My Top 12 International Horror Novels

A collage of book covers discussed in the article belowAgustina Bazterrica

Tender Is the Flesh

Trans. Sarah Moses

Scribner, 2020

When cannibalism is all that’s left due to the extinction of animals, what does it mean to fall in love with meat?

 

Chang Yu-Ko

Whisper

Trans. Roddy Flagg

Honford Star, 2021

A haunted taxi’s radio whispers a voice that kills those who hear it in this metaphorical novel about Taiwan’s past. 

 

Grégoire Courtois

The Laws of the Skies

Trans. Rhonda Mullins

Coach House Books, 2019

A parent/teenager camping trip goes very wrong in this combination fairy tale/slasher novel. 

 

Giorgio De Maria

The Twenty Days of Turin

Trans. Roman Glazov

Liveright, 2017 

Nightly massacres grip Turin, but the witnesses cannot explain them, and the man who searches for their cause discovers that “what’s shared can never be unshared.” 

 

Mariana Enríquez

Our Share of Night

Trans. Megan McDowell

Hogarth, 2023

During the military dictatorship in Argentina, a father and son flee one step ahead of the cult worshipers of a cosmic horror.

 

Johanne Lykke Holm

Strega

Trans. Saskia Vogel

Riverhead Books, 2023

A feminist gothic about what the world and patriarchy do to young women.

 

Jenny Hval

Girls against God

Trans. Marjam Idriss

Verso Fiction, 2020

A novel about a time-traveling Edvard Munch joining a death-metal band, a coven of witches, and a treatise on queer feminist theory.

 

John Ajvide Lindqvist

Let the Right One In

Trans. Ebba Segerberg

St. Martin’s Griffith, 2007

A bullied twelve-year-old boy befriends another child, who happens to be an immortal vampire.

 

Fernanda Melchor

Hurricane Season

Trans. Sophie Hughes

New Directions, 2020

In a gritty, damned Mexican village, a witch is murdered, and the reader gets eight points of view about the murder through the perspectives of compassionately limned lowlifes.

 

Jo Nesbø

The Night House

Trans. Neil Smith

Knopf, 2023

A bullied orphan living with his aunt and uncle encounters a terrifying house that speaks to him through a phone and kills those he knows; fifteen years later, things get much worse. 

 

Mónica Ojeda

Jawbone

Trans. Sarah Booker

Coffee House Press, 2022

Women on the verge prey on each other in this unsettling novel of psychological horror and cosmic horror.

 

Hye-young Pyun

The Hole

Trans. Sora

Kim-Russell

Arcade, 2017

In this claustrophobically told novel, a man who has killed his wife finds himself helplessly at the mercy of her mother. 

 

Ahmed Saadawi

Frankenstein in Baghdad

Trans. Jonathan Wright

Penguin, 2018

In occupied Baghdad, an oddball collector of body parts accidentally creates a Frankenstein’s monster–like creature that needs human flesh to survive.

 

Samanta Schweblin

Fever Dream

Trans. Megan McDowell

Riverhead Books, 2018

A dying woman and a young boy verbally describe the effects of horrific events intruding into everyday lives in this suffocating, aptly named novel. 

 

Zhou Haohui

Valley of Terror

Trans. Bonnie Huie

Amazon Crossing, 2017

A “fear disease” is killing the citizens of Longzhou, China, and the search for a cure turns up worse things than the disease. 


Jess Nevins is a college librarian in suburban Texas and the author of books, chapters, and articles on the history of popular literature, including Horror Fiction in the 20th Century: Exploring Literature’s Most Chilling Genre (Praeger, 2020) and The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana (MonkeyBrain, 2005).