My favorite sub-genre of horror has to be “outdoor horror” or “natural horror”, whatever you prefer to call it. Basically any sort of story that’s set outside in the forest or a mountain or caves etc. Think The Descent, Backcountry, The Ritual etc.
It’s also my favorite sub-genre of horror novels. So here you go – my Top Five Outdoor Horror Novel Recs:
NUMBER FIVE - HARBOR – JOHN AJVIDE LINDQVIST
I don’t hear enough people talking about Lindqvist. And I don’t know why because he’s an incredible horror author who writes terrifying stories. He’s also the writer of Let the Right One In which the movie of the same name was based on.
In Harbor we find ourselves following a man whose six-year-old daughter has vanished. On a winter afternoon on a small snowy island, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year older daughter across the ice to visit a lighthouse that sits in the middle of the frozen waters. While exploring the lighthouse, the daughter disappears. There’s not footprints or disturbances in the snow. She’s simply vanished.
Two years later the Father returns to the island and starts to realize that the townsfolk are keeping a lot of secrets and even his own Mother is acting strangely.
A chilling novel that’s part horror and part mystery. It’s going to keep you cold even on the hottest days of summer.
NUMBER FOUR - WE EAT OUR OWN – KEA WILSON
This is based on the stories and rumors behind the real-life filming of Cannibal Holocaust and it’s pretty spectacular. It’s not going to be for everyone though.
A struggling actor in the 70’s gets a strange call from a director that wants him to come film a movie in the Amazon. The actor is desperate and agrees, he flies to South America and quickly realizes he’s made a huge mistake. He finds out he’s replacing the original actor who quit after seeing the script. But the Director says there is no script. The movie’s over budget and practically everyone on the set is having a mental breakdown.
This book is INSANE. But a total must read!
NUMBER THREE - BLACK MAD WHEEL – JOSH MALERMAN
I actually wrote a full review of this book already on Horror Bound, and you can check that out HERE.
Basically, a rock band who have passed their time are eager for a number one hit again. When they’re contacted by the US Army to investigate a strange sound in the African desert, they say fuck it and go ahead.
They end up in the desert, going mad, listening to a malevolent sound and trying to find out what the actual fuck is causing it.
Josh Malerman is an incredible writer and with this story you’re going to feel the heat of the desert, you’re going to feel claustrophobic, and you might just go a little mad yourself…
NUMBER TWO - THE ASCENT – RONALD MALFI
I love me a good mountain tale. Something about being trapped in never ending blizzards with no way down is true hell for me. In this story, a sculptor named Tim has lost his wife so he’s thrown himself into extreme sports to try and distract himself. He joins a team of men who are climbing the Godesh Ridge in Nepal. They discover the Canyon of Lost Souls and surprise, surprise, things go very…very….very wrong.
Malfi's strong suit is his characters and this book is no different. All of them were fleshed out, realistic and amazing. I felt for everyone in this book. The atmosphere is so incredibly created that I could picture every mountain, every turn, every adventure. While the horror itself is minimal in this story, it's an all encompassing one that sneaks up on you as you read.
NUMBER ONE - THE RUINS – SCOTT SMITH
Set in Mexico, a group of four American tourists are on vacation. They befriend a German tourist and a Greek tourist and the six of them head off to the rural Yucatan to find a girl that the German tourist is crushing on. When they get near a Mayan village they find a trail that leads to a large hill covered in vines. As the group approach the hill, a bunch of armed villagers chase them up onto the hill and don’t allow them to leave.
Quickly they realize something is really wrong with the vines and chaos fucking ensues quickly.
It’s such a fast paced read because you genuinely can’t put it down. It’s gory, it’s terrifying and it’s unnatural. I’ve read it a few times now as it’s a genuine favorite of mine. There’s also a movie made of it and it’s really quite good!
Want more Top 5 lists or spooky reads recommendations? Just search below: