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6 Haunting Horror Novels Featuring Protagonists of Color

by  | October 21

We all know the, unfortunately overused, trope in horror tales that the person of color dies first, regardless of whether the monster is human or supernatural. It’s so prevalent that movies and books now use it as a point of meta-reference: white heroes making it to the end while their non-white friends fall. So, let’s flip the script and look at books that focus on tales of people of color from across the world. Spend some time this Halloween with any of these fine, frightening stories and see the spooky world we live in from a new perspective.

Goth

Goth

by Otsuichi

Who doesn’t love a collection of spooky short stories? Well Goth has just what you’re looking for with a signature Japanese horror twist. The stories are not so much interconnected as they share an unnamed narrator who clinically recounts all the terrifying things they witness. This psychological thriller boasts no supernatural creators, but rather a slew of terrifying people committing horrifying acts. Each story is lovingly, or rather terrifyingly, crafted with little twists and turns to keep you guessing, which keeps you truly keyed into the stories themselves.

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Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country

by Matt Ruff

Lovecraft may have been the best at cosmic nihilistic horror, but it’s hard to deny that he was a racist. So when Lovecraft Country takes a cast of African Americans in the 1950s and examines Lovecraft’s best-known clichés and themes, you get a horror novel that transcends simple scares and truly deals with fear. That’s probably why it’s getting an HBO adaptation from horror’s rising star Jordan Peele. The book takes a look at several connected characters as they deal with cults, haunted places, strange magic, and other cosmic horror staples all while dealing with the realities of racist policies and authority figures. Whether you’re a die-hard Lovecraftian or someone who wouldn’t know a Necronomicon from a Cthulhu, it’s a must-read to see the clever way these ideas are utilized.

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The Good House

The Good House

by Tananarive Due

Family history is at the heart of lots of scary stories, because sometimes the eeriest truths are found among the branches of the family tree. For Angela Toussaint, that’s her grandmother Marie, who was a voodoo practitioner and healer. But after her son, Corey, commits suicide, Angela goes to sell Marie’s home, known as the Good House, only to find that it’s not so good anymore, especially when a demon comes after Angela. A classic haunted house tale with a twist, The Good House looks not only at what gets passed down through generations but also the effects of racism.

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Mongrels

Mongrels

by Stephen Graham Jones

Full disclosure, the unnamed protagonist of Mongrels is not specifically said to be a person of color, but the narrative certainly seems to reflect that. Plus it’s a great book and, frankly, I will use any reason to give a shout-out to Stephen Graham Jones. Our hero is a young boy on the run with his Aunt Libby and Uncle Darren, both of whom are werewolves, as they try to evade the cops. But the big question remains: Is our hero a werewolf too or will he be able to live his life among the rest of the population? A coming-of-age story that looks at themes of poverty, family, tribalism, and being outcast by society, all within the fantastic world of a new kind of werewolf lore.

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The Hole

The Hole

by Hye-young Pyun

There’s nothing more frightening than not having control of your own body, especially while strange and terrible things are happening around you. That is the hell Oghi, a South Korean man who is left paralyzed after an accident, lives daily. Having just come out of a coma from a car accident that killed his wife, Oghi is attended to by his mother-in-law, who moves in, but neglects and ignores him. Instead, she starts digging massive holes in his dead wife’s garden as a way of honoring her, though the why is a reason he cannot begin to imagine. A deeply unsettling and claustrophobic book, it’s best to give The Hole a read when you’ve got lots of space to move around in, lest you start to feel trapped as well.

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Certain Dark Things

Certain Dark Things

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The vampire love story trend may now be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a tale that’s all fangs and feelings. In Certain Dark Things, Domingo is a street kid in Mexico City who comes across the beautiful and smart vampire Atl, who needs to escape to South America to avoid a rival narco-vampire clan. As the two start to develop trust in and, yes, love for each other, rival gangs begin circling, and an unsuspecting cop also gets involved to make matters worse. The backdrop of Mexico City presents a cool new world to explore in a genre that tends to be stuck in Europe and North America, and unlike many vampire love stories, it’s incredibly bloody and gory. If you’re a big fan of world building, Silvia Moreno-Garcia develops a level of vampire folklore that will have you chomping at the bit for more. A truly fang-tastic read!

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Photo Credit // Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com