Book Club Nominees

6 Chances to Fear Thy Family And Friends

by @cstephensauthor, curator of HOWLS Book Club nominees for October’s “Fear Thy Family And Friends” category

I’ve always been fascinated by the harm done by those closest to us, those whose betrayals slice the deepest. This category represents a peek into that world, and how our most intimate relationships shape us and sometimes destroy us. Enjoy.

Cover of The Push by Ashley Audrain. Cover shows a Rorschach inkblot like image which consists of the profile of a woman, mirrored in symmetry.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.

But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do.

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

The Push is a tour de force you will read in a sitting, an utterly immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women are not believed. (Goodreads)

The Push is crafted with prose sharp enough to cut, and with damaged characters who feel all too authentic. This one is a must-read with an absolutely chilling ending that left me shaken for weeks.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of Carnivorous Lunar Activities by Max Booth III. Cover shows a drawing of three houses in white tones against a black background. The center house is sharp, and the houses on the side are blurred. There is a wolf like creature in the sky behind the houses, as well as a moon, also in white tones. The wolf appears to be putting something into its mouth.

Carnivorous Lunar Activities by Max Booth III

Ted and Justin were once best friends, but over the years they’ve seen less and less of each other. Now, something’s wrong with Justin. He can’t sleep, he can’t think straight, and he certainly can’t explain why he keeps waking up naked and covered in blood. Ted might be the only person who can save him– assuming he’s okay with shooting his childhood BFF with a silver bullet. But that’s what friends are for, right?

From Max Booth III and FANGORIA comes Carnivorous Lunar Activities― the ultimate werewolf bromance. It’s a toxic cocktail of An American Werewolf in London, Old School, and Bubba Ho-Tep that dives deep into the well of childhood nostalgia, blood-soaked horror, and irredeemable dick jokes to bring readers a slice of Southern Fried horror that proudly wears its heart―not to mention a few other internal organs―on its sleeve. (Goodreads)

Carnivorous Lunar Activities is a drunken and hilarious snapshot of two buddies reconnecting after several years over a few beers…and something much, much worse. With punchy, hilarious dialogue, this one will leave you laughing and feeling a bit ashamed for it.

Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The Fisherman by John Langan. Cover shows a painting of a shoreline with a stormy sky. A boat is resting on the shore, barely out of the waves, with two persons walking away from it.

The Fisherman by John Langan

In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it. (Goodreads)

One of the most poignant and heartfelt tales of loss I have ever read, wrapped in a unique and subversive narrative structure that landed Mr. Langan the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of Near the Bone by Christina Henry. Cover shows a cabin in a snowy winter landscape. IN the background are trees and a mountain. The cabin is clearly secluded and appears to be in the mountain foothils.

Near the Bone by Christina Henry

Mattie can’t remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that they’re not alone after all.

There’s something in the woods that wasn’t there before, something that makes strange cries in the night, something with sharp teeth and claws.

When three strangers appear on the mountaintop looking for the creature in the woods, Mattie knows their presence will anger William. Terrible things happen when William is angry. (Goodreads)

An edge-of-your-seat horror thriller that explores the nature of power in an abusive relationship. And, of course, there is much more to fear on a lonely mountain than being a dutiful wife.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters. cover shows an owl and a butterfly. The owl is staring straight at us, partially hidden behind its wing, with only its eyes exposed.

The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

Natasha’s sister is missing.

Her car was found abandoned on the edge of a local nature preserve known as the Bend, but as the case goes cold, Natasha’s loss turns to burning anger.

She’ll do anything to find answers.

Della’s family has channeled magic from the Bend for generations, providing spells for the desperate. But when Natasha appears on her doorstep, Della knows it will take more than simple potions to help her.

But Della has her own secrets to hide.

Because Della thinks she knows the beast who’s responsible for the disappearance — her own mother, who was turned into a terrible monster by magic gone wrong.

Natasha is angry. Della has little to lose.


Full of magic and monsters (one of which might be family), The River Has Teeth, will keep you reading at a breakneck pace, wondering what will happen next.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth. Cover shows a woman looking out of the window of a blue house. There are well tended pink roses below the window.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden. (Goodreads)

An incredibly engaging novel about the family we think we know, and who they really are beneath the surface. Sometimes, those closest to us don’t have our best interests in mind.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

And The Winner Is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read The Fisherman by John Langan. Join HOWL Society on Monday, October 11, 2021 to begin discussion!

Caleb Stephens

Caleb Stephens is a dark fiction author writing from a rusty shed somewhere deep in the Colorado mountains. His short stories have appeared in multiple publications and podcasts including, The Dread Machine, MetaStellar, Scare Street Publishing, Suspense Magazine, Scare You To Sleep, and many more. He is currently at work on his next novel, a psychological thriller about family. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter and Medium @cstephensauthor.

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