Looking for a Fright? Here Are the Best Contemporary Horror Authors to Listen to Right Now

These horror authors have written a range of stories, from classic horror to new age supernatural fiction.

When it comes to horror, there’s no shortage of unique, terrifying tales. Horror authors have a talent for mining our deepest fears and insecurities, then using them to tell fascinating, engaging, and horrifying stories. While there are so many classic horror authors—such as Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Shirley Jackson—you ought to explore, this list focuses on a selection of current, contemporary horror authors whose works are as enthralling as they are terrifying. From serial killers to ghosts to the eerie and unexplainable, these authors offer some of the best that the horror genre has to give.


 

Stephen King

We couldn't write about the best horror authors and not include the King of Horror! Stephen King is the prolific writer of dozens of horror novels, with a dash of mystery, paranormal, and a little sci-fi thrown in for good measure. He got his start writing short stories (and continues to publish short fiction to this day), before the publication of his debut novel Carrie, which is narrated in audio by the acclaimed film adaptation’s star, Sissy Spacek. He’s best known for titles such as The Shining, The Stand, It, and so other many unforgettable stories that have inspired countless film and TV adaptations. If for some reason you haven't listened to anything by Stephen King yet, we can't recommend his chilling work enough.

Carrie

An unpopular teenage girl, whose mother is a religious fanatic, is tormented and teased to the breaking point by her more popular schoolmates....

Carrie

An unpopular teenage girl, whose mother is a religious fanatic, is tormented and teased to the breaking point by her more popular schoolmates....


 

Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is a Blackfeet Native American author who is best known for his horror audiobooks, but his literature is often experimental in nature, ranging from literary to pulp horror. His stories often reflect his background as a Native writer—Mapping the Interior, for instance, is a novella about a 15-year-old boy who sees the figure of his father, who died before he and his family left the reservation. The Last Final Girl is a parody of horror conventions, and follows the last girl who survived one bloodbath and is determined to survive more horrors to come. Both are narrated by Eric G. Dove. Jones's latest release, The Only Good Indians is a revenge story about four Native American men who find themselves facing the repercussions of a youthful elk hunting incident where they made a life-changing choice.

Mapping the Interior

Walking through his own house at night, a 15-year-old thinks he sees another person stepping through a doorway....

Mapping the Interior

Walking through his own house at night, a 15-year-old thinks he sees another person stepping through a doorway....


 

Jonathan Maberry

Beware! Once you step into Jonathan Maberry's post-apocalyptic world, there’s no going back. Horror fans know nothing beats a classic, and Maberry's action-packed spins on those classic baddies, zombies, are among the most beloved of all time. Take your pick of zombie hunters to follow in his best-selling Joe Ledger, Dead of Night, and Rot & Ruin series, or explore something on the short (but definitely not sweet) side with a chilling ghost story to a twisty werewolf tale. Maberry keeps thrills and chills fans thoroughly entertained from start to finish. What else can you expect from a multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning horror genius?

Patient Zero

When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there’s either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills - and there’s nothing wrong with Joe Ledger’s skills....

Patient Zero

When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there’s either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills - and there’s nothing wrong with Joe Ledger’s skills....

Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King, and while he may not be quite as prolific as his father (yet!), he's written an impressive array of comic books and horror novels. Early in his career, he decided to use the pseudonym Joe Hill in an attempt to distinguish himself from his father's career, but with the publication of his debut novel 20th Century Ghosts, speculation about his family history (and his resemblance to his father) abounded, so he became open about the connection in 2007. Hill is also the author of Horns and Locke & Key, an Audible Original narrated by a star-studded cast that includes Haley Joel Osment, Tatiana Maslany, and Kate Mulgrew. If you're looking for excellent horror narrated by a talented actress, look no further: Mulgrew narrates many of Joe Hill's books, including the widely acclaimed NOS4A2.

20th Century Ghosts

A dazzlingly original, award-winning collection of visions and nightmares from the New York Times best-selling author of Heart-Shaped Box....

20th Century Ghosts

A dazzlingly original, award-winning collection of visions and nightmares from the New York Times best-selling author of Heart-Shaped Box....


 

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia was born in Mexico and now lives in Canada, and although she's a prolific writer across all genres, it's only recently that she's become well-known for her horror. Her latest release, Mexican Gothic, is set in a moldering estate in the Mexican countryside and dwells on the horrors of colonialism and eugenics. She's also published numerous horror short stories and has edited anthologies inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft. (Her master's thesis was entitled "Magna Mater: Women and Eugenic Thought in the Work of H.P. Lovecraft," so trust us when we say she really knows horror!) If you'd like to wade into her body of work, pick up Mexican Gothic, narrated by Frankie Corzo, and look for Certain Dark Things debuting in 2021.

Mexican Gothic

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find....

Mexican Gothic

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find....


 

Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz is the author of numerous thriller, paranormal, mystery, and horror novels. He got his start writing science fiction before trying his hand at horror and suspense, and throughout the 60s and 70s, he wrote many novels under a wide array of pseudonyms. Whispers became his breakout hit, a chilling story of a man driven to kill, and Strangers was his first novel published in hardcover. He continues to write in a range of genres, but notable horror titles include Phantoms, the Odd Thomas series narrated by David Aaron Baker, and Intensity.

Strangers

A handful of people....an unknown terror gripped their dreams and turned their days into living nightmares....

Strangers

A handful of people....an unknown terror gripped their dreams and turned their days into living nightmares....


 

Grady Hendrix

Born in Charleston, SC, and now residing in New York City, Grady Hendrix writes horror that will particularly appeal to pop culture fans. His first novel was Horrorstör, a horror satire about a popular Nordic home goods store in the Midwest that opens each morning to find strange destruction and mayhem, and the employees who volunteer to stay overnight in the store to get to the bottom of it. He's also written My Best Friend's Exorcism, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller, and The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, narrated by Bahni Turpin, which both take place in his hometown of Charleston in the 80s and 90s. So far, each of his audiobooks have been published to wide acclaim, and optioned for either TV or film.

Horrorstör

A traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting, and full of current fears, Horrorstör delivers a high-concept premise in a unique style....

Horrorstör

A traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting, and full of current fears, Horrorstör delivers a high-concept premise in a unique style....


 

Victor LaValle

Victor Lavelle is a writer of essays and novels, and although not all of his writing is in the horror genre, it's perhaps what he's best known for. His novel Big Machine won the Shirley Jackson Award, and he followed it up with The Devil in Silver, a story about a man living in a mental institution where a monster lurks. The Ballad of Black Tom is a retelling of the H.P. Lovecraft short story "The Horror at Red Hook," and his dark horror fantasy The Changeling explores the darkness of being a new parent. It won the World Fantasy Award and is currently being adapted for the screen.

The Ballad of Black Tom

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father's head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook....

The Ballad of Black Tom

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father's head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook....


 

Alma Katsu

Alma Katsu was born in Alaska and worked as an analyst for the federal government before turning to fiction. Her novels tend to combine historical events, supernatural occurrences, and horror elements. Katsu's debut novel was The Taker, about a woman who walks into a small town ER as a murder suspect and tells a fantastical tale about immorality and darkness. Katsu followed up the Taker trilogy with The Hunger, a supernatural and dark tale surrounding the tragic course of events that befell the infamous Donner Party. Her latest listen, The Deep, is about the darkness that lurked on the Titanic—and two survivors of the sinking who meet years later on a WWI hospital ship.

The Taker

True love can last an eternity... but immortality comes at a price....

The Taker

True love can last an eternity... but immortality comes at a price....


 

Yoko Ogawa

Yoko Ogawa is a Japanese writer who widely publishes fiction and nonfiction alike. Although her first book to be translated into English and published in the US isn't horror, her other releases include Revenge, a collection of 11 dark and disturbing tales, and The Memory Police, which was a National Book Award finalist. Narrated by Traci Kato-Kiriyama, The Memory Police is an Orwellian nightmare about an island where objects disappear...and those who remember these objects are targeted by the titular Memory Police.

The Memory Police

A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language....

The Memory Police

A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language....


 

Tananarive Due

Tananarive Due has written numerous books in the speculative and supernatural genres and is a Bram Stoker Award finalist. In addition to writing, she's also a film historian with a focus on Black horror and an educator who has taught at an MFA program. (She even teaches a course on Jordan Peele's groundbreaking film Get Out at UCLA!) Her novels include The Good House, narrated by Robin Miles, about a young woman who returns home to her grandmother's mansion only to face demonic forces, and Joplin's Ghost, the story of a young singer haunted by the past. And don't miss her debut short story collection Ghost Summer, released in 2020.

The Good House

Tananarive Due, author of The Living Blood won the American Book Award and is praised as Stephen King's equal by Publishers Weekly....

The Good House

Tananarive Due, author of The Living Blood won the American Book Award and is praised as Stephen King's equal by Publishers Weekly....


 

Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon writes suspenseful, eerie ghost stories. She grew up in Connecticut, and now lives in Vermont; her New England background certainly inspires her work, which often incorporates elements of history and local lore. Her debut novel Promise Not to Tell is about a woman who has returned home to care for her ailing mother only to be alarmed when certain events mirror her disturbing childhood. She followed it up with Don't Breathe a Word, which follows a man who must face the truth about what really happened when his sister disappeared when they were children. 

Promise Not to Tell

A woman's past and present collide with unexpected results in this hauntingly beautiful debut novel set in rural Vermont....

Promise Not to Tell

A woman's past and present collide with unexpected results in this hauntingly beautiful debut novel set in rural Vermont....


 

Tirzah Price is a writer and contributing editor at Book Riot.

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