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10 Books That Will Make You Stay Out of the Woods

Here at Frightful, we LOVE the forest. Absolutely. We prefer trees to most people. Can't get enough of them. That said, we never go wandering the woods alone because...well, have you seen any horror movie ever? The woods are vast and deep and primed for mysterious terrors. At least, that's how it goes in horror fiction. So if you are like us and you love the woods but don't necessarily trust yourself to go wandering into the woods alone, here are some creepy books to reinforce your xylophobia.

Let the Woods Keep Our Bodies by E. M. Roy (Ghoulish Books, 2023)

From the publisher:

"Leo Bates knows what’s behind every corner in her hometown of Eston, Maine, where she’s lived her whole life. Some bad memories and grief for her late parents, sure, but nothing dangerous. Nothing unexplainable.

All of that changes when her girlfriend Tate goes missing, and the lead detective on the case blames Leo for the disappearance. Haunted by self-doubt, Leo can only watch as the town she thought she knew deteriorates around her. She is forced to confront the painful truth about her parents, this town, and her relationship if she is to survive the following onslaught of conspiracies, cryptic monstrosities, and whatever is hiding in the woods where Tate was last seen.

The familiar becomes strange the longer you look at it. Leo navigates a broken sense of reality, shattered memories, and a distrust of herself in order to find Tate and restore balance to Eston—if such a thing ever existed to begin with."

Agony's Lodestone by Laura Keating (Tenebrous Press, 2023)

From the publisher:

"A grave could be visited. Ashes could be scattered.

But simply vanishing?

That ripped a hole in the world the size of a life, and through that hole sighed a terrible wind repeating a single note:


For years, Aggie had forgotten the real Joanne; the way her sister had laughed, fought, been.

But now that the videotape made her real again—no matter how many times the recording changed, no matter how terrifying the flickering images—it was all Aggie wanted.

To trade the Gone for the One. She owed Joanne that much. To say she was sorry.

That it had been her fault.

It had been all their faults."

The Wild Dark by Katherine Silva (Strange Wilds Press, 2021)

From the publisher:

"Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Raleigh has lost everything: her job as a police detective, her partner, her fiancé, and her peace of mind. After a month of solitude at a cabin in the woods, she finally feels as though she’s ready to move on.

But in one terrifying night, everything changes. Liz's partner, Brody, appears in the form of a ghost. He's one of millions that have returned to haunt their loved ones. Brody can't remember how he died and Liz is determined to keep the secret of it buried, for it means dredging up crushing memories. Along with him comes an unearthly forest purgatory that swallows up every sign of human civilization across the world. The woods are fraught with disturbing architecture and monstrous wolves hungry for human souls. Brody says he escaped from them and that the wolves are trying to drag him and others ghosts back.

As winter closes in and chaos erupts across New England, Liz fights desolation, resurfacing guilt, and absolute terror as she tries to survive one of the most brutal winters she's ever seen."

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt (Little, Brown and Company, 2018)

From the publisher:

"'Once upon a time there was and there wasn’t a woman who went to the woods.' In this horror story set in colonial New England, a law-abiding Puritan woman goes missing. Or perhaps she has fled or abandoned her family. Or perhaps she’s been kidnapped, and set loose to wander in the dense woods of the north. Alone and possibly lost, she meets another woman in the forest. Then everything changes.

On a journey that will take her through dark woods full of almost-human wolves, through a deep well wet with the screams of men, and on a living ship made of human bones, our heroine may find that the evil she flees has been inside her all along.

In the House in the Dark of the Woods is a novel of psychological horror and suspense told in Laird Hunt’s characteristically lyrical prose style. It is the story of a bewitching, a betrayal, a master huntress and her quarry. It is a story of anger, of evil, of hatred and of redemption. It is the story of a haunting, a story that makes up the bedrock of American mythology, told in a vivid way you will never forget."

Hunted by Darcy Coates (Black Owl Books, 2018)

From the publisher:

"22-year-old Eileen goes missing while hiking in the remote Ashlough Forest. Five days later, her camera is discovered washed downriver, containing bizarre photos taken after her disappearance.

Chris wants to believe Eileen is still alive. When the police search is abandoned, he and four of his friends create their own search party to scour the mountain range. As they stray further into the dark forest and the unsettling discoveries mount, they begin to believe they're not alone in the trees… and that Eileen's disappearance wasn't an accident.

By that point, it's too late to escape."

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay (William Morrow, 2018)

From the publisher:

"Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.

One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen, but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault.” Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: 'Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.'

Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay."

The Troop by Nick Cutter (Gallery Books, 2014)

From the publisher:

"Once every year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder stumbles upon their campsite—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. A horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival with no escape from the elements, the infected…or one another."

The Ritual by Adam Nevill (Pan Publishing, 2011)

From the publisher:

"When four old University friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect with one another. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise. With limited experience between them, a shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives. Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, Luke figures things couldn't possibly get any worse.

But then they stumble across an old habitation. Ancient artifacts decorate the walls and there are bones scattered upon the dry floors. The residue of old rites and pagan sacrifice for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. As the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn't come easy among these ancient trees . . ."

The Ruins by Scott Smith (Vintage, 2006)

From the publisher:

"Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation—sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site … and the terrifying presence that lurks there."

Gerald's Game by Stephen King (Smithmark Publishers, 1992)

From the publisher:

"Once again, Jessie Burlingame has been talked into submitting to her husband Gerald’s kinky sex games—something that she’s frankly had enough of, and they never held much charm for her to begin with. So much for a “romantic getaway” at their secluded summer home. After Jessie is handcuffed to the bedposts—and Gerald crosses a line with his wife—the day ends with deadly consequences. Now Jessie is utterly trapped in an isolated lakeside house that has become her prison—and comes face-to-face with her deepest, darkest fears and memories. Her only company is that of the various voices filling her mind…as well as the shadows of nightfall that may conceal an imagined or very real threat right there with her…"

[Image Credit: photo by Jakub via Pexels]

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