It wasn’t until very recently that I began reading horror books — but now I’m hooked. I’m also Mexican, so I like to read as many Latine authors as I can. The best thing? Those two things intersect perfectly. Latine authors write amazing horror stories across the board — middle grade, YA, and adult. And I am here for it. So that is why today I want to talk about some of the best horror books written by Latine authors!
A few things before we get to the actual list. There are tons of horror books by Latine authors out there. There are definitely many more than I can share today. So this list is by no means comprehensive or definitive. I also chose to add a fair amount of horror books by Latine authors in translation. It’s become quite a popular genre in Latin America. So the amount of books in this genre have thankfully increased these past few years. Many of them are just brilliant, and the fact that they have also been published in English is super exciting because many more people get to read these books now.
Lastly, that’s how this list will be divided. There will be horror books by Latine authors written in English. Then those translated into English, which are all adult fiction.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at 8 great horror books written by Latine authors.
Horror Books by Latine Authors in English
The Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro
Let’s kick things off with V. Castro’s first full-length novel! The Queen of the Cicadas has two storylines. The first is set in 2018, and it follows a woman named Belinda who has returned to Texas for her best friend’s wedding. The event will take place in a farm, which is believed to be haunted by The Queen of The Cicadas. Then the story travels back in time to the 50s, when a woman named Milagros was murdered in the same farm. The thing is, the Aztec goddess of death Mictecacíhuatl heard Milagros’ dying cries — and thus created a plan that will allow them both to be physically reborn.
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Undead Girl Gang is a genre-blending YA story with humor and drama that still manages to fit in the horror genre — complete with zombies and witches! The story follows Mila, a teenage girl who loves to spend her time doing amateur witchcraft with her best friend Riley. But one day, Riley and two other girls named June and Dayton mysteriously die. Determined to find out the truth, Mila brings them back to life. The three undead girls don’t really remember their murders, but they do have unfinished business. Still, Mila has seven days to find the killer — and the rest of the gang have the same time to put their affairs in order before they return to the grave.
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Who says middle grade horror can’t actually be creepy? The Jumbies is an amazing story inspired by the Haitian fairy tale “The Magic Orange Tree.” It follows a girl named Corinne, who certainly doesn’t believe in jumbies. That is, until she chases an agouti with yellow eyes to the edge of the forest. The very next day, a beautiful stranger named Severine arrives in town and bewitches Corinne’s father. Severine’s plan is to claim the whole island for her jumbies, and only Corinne and her friends can stop her before it’s too late.
Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado
Last but not least in this category, we have a thrilling YA horror with some serious Stranger Things season one vibes. Burn Down, Rise Up follows teens Raquel and Charlize. They live in the Bronx, where people have disappeared mysteriously for the past year. They don’t really pay attention to the disappearances, until Charlize’s cousin goes missing. So the friends have no choice but to team up and investigate — only to discover that a deadly urban legend called the Echo Game is real. The problem is Raquel and Charlize will have to play the game and beat it if they want to save everyone they love.
Horror Books by Latine Authors in Translation
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez
Mariana Enriquez has been a pillar of contemporary horror in Latin America these past few years. This is the second collection of short stories written by her that has been translated into English — and it’s brilliantly unsettling. The Danger of Smoking in Bed is made up of 12 macabre stories that give a horror (and often supernatural) lens to real sociopolitical issues that plague Argentina. An example of this is the story “Kids Who Come Back,” which talks about disappeared children. My personal favorites are “Angelita Unearthed” and “Our Lady of the Quarry.”
Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin
So Fever Dream is a super weird, surreal, and unsettling novella that will definitely make you ask “what the hell did I just read?” It’s also one of those stories in which the less you know, the better. What I can tell you about it is that it uses horror to explore current issues and the relationship between a mother and a child. To do that, this book shows us a dialogue between a woman named Amanda, and a child (who is not hers) named David. The two talk about Amanda’s last few days in an unforgettable vacation she took with her daughter.
The Houseguest and Other Stories by Amparo Dávila
On to another short story collection, which is actually the first of Dávila’s works to be translated into English! The Houseguest and Other Stories is made up of 12 sinister stories full of paranoia, obsession, and fear. Despite that, all the stories manage to be very different from each other, too. Some of them have stalking toads, while others have doppelgängers or screaming food. Some of the best ones include “Musique Concrete,” “The Cell,” “Tina Reyes” and the titular story “The Houseguest.”
Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda
Last but definitely not least comes this ominous novel that explores adolescence and the very fine line between desire and fear. Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda follows the story of two friends named Fernanda and Annelise, who hang out in an abandoned building — telling each other horrific stories and worshiping a god of Annelise’s creation. But their new activities get gradually more violent. Until they attract the attention of their traumatized teacher named Miss Clara, who even goes as far as holding Fernanda hostage.