In popular culture, cosmic horror is associated with H.P. Lovecraft, the racist father of horror, who defined it as “the essential premise that common human laws, interests, and emotions have no meaning or relevance in the enormous cosmos-at-large.”

When you discover that Lovecraftian Horror and Cosmic Horror aren’t the same things, things get a little more complicated. Likewise, simply being situated in space does not make a film a cosmic horror.

Overall, Lovecraft’s concept is the most accurate: cosmic horror is defined by the dislocation and dwarfing of human sense and knowledge.

Although the world of cosmic horror fiction is as big as the universe itself, here are a few best recommendations to get you started.


Best Cosmic Horror Books to Read

1. What the Hell Did I Just Read (John Dies at the End Book 3)

1. What the Hell Did I Just Read (John Dies at the End Book 3)
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About the Book

“What the Hell Did I Just Read (John Dies at the End Book 3)” by David Wong is a terrifying and hilarious tale of almost Armageddon at the hands of two hopeless leaders.

Dave, John, and Amy felt there was something strange going on while investigating a fairly straightforward case of a shape-shifting interdimensional child predator while investigating straightforward case of a shape-shifting interdimensional child predator.

They work together to navigate a terrifyingly intricate maze of illusions, falsehoods, and their own incompetence in order to unearth a dreadful reality that they, like you, would be better off not knowing.

Your first reaction will be to believe that a story this horrific – and, to be honest, ridiculous – could not possibly be genuine. That’s exactly the kind of reaction “They” want.

Book Review

One of the most rewarding aspects of discovering new writers, particularly in the area of hybrid-genre comedic novels, is recognizing that they’re having as much fun writing it as you are reading it.

After This Book Is Full of Spiders, Wong’s wonderfully mind-bending third volume of protagonist David Wong’s escapades is loaded with the comic terror, readers have come to expect.

You’ll fall in love with the major characters, particularly John, who is a well-endowed ultimate love god. Dave isn’t really Dave anymore, but he’s a lot kinder.

Fans of Dave, John, and Amy’s story will enjoy this addition to the series. Although the plot is a little more forgettable than the others, it is probably the best written in the series.

Key Takeaways from the Book

The plot twists and turns in so many directions that you may feel sick but it’s written so beautifully. This book is full of chaos, misunderstandings, and hallucinations, among other things.

About the Author

Jason Pargin, a New York Times bestselling author and executive editor of the massively successful comic site Cracked.com, goes by the pen name David Wong.

His first novel, John Dies at the End, became a cult classic film directed by Don Coscarelli, and his second, This Book Is Full of Spiders, continues to terrify readers on a daily basis.

Book Details

You can purchase this book in Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, and Hardcover versions.

  • Author: Jason Pargin
  • Pages: 384
  • Category/Genre: Horror Literature & Fiction Books, Cosmic Horror Books.

2. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)

2. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
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About the Book

“The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)” written by H. P. Lovecraft, edited by S. T. Joshi is a definitive collection of stories from the unrivaled leader of twentieth-century horror in a Penguin Delux edition.

Howard Philips Lovecraft, widely imitated and influential, redefined the horror genre in the 1920s, abandoning ghosts and witches in favor of a view of humanity as a dying outpost of sanity in a chaotic and malicious cosmos.

Lovecraft’s preeminent translator, S. T. Joshi, delivers a collection of the master’s work, ranging from early stories of nightmares and madness like “The Outsider” to the overpowering cosmic terror of “The Call of Cthulhu.”

Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best writings throughout history, across genres and disciplines, with over 1,700 volumes.

Book Review

With rough-edged pages and a terrific typeface, this new version feels fantastic. It’s simple to read and carry in your hand. It is the greatest edition available for merely reading the stories.

This collection of short stories is fantastic. Lovecraft writes terrific horror stories that are a fantastic mix of psychological and paranormal – and they’re fascinating!

The stories have some truly interesting, thought-provoking issues and are quite evocative and scene-setting. It’s a great mix of science fiction, horror, and, as the title suggests, “weirdness.”

Key Takeaways from the Book

This book is more than just a collection of horrific stories; it also demonstrates the evolution of Lovecraft’s hypnotic narrative style and confirms him as a classic – and visionary – American author.

About the Author

H. P. Lovecraft‘s very tiny body of literature short novels and roughly sixty short stories—has had a significant impact on subsequent work in the genre, and he is widely considered as the premier American author of supernatural fiction in the twentieth century. 

S. T. Joshi is a writer and editor who works as a freelancer. He edited H. P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (1999) and The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (2001) for Penguin Classics.

Book Details

This book is available in Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audible versions.

  • Author: H. P. Lovecraft
  • Pages: 370
  • Category/Genre: Horror Anthologies, Classic Short Stories.

3. Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe

3. Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe
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About the Book

“Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe” contributed by Thomas Ligotti is permanently described as a new name in the pantheon of horror fiction.

Ligotti avoids cheap, violent thrills in favor of his own brand of horror, which shocks at the deepest, existential levels, and is influenced by the odd terrors of Lovecraft and Poe as well as the harsh absurdity of Kafka.

In a style that ranges from lush, ornamental prose to cold, clinical detachment, Ligotti’s works tackle decaying cities and vivid dreamscapes. His raw and experimental work exposes our world’s insignificance and the awful craziness of the human predicament.

Ligotti twists reality until it fractures, opening fissures through which he encourages us to peer into the uncomfortable darkness of the abyss below, much like the best cosmic horror writers.

Book Review

These stories are a terrifying mix of (a) literary or horror genre prophetic warnings concerning variables that have surfaced in our world since they were first published, and (b) a ‘fantastic hoax,’ which is essentially an avant-garde occurrence.

His words attack your spirit with a nightmare-like other reality that persists. The edition is reasonably priced. Essential.

Key Takeaways from the Book

Ligotti’s stories have a Postmodern cosmological spin with mind-bending metaphysical implications.

They are based on the idea that there are no criteria for determining what is real because what is referred to as “objective interpretations” of perceptions are simply perceptions of opinions.

About the Author

Thomas Ligotti was born in the city of Detroit in the year 1953. He has garnered three Bram Stoker Awards, a British Fantasy Award, and an International Horror Guild Award, making him one of the most acclaimed horror writers of the last thirty years.

Book Details

You can buy this book in Paperback, Kindle versions.

  • Author: Thomas Ligotti
  • Pages: 466
  • Category/Genre: Horror Anthologies, Horror Fiction Classics.

4. The Croning

4. The Croning
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About the Book

“The Croning” written by Laird Barron, a master of the short story, shows himself equally skilled at novel-length writings.

Strange things linger on the outside of our existence, haunting us from beyond the light of our fire.

In the shadows, black magic, strange cults, and worse creatures lurk. From the beginning, the Children of Old Leech have been with us. They also adore us.

For most of his nearly eighty years, geologist and academic Donald Miller has strolled on the edge of a chasm, living a charmed life between lovable absent-mindedness and sanity-shattering revelation.

Donald will learn nasty realities about his wife Michelle, his adult twins, and everything he knows and trusts when he discovers the dark secrets hiding around the edges. Because Donald is going to discover the secret.

Book Review

It’s not for casual readers, and it’s certainly not for those who can’t withstand stark, unblinking, and terrifying horror. Those daring enough to handle its pages, however, will be treated to an extraordinary experience.

This is a rough diamond of a horror tale, disjointed and plot-wise lacking in true flow, yet fascinating, innovative, and unique.

A gripping horror story with plenty of long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night to raise and keep the hair on the back of your neck raised.

Key Takeaways from the Book

This is a thoroughly enjoyable, beautifully written, really exciting, and tense in places book.

About the Author

The Imago Sequence and Occultation are two volumes by Laird Barron. Many publications and anthologies have published his work. Barron lives in the wilds of Upstate New York as an expatriate Alaskan.

Book Details

You can get this book in Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook formats.

  • Author: Laird Barron
  • Pages: 257
  • Category/Genre: Horror Anthologies, Science Fiction Short Stories.

5. The Ballad of Black Tom

5. The Ballad of Black Tom
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About the Book

“The Ballad of Black Tom” by Victor LaValle is one of NPR’s Best Books of 2016, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, The British Fantasy Award, and a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, and Barm Stoker Awards.

From Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook, Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table and keep his father’s roof over his head.

He understands the power of a suit, the anonymity of a guitar case, and the curse etched on his skin that draws the attention of wealthy white people and their cops.

Tom, on the other hand, unlocks a portal to a deeper realm of magic when he delivers an arcane tome to a recluse sorceress in the heart of Queens, and attracts the attention of entities best left asleep.

In Brooklyn, a storm is brewing that could consume the entire world. Will Black Tom make it to the end?

Book Review

LaValle reimagines old literary patterns, particularly the genre and ethnic ghettos that have long separated serious and popular writing.

Without a doubt, this is a superior work of fiction to Lovecraft’s original; nonetheless, it could not have existed without it, and it cannot have its full impact until it is read in conjunction with it.

It’s a lovely story, capturing the best and worst of Lovecraft’s work from the perspective of a person of color. It’s full of beautiful prose that makes the reader feel wealthier for having read it.

Overall, The Ballad of Black Tom is a quick read that is rather enjoyable. Anyone who appreciates well-written cosmic horror should read it.

Key Takeaways from the Book

Regardless of the artist’s goal, Victor reminds us that the hideous underbelly will always exist, but heroes may still rise from the muck and mire and declare that they are essential.

About the Author

Victor LaValle is the author of Slapboxing with Jesus, as well as several books such as The Ecstatic, Big Machine, and The Devil in Silver, and an ebook-only novella Lucretia and the Kroons.

Book Details

You can obtain this book in Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook versions.

  • Author: Victor LaValle
  • Pages: 154
  • Category/Genre: British Horror Fiction, Dark Fantasy Horror Books.

6. Lovecraft Country: A Novel

6. Lovecraft Country: A Novel
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About the Book

“Lovecraft Country: A Novel” contributed by Matt Ruff is a devastating microscopic portrait of racism, the terrifying specter that follows to haunt us today.

In this magnificent and magical work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy, the critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its residual ramifications.

It’s 1954 in Chicago. When his father Montrose goes missing, Atticus Turner, a 22-year-old Army veteran, sets out on a road trip to New England with his Uncle George, the editor of The Safe Negro Travel Guide, and his childhood friend Letitia to find him.

They meet both mundane terrors of white America and evil ghosts that appear straight out of the bizarre tales George devours on their way to Mr. Braithwhite’s manor—heir to the estate that once belonged to one of Atticus’ ancestors.

Book Review

The novel takes its time getting to any supernatural terror happenings that are promised. Rather than a simple novel, we get interconnected novella or novelette-length stories that culminate in a confrontational ending.

Matt Ruff not only brings the characters’ harsh environment to life, but he also manages to infuse them with realism.

Along with the terror, the book contains moments of amazing laughter, notably in the sections about Ruby, who has some very bizarre encounters that give her a viewpoint not available to the other characters.

Key Takeaways from the Book

Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country is a book on the racial attitudes that Lovecraft shared with so much of America, as well as a work inspired by Lovecraft.

They will travel through secret societies, sorcery, other planets, ghosts, time travel, and Jim Crow America with the help of an ensemble cast of African-American characters.

About the Author

The Mirage, Bad Monkeys, Set This House in Order, Fool on the Hill, and Sewer, Gas & Electric are among Matt Ruff‘s works. He is based in Seattle.

Book Details

This book can be obtained in Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook versions.

  • Author: Matt Ruff
  • Pages: 385
  • Category/Genre: Black & African American Horror Fiction, Fantasy Fiction Books.

7. The Fisherman

7. The Fisherman
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About the Book

“The Fisherman” written by John Langan shifts between past and present, contains terrifying scenes, and is genuinely creepy.

Dutchman’s Creek runs out of the Ashokan Reservoir in upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock. It’s steep-banked and fast-moving, promising excellent fishing as well as something more, a possibility that seems too good to be true.

When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found consolation in each other’s company and a common love of fishing, hear whispers about the Creek and what might be discovered there, the cure for both their losses, they reject it as just another fish fable.

Soon, though, the men are lured into a story as old as the Reservoir itself. It’s a story of sinister pacts, long-buried secrets, and a mysterious figure known only as Der Fisher: the Fisherman.

It will force Abe and Dan to confront everything they’ve lost, as well as the price they’ll have to pay to reclaim it.

Book Review

If you can strip away the weird/supernatural elements and still have a compelling story, you’ve hit pay dirt.

The story alone, Langan’s style and voice, the way he lets us feel the losses, would be enough to keep us turning the pages joyfully, but there’s a lot more going on, and it becomes crazy in the most fantastic of ways.

The Fisherman is a novel that is both unique and well-crafted. It begins with one of the most terrible and foreboding openings one can imagine.

The Fisherman is one of those rare novels that many readers will be tempted to start reading all over again after finishing it, with the sense that there is plenty in the novel that will have been overlooked on the first reading.

Key Takeaways from the Book

Grief and the yearning to have one last journey with a deceased loved one to say all the things that were never uttered when they were alive are at the heart of The Fisherman.

About the Author

John Langan is the author of two novels, The Fisherman and House of Windows, as well as two collections of short stories, The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies and Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters and The Wide.

Book Details

This book can be bought in Paperback, Kindle, Audible, Audio CD forms.

  • Author: John Langan
  • Pages: 274
  • Category/Genre: Sea Stories, Horror Literature & Fiction Books.

8. Meddling Kids: A Novel (Blumhouse Books)

8. Meddling Kids: A Novel (Blumhouse Books)
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About the Book

“Meddling Kids: A Novel (Blumhouse Books)” written by Edgar Cantero is the New York Times Bestseller fille with high jinks both terrorizing and hilarious.

Andy (the tomboy), Nate (the nerd), Kerri (the bookworm), Peter (the jock), and Tim (the Weimaraner) solved the mystery of Sleepy Lake in 1977 with the help of four teenagers and a dog.

The twenty-something former teen investigators are now lost souls in 1990. The three survivors have been running from their demons, plagued by night terrors after Peter’s awful death.

Andy seeks down the man they nabbed all those years ago when he gets out on parole to confirm what she’s always suspected: they got the wrong guy.

Now she’ll have to reassemble the gang and return to Blyton Hills to discover what actually happened in 1977, and she’s confident they won’t be hunting for another man in a mask this time.

Book Review

Meddling Kids is a delightful tribute to a group of colorful young detectives who battled the early 1970s crime wave. It then changes into a ripping-roaring page-turner amid the homages and humor.

Cantero is naughty and wonderful in his use of form and phrases throughout the book. Coming from a native of the nation, the decade, and language in which the book is set would be striking enough. It’s flat-out masterful because Cantero is none of the above.

Cantero’s imagination is vivid, and the plot moves at a rapid, roller-coaster pace once it gets going. He messes about with form and style, which makes for a fun ride.

Key Takeaways from the Book

Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids is a narrative loaded with deep horror, fascinating turns, blatant laughter, and startling tenderness. It’s a mad scientist’s combination of H. P. Lovecraft, juvenile detectives, and a love of Americana.

About the Author

Edgar Cantero is a writer and cartoonist from Barcelona, Spain, who was born in 1981. The Supernatural Enhancements was his debut novel in English, and Meddling Kids is his second.

Book Details

This book can be purchased in Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, and Hardcover versions.

  • Author: Edgar Cantero
  • Pages: 336
  • Category/Genre: Occult Fiction, Fiction Satire, Cosmic Horror Books.

Final Verdict

Here we got the list for you if gazing delay into the unknown seems like a pleasant night in. Without further ado, dunk your toes into this diverse list of 8 terrifying cosmic horror books to get you started with the genre. Happy Reading!


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