Statistics on diversity in publishing show there’s a lot of room for improvement—particularly when it comes to writers from Latin America. Only seven percent of published authors self-identified as Latinx in a 2022 study, but Latinx authors are greatly impacting the industry by bringing readers some of the most engaging and impactful new stories in bookstores today.
They’re making a particular splash in the revival of gothic fiction and horror. In recent years, horror has transformed from a tired trope into a genre that nods to the classics but gives readers something fresh to be excited about. It feels like it’s got new juice to it lately. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s best-selling Mexican Gothic, in particular, inspired new demand for gothics and stirred up renewed interest in other areas of fantasy and horror.
Hispanic Heritage Month, which overlaps with the start of spooky season, is the perfect time to immerse yourself in these ten horror books by Latinx authors—a roundup that includes everything from slow-burn gothics to paranormal ghost stories.
The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas
Very few authors writing gothic horror have been able to live up to standards set by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, but Isabel Cañas is one of them. The Hacienda is set in Mexico after the Mexican War of Independence and follows a woman confronted with the fallout from colonialism. Beatriz accepts the proposal of Don Rodolfo Solórzano to provide a secure future for herself and her mother after her father’s death. A new bride, she walks the Hacienda with murder and hauntings on her mind, eventually seeking out the help of a young priest, Padre Andrés, who helps her exorcize that which haunts her new home. Cañas has written a compelling novel that pulls at every nerve with its chilling atmosphere and supernatural terrors.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Taking a page out of The Island of Doctor Moreau, a gothic science fiction novel from 1896 about a mad scientist, Silvia Moreno-Garcia reimagines the canonical horror novel in a story centered around the daughter of a mad scientist. Set during the Caste War of Yucatán, this novel fuses horror with the historical impact of colonialism in Mexico. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau follows Carlota, daughter of a man obsessed with creating creatures, in her isolated life as she cares for the hybrid monsters made by her father, who we find out is being funded by a patron with his own agenda. The book’s suspenseful plot adeptly questions just who society ought to view as a monster.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Cemetery Boys is a YA novel about a young trans Latinx boy born to free the souls of the dead. Yadriel is a brujo—one of a long line of men in his family gifted with magic by Lady Death. But when his relatives ignore his requests to accept his gender and his right to carry on the traditions of his ancestors, Yadriel and his cousin, Maritza, perform a ritual using the magic denied to him. Things don’t exactly turn out as planned, and Yadriel accidentally summons bad boy ghost Julian Diaz. Cemetery Boys takes place during Día de Muertos, making this a perfect spooky season read.
Lobizona by Romina Garber
Romina Garber’s Lobizona is another Young Adult story, this time inspired by Argentinian folklore. Manuela and her mother live in constant fear as undocumented immigrants with a paranormal secret. Manu is like her father’s people—a type of werewolf from Argentinian folklore. In a life-changing moment, she is pulled into rebellion, finds an Argentinian magic school that becomes the key to understanding her past and is accepted by a new group of friends. This book has it all: werewolves, paranormal romance, a Latinx-inspired magic school and brujas in real life.
The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro
This spellbinding and terrifying horror novel shines a new light on the Mexican folktale of La Llorona. A depressed stay-at-home mother, Alejandra, is stuck in a life of endless chores and a marriage to an apathetic husband. Her darkest moments bring with them frightening visions of ghosts, and Alejandra starts seeing a therapist, opening up about her family’s past and the creature, La Llorona, that has been haunting the women of her family for generations. Castro’s feminist twist on the folktale recognizes both the immense pressure placed on women and the strength their foremothers bequeath them.
Monstrilio by Gerardo Sámano Córdova
Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s debut literary horror mix seems plucked straight out of a Guillermo del Toro film. The novel follows a family living in Mexico City as they grieve the death of their son in their own way. His mother cuts him open to remove part of his lung, which she places in a memory jar. And from time to time, she feeds it. Eventually, the slice of her departed son becomes the monster Monstrilio in a deeply wrought narrative that tackles grief with prose that is as beautiful as it is delightfully gory.
The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias
In The Devil Takes You Home, Mario loses everything that makes life good and accepts an offer from his meth-head friend to join a Cartel. Desperation weighs heavy. He was fired from his job. Abandoned by his wife. Left alone with his grief, Mario has nothing but the hope that things will get better. Superstition and the supernatural collide as Mario begins to have visions of gods and devils. Iglesias has a talent for giving horror a demonic rock star look, and fans of both Breaking Bad and Narcos will be transfixed by this hallucinogenic occult thriller of a novel.
Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda
Mónica Ojeda’s literary novel is a psychological horror focused on queer desire, vicious Catholic girls and womanhood. At Delta Bilingual Academy, the daughters of high-society Ecuadorians practice life-threatening rituals around an invented mythology. Readers will love the intimate and complex relationships in Jawbone, particularly the one between Annelise and Fernanda, who are obsessed with each other. Ojeda examines society’s revulsion with puberty through the means of occult and monstrosity in this truly unsettling read.
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
Inspired by the impact of pesticide use in Argentina, Samanta Schweblin penned a novel, originally published in Spanish, that unpacks environmental politics through a lens of horror. Dying in a rural hospital, Amanda tells David, a young boy who jarringly is not her child, a story about toxins, nightmares and unsettling realities in this feverish, suspenseful tale of horror in an unforgivable world.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Mexican Gothic is a phenomenal story with trippy nightmares, wacky mushrooms, disturbing eugenics and a dazzling heroine. Noemí Taboada’s newlywed sister begs to be saved from her English husband in the Mexican countryside. Sharp-tongued and red-lipped, Noemí is a chic society girl turned heroine and sleuth. The prose is biting and includes all the candelabras you could ask for in a perfect gothic novel. Moreno-Garcia’s book is enthralling, razor-sharp and bound to keep you up at night.