It’s summer time and you know what that means (for most of us anyway)? Heat! Heat in all of its forms. Sunburns, sitting by a campfire, lighting off fireworks. It’s tank top and flip-flop and stop at the gas station for an Icee season. It’s the smell of sunscreen on everything season. It’s road trips and beach days and outdoor concerts and begrudgingly working between all of the things you have planned. Especially in the areas where the winters are so dark and cold, the changing of the seasons is cause for celebration marked by breaking out the box fans and packing the winter coats into storage. Finally, we say. Finally. The warmth is here again.
But sometimes the summer isn’t so sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes the heat isn’t a welcome addition to the season, but instead, a sweltering, oppressive thing hanging over everything. Sometimes there’s no escape from the sun’s long-reaching rays no matter what you do. Sometimes you get sunburned despite the million layers of sunscreen. Sometimes the campfire becomes something far too out of control. Sometimes the heat becomes a thing of its own, festering inside someone until they snap.
So, in light of the season, stay cool and read these hot horror novels.
The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel
Set in a small southern town in Ohio, Fielding is 13 when the devil arrives during a heatwave. Or, at least, that’s who he thinks the new boy Sal is, covered in bruises and looking disheveled. Fielding brings him home to stay with his family, but soon rumors of the devil spread across town and the tensions rise with the temperature.
The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones
After a species of tick starts spreading a fatal disease, humanity clusters behind the Salt Line where the Earth was scorched into a barrier. But that doesn’t stop some from leaving the safety zone for thrills or out of curiosity. When one group does just that and winds up diverted by a group of violent rebels, they’re held hostage in Ruby City, an outer-zone city on edge.
Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta
After accidentally witnessing the murder of someone at the hands of the Blackwell brothers, 13-year-old Jace becomes a target too. Hiding in a witness protection program that placed him in a summer camp in the mountains, Jace’s pursuers aren’t far behind. Teaming up with a fire ranger, she and Jace must navigate the wilderness with murderers and fire hot on their heels.
The Getaway by Lamar Giles
It’s summer break and Jay and his friends are looking forward to working at Karloff Country, a refuge from the outside world nestled in the remnants of an amusement park. But when one of his friends goes missing and the world outside the paradise’s gates worsens, Jay and his friends are asked for increasingly worrying things from their increasing number of rich guests.
Firestarter by Stephen King
After her parents participated in a psychology study with The Shop leaving them with telepathic and telekinetic abilities, their daughter Charlie is born with the ability to start fires with her mind. After her mother is killed by The Shop who are desperate to study the family, Charlie and her father go on the run. But there are far more agents of The Shop coming and they won’t let them go easy.
Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due
There’s nothing like a ghost story in the summer time and Due’s debut collection is full of them. While not all of the stories are as sweltering as the sun, one set in a Florida small town radiates heat and humidity. With other stories full of zombies, werewolves, and the apocalypse, you’re sure to find a story with your favorite kind of scares.
Camp Neverland by Lisa Quigley
You can’t have a summer horror list without a summer camp book and Camp Neverland is just the ticket. Set at a Vermont camp, Max is looking forward to a summer without her bully, Chuck. She finds solace with the other campers until, surprise surprise, Chuck’s somehow at Camp Neverland too. Max, though, has found power she didn’t know she had and Chuck just might get what’s coming to him.
Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez, Translated by Megan McDowell
Juan can communicate with the dead and The Order, a powerful group dedicated to the Darkness, has used his abilities for years. Now, though, Juan is getting old and sick, so they set their sights on his son, Gaspar, as their next leader. Set in 1980 Argentina sweltering with heat, Gaspar must navigate being the target of a wealthy and unhinged cultish group, a tense relationship with his father, and the military dictatorship of the time while growing up and finding his own way.