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The boundaries between the thriller and horror genres are frequently breached. You may find something frightening that I don’t, and vice versa for fascinating or suspenseful. Horror and thriller books frequently have a feeling of fusing several genres—though even that is debatable. Do you believe that a book may be in more than one genre at once, or is it a one-and-done proposition?
A novel may, in my opinion, be both a horror and a thriller. A novel can certainly build to a WTF moment that both leaves me in a state of confusion and makes me want to take a shower. (Side note: Don’t you think those books are the best?)
Check out this list of horror thrillers that blur the borders between the genres by including several minor terrifying and/or gory moments in between events that build to a final climax.
THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS
BY STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES
Beginning with a book that is evocative and unmistakably frightening from the first page. One night, four American Indian friends go elk hunting on territories that are usually only used by the tribe’s elders. They draw their bows in anticipation as soon as they come upon an elk herd. The pals are still horrified and plagued by what occurred that night even ten years later. The Only Good Indians keeps you on the edge of your seat and flipping the pages at a breakneck pace while telling a deeper tale about the value of tradition.
BY MARISHA PESSL
When the daughter of cult-horror film director Stanislas Cordova is discovered dead, ex-journalist Scott McGrath is aware that there is more going on than first appears to be the case. McGrath has been attempting to learn more about Cordova and the source of his eerie and unsettling videos for some time, but he has always been unsuccessful. Now that the director is under suspicion, McGrath is determined to expose him, but this time he risked more than just his marriage and job.
WHITE IS FOR WITCHING
BY HELEN OYEYEMI
This book is a little jewel. It’s bizarre, extremely bizarre, yet it mixes the greatest elements of body horror and haunted home tales. In a secluded home close to Dover, the Silver family resides. Although it appears beautiful on the surface, it is actually filled with suffering. The family’s matriarch Lily departs, leaving her husband Luc, twins Miranda and Eliot, and twins Eliot confused and seeking guidance. The home itself seemed to be responding as well, emitting odd noises, forming labyrinths, and exhibiting anguish.
HOUSE OF LEAVES
BY MARK Z. DANIELEWSKI
When Johnny finds his landlord dead in his flat, there are notes and paperwork about a case involving a mystery mansion called the Navidson Record all over the place. Johnny becomes fixated on the mystery and starts studying the reports. The boundaries between reality and fantasy start to blur as he becomes fully immersed in Navidson’s existence.
BY KOUSHUN TAKAMI
Junior high school pupils are brought to a lonely island where they wake up wearing explosive collars. An upbeat video explains that the kids are participating in a game, or an oppressive program if you will, while the pupils panic. All of the pupils are given weapons and made to play a game of survival of the fittest in which they must kill one another until only one person remains. Yes, there is blood, but the story’s main meat comes from the psychological tricks the kids pull on one another.
BY NEIL GAIMAN
There’s a good chance you’ve heard tales of how this novella (or the movie) terrified people, and there’s absolutely a good reason for it. When Coraline’s family moves into a new house, she goes exploring and discovers, to her amazement, that a door she had previously closed connects to a passageway that leads to a house that is just like her own. The family that resides there even wants Coraline to remain and become a member of their family because life there seems to be better. However, she later learns that there are more captive children, and she is the only one who can rescue them (and herself).
BY HAN KANG
Yeong-hye suddenly resolves to give up all meat and adopt a plant-based diet one night after having a disturbing nightmare. However, in a society where following the rules is expected, her decision is interpreted as a sign of defiance and perhaps mental instability, which causes her family to become very worried. Her life begins to be impacted by this one choice, sending both her mind and body into a downward spiral.
BY RACHEL HARRISON
Longtime closest friends Julie, Elise, Mae, and Molly were shocked when Julie abruptly vanished one day while they were out hiking. Mae and Molly eventually give up hope and come to terms with their friend’s passing. On the other hand, Elise is adamant that Julie is still alive. Then, two years later, Julie comes back. She isn’t the same Julie, though.
CERTAIN DARK THINGS
BY SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA
Our main character, Atl, is a descendant of Aztec blood drinkers and must murder to survive in this vampire tale that blends Aztec culture and history. Domingo, a homeless child with a kind heart, might be able to break down Atl’s walls when she first encounters him. Don’t be misled, though; this is not a romance book. Because a cop who also happens to be a vampire hunter is following them, transforming the plot into a cat-and-mouse game.
BY ZOJE STAGE
There is no reason why this circumstance couldn’t happen to someone, which is the scariest aspect of this novel. Hanna may seem like the perfect child to the rest of the world, but her mother Suzette sees things differently. In contrast to tales like Rosemary’s Baby, the protagonist in Baby Teeth is not possessed by the devil. She’s just a cruel youngster who wants to hurt her mother. And as awful as Hanna is cruel, Suzette is just a mother who longs to bond with her daughter.
So there you have them. Have you read any of these? Let me know what you thought.