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8 Jewish Horror Books for Chanukah



With Chanukah just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to celebrate some Jewish horror books! That's right. Because sometimes the power of Christ does not compel you. Now "Chanukah Horror" isn't really category, so we're covering all Jewish horror here. On this list, you'll find eight books: one for each night of Chanukah!


Is it cheating if I put my own book on this list? Too bad, I'm doing it anyway. We need all the Jewish horror fiction we can get. (I also have a story in the anthology, sorry!)



Midnight on Beacon Street by Emily Ruth Verona (Harper Perennial, 2024)


From the publisher:


"October 1993. One night. One house. One dead body.


When single mom Eleanor Mazinski goes out a for a much-needed date night, she leaves her two young children—sweet, innocent six-year-old Ben and precocious, defiant twelve-year-old Mira—in the capable hands of their sitter, Amy. The quiet seventeen-year-old is good at looking after children, despite her anxiety disorder. She also loves movies, especially horror flicks. Amy likes their predictability; it calms the panic that threatens to overwhelm her.


The evening starts out normally enough, with games, pizza, and dancing. But as darkness falls, events in this quaint suburban New Jersey house take a terrifying turn—unexpected visitors at the door, mysterious phone calls, and by midnight, little Ben is in the kitchen standing in a pool of blood, with a dead body at his feet.


In this dazzling debut novel, Emily Ruth Verona moves back and forth in time, ratcheting up suspense and tension on every page. Chock-full of nods to classic horror films of the seventies and eighties, Midnight on Beacon Street is a gripping thriller full of electrifying twists and a heartwarming tale of fear and devotion that explores our terrors and the lengths we’ll go to keep our loved ones safe."





Nestlings by Nat Cassidy (Tor Nightfire, 2023)


From the publisher:


"Ana and Reid needed a lucky break.


The horrifically complicated birth of their first child has left Ana paralyzed, bitter, and struggling: with mobility, with her relationship with Reid, with resentment for her baby. That’s about to change with the words any New Yorker would love to hear—affordable housing lottery.


They’ve won an apartment in the Deptford, one of Manhattan’s most revered buildings with beautiful vistas of Central Park and stunning architecture and disturbing gargoyles.

Reid dismisses disturbing events and Ana’s deep unease and paranoia as the price of living in New York—people are odd—but he can’t explain the needle-like bite marks on the baby."





Hungers as Old as This Land by Zachary Rosenberg (Brigids Gate Press, 2023)

From the publisher:


"The settlement of Grey's Bluffs is a prosperous town. An independent community dwelling in the shadows of the mountains known only as The Hungers.


Esther Foxman and Siobhan O'Clery have grown up in Grey's Bluffs, thriving out on the western territories in the aftermath of the Civil War. Devoted to one another and their home, the two set out to complete a regular pact at the Hungers to ensure that Grey's Bluffs continues to prosper.


Cyril Redstone is a man who knows death well. Becoming a mercenary after the Civil War, Cyril leads the marauding Blackhawks from one slaughter to the next. Hired to destroy Grey's Bluffs, Cyril cares little for morality, nor that he owes its founder his life.


Esther and Siobhan are left to defend the only home they have ever known from the Blackhawks, their confrontation driving them deep into the mountains.


Where the darkest secrets of the Hungers await them."



The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros (Inkyard Press, 2021)


From the publisher:


"Death lurks around every corner in this unforgettable Jewish historical fantasy about a city, a boy, and the shadows of the past that bind them both together.  


Chicago, 1893. For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he’ll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania.


But when Alter’s best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World’s Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov’s dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows.


Now, with only days to spare until the dybbuk takes over Alter’s body completely, the two boys must race to track down the killer—before the killer claims them next."




The Jewish Book of Horror edited by Josh Schlossberg (Denver Horror Collective, 2021)


From the publisher:


"Horror is part of the human condition, but few peoples across the ages know it quite like the Jews.


From slavery to pogroms to the Holocaust to antisemitism, the “Chosen People” have not only endured hell on Earth, they’ve risen above it to share their stories with the world.


Whether it’s pirate rabbis or demon-slaying Bible queens, concentration camp vampires or fearless, beloved bubbies, The Jewish Book of Horror offers you twenty-two dark tales about the culture, history, and folklore of the Jewish people."




Blood & Mud by John Baltisberger (St. Rooster Books, 2020)

From the publisher:


"Austin Poet and author, John Baltisberger, (Artifice of Flesh, The Configuration Discordant) makes his St Rooster Books debut with a powerful kaiju novella full of Jewish mysticism, death, and destruction. When a good man is senselessly murdered by white nationalists during Chicago's Gay pride event, Satan reaches a breaking point with humanity and summons a horrifying golem to make mankind pay for centuries of sin, defying his brothers and sisters in Heaven and the armies of men. Blood & Mud is a gut punch of a book that you never saw coming.Also included is an essay on Jewish occultism and mythology, revealing the rich tapestry of mystery and history that inspired Baltisberger and this harrowing novella."




The Tribe by Bari Wood (Signet, 1981)

From the publisher:


"When the Belzec concentration camp was liberated in 1945, no one could explain how a group of Jewish captives had not only survived but thrived, appearing better fed than their Nazi captors. Thirty-five years later in New York, the youths responsible for the murder of a rabbi’s son are found hideously slain, covered in a strange gray powder. What is the connection between these events? That is the mystery that Rachel Levy and Det. Roger Hawkins must unravel, a mystery that will hold readers spellbound as terrible truths emerge from the nightmare of the past."




And of course, because this is a list for Chanukah, after all...


Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins written by Eric A. Kimmel & illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (Holiday House, 1989)

From the publisher:


"For more than thirty years, this clever story of a folk hero outwitting dreadful goblins has been a staple of family Hanukkah celebrations. 


Celebrate the holiday and family tradition this season by sharing this elegant gift edition of the treasured classic with beautiful foil detailing and slipcase.  Unfold a poster showcasing the evocative artwork, and read the insightful afterword from the 25th Anniversary Edition explaining the book's origins and remembering Trina Schart Hyman. 


Adapted from a Ukrainian folktale, with an imaginative twist from master storyteller Eric Kimmel and featuring the timeless illustrations of Caldecott Medalist Trina Schart Hyman, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins is a true classic of children's literature.


A haunting tale with a warm heart, Hershel of Ostropol arrives at a village on the first night of Hanukkah but finds the villagers too afraid to light a single candle! Goblins with spindly claws and twisted faces are haunting the synagogue. Hershel vows to break the curse. The clever trickster faces down one goblin after the next, night after night, until he meets the terrifying King of Goblins. It will take all of Hershel’s wits to trick the King of Goblins to light the Menorah himself."



[Image Credit: photo by cottonbro studio via Pexels]

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