What better way to deal with the stress of real life than to read some good modern cosmic horror books and let them help you feel better? If the world is on fire, that’s for sure! In some cases, it is true. But cosmic horror is there to remind us that things could get even worse, which is why it is there. There is no way I’m going to make a joke about tentacles now. There are a lot of people who already know how cosmic horror started, and when it comes to the sub-genre, Lovecraft still tends to be a big part of it. I won’t go into the history of it here. Yes, I think you should read Sarah S. Davis’ Introduction to Cosmic Horror blog post. She does a great job of explaining why and where the genre comes from and how it fits into the larger world of horror.
There are a lot of great modern cosmic horror books out there that weren’t written by Lovecraft. Instead, we’re going to talk about some of the best of them. As I said, Lovecraft is big in the world of cosmic horror, and it’s hard to avoid him. Some of these titles do touch on Lovecraft’s world. Those who don’t want to work with him at all may choose to look into and question the sub-themes genre’s and concepts in new ways, rather than work with him at all.
Modern Cosmic Horror Books
Agents of Dreamland by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Agents of Dreamland, which is the first in Kiernan’s Tinfoil Dossier series, is a short story, but it packs in a lot of information for its length. A cult leader has a lot of followers because they want to be like God. The Signalman is a government special agent who only goes by that name. He is trying to find out more about an event that has been haunting him for years. It turns out that an interplanetary probe has gone dark, and something from outside our galaxy has made contact with us. It’s not clear where this unknown woman is right now, but she’s looking into the past and the future for ways to save people. In the event that you enjoy Agents of Dreamland, you should be very happy for you Following up to “Black Helicopters,” “The Tindalos Asset,” will be out on October 13th. It’s the third book in the series.
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
In Victor LaValle’s “The Horror at Red Hook,” he reimagines one of Lovecraft’s most racist works in a way that makes it even better. To put it another way, LaValle’s novella shines bright light on the racism of Lovecraft’s original work as well as the terrible truth about how humans can be so cruel to each other. A lot of people think that The Ballad of Black Tom will make H.P. happy, which is what we want. In order to keep his father from going hungry or homeless, Charles Tester hustles. He makes money by selling dangerous magic to people who are desperate or eager for it. However, when his most recent delivery opens a door to more power than ever before, Tester finds himself in the sights of something old and dangerous.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
She has always written dark fantasies, so I’m thrilled that with her most recent book, “Cosmic Horror,” N.K. Jemisin has moved into full-blown cosmic horror. This is how it works in a world where cities have souls called avatars. The avatar of New York City has gone. In its place, five new incarnations of the city’s five boroughs will have to be born: five people who look like each one. Ancient evil is rising up from beneath the city. If the city’s five protectors can not work together, the evil will destroy New York.
Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys
Emrys’s Winter Tide, like many of the modern cosmic horror books on this list, draws on one of Lovecraft’s most well-known settings: Innsmouth, where he lived and worked. In 1928, the government moved the people of Innsmouth, taking them as far away from their home ocean and their sleeping gods as possible. They put them in dusty desert camps and left them to die. Aphra and Caleb Marsh were the only people who stayed at their camp. People who were killed by Aphra’s government now need help getting back dangerous secrets that they think the Communists took from Miskatonic University. Aphra can help them get them back! In Emry’s continuation of the story of Innsmouth, she makes a point of not being racist or xenophobic by taking inspiration from the violent history of moving and imprisoning people that people don’t like. It’s people who’re the real monsters in this place, though.
Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw
If you like cosmic horror noir, you need to read Persons Non Grata by Khaw on your list of books to read. Hammers on Bone and its follow-up, A Song for Quiet, are a great mix of mysterious horrors and hard-boiled detective work. John Persons is a P.I. who is good at dealing with things that are old and disgusting because he is old and a little disgusting himself. Because of this, he is the best person to find the stepfather of his new client, a man who has been infected by a monstrous alien.
Everything That’s Underneath by Kristi DeMeester
Cosmic horror is my favorite type of story, and DeMeester’s work fits the bill. It’s based on powerful, unsettling images of nature and the horrors come from down below rather than from above. People who like folk horror mixed with people who don’t like it mixed with people who don’t like it mixed together. It’s DeMeester’s first short story collection, Everything That’s Underneath. In it, she writes 18 stories of terrifying cosmic folk horror that take her readers to dark places in the world and in their own minds.
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
“The Cats of Ulthar” is a short story written by Lovecraft. Kij Johnson’s book is about Professor Vellitt Boe, a professor at Ulthar Women’s College. This is what happens when one of Professor Boe’s best students runs away to the real world with a dreamer she’s in love with. It’s up to Boe to get her back. It takes Boe a long way across the Dreamlands and into her own past to get her student back.
The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper
My favorite book to read in November is coming out in December. It’s also the book I can’t wait to read when 2020 finally comes to an end! Hailey Piper’s new book with new indie publisher Off Limits Press not only has a beautiful cover, but it also promises to be a cosmic horror dream of a novella. Worm is set in New York City in the 1990s, where it’s easy for people to just disappear and never come back. Monique is on a quest to find her girlfriend Donna, who hasn’t been seen for a long time. Donna isn’t the only one who’s gone. As other poor women start to disappear from the city streets, Monique hears stories about monsters stalking the city’s underbelly. Following the rumors, Monique must go far below New York City, where there are creatures and cultists and an even more terrible and ancient evil lurking in the dark.