Best Modern Horror Authors

In the world of books, horror is a genre unlike any other. While it is treated like the dirty little secret of the industry these books tend to put up big sales numbers. With the popularity of these scary books have come writers who have been made household names for fans: Stephen King, Peter Straub, Susan Hill, Michael McDowell, John Saul, Anne Rice, Poppy Z Brite, and more. But now there is a new generation of horror authors who are looking to stake their own claims on bookshelves. For my money these are the best writers of horror fiction in the business today.

Stephen King: A staple of scary literature for the past couple of decades, King still has plenty left in the tank. Not only are we still getting adaptations of his previous works but he is still turning out incredible works of fiction. 2013’s Dr. Sleep proved to be a compelling sequel to his classic The Shining. 2018’s The Outsider was one of the most chilling works of his stellar career. In true King fashion his works have provided the source material for a number of hit films and shows in recent years proving he is still one of the most bankable storytellers in terror.

Joe Hill: The apple does not fall far from the gnarled, twisted, spooky family tree as Stephen King’s son has solidified his reputation in the industry. While there are those who would assume he is just riding his famous father’s coattails, rest assured Joe Hill is completely his own writer. Rather than the slow build-up his father’s books are famous for, Hill drops the reader right in the middle of the action and gets you sucked completely into the characters and their terrifying predicaments. His debut novel Heart-Shaped Box immediately made him a major player in horror and his acclaimed comic series Locke & Key with Gabriel Rodriguez proved that was more than just first-timers luck. His 2010 release Horns became a cult hit while 2016’s The Fireman debuted as a bestseller. In the prime of his career is seems as though Joe Hill is going nowhere.

Jennifer McMahon: With her 2007 debut Promise Not to Tell, Jennifer McMahon immediately set herself apart in the genre. Across her works, McMahon has demonstrated a unique gift for telling chilling tales that impact characters across generations. Slowly as the pages turn, she introduces new plot threads for the reader and somehow by book’s end everything is tied together into brilliant singular vision. Her eerie and atmospheric bestseller The Winter People is a prime example of what she can do, telling the story of a teenager girl whose mother vanishes leading her to discover family secrets and how she is tied to her town’s ghostly legend . Her latest book The Drowning Kind proves she is simply going from strength to strength with a haunting ghost story about a family’s past impacting its present.

Grady Hendrix: A nonfiction book celebrating the lost art of painted covers for horror paperbacks, brought Hendrix to the attention of fans. Since then he has delved into the world of fiction and written some of the very best horror books of the past several years. His 2016 book My Friend’s Exorcism earned mountains of well-deserved acclaim for his brilliant mix of quirky teen angst and humor with terrifying supernatural elements. Last year’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires went against the current pop trend and returned vampires to their roots as scary parasitic monsters. This summer he is primed to tackle a popular genre trope with The Final Girl Support Group.

Alma Katsu: If you like slow burning horror then you should be reading Alma Katsu’s work. In 2011, the author first came to attention with her Taker trilogy. In 2018, her book The Hunger became nothing short of a critical darling as Katsu took a dreary unsettling take on actual Donner party and their descent into madness with supernatural forces driving them to the edge. Her latest book The Deep gives readers a maritime terror a stewardess who survived the Titanic but believes she is now the target of a sea witch. Alma Katsu’s ability to bring an element of fear to the past makes her one of the most intriguing horror authors today.

Paul G. Tremblay: For years, Tremblay penned away at a variety of short stories while teaching high school. However, his 2015 book A Head Full of Ghosts immediately put him into the horror literature spotlight. He tackled the familiar scenario of demonic possession in an era of the paranormal television trend. In 2019, Tremblay proved that he was no one-hit wonder when his book The Cabin at the End of the World took home the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel. With Robert Downey Jr. optioning the movie right to Head Full of Ghosts and a new thriller series on the way it seems like Tremblay will be a mainstay in the literary world.

Thomas Olde Heuvelt: With his debut novel alone Dutch writer, Thomas Old Heuvelt has solidified himself as a force to be reckoned with in horror literature. His book Hex brilliantly combined classic gothic horror with a modern surveillance state paranoia. This story about a upstate New York town using contemporary technology to deal with an undead witch has been met with glowing praise across the globe. With his follow-up novel Echo getting a huge amount of buzz in the Netherlands, English-speaking horror fans are anxiously awaiting its translation.