Book Club Nominees

Happy (Late) Canada Day! Here’s 6 Canadian Horror Books for your TBR

by @psyche, curator of HOWLS Book Club nominees for July’s “Aaa! Canada!: Books So Chilling, They’re 0 Degrees Celsius” category

As everyone knows, July is renowned for being the month of Canada Day (July 1, for those less informed). So when there was a little gap in the poll scheduling, I decided it would be a fun opportunity to slip in and showcase some of the horror and horror-adjacent works coming out of Canada. Some are set here and some elsewhere in the world, but all of the authors are from the Great White North. “Oh Canada,” and all that.

Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed

Nick Prasad has always enjoyed a quiet life in the shadow of his best friend, child prodigy and technological genius Joanna ‘Johnny’ Chambers. But all that is about to end.

When Johnny invents a clean reactor that could eliminate fossil fuels and change the world, she awakens primal, evil Ancient Ones set on subjugating humanity.

From the oldest library in the world to the ruins of Nineveh, hunted at every turn, they will need to trust each other completely to survive… (StoryGraph)


I have yet to read anything by Premee Mohamed and I’ve heard such good buzz. This cosmic horror/SF/coming-of-age mashup seems a great pick for HOWLS.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon

Bad Cree by Jessica Johns

When Mackenzie wakes up with a severed crow’s head in her hands, she panics. Only moments earlier she had been fending off masses of birds in a snow-covered forest. In bed, when she blinks, the head disappears.

Night after night, Mackenzie’s dreams return her to a memory from before her sister Sabrina’s untimely death: a weekend at the family’s lakefront campsite, long obscured by a fog of guilt. But when the waking world starts closing in, too—a murder of crows stalks her every move around the city, she wakes up from a dream of drowning throwing up water, and gets threatening text messages from someone claiming to be Sabrina—Mackenzie knows this is more than she can handle alone.

Traveling north to her rural hometown in Alberta, she finds her family still steeped in the same grief that she ran away to Vancouver to escape. They welcome her back, but their shaky reunion only seems to intensify her dreams—and make them more dangerous.

What really happened that night at the lake, and what did it have to do with Sabrina’s death? Only a bad Cree would put their family at risk, but what if whatever has been calling Mackenzie home was already inside?


This is a debut novel and I’m so intrigued by the creeping supernatural horror, family dynamics, skeletons in closets, and integration of Cree cultural elements that this book promises.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon

The Bone Mother by David Demchuk

Three neighbouring villages on the Ukrainian/Romanian border are the final refuge for the last of the mythical creatures of Eastern Europe. Now, on the eve of the war that may eradicate their kind—and with the ruthless Night Police descending upon their sanctuary—they tell their stories and confront their destinies.

Eerie and unsettling like the best fairy tales, these incisor-sharp portraits of ghosts, witches, sirens, and seers–and the mortals who live at their side and in their thrall–will chill your marrow and tear at your heart. (StoryGraph)


Red X was one of my top reads of last year (and one of the top HOWLS reads as well), and the hints of folklore in that book seem to come out in full force in this one. We leave Canada for Eastern Europe here, and get to see Demchuk probe the dark elements of the folklore of his roots.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.

Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he comes to observe Maite from a distance—and grows more and more obsessed with this woman who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.

Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint. (StoryGraph)


We visited Mexico in this book. Moreno-Garcia is well known for some of her overt horror offerings (Mexican Gothic in particular), but this one sits on the more horror-adjacent side as a 1970s noir. I’m sure it will still plumb some interesting levels of darkness (and heck, maybe it will even be similar to this concept of “crime horror” that we’ve been talking about). I am also very drawn by the amazing cover!

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess

The compelling, terrifying story of a devastating virus. Have you ever imagined what it would be like to kill someone? Wondered, in your darkest secret thoughts, about the taste of human flesh? What if you woke up and began your morning by devoting the rest of your life to a murderous rampage, a never-ending cannibalistic spree? And what if you were only one of thousands who shared the same compulsion? Well, today’s your lucky day: in fact, by this afternoon, the predators will outnumber the prey.

Pontypool Changes Everything depicts just such an epidemic. It’s the compelling, terrifying story of a devastating virus. You catch it through conversation, and once it has you, it leads you on a strange journey — into another world where the undead chase you down the streets of the smallest towns and largest cities. (StoryGraph)


I’ve seen the movie (Pontypool), and now it’s time to check out the book! I know it’s a unique take on zombies set in a small town in Northern Ontario, and I’ve heard it’s also quite deeply weird and trippy too. (I’d recommend a movie watch afterward if we can squeeze it in too).

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden… (StoryGraph)


I couldn’t resist including a book by Simone St James, who is one of my favourite authors for her excellent genre-blending. This is my only re-read on this list – and one perhaps the book of hers that has the most mass appeal to horror readers, as a dual-timeline (1980s/today) story of true crime and a haunted motel!

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

And The Winner Is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read Bad Cree by Jessica Johns. Discussion starts on July 17, and you can read along by joining the Discord!

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

Leave a Reply