I read hundreds of books in 2018--well, that's not true. Still, I read quite a few incredible horror novels I think you should read if you want some chilling stories to keep you up at night.
Seed by Ania Ahlborn
Ania Ahlborn is a horror author well-known for self-publishing and then striking a deal with Simon & Schuster. As someone from the South and a fan of Southern Gothic works, I chose this as my first Ahlborn novel, and I wasn't disappointed. While it doesn't subvert many expectations of a demonic possession story, the atmosphere and particularly the characters are striking. You grow invested in the very lived-in world and that characters' relationships. The creeps really amp up in the last third of the story.
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
This one is actually probably my favorite of the bunch. While Seed is great as a traditional demonic possession story, this one completely deconstructs and revitalizes the exorcism horror plotline. I desperately would love to see this re-envisioned in a film adaptation because it's like The Exorcism of Emily Rose on a completely different level.
This one, similar to Seed, involves a family of a mother, father, and two daughters as they believe the oldest daughter might be possessed and allow themselves to be filmed on one of those haunting reenactment shows. It's also a frame narrative as the main character, Merry, recounts her experiences to an author. This one's a jawdropper.
My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Okay, this one made me cry, and it also has the best cover ever. It's about two best friends during the 80's, and one of them begins to exhibit signs of possession after swimming in a lake. Mostly, this story is irreverent and hilarious, but it's also compelling as you see the changing relationship between two girls.
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
This one is a YA novel about Okiku, a Japanese ghost who avenges dead children. The story is inspired by Bancho Sarayashiki, which in turn inspired stories like Ringu about vengeful female ghosts betrayed and murdered by being thrown down in a well. It was one of the best Halloween reads I did, particularly because Chupeco's use of dreamy and poetic language to establish Okiku's voice is stunning.
The Entire H.P. Lovecraft Collection
Okay, so I'm cheating here since these are technically several short stories and novellas. Despite his many flaws, Lovecraft has been my favorite writer, so I decided to read almost all his work in 2018. This took from June to November, and though some speak about how his writing style is amateurish purple prose and overall pales compared to the conceptual potency of his stories, I disagree. No other author I know can quite set a mood and suck me in like Lovecraft.
I'm typically a character-oriented person, but his stories, especially in the Dream Cycle, have this eerie fairy tale dream logic that's captivating. He goes from fantasy to horror to almost adventure. I don't think I've quite felt the same chills as when I've read about the blasted heath from "The Colour out of Space" or the alien city from "At the Mountains of Madness" or the conclusion of "The Shadow over Innsmouth." Nor have I ever been as melancholy as when I've read something like, again, "The Colour out of Space" or "The Outsider."
I could go on, but I've made a comprehensive list of Lovecraft stories I think you should check out.
Other fun horror books I read:
The Haunting at Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Providence #1 by Alan Moore
Nailbiter by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw