Book Club Nominees

6 Horror Novels from Around the World

by International HOWLers, curators of HOWLS Book Club nominees for December’s “Olympics of Horror” category

Who’s afraid of a little competition? Not the HOWL Society. Six nations have submitted horror tales written by their fellow citizens here to the Howlympic Village. But only one book will make it past the O-poll-ning Ceremony to win the gold.

And the United States isn’t even relevant here. How’s that for scary, Americans?

Cover of Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges. Cover shows  book several inches thick open to a page somewhere near the middle. The outer corners of the front and back cover are connected to strings, and the strings are connected together, and then to a horizontal line of string suspended above the book.

Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina)

Even if the stories in Fictions are not entirely horrific, the ideas presented by Borges in this collection are clouded in darkness, or they venture bravely into the unknown, and will often leave you with a feeling of unease. Borges is not a horror writer, but his love for the genre can be found in his writing, and as a giant of Latin American literature, he deserves a spot here. (Goodreads)

Why? Because our National Library has a copy of the Necronomicon. It’s officially in our records as a lent and never returned book, because Borges was the director there and he wanted to pay homage to H.P. Lovecraft. And that’s cool!

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Cover of Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. Cover shows a young woman in period dress, probably from the Victorian era, wearing a wide brimmed hat, and a long sleeved white dress. The image is sepia toned.

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay (Australia)

It was a cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred.

Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared.

They never returned.

Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction the reader must decide for themselves.  (Goodreads)

Once we started to dig, we had more than a few options for our Aussie pick, but none as classic as Picnic at Hanging Rock. The quintessential Australian gothic, it perfectly encapsulates the at-times eerie atmosphere of the bush, as well as our uneasy relationship with colonialism.

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Cover of The Deep by Nick Cutter. Cover shows a red sky, a white horizon, and a blue sea.

The Deep by Nick Cutter (Canada)

A strange plague called the ’Gets is decimating humanity on a global scale. It causes people to forget—small things at first, like where they left their keys…then the not-so-small things like how to drive, or the letters of the alphabet. Then their bodies forget how to function involuntarily…and there is no cure. But now, far below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, deep in the Marianas Trench, an heretofore unknown substance hailed as “ambrosia” has been discovered—a universal healer, from initial reports. It may just be the key to a universal cure. In order to study this phenomenon, a special research lab, the Trieste, has been built eight miles under the sea’s surface. But now the station is incommunicado, and it’s up to a brave few to descend through the lightless fathoms in hopes of unraveling the mysteries lurking at those crushing depths…and perhaps to encounter an evil blacker than anything one could possibly imagine. (Goodreads)

The ocean depths is an amazing setting, rife with potential sources of horror: dark, cold water, claustrophobia, unknown creatures, isolation, limited resources, plus the constant, lurking threat of drowning. Large stakes and a missing team only add to the tension!

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Cover of The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat. Cover shows a drawing of an owl perched on a white branch. The owl is drawn in a single shade of yellow, with elaborate designs making up its body and features. Its eyes are black voids. The drawing is against a pure black background.

The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat (Iran)

Considered the most important work of modern Iranian literature, The Blind Owl is a haunting tale of loss and spiritual degradation. Replete with potent symbolism and terrifying surrealistic imagery, Sadegh Hedayat’s masterpiece details a young man’s despair after losing a mysterious lover. And as the author gradually drifts into frenzy and madness, the reader becomes caught in the sandstorm of Hedayat’s bleak vision of the human condition. (Goodreads)

Boof-e Koor. One of my favorite books of all time, from one of my favorite authors of all time. While horror isn’t and hasn’t been a popular genre of media in Iran, some exceptional pieces have emerged from the heart of it. It may be tricky to introduce one of the most important Iranian books as a translated piece, a book that needs to be experienced rather than read, one that is wildly unconventional, and one that plays with language constantly, but it’s worth the risk. 

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Cover of Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes. Cover shows a woman in a long tan trenchcoat. She stands in profile and we only see her from the chin down. Fog surrounds her.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (South Africa)

Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies, but this one is unique even by Detroit’s standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams? 

If Lauren Beukes’ internationally bestselling The Shining Girls was a time-jumping thrill ride through the past, her Broken Monsters is a genre-redefining thriller about broken cities, broken dreams, and broken people trying to put themselves back together again.


This book takes a speculative fiction approach to the crime thriller genre, with strong undercurrents of horror. Both the characters and setting feel real, and the mystery set at the edges of art and reality heighten the suspense. 

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Cover of The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories by Arthur Machen. Cover shows a drawing of two disembodied ram's horns against a yellow background.

The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories by Arthur Machen (United Kingdom)

Perhaps no figure better embodies the transition from the Gothic tradition to modern horror than Arthur Machen. In the final decade of the nineteenth century, the Welsh writer produced a seminal body of tales of occult horror, spiritual and physical corruption, and malignant survivals from the primeval past which horrified and scandalised-late-Victorian readers. Machen’s “weird fiction” has influenced generations of storytellers, from H. P. Lovecraft to Guillermo Del Toro-and it remains no less unsettling today.

This new collection, which includes the complete novel The Three Impostors as well as such celebrated tales as The Great God Pan and The White People, constitutes the most comprehensive critical edition of Machen yet to appear. In addition to the core late-Victorian horror classics, a selection of lesser-known prose poems and later tales helps to present a fuller picture of the development of Machen’s weird vision. (Goodreads)

Machen is a significant author within the British weird tradition and his  “The Great God Pan” and “The White People” are absolute classics. 

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And The Winner Is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat. Join HOWL Society on Wednesday, December 29, 2022 for the discussion!

*The HOWLS affiliate storefront pays a 10% commission to HOWL Society and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores

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