Black magic, sinister cults, and unseen supernatural forces are the stuff of occult horror, a genre loosely related to the gothic and “weird” fiction of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. H. P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, and other writers laid the groundwork for occult horror with short works like “The Call of Cthulhu”, and “The Great God Pan”, and the genre continues to be very popular today. Here are some great modern works in the genre.
Young married couple Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse think they’ve found the perfect New York City apartment, only to discover they have the neighbors from hell — literally. They’re part of a satanic cult that has been waiting for someone like Rosemary for a long time. This is one of those rare cases where the movie is as good as the book. We recommend both.
Ex-con Marty Strauss gets pulled into a world of faustian bargains and hardcore drug addiction when he signs on as the personal bodyguard of Joseph Whitehead, an eccentric billionaire. Whitehead has good reason to be scared: Decades ago, he entered into a contract with a person who may very well be the devil, and now it’s time to pay the piper. Barker has written a lot of fiction about ordinary people bargaining with supernatural forces, and The Damnation Game is one of the best of the bunch.
Documentarian Kyle Freeman receives an assignment to film a documentary about the Temple of the Last Days: an infamous cult responsible for one of the 70’s most horrific mass murders. When Freeman sets out to interview the Temple’s surviving members, he discovers that there’s more to the story than he ever wanted to know. You’ll probably love this if you’re a documentary nerd like me.
Former cult leader and current death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb offered his followers eternal life, but delivered only death. Silent for decades, Halcomb is finally has something to say, and he’s chosen to give down and out true crime author Lucas Graham for the exclusive. Spurred by Halcomb, Graham visits the scene of the crime and makes a horrifying discovery. Expect some to see some parallels with the Manson family murders in this supernatural shocker.
It’s 1954, and African American Korean War veteran Atticus Turner’s father has gone missing. Turner, along with his uncle, and a childhood friend, sets off to New England in search of clues. The horrors of Jim Crow America compete with the cosmic horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos in this novel about ancient and modern evils. You might want to pick this one up pretty soon: Jordan Peele (“Get Out”) is planning on producing a series based on it for HBO.
Curious about other sci-fi/fantasy subgenres? Check out all of our So You Want To Read lists – we’re adding new ones all the time!