Book Club Nominees

6 Horror Books That Will Break Your Heart

by Christopher O’Halloran, curator of HOWLS Book Club nominees for November 2023’s “Tainted Love” category

Love is hard. It’s complicated and messy. It makes monsters and heroes out of us. But what would life be without love?

Most of my favourite novels have strong romantic sub-plots, so I’ve gathered a collection of books that promise to light a fire in your heart—and possibly leave it a charred ruin.

You by Caroline Kepnes

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery. (StoryGraph)


This series is responsible for a bevy of emotional responses in me. Some might be dubious about its status as horror, but I guarantee Joe’s actions to shock and offend. Not only that, but how terrifying would it be to agree with a man like him?

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Come With Me by Ronald Malfi

Aaron Decker’s life changes one December morning when his wife Allison is killed. After the funeral, sorting through her belongings, he finds newspaper articles and photographs of dead teenage girls. Handwritten notes from interviews his wife had been conducting in secret for years. And a handgun. His wife had been tracking a killer.

Consumed by grief, Aaron becomes obsessed with completing her work. He begins retracing her steps, visiting the towns Allison visited and another piece of his wife’s dark history is revealed, until she no longer resembles the woman he married.

Then the trail leads Aaron to his wife’s hometown, an industrial town so polluted that ash rains from the sky, the rivers are poisoned, and an abandoned factory hides an unsettling truth. Tortured by all the secrets Allison kept, Aaron discovers that the reason for her investigation is much more personal and terrifying than he ever could have imagined. (StoryGraph)


Malfi did a great job with Bone White, and I’m interested to see if he handles a romantic relationship as well as he did the brotherly one. Also, Carson Winter told me I’d love it.

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Horns by Joe Hill

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.

At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin’s death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . . (StoryGraph)


This book fills me with rage, love, terror, and a palpable heartbreak that brings me to tears even on a reread. It’s possibly my favourite book, period.

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The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Some doors are locked for a reason.

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But pregnant and widowed just weeks after their wedding, with her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her late husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure—a silent companion—that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of the estate are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition—that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, The Silent Companions is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect–much like the companions themselves. (StoryGraph)


I’m always down for some gothic! I admittedly don’t know much about this one, but I love finding new authors to gush over. And I really loved The Whispering Muse by Purcell!

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This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno

It was Vera’s idea to buy the Itza. The “world’s most advanced smart speaker!” didn’t interest Thiago, but Vera thought it would be a bit of fun for them amidst all the strange occurrences happening in the condo. It made things worse. The cold spots and scratching in the walls were weird enough, but peculiar packages started showing up at the house—who ordered industrial lye? Then there was the eerie music at odd hours, Thiago waking up to Itza projecting light shows in an empty room.

It was funny and strange right up until Vera was killed, and Thiago’s world became unbearable. Pundits and politicians all looking to turn his wife’s death into a symbol for their own agendas. A barrage of texts from her well-meaning friends about letting go and moving on. Waking to the sound of Itza talking softly to someone in the living room . . .

The only thing left to do was get far away from Chicago. Away from everything and everyone. A secluded cabin in Colorado seemed like the perfect place to hole up with his crushing grief. But soon Thiago realizes there is no escape—not from his guilt, not from his simmering rage, and not from the evil hunting him, feeding on his grief, determined to make its way into this world.

A bold, original horror novel about grief, loneliness and the oppressive intimacy of technology, This Thing Between Us marks the arrival of a spectacular new talent. (StoryGraph)


Technology and grief. Black Mirror introduced me to it, and I just can’t get enough now.

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What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson


What happens to us after we die? Chris Nielsen had no idea, until an unexpected accident cut his life short, separating him from his beloved wife, Annie. Now Chris must discover the true nature of life after death.

But even Heaven is not complete without Annie, and when tragedy threatens to divide them forever, Chris risks his very soul to save Annie from an eternity of despair.

Richard Matheson’s powerful tale of life—and love—after death was the basis for the Oscar-winning film starring Robin Williams. (StoryGraph)


After I Am Legend, does Matheson really deserve a second chance? I leave that decision to our members. His style is compulsively readable, and I’m hoping he can write about love without bringing into it the misogyny of past work.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

And The Winner Is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno. Discussion starts on November 20, 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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