking techniques that make it arguably the first modern movie. Film students study it to learn the history of cinema. They are (hopefully) also taught that in lionizing the Klan, Griffith was personally responsible for getting Black people killed. The Shadow over Innsmouth  isn’t quite that evil, but it comes loaded with problematic baggage that cannot be ignored. I gave it a high ranking, not because it is good and virtuous, but because none  of the stories are good and virtuous. Lovecraft was a shitty person. In the absence of admirable qualities, we’ll focus on craft. The most explicitly hateful stories are close to unreadable anyway.

Besides, the list format has one advantage over other surveys of Lovecraft’s fiction, which is that you can see at a glance just how many of his stories are ill-intentioned, poorly conceived, barely half-assed, or severely, unforgivably prejudiced. I don’t recommend reading the complete works yourself, and I would never have volunteered for this assignment if I had known what it would be like. His bibliography has unintentionally become a book he would write about, a kind of Bigotnomicon , full of shocking descriptions unfit for casual consumption.

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But I don’t regret the experience, either. I learned lots of history about one of my favorite genres, and I see Lovecraft more clearly: as an unusually creative bigot, and a minor literary genius. His best works influenced generations of readers — and for good reason. Lovecraft can be as gripping as anyone and some of his ideas will endure for many years to come. But he does not belong in the top tier of genre authors, and his work should be studied with proper context, in the same careful and deliberate way that film students should encounter The Birth of a Nation .

At the bottom of this ranking of 68 novels, novellas, and short stories, you will find Lovecraft’s most overtly hateful fictions, along with his juvenile writings. (Note: I will spoil some of these endings, but I will go spoiler free as the stories get better.) The next tier is tedious descriptions of dreams (seriously, how did he get so many of these published?) as well as half-finished fragments published after Lovecraft’s death. Afterwards, we move into good ideas with rough execution and mediocre concepts that are written with skill. Beyond that come those tales which are generally pretty good, and finally the best writing that Lovecraft produced — though again, even his masterworks retain their master’s flaws.

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Screen Rant

10 best lovecraftian horror movies to stream on netflix.

When it comes to Netflix's own Lovecraftian horror movies, they have managed to give even diehard fans some chills.

Since the creation of the term "Lovecraftian," this type of horror storytelling has captured the imagination of filmmakers for decades. With hits and cult favorites like The Evil Dead , The Thing , and The Mist , even audiences have become fascinated with the true unknown and the scares that can be created from it.

When it comes to Lovecraftian or cosmic horror, Netflix has produced some hits and misses over the past few years. And while everyone will have their preferences, each one of these Netflix offerings tried to at least do something different to bring a fresh perspective to the sub-genre.

The Silence (2019)

The Silence cast

After a cave exhibition awakens a group of mysterious flying creatures, the Andrews family must do what they can to find safety while also trying to remain silent, as this unknown menace tracks sound. As the United States tries to contain the situation, Hugh Andrews (played by Stanley Tucci) must protect his deaf daughter from other people as the country goes into chaos.

RELATED: 10 Worst Netflix Original Horror Movies, According To Rotten Tomatoes

Despite its critical panning and sharing many similarities to the beloved A Quiet Place , the movie did try to at least create a tense ride across America. And while the actual origins of the deadly creatures are never discovered, it's the way that they have made other people into monsters that really drives the story.

Eli surrounded by fire.

Suffering from a rare condition that causes a number of allergic reactions to the outside world, Eli and his family attend a medical facility where they can help the boy. But soon after arriving, he starts to see supernatural occurrences and questions the legitimacy of the doctors and nurses caring for him.

What starts out as a ghost story slowly reveals itself to be much more serious and darker than audiences may have expected, turning Eli into potentially one of the best horror movies featuring creepy kids . And it's this unknown force that keeps the movie suspenseful as it is equally intriguing.

Apostle (2018)

Dan Stevens in Apostle (2018)

Set in 1905 on a remote Welsh island, Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) tries to discover the whereabouts of his sister, who has been kidnapped by a cult that lives there. But what starts out as a rescue mission soon becomes a thriller, as Thomas soon discovers that there may be more to the cult than meets the eye.

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It may share some beats with the likes of The Wicker Man , but the movie's focus on the supernatural and otherworldly presence plays a big part in this story. And it's the discovery behind the cult and the beloved figure to whom they pray that turns it into a Lovecraftian take on what would have otherwise been another  Wicker Man  clone.

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

Cloverfield Paradox Crew

Set on the Cloverfield Station in 2028, the crew of the orbiting space station attempt to create infinite energy for Earth using a particle accelerator. But after a successful attempt, the crew find themselves in a strange predicament, as the Earth has seemingly vanished and odd events start to happen onboard.

This sci-fi horror movie may not have been the sequel that fans wanted for the Cloverfield series, but it does make an intriguing cosmic story. From sentient limbs to traveling across parallel universes to finding a woman fused into a wall, the filmmakers at least tried to tell a new Lovecraftian horror before it became part of the Cloverfield franchise .

Spectral (2016)

Spectral Netflix

Responsible for inventing the specialized goggles used by the movie's soldiers, Dr. Mark Clyne (James Badge Dale) finds himself in a mystery to uncover the odd apparitions that have appeared on the footage they've captured and have been killing the soldiers. But as the war is turning the tide against them, can the doctor uncover this unstoppable force before it's too late?

RELATED: The 10 Best Ghost/Horror Movies Of All Time, According To IMDb

No strangers to military action movies, Netflix's Spectral was their attempt to spin the genre on its head with some sci-fi and paranormal implementations. While the movie may not be the best military action flick on the streaming platform, it does at least try to keep the suspense going to the end.

In The Shadow Of The Moon (2019)

In The Shadow Of The Moon

After he thought he killed a murderer in 1988 after they committed a series of brutal murders, detective Thomas Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook) tries to stop a potential copycat killer in 1997. But after chasing down a possible suspect, he soon realizes that the same murderer after all those years is alive and has remained the same age.

Although it starts out as a thriller, the movie opens up to become a sci-fi tale and makes the audience question everything. While it may not play with horror too much, the murderer and the reasoning behind their actions may be more associated with Lovecraft's science fiction work than some may expect.

Extinction (2018)

Michal Pena and Lizzy Caplan in Extinction

An engineer named Peter (Michael Peña) continuously has visions in his dreams of war and an invasion from alien creatures. But soon after his dreams become a recurring issue for him and his family, they become real, and he must help to fight back against the invaders.

Extinction may come across initially as a similar story to other alien invasion flicks, but it goes into a more cosmic horror angle as the movie unfolds. And like some of the best sci-fi and Lovecraft stories out there, it also has its own twists that audiences may not have anticipated.

Bird Box (2018)

Sandra Bullock in a boat, blindfolded, in Bird Box.

Set in post-apocalyptic America, Bird Box tells the story of Malorie Hayes (Sandra Bullock) and her two children as they try to find a safe place to call home. But with beings that can make someone see their worst fears and drive the victim to kill themselves, they must make the perilous journey while blindfolded.

One of the biggest titles on Netflix at the time of its release, Bird Box was also one of the biggest horror movies within the sub-genre. Despite the hate from critics, audiences loved this horror movie from the 2010s. As audiences never see or know where the creatures come from, it's hard to say how the sequel could open up the mystery and the world it has created.

In The Tall Grass (2019)

Stephen King Netflix adaptations

Based on the book of the same name by Stephen King and Joe Hill, the movie sees Becky and Cal DeMuth get lost in a seemingly never-ending field of grass. And to make matters worse, they start to witness strange phenomena as they try to find their way back out of the field.

A blend of horror and the supernatural, In The Tall Grass turns a seemingly ordinary field into a sinister force of nature. And with the peculiar sights of ghosts and paranormal visions, the movie dives into the unknown and takes the cast of characters along for the terrifying ride. Just try not to watch this Canadian movie alone .

Annihilation (2018)


Leading a star-studded cast, Natalie Portman plays biologist Lena, who enters the Shimmer to discover how to save her husband, who ended up in a comatose state after escaping it. But soon after entering the unknown and mysterious area, she and her team come across a series of mutated animals and plants that have seemingly become infected by it.

One of the critics' favorite movies from 2018, it also remains a celebrated work of cinema in Lovecraftian horror. Blending a whole host of genres to create some of the most disturbing and bewildering scenes in recent memory, Annihilation 's cosmic mystery will keep audiences guessing and on their toes until the very end.

NEXT:  Sci-Fi Movies To Watch If You Like Annihilation

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The best sci-fi movies to watch on Netflix this February

From post-apocalyptic brawlers to kaiju-stompin’ mecha thrillers

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A man (Don Lee) points a shotgun through a hole while a young man and a woman stand behind him in a darkened hallway in Badland Hunters.

Greetings, Polygon readers!

We’re mere weeks away from the premiere of Dune: Part Two , the second installment in Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic adapted from Frank Herbert’s acclaimed book series. You don’t have to wait that long to enjoy some great sci-fi, though, as we’ve pulled together a list of the best sci-fi movies available on Netflix in February. This month, we’ve got a post-apocalyptic action thriller starring Ma Dong-seok of Train to Busan fame, a dystopian drama about a father and son living in an occupied estate co-directed by Daniel Kaluuya ( Get Out , Nope ), and a classic kaiju mecha action drama from Guillermo del Toro!

Let’s dive in and see what this month has to offer!

Editor’s pick: Badland Hunters

Ma Dong-seok fires a pistol in a hallway full of slumped bodies in Badland Hunters

Director: Heo Myeong-haeng Cast: Ma Dong-seok, Lee Hee-joon, Lee Jun-young

When you’re looking for a great sci-fi movie to watch, sometimes you’re looking for a thoughtful meditation on humanity’s role in the galaxy, with hard science elements and beautiful, almost fantastical cinematography. Other times, you’re looking for Ma Dong-seok absolutely laying into fools in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. Badland Hunters is for those other times.

A (bizarre, tonally speaking) sequel to the serious apocalyptic earthquake drama Concrete Utopia , Badland Hunters is a Mad Max-esque story of a hulking man looking out for his found family and destroying anyone who gets in his way (including a mad scientist up to some twisted experiments). While it doesn’t reach the high heights of Ma’s work in Train to Busan or the Roundup movies , he is such a reliably entertaining and charismatic movie star that you can’t help but enjoy this B-movie experience. (And director Heo Myeong-haeng, a former stuntman who will helm the upcoming The Roundup: Punishment , knows exactly how to shoot the big man’s action sequences.) It’s one of Netflix’s standout international releases of 2024 so far, and a fun time for people looking for some popcorn-worthy sci-fi. —Pete Volk

The Kitchen

(L-R) A man in a black tracksuit (Kane Robinson) atop a futuristic motorcycle stands in front of a young boy in a white hoodie (Jedaiah Bannerman) and black pants in The Kitchen.

Directors: Kibwe Tavares, Daniel Kaluuya Cast: Kane Robinson, Jedaiah Bannerman, Hope Ikpoku Jnr

Despite being Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya’s feature directorial debut, The Kitchen premiered on Netflix last month to little more than a handful of reviews. Which is a shame, because the film itself is awesome. Actor-songwriter Kane Robinson stars as Izi, a man living alone in an occupied estate known colloquially as “the Kitchen” in a dystopian London where social housing has all but been eradicated.

Working at a funeral service, Izi crosses paths with Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman), a young boy grieving the recent loss of his mother. Suspecting the boy may in fact be his own estranged son, Izi reluctantly takes Benji in right as the estate is about to be assailed by the police. A poignant, character-driven sci-fi drama about a father and his son living in a world crumbling at its foundations, The Kitchen feels like a film that’s in direct conversation with the austerity politics of present-day London. Robinson and Bannerman give tremendous performances, and the world-building of the Kitchen itself feels believable and full of nuance and dimension. —Toussaint Egan

Pacific Rim

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Director: Guillermo del Toro Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi

If you’re a fan of kaiju and giant robots, you have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks. Dawnrunner , the new sci-fi comic series from writer Ram V and artist Evan Cagle about a mecha pilot fighting interdimensional creatures in Central America, is set to debut its first issue in late March. Right after that, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire , the latest installment in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse, will be released in theaters, followed closely by the streaming premiere of Kaiju No. 8 , the new sci-fi action anime from Production I.G about a man who gains the ability to transform into a superpowered humanoid kaiju.

If you’re looking for a way to kickstart The Season of Kaiju earlier, there’s no better way to do so than by watching Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 love letter to the genre. Pacific Rim has amassed a sizeable cult following in the decade-plus since it premiered, largely on the strength of the film’s spectacular mecha designs and equally jaw-dropping action sequences. It’s a visually impressive and unabashedly fun sci-fi action drama that’s charming and awe-inspiring to behold. —TE

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Sterling K. Brown on ‘This Is Us’ Tears, ‘American Fiction’ Laughs and Launching a Podcast With His Wife

Sterling K. Brown made audiences cry as the obsessively responsible Randall Pearson on the hit NBC drama “ This Is Us .” Randall wasn’t humorless, exactly, but he was more serious than his siblings Kate and Kevin on the show, and the drama’s most emotional moments often hinged on revealing the cracks in Randall’s tortured facade.  

“That’s exactly right,” Brown, 47, says with a laugh. “It was a lot of fun to be the Kevin-slash-Cliff.” Brown says it’s a role he relates to, having been the youngest of three children. “Growing up, I was the baby,” he says. “I really leaned into that in this film — into how they can be petulant or self-absorbed.”  

“American Fiction” is adapted by writer-director Cord Jefferson from the 2001 novel “Erasure” by Percival Everett. Monk is a disgruntled writer who tires of seeing novels full of Black stereotypes succeed and so composes one — this time, a satire — under the pen name Stagg R. Lee. But the book becomes a bestseller, and to keep up the ruse, Monk finds himself having to pretend to be Stagg in various situations.  

Cliff, though, is the raging id to Monk’s ego, a plastic surgeon whose life devolves after his wife catches him with a man and leaves him. It’s pretty tragic stuff, but Cliff’s antics are also the source of much of the film’s comedy. “I’ve only been gay for like five minutes,” he tells Monk. “I gotta make up for lost time!”  

“I get people all the time who come up and tell me how much I’ve made them cry,” Brown says. “And I’m thankful for it.” He pauses. “I’m not exactly sure how I’m supposed to respond to that, but I do now relish the opportunity to bring some mirth and merriment to their lives.”   

Jefferson knew he could draw on the goodwill audiences have toward Brown to make his other characters more endearing, particularly Monk. “You can’t err too far on the side of grumpy; you can lose the audience because they stop rooting for him,” Jefferson notes. “One of the ways you can show a lovable grump being lovable is by surrounding him with people who love him despite himself. So the key was to find actors that were a bit more joyous and inviting and show them loving Monk.” 

Brown knows how silly he can be, even if others don’t see it right away. “I think I was always acutely aware that I would be seen as the heavy in an ensemble,” he says. He remembers attending NYU at the same time as Mahershala Ali. “We were recently talking about this,” he says. “When you’re the guy who’s bigger, and the Black guy, you’re always put in the role of someone with gravitas. Even if you have a sense of humor, you don’t really get to be the quirky-comedian guy.” He adds, “I had to cultivate my own sense of humor knowing that I might not get those roles immediately, but I had to be ready when I did.” 

So Brown showed up on the “American Fiction” set raring to play. His first scene finds Cliff yelling at a white neighbor who’s hassling the family for spreading their mother’s ashes at the beach. In the space of seconds, Brown goes from heartbreaking grief to sputtering rage: “I will eat your sweater vest for dinner,” he says. 

While Cliff is responsible for many of the film’s funniest moments, they are often borne out of grief. “Cliff is returning to the scene of the crime — a home where he never really felt appreciated for who he was,” Brown says. But he loved playing someone who is finally living his true self. “Cliff is not in the mood to hear anybody’s ideas about how he should be. He’s saying, ‘I’ve tried it by other people’s ideas for over 20 years, and now you all can kiss my collective Black ass. I’m going to do it my way.’” 

Which is not to say comedy doesn’t have its terrors. On the  “Saturday Night Live” episode Brown hosted in 2018, he did a spot-on imitation of the rapper Common, passionately rapping inspirational answers to Kenan Thompson’s silly “Family Feud” questions. Asked if he ever heard from the real Common after that, Brown blanches: They met on a plane when Brown was traveling with his family.  

“He didn’t speak to me until we got off the plane,” Brown says. “And then he came up and said, ‘That sketch, bro. What’s up with that?’ I told him it was all love — I know he’s a good dude.” But Common told Brown he lost speaking engagements and endorsements over the skit.  

“I kept telling him they were just jokes, but he was like, ‘It’s jokes to you, but it’s messing with my bottom line.’” 

Brown started to freak out. “I said, ‘Common, are you serious?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m just kidding, dude.’”

Brown laughs hard. “I told him it was the worst thing he’d ever done. I was standing in front of my kids believing I ruined this man’s life.”

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‘dune 2’ is the best sci-fi film since ‘the matrix’.

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Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Javier Bardem and Timothee Chalamet reprise their roles in 'Dune 2'

The release calendar ruined a perfectly good lead. I was primed and ready to write that Dune 2 is the best science fiction film of the last twenty-five years. After fact-checking the release date of The Matrix , I discovered it was released on March 31, 1999. So, technically Dune 2 is “the best sci-fi film of the last 24 years and 335 days” which is not a pull quote destined to appear on the back of the Bluray release. (And I’ll likely receive emails telling me that Dune 2 is better than The Matrix , and those folks can make a good argument for that assessment.)

As the film opens, House Atreidas has fallen, and its lone heir, Paul (Timothee Chalamet) is on the run, hiding among the Fremen in the barren expanse of the northern deserts of Arrakis. House Harkonnen, in league with the Emperor (played by a miscast Christopher Walken), led the slaughter of Paul’s entire bloodline in an effort to monopolize the valuable spice mined on Arrakis.

As House Harkonnen moves to consolidate its power, tales emerge of a messiah rallying the Fremen into a powerful force capable of overthrowing the ruling Houses. The Harkonnens are concerned by religious zealots. Martyrs have followers, and nothing is scarier than someone fighting for a holy cause. The Fremen messiah must be stopped before the Fremen uprising grows beyond the Harkonnen’s control.

It’s difficult breaking a film into two pieces, and then have the second piece delayed for four months due to the various Hollywood strikes. The first film felt like a lengthy set-up for the action to come. When the credits rolled on Dune , it became clear that we were hitting the pause button midway through the second act of a 330-minute film.

Dune 2 is the much-anticipated pay-off, a vast improvement over the mythology-laden first film. Epic battles scenes, palace intrigue, romance and religious prophecies abound. We even get a new, younger villain from House Harkonnen, Feyd-Rautha, played by Austin Butler ( Elvis ). A Paul versus Feyd-Rautha showdown feels like an inevitability from the moment Butler hits the screen and shows off his character’s lethal fighting skills. Butler certainly shows his acting range, but I would’ve appreciated a Big Bad who can’t simply be written off as “psychotic”.

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An unrecognizable Austin Butler ('Elvis') plays Feyd-Rautha, the Harkonnen who would be Emperor in ... [+] 'Dune 2'

Director Denis Villeneuve ( Blade Runner 2049 , Arrival ) wisely expands his universe in this second film by providing an in-depth look behind the curtain of House Harkonnen. The production design of these segments plays like a 21st-century homage to the visionary black-and-white world of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927). The bleached look of the Harkonnen’s world contrasts brilliantly with the earth tones of the Fremen’s desert lairs. At times, however, the incessant black and white costuming makes you think that House Harkonnen made it’s fortune selling S&M gear and latex outfits.

The novel Dune was written by Frank Herbert in 1965. Herbert’s sci-fi world-building is epic, embracing politics, organized religion, spirituality, sociology and more. For years it was considered impossible to adapt to film. David Lynch created an interesting misfire in 1984, and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt at a cinematic adaptation of the Herbert novel resulted in an amazing 2013 documentary about the “impossibility” of bringing Dune to the silver screen.

Denis Villeneuve ( Blade Runner 2049 , Arrival ) has clearly cracked the code, although the sixty-year-old story he’s adapting certainly has some flaws. At its core, Dune 2 is a white savior narrative. The image of a young white man leading people of color to paradise was a trope for decades before the 21st century decided to grant agency to the black and brown characters populating cinematic epics since the days of the silent Tarzan films and Charlton Heston playing Moses in The Ten Commandments .

It may simply be my middle-aged film critic’s brain, but Chalamet is a bit of a lightweight physically and when it comes to gravitas. It’s a lot to ask the baby-faced actor to carry the full weight of the film. Veteran actor Javier Bardem sells Chalamet as the messiah Maud’Dib better than Chalamet himself. As the young actor strides through the desert with his cloak billowing in the wind, he occasionally looks like he’s advertising the Atreides Collection for Prada rather than single-mindedly freeing an oppressed populace.

I couldn’t help but envision someone like Riz Ahmed ( Sound of Metal ) as Paul Atreides. The white savior and the gravitas issues disappear with a single casting choice, but the financial analytics would’ve knocked $ 30 million off the production budget without a young star like Chalamet to attract the Gen Z filmgoers of the world.

Any negative observations or criticisms I’ve leveled at the film are truly just quibbles. I’m not the kind to complain that we never see original, epic science fiction on the big screen anymore and then nitpick the best sci-fi film of the 21st century. Hollywood rumor mills are suggesting that Villeneuve may head back to the science fiction well for his next film, an alleged adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s classic sci-fi novel Rendezvous with Rama . After the two Dune films and (to a somewhat lesser extent) his Blade Runner sequel, I’m onboard to go anywhere Denis Villeneuve wants to take me.

Scott Phillips

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New Romance Novels Steeped in Cozy Winter Vibes

If you’re craving comfort — or connection — pick up one of these books.

Credit... Michela Buttignol

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By Olivia Waite

Olivia Waite is the Book Review’s romance fiction columnist. She writes queer historical romance, fantasy and critical essays on the genre’s history and future.

  • Feb. 13, 2024

Tough times have a way of isolating a person, and while you’re living through them, sometimes you need a story that helps you back into the wider world. Romance novels do that. In their pages, you can find connection — even when it’s hard to do in real life.

Connection is lifesaving in Tia Williams’s new novel, A LOVE SONG FOR RICKI WILDE (Grand Central, 342 pp., $29) . Ricki, in 2024, has left her job at her tyrannical family’s chain of funeral parlors and started a flower shop in a Harlem brownstone. Ezra, in 1924, has fled the racist violence of his hometown and is making a name for himself as a musician in the speakeasies of the Harlem Renaissance.

best new lovecraftian fiction

And then their lives begin to overlap.

Ricki has come to the city in pursuit of life, and Ezra has been fleeing death — a little too successfully, it turns out, because this is not a time-slip story. He has, through a curse, become immortal. His immortality is a kind of haunting, of being trapped in the world but apart from it: People forget him entirely within a month if he doesn’t keep in contact.

Even worse, Ezra’s cursed love for Ricki will mean her death — and it might already be too late.

The book’s calculus of love and loss is brutal, and grounds the dazzling prose and light magical element.

In Allison Saft’s A FRAGILE ENCHANTMENT (Wednesday Books, 373 pp., $17.99) , it feels as if all of the characters have something they’re desperate to escape from. Our heroine, Niamh Ó Conchobhair, is a maker of enchanted clothing from a fantasy version of Ireland. Summoned to the court of Avaland, her people’s conquerors, she hopes that making wedding coats and cloaks for the prince regent’s younger brother will be a path out of poverty for herself and her family.

Kit, the groom, is blunt and embittered — literally prickly when his flower magic gets away from him — and it’s clear he is being dragged into marriage against his will. Niamh resents her instant attraction to someone so unavailable and irritating. Between the political prejudice against her people and the chronic illness she knows will kill her someday, she is convinced there is no room for love in her life.

The plot, like the prince, delights in proving Niamh wrong. Saft layers the tensions and emotions like a delicate dessert. Niamh’s confidence in her power is a relief from the untrained paranormal heroine in need of guidance, and Kit makes petulance unusually charming. I especially love when a romantasy — that’s romantic fantasy — refuses to shortchange either half of the portmanteau.

To summarize Charlotte Stein’s WHEN GRUMPY MET SUNSHINE (St. Martin’s Griffin, 324 pp., paperback, $18) , let me borrow words from the hero, the gruff former soccer player Alfie Harding, when he meets Mabel Willicker, who’s been hired to ghostwrite his memoir: “You think I’m a big hairy manimal who’s never gonna be able to work well with this here human cupcake.”

But though they seem like opposites, underneath Mabel and Alfie are anguished, self-doubting weirdos. What they need — and what they’re terrified of — is liberation from the cages they’ve built for themselves.

Alfie’s Roy Kent-inspired voice is a triumph — and very, very funny — but sex is where Stein really shines. This, children, is how the professionals do it. Not a rote list of parts and positions, but a physical flow between two people. It’s the difference between seeing choreography laid out in footprints on the floor, and being swept away by the dance.

Lastly, for pure comfort vibes I highly recommend TJ Alexander’s SECOND CHANCES IN NEW PORT STEPHEN (Emily Bestler Books, 336 pp., paperback, $17.99) , which stares at everything going wrong in the world and dares to say happiness matters anyway.

After years in New York, Eli Ward has returned to his Florida hometown. He’s out of work, out of sorts, and out as trans. But when he reconnects with his high school boyfriend, Nick Wu — now a hot dad, and maybe not as straight as he thinks — Eli has to get his act together if he wants a second chance at happiness.

Eli’s life has come crashing down around him, but Nick’s encases him like concrete. He works too much; he has a daughter he loves but an ex whose mother makes co-parenting unpleasant; and he can’t remember the last time he did something just for fun. He didn’t expect to be just as attracted to Eli now that he’s transitioned, but that doesn’t scare him — what Nick’s afraid of is that this is only a casual fling for Eli, when Nick wants it to be so much more.

This is as low-concept a book as you can get, but it works for the same reason books by Cat Sebastian, Rebekah Weatherspoon and Jackie Lau work: You enjoy spending time with these people, and you want them to reach for joy when they can. We all should.

It’s the difference between saving the world and saving one another. The former can feel impossible; the second we can do every day.

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New Scientist

The best new science fiction books of January 2024

By Alison Flood

New science fiction isn’t thick on the ground this January, but there are some gems to look forward to – including a new novel from sci-fi supremo Alastair Reynolds, who wrote our fab New Scientist Christmas short story this year, Lottie and the River . I am also really looking forward to Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson’s debut novel, which is a space opera with grand ambitions, and to Alice McIlroy’s creepy psychological thriller The Glass Woman , in which a scientist is implanted with tech that has resulted in the loss of her memories. And if I’m feeling brave enough, I’ll be reading Tlotlo Tsamaase’s Womb City. If that isn’t enough and you’re looking for more suggestions for the year ahead, do check out our sci-fi columnist Sally Adee’s tips for 2024 reading .

The 22 best non-fiction and popular science books of 2023

Machine Vendetta by Alastair Reynolds . I’ll always snap up a new Alastair Reynolds. This latest is in his Prefect Dreyfus series, and sees Dreyfus investigating the death of Invar Tench, a police officer who worked to maintain democracy among the 10,000 city-states orbiting the planet Yellowstone.

The Principle of Moments by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson . This space opera is the first novel from Jikiemi-Pearson and it sounds amazing, moving from 6066 on the planet Garahan, where humans are indentured labourers for the emperor’s war machine, to London in 1812 and the time-travelling Obi, who meets a girl from another time in the British Museum. We are told it’s for fans of Becky Chambers, V.E. Schwab and N. K. Jemisin – all must-reads for me. It sounds like the perfect antidote to any January blues.

The Glass Woman by Alice McIlroy . This is a psychological thriller pitched as “B lack Mirror meets Before I Go to Sleep by way of Severance ":­ it follows a scientist, Iris, who volunteers to be the test subject for an experimental therapy that will see tech inserted into her brain. But she now no longer has her memories, so doesn’t know why she volunteered for the treatment in the first place – or even what it is. This sounds creepily brilliant, and I’ll be whiling away January commutes and evenings with it for sure.

Womb City by Tlotlo Tsamaase . The Handmaid’s Tale meets Get Out ? That’s quite a tall order, but this Africanfuturist horror novel sounds like it will be enjoyably terrifying. It takes place in a cruel surveillance state, where Nelah is trapped in a loveless marriage in which her every move is monitored by her police officer husband, via microchip. When she buries a body following a car accident, the ghost of her victim starts hunting down the people she loves. Our sci-fi columnist Sally Adee has tipped it as one to watch out for.

Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock by Maud Woolf . This sounds like a lot of fun. It’s set in the near future, where celebrities can make clones of themselves (known as “Portraits”) to take on their various duties. We are following the story of the 13 th copy of the actor Lulabelle Rock, who is out to eliminate her predecessors.

Ava Anna Ada by Ali Millar . Set in the near future, when the heat is spiralling, this novel takes place over a week when Anna and Ava become caught up in their own world and find themselves reckoning with who they really are. Ian Rankin, no less, describes it as “[Philip K.] Dick's They meets early Iain Banks or Ian McEwan in this novel of a near-future family meltdown”, which is every bit “as gripping as it is horrifying”.

The best new science fiction books of December 2023

Klova by Karen Langston . A decade after the death of his partner Neav, Ink wakes to find he has no concept of the past, and can only think of her in the present tense. He appears to be part of a new “amnesia crisis”. But could this be down to a corruption in the code of the artificial language, Klova, that enables everyone to think and speak?

Necropolis Alpha by Chris M. Arnone . This slice of cyberpunk sci-fi is Arnone’s follow-up to his novel The Hermes Protocol and follows an “Intel Operative” with cybernetic enhancements as she tries to steal data from the offices of an evangelical preacher.

Alastair Reynolds and Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson are two of the authors setting their novels in space this January. Alamy Stock Photo


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