New Horror Books: May You Be Scared This May? Yes, You May

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Emily has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, MS, and she has an MFA in Creative Writing from GCSU in Milledgeville, GA, home of Flannery O’Connor. She spends her free time reading, watching horror movies and musicals, cuddling cats, Instagramming pictures of cats, and blogging/podcasting about books with the ladies over at #BookSquadGoals ( She can be reached at

Guess what? It’s gonna be May…which means it’s time for more new horror releases. Whether you’re here for the May-related *NSYNC puns or not, fear not! Or fear a lot. Because the new horror releases are coming in piping hot this month.

This May, we’re getting new scares for fans of middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction. We’re getting new short story collections (including one from the King of horror himself). We’ll also get plenty of zombies, ghost hunting, dark, wicked forests, witchcraft, séances, possessions, questionable schools…you get the idea. May has a little bit of everything to dig its frightening claws into your horror-loving heart and chill you to the bone.

If you’re hungry for horror, you won’t be disappointed this month in the slightest. May is serving up all the scares. And yes, there are so many scary things coming at you this month that I couldn’t include them all on this list. But here are the ten most exciting scary books you can expect in bookstores everywhere this month. Preorder them and add them to your TBR now, and get ready to be scared from May 1st to May 31st. Happy horror reading, friends!

New Horror Books May 2024

the z word book cover

The Z Word by Lindsay King-Miller (Quirk, May 7)

The Z Word is like Zombieland, but make it queer. It’s the story of Wendy, a bisexual woman living in San Lazaro, Arizona. She wants to get over her ex-girlfriend Leah, but that’s hard to do when she keeps hooking up with her friends. On top of that, people all around them are turning into zombies. In order to survive, Wendy will be forced to team up with a rag-tag group of friends (and frenemies) — including Leah!

the supernatural files of cj delaney book cover

The Supernatural Files of CJ Delaney by Carol Williams (Holiday House, May 7)

How did you spend your summer when you were an 11-year-old? Were you single-handedly saving your town from evil? Because that’s exactly what CJ and her best friend Parker are doing with their summer vacation. It all starts when CJ tries to get the scoop on a supernatural occurrence at a local skate park. But what will happen when the evil lurking in the shadows starts to hit a little too close to home?

ghostroots book cover

Ghostroots by ‘Pemi Aguda (W. W. Norton & Company, May 7)

This debut collection of 12 short stories is set in a supernaturally charged version of Lagos, Nigeria. Each story starts familiarly enough — a visit to the market, a mother trying to feed her newborn child. But that makes every dark, uncanny turn all the more frightening. On May 7th, see why Lauren Groff called Aguda’s work “elegantly balanced with the gorgeous fullness of human emotion.”

the house that horror built book cover

The House that Horror Built by Christina Henry (Berkley, May 14)

Javier Castillo was an award-winning horror movie director who had audiences at the edge of their seats with every new film release. But after his family was hit with tragedy and scandal, the director was forced to step away from the spotlight. Now single mom (and film aficionado) Harry Adams has accepted a job cleaning Javier’s home. Javier values discretion over everything else, and Harry promises not to ask questions. But when Harry hears a voice behind a locked door calling for help, she’s not so sure she can keep her promise.

the boo hag flex book cover

Tales from Cabin 23: The Boo Hag Flex by Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray, May 14)

After reading Ophie’s Ghosts, I’m so excited to see Justina Ireland return to middle grade horror for her new book The Boo Hag Flex. Tasha Washington loves her home in Savannah, GA, and has no interest in moving into the Shady Pines trailer park in the middle of nowhere. Then she meets a girl named Ellie who tells her of a horrifying, life-sucking creature. Of course, Tasha assumes it’s just stories, but when people around Shady Pines start getting sick, she fears the stories might be true.

it waits in the forest book cover

It Waits in the Forest by Sarah Dass (Rick Riordan Presents, May 14)

Set on the Caribbean Island of St. Virgil, It Waits in the Forest follows Selina DaSilva, a plant-loving young girl who dreamed of leaving the island to study pharmacology. But that was before her mother and father were viciously attacked. Now, her father is dead and her mother is in a coma, and Selina’s ex-boyfriend Gabriel wants to get to the bottom of who is violently killing people on the island. There have always been stories of evil lurking in the forest, something Selina’s logical mind always refused to regard as truth. But now she’s not so sure.

woodworm book cover

Woodworm by Layla Martínez (Two Lines Press, May 14)

Woodworm is a novel in translation set in a strange house filled with ghosts, witchcraft, and secrets. The house was built by a man who wanted to hold and control his wife. Now, many years later, their daughter and her granddaughter are still unable to escape. The isolated women are already whispered about in the local community. But after a boy goes missing, paranoia surrounding the women escalates.

my darling dreadful thing book cover

My Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna van Veen (Sourcebooks, May 14)

Roos Beckman has a spirit companion that only she can see. Roos uses her abilities to connect with the spirit world to conduct questionable séances where she and her mother feed on the vulnerability of people grieving their loved ones. But then she meets Agnes Knoop, a wealthy young widow who also has a spirit companion. Realizing that they are kindred spirits, Agnes invites Roos to come live with her at the crumbling estate she inherited from her dead husband. Agnes and Roos quickly form a deep bond with one another. When someone ends up dead, Roos’ sanity is questioned, and she’s forced to choose between her love for Agnes and her deep bond with Ruth.

cover of You Like It Darker: Stories by Stephen King; photo of a dark island in the ocean

You Like it Darker by Stephen King (Scribner, May 21)

When Stephen King has a new book coming out, it’s definitely worth mentioning in a horror roundup, even if every horror fan has already been eagerly awaiting its publication for months. You Like It Darker is a new short story collection from the master of horror. These twelve stories, as the title suggests, delve into the darker side of life. Fans of the King classics will be excited to know there’s a sequel to Cujo included here!

flawless girls book cover

Flawless Girls by Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel & Friends, May 28)

We’re rounding out the month with one more queer horror novel! The Soler sisters are known around polite society for being brazen and rebellious, which is why their grandmother sends them off to a finishing school called Alarie House, in the hopes of turning them into respectable young socialites. But there’s something strange about the Alarie girls. They’re all just a little too perfect. When Renata returns from the program, she is a little too pleasant to be around. And then she disappears. Determined to figure out what’s going on in the Alarie House and what happened to older her sister, Isla enrolls to uncover the school’s secrets.

Hungry for more horror? Be sure to subscribe to the Fright Stuff newsletter. And come back every month for more new horror recommendations! Stay scared, horror fans!

As always, you can find a full list of new releases in the magical New Release Index, carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date.

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