February is Black History Month, a time to shed light on individuals of African descent and important events in black history. This month is so important to shed light on black history and the black experience, and I wanted to celebrate by sharing some amazing works by black horror authors. I hope that this feature will encourage you to read more diverse works year-round, because these authors and so many more deserve to be in the spotlight. Please let me know in the comments any other black horror authors that you love! I am always looking to expand my library.
Of One Blood or, The Hidden Self by Pauline Hopkins
“Mysticism, horror, and racial identity merge fluidly in this thrilling tale… The suspense is tangible and the final reveal will leave readers reeling”–Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
From groundbreaking Black author Pauline Hopkins comes an uncanny example of classic horror, exploring identity, race, and spirituality
When medical student Reuel Briggs reluctantly attends a performance by the beautiful singer Dianthe Lusk, he can’t help but fall for her. The very next day, their paths cross again when Dianthe’s train crashes. To bring her back from the brink of death, Reuel draws on an eerie power he can’t quite name. Soon, the two are engaged, and Reuel sets off on an archeological expedition to Africa to offset his debts before the wedding. But, in Ethiopia, unexpected danger and terror force him to confront the truth about his lineage, his power, and the disturbing history that lives in his very blood.
First serialized in Colored American Magazine in 1902, this classic fiction exemplifies Pauline Hopkins’s incisive writing and interrogates issues of race, blood, and history that remain urgent today.
This edition of Hopkins’s classic horror novel is presented by the Horror Writers Association and introduced by award-winning author Nisi Shawl.
Includes notes, biographical information about the author, discussion questions for classroom use, and suggested further reading.
Pauline Hopkins has been identified as the first great female horror writer of color, and this edition of her work “Of One Blood or, The Hidden Self” celebrates her legacy with essential notes and biographical information. Published by the Horror Writers Association, it is an absolute treasure to behold.
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.
It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire – the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities.
Dia Reeves was a young adult, horror, fantasy, and science fiction author. Sadly, she passed away in 2019 after a battle with cancer. This absolutely breaks my heart, because she was in the middle of writing another novel, and it was never published. However, she does have quite a few other young adult horror and fantasy novels available that I highly recommend. Be sure to check out her website: http://diareeves.com/in-memoriam/
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past.
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.
Sethe works at beating back the past, but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly in her memory and in the lives of those around her. When a mysterious teenage girl arrives, calling herself Beloved, Sethe’s terrible secret explodes into the present.
Combining the visionary power of legend with the unassailable truth of history, Morrison’s unforgettable novel is one of the great and enduring works of American literature.
Toni Morrison was an iconic author, and her work “Beloved” has long been identified as a “horror novel the horror community has never embraced.” Morrison was an award-winning author, whose many works have become modern classics. Unfortunately, Morrison died in 2019, but her work lives on.
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
Author Tiffany D. Jackson ramps up the horror and tackles America’s history and legacy of racism in this YA novel following a biracial teenager as her Georgia high school hosts its first integrated prom.
When Springville residents—at least the ones still alive—are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation… Maddy did it.
An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she’s dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept secret: Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.
After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High’s racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school’s first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it’s possible to have a normal life.
But some of her classmates aren’t done with her just yet. And what they don’t know is that Maddy still has another secret… one that will cost them all their lives.
Tiffany D. Jackson is a primarily young adult author, who has written a few YA horror novels. Her most recent novel The Weight of Blood has received a lot of positive press and is a retelling of Carrie of by Stephen King. She is definitely an author to keep an eye out for! I am positive that we will be seeing many more amazing novels from her soon.
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.
She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.
Nalo Hopkinson is a Jamaican-born author who currently resides in Canada. She primarily writes science fiction/fantasy that draws on Caribbean history. Her novel Brown Girl in the Ring has many horror elements, and is ideal for readers who enjoy sci-fi with their horror.
This is only a very small sampling of some amazing horror works by black authors. If you would like to discover more works by black horror and thriller authors, check out this list on Goodreads. Let’s make a pact and celebrate diverse horror authors year-round! There are so many great works to be discovered, and you might just find your next favorite read.
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