Book Club Nominees

6 Horror Books with Modern Takes on Lovecraft

by @Probable_Hag, curator of HOWLS Book Club nominees for November 2023’s “Myth(os) Busters” category

We don’t stan Lovecraft (as he himself would acknowledge, being completely down with modern slang himself) but his mythos has provided fertile, suspiciously luminescent ground for modern authors to use, reinterpret, and subvert. We’ve read some fantastic works by Victor LaValle (The Ballad of Black Tom), Kij Johnson (The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe), and Brandon O’Brien (Can You Sign My Tentacle) and I’d like to add something new to the (Book) Mountains of Madness.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city from an ancient evil in the first book of a stunning new novel by Hugo Award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every great city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got six.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all. (StoryGraph)


I’ve not read any Jemisin yet, and feel that I’m missing out. In particular, I was grabbed by Jemisin’s statement that TCWB is “basically me mentally and spiritually engaging with the whole idea of how so much fantasy owes itself to Lovecraft while overlooking his glaring flaws.”

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon

Providence by Alan Moore

In Providence, Alan Moore weaves and reinvents the works of H.P. Lovecraft through historical events. I couldn’t find a good Goodreads/StoryGraph summary so, in my own words, with a minimum of spoilers: Robert Black is a gay, Jewish man working as a journalist in New York in 1919, who dreams of writing the next great American novel. In the wake of personal tragedy, he decides to travel across America (New England in particular because of course) in order to realise this dream. Lovecraftian shenanigans ensue.


Before I say anything, I just want to mention that this book comes with some pretty heavy content warnings. In particular, I want to mention one scene of child sexual assault. With that in mind, this is pretty much one of my favourite books of all time. I think that Alan Moore’s exploration of Lovecraft’s mythos is complex and the art (by Jacen Burrows) is absolutely gorgeous. The page count is quite high, but it’s also a graphic novel, so I think it should go quite speedily.

It’s a bit tricky to put this book on a list because, in addition to the CW above, it’s also both a sequel and prequel to Moore’s Neonomicon – although I think that Providence can still be enjoyed without reading Neonomicon. Additionally, there’s a fantastic website called Facts in the Case of Alan Moore’s Providence that provides comprehensive annotations to the book if you’re in the mood to go down the rabbit hole (although it’s absolutely not necessary).

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon

Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys

After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra’s life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.

Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature. (StoryGraph)


In her own words, Emrys says: “I wanted to talk about how we rebuild community after genocide, and how rebuilt community is always changed from what we had before.” Her queer, feminist take on Lovecraft’s mythos resonates with me, and I’ve had this on my TBR for way too long.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today. (StoryGraph)


This is a book that I remember reading and enjoying roughly four years ago, and I would love to revisit it. It’s a somewhat controversial choice as Ruff himself is not a Black author, but I think it might make for an interesting discussion on its own merits as well as on what (and whose) stories we choose to tell.

Additionally, Lovecraft Country was developed into a series by Misha Green and I thought that perhaps we could have a movie night in which we watch and discuss the pilot as a group (depending on whether there’s interest in that).

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark


In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan’s ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die. 

Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan’s demons straight to Hell. But something awful’s brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up.

Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world? (StoryGraph)


I loved what I’ve read of Clark’s Dead Djinn Universe and this is another Lovecraftian book that’s been sitting next to my bed for too long. Ultimately, I think Clark says it best:

“I think whether one reads Lovecraft or not, his influence is all over genre—from television shows like Buffy to Marvel concepts of cosmic world-devouring beings like Galactus. So you grow up with it. Then you read Lovecraft and you’re like, uhhh, this guy is pretty problematic. And some of the xenophobic meanings behind unknowable horrors lurking on the edge of human civilization give you serious pause. But you still dig tentacles. What are you to do? Give up tentacles altogether? Now you got no tentacles to like, because the guy from way back was a serious ass? Thing is, marginalized people have been ingesting problematic things in SFF, from dark elves on down, and loving it through our gritted teeth—since forever. This isn’t a new thing for us. So when we’re fortunate enough to get the chance to flip the script, to use those same tentacles to tell stories from different perspectives, we take it. And I think there are lots of readers, consumers of Genre of all backgrounds, who with relief are like, “finally…””

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror edited by Lynne Jamnek

The history of the Old World is shrouded in secrecy. Creatures and forces unimaginable inhabited this realm for eons, long before any human navigated the surface of the earth. As the Old Ones have slumbered or observed from afar, humans have assembled civilization upon this fragile planet. Yet the whispers from the elders have been growing stronger, their energy once again seeping into the world. These whispers are being felt throughout the earth; from the roots of our flora to the dreams of our children. They are preparing us for what is to come.

In Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror the most intuitive dreamers have been assembled to give us glimpses into these ancient terrors and their whispered warnings. Featuring authors Joyce Carol Oates, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Lois Gresh, Gemma Files, Nancy Kilpatrick, Elizabeth Bear, Storm Constantine and others accompanied by the lavish artwork of Daniele Serra, Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror is a representation of some of the finest cosmic horror and weird fiction from female authors in the field today. (StoryGraph)


Joyce “Halloween decorations are disrespectful” Carol “the Internet loves feet pictures” Oates. What more can I say? I want to read her take on the Lovecraftian. Jokes aside, this anthology features so many of my favourite authors that I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet. The downside is that physical copies of this book are somewhat hard to get (depending on what country you live in), but a Kindle version seems to be freely available.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

And The Winner Is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark. Discussion starts on November 13, and you can chat with us about it by joining the Discord!

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

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