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Sate Your Midsommar Cravings with These 6 Dark Reads

by  | July 25

Ari Aster’s Midsommar is a dark horror film that takes place in bright daylight and all dressed in white, hiding nothing behind shadows but rather behind smiles. It examines the intersection of trauma and acceptance, of grief and connection, in ways that have shocked audiences. This kind of horror is rare, and it can leave you looking for more. Well, strap in, because whatever weird, twisted, and/or disorienting aspect you liked from this summer’s horror blockbuster, there’s a book for that!

Sleep Over

Sleep Over

by H. G. Bells

One of the more difficult things to do when the sun is up constantly, like in Midsommar, is sleep—and without sleep, our minds start to do some crazy things. Now imagine that it’s not just you who can’t sleep, but the whole world discovering that sleep has alluded them for days on end. That’s the plot of Sleep Over, a dystopian collection of stories that watches how the world falls apart without any shut-eye. Each story looks at the crisis from a different perspective, asking important moral and ethical questions against a backdrop of societal deterioration. Bells’s dark imagination and thoughtful plotlines are so engrossing, you might not want to put the stories down, even to catch a few zzz’s yourself.

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The Nightmarchers

The Nightmarchers

by J. Lincoln Fenn

There’s always that feeling of being lost when you enter into a cultural place that is not your own— of trying to figure out how to act, what not to do, and working to understand how it’s all connected without making a fool of yourself. And that’s even harder to parse after suffering from a difficult, life-changing event. It is that way for Midsommar’s Dani, as well as for The Nightmarchers’s Julia. After a difficult divorce, Julia is entrusted by her great-aunt to go to a remote Pacific Island to collect rare flower samples, as well as to look into the death of Irene, the great-aunt’s sister, who jumped to her death there in 1939. Irene had begun to believe that her husband and daughter had joined the Nightmarchers, undead warriors who rise up on moonless nights, all of which she accounts for in letters and diary entries that highlight her deteriorating mental state. Reality and superstition mingle as Julia makes her way through the jungle looking for answers and finding…well, you’ll just have to read for yourself to find out what she finds.

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Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In

by John Ajvide Lindqvist

If you’re looking for more of what Swedish horror has to offer, then you have to pick up the bleak classic Let the Right One In. Twelve-year-old Oskar meets Eli when she moves in next door with her guardian. Oskar soon discovers his new friend is a vampire and comes to learn of all the horrible things Eli does in order to survive. To give away any more about the plot would be criminal to spoil it. The grim setting, the intricate relationships, and the constant anxiety of when the sun will rise all combine to create a perfect storm of thrills and chills. And if you’re also looking for a film to watch on movie night, you can view both the Swedish and American versions, based on the book.

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Fever Dream

Fever Dream

by Samanta Schweblin

If Midsommar’s weird imagery left you craving more, rather than running to hide under the covers, then you’ll want to enter the dark, confusing world of Fever Dream. The premise seems strange but simple: a dying woman is in a hospital and there is a young boy at her bedside, but they are not related to each other. What unfolds is a surreal journey, with our protagonist Amanda trying to remember what happened in the days leading up to her hospital stay, including the “worms” taking over her body, or at least that’s what the little boy says. This is a book that buzzes with tension as it drops the reader into a strange dream world of anxious parents and pesticides, where the past and present intertwine into a narrative that’ll have you dying to find out what happens next…and then maybe running to hide under those covers after all.

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The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

by Stephen King

In Midsommar, there’s nowhere to hide from the isolation of nature. If you’re looking to take that feeling of being cut off and scared forward, then The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is the read for you. Nine-year-old Trisha tries to escape from her bickering brother and mother, and the whole broken situation of her family’s divorce. Instead, she ends up getting lost in the woods for days, finding herself stalked by a creature she imagines to be the God of the Lost, but that is actually a hungry bear. Her only solace is her Walkman, which she uses to connect with the rest of the world and to hear about her favorite baseball player, Tom Gordon. A psychological thriller to its core, the book’s extensive description of Trisha’s isolation and mental state as her hope slowly wanes will make you feel trapped and surrounded too.

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The Wolf and the Watchman

The Wolf and the Watchman

by Niklas Natt och Dag

If you’re looking to sate your taste for even more dark twists and turns, you’ll want to pick up The Wolf and the Watchman. The year is 1793, and there’s a murder in Stockholm amid the whispers of conspiracies and violence in the streets. But this is no mere crime of passion—the victim’s limbs have all been removed as well as their eyes. The crime will bring together an unlikely group of characters: a disabled ex-solider, a dying detective, an aspiring doctor from the countryside, and a woman stuck in a workhouse. What makes this novel a particularly fitting find for Midsommar fans is its gruesome detail, specifically the horrifically violent ways victims die, as well as the way of those who live on the fringes of society. It truly looks at the darkest of humanity, and yet still finds hope.

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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