T10T: Creepy, According to Acqua

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Halloween Freebie.

I decided to write a list of favorite horror and otherwise disturbing books, because why not.

YA Horror

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Genre: Surrealist retelling
Rating: 5 stars
Vassa in the Night is to this day one of my all-time favorite novels, and it helped me discover that macabre surrealism is my favorite kind of horror, because it’s as much beautiful and atmospheric as it is nonsensical and creepy. Also, this is inspired by Russian folklore!

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé
Genre: Contemporary horror
Rating: 5 stars
The Dark Beneath the Ice means a lot to me, because it’s anxiety horror. Horror is somewhat known for having problematic tropes regarding mental illness, and this book didn’t go there – instead, it’s a story about anxiety and isolation/avoidance as a coping mechanism (which: not a good idea in the long run!) told through horror metaphors. It’s… really clever as a set up, and it’s the first representation of anxiety in YA I’ve found that actually feels overwhelming and not toned down. It’s also gay and the f/f romance was really cute.

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Genre: Contemporary/Historical horror
Rating: 3 stars
I didn’t love this, but it was really interesting to read a book from the point of view of a vengeful Japanese ghost. It’s very creepy as far as young adult horror goes, and a solid book overall. The first half was slower than I wanted it to be, but the second half is set in Japan and I liked it a lot more.

Adult SFF with Horror Aspects

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Genre: Near-future sci-fi horror
Rating: 5 stars
Marine horror! I love that one of the main messages this book has is “the sea is scary”, because it’s true. This story follows a scientific expedition trying to find mermaids in the Mariana trench. The mermaids do not appreciate the effort.
There were some aspects of this that were somewhat poorly researched, but I loved reading a book about scientists with a main f/f pairing (and one of the two women is a marine biologist!)

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Genre: New weird
Rating: 4 stars
I can’t even really explain what this is about. I’m just going to say that apparently I love books in which the main characters are biologists in scary situations. Anyway: scientists trying to find out what the mysterious Area X actually means, eerie sad story about the unknown.

The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley
Genre: Biopunk horror (in space)
Rating: 5 stars
Don’t let the “lesbians in space” marketing fool you into thinking this is a fun, romantic space opera. It is about lesbians in space and it has an all-lesbian cast, but it’s also biopunk horror, which means that, while it’s not that scary, it can be really gross. “Raining saliva, cannibalism feasts and people crawling through the bowels of a living spaceship” levels of gross. I love it (it has the best female villain I know), but getting used to this universe wasn’t easy.

Short Fiction & Graphic Novels

Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong
Genre: Horror/Paranormal
Rating: 5 stars
One of my favorite short stories ever, it features an f/f/f love triangle in which all three women are Asian-American and two of them are vampire-like paranormal creatures who like to eat people’s bad and murderous thoughts.

A Song for Quiet by Cassandra Khaw
Genre: Lovecraftian Southern Gothic
Rating: 5 stars
A novella about grief following a black bluesman who is being haunted by a song. Moderately creepy, beautifully written, even better than its companion prequel Hammers on Bone (Lovecraftian Noir) which I also really liked. Cassandra Khaw is one of my favorite short fiction authors and I also recommend her very weird short story I Built This City for You, possibly one of my favorite short stories of all time.

Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda
Genre: Steampunk horror
Rating: 5 stars
Asian-inspired steampunk matriarchy! Almost all-female cast! With lots of beautiful, detailed drawings of dreamy landscapes and not-so-dreamy gore. The premise also vaguely reminds me of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but this book does its unique thing with it. The unique thing involves Kaiju.

Otherwise Disturbing

Not technically in the horror genre, just seriously messed up.

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer
Genre: (questionably) utopian sci-fi
Rating: 4 stars
The worldbuilding here is so complex it’s easy to miss the ugly undertones of this questionably utopian society during the first half, but the more the book goes on, the worse it gets, and I can say that Too Like the Lightning has the most disturbing chain of plot twists I’ve ever found in a book. It’s also pretty much unreadable because of how heavy it is. It was worth it for me, but there’s no way I’m ever reading the sequel.

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng
Genre: Gothic fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Another Disturbing Plot Twist book! This is a story about Victorian missionaries trying to bring Christianity to fairyland. This book is mostly theology, mind games, creepy fairies and weird worldbuilding. I think it’s worth reading just for the weirdness, because you shouldn’t miss a world in which the sun is literally a pendulum and the moon is a fish. A very well-written, purposefully unpleasant book I found very unsettling.

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
Genre: mystery, supposedly, but as a mystery it’s mediocre at best
Rating: 3 stars
This book wasn’t marketed as horror, but it should have been. This is a story set in Alaska, and it starts with a premise similar to many YA mystery books like Far From You, but I actually consider it ableism horror. This book shows how unchallenged and widespread inspiration porn is as a mentality, and how scary and dangerous it can be for a mentally ill teenager whose autonomy has been limited.

What are your favorite horror and otherwise disturbing books?

8 thoughts on “T10T: Creepy, According to Acqua

  1. I finally read Monstress! It’s really beautiful, but definitley gory at times. I’m so fascinated by the old god ghost things. I love elements like that and Area X! Something that’s draped in mystery and sort of unknowable is so much more creepy to me than a murder clown or vampires.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVED Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant, the scariest scene I have ever read is in that book. I watched the movie adaptation of Annihilation and really enjoyed it and since then I have been meaning to read the book, I really need to get to it. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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