10 Queer Haunted House Books


What’s better in spooky season than a great haunted house story? Stories of queer haunted houses, of course. This list of 10 queer haunted house books includes YA titles, new queer and trans horror novels, some underrated tales from the 90s and 2000s, and the haunted house book known as the best ever written. Let’s be happy and scared!

The upper house tackles the horrors of new motherhood à la “The Yellow Wallpaper”, focusing on protagonist Megan’s postpartum descent into madness. Not only is she physically, mentally, and emotionally ravaged by childbirth and caring for her baby alone while her husband travels for work, but her unfinished doctoral thesis on mid-century children’s literature haunts her. What makes the sudden appearance of Margaret Wise Brown — author of the classic good night moon and one of the many queer children’s authors who flourished in the 1940s, 50s and 60s – a really fitting ghost. Soon, Margaret’s lover, actress and socialite Michael Strange, also appears in the upstairs room that doesn’t exist. Megan finds herself in the middle of a horrifying paranormal power struggle, unsure of what is real or not.

Gnarled Hollow by Charlotte Greene

In this mix of horror and romance, Emily is an unemployed English teacher and scholar who is offered a dream proposition: to live, work and study in Gnarled Hollow, an estate once owned by one of the authors ‘she studies. Her favorite writer’s house, of course, would be haunted. Emily doesn’t believe this nonsense, until she moves into the house and finds herself wasting a lot of time, missing rooms, and doors slamming on their own. When researchers from other disciplines join Emily – including a gorgeous art historian named Juniper – they too are frightened by a mysterious and malevolent presence in the house. Frightened but not discouraged, Emily and Juniper attempt to find out if there really is a ghost haunting Gnarled Hollow and why.

The Animals of Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

This historical novel set in 1930s England sits at the crossroads of gothic and horror. I have to credit the twitter user @gothicsreview for selling me on this book saying it has “a lot of creme de menthe to drink homoerotically”. What else do you need to know?? Okay, here’s more: In 1939, 30-year-old Hetty is tasked with moving and guarding mammals normally held in a natural history museum for the duration of the war. After transporting them to Lockwood Manor, Hetty must deal with the grumpy Lord Lockwood who only reluctantly offered his property. His attractive but strange daughter, Lucy, is a welcome distraction, however. But when the animals start disappearing and Hetty suspects something is lurking around the house in the dark, Hetty wonders if the local rumors that Lockwood is cursed and haunted are true.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This classic 1959 novel is often cited as the best haunted house story of all time, but it’s also very gay, in case you didn’t know. Jackson’s lean but muscular writing employs perfect restraint; the text itself never somehow falls on the side of the horrors of Hill House being “real” or simply in the minds of its inhabitants. The premise – four strangers gather at a house known to be haunted to search for paranormal activity – is consciously made up. Theodora, one of the investigators, agreed to stay in a house in the middle of nowhere with strangers because of a terrible fight with her roommate *cough lover *cough. She immediately forms an intense emotional bond with Eleanor, the other woman in the house. Don’t even tell me about the spinster who previously owned Hill House, are all the women who have lived there gay?

The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Layer upon narrative layer, Kiernan crafts a deeply haunting and mysterious story about Sarah, a caustic 40-year-old writer who left Atlanta following the suicide of her girlfriend. She moves into an old house in the Rhode Island countryside, where a decrepit old oak tree grows in a desolate corner of the property. Inside the house’s spooky basement, Sarah finds an unfinished manuscript written by the former tenant detailing the history of the tree and its connections to local myth, numerous accidents, and even murders. As the tree begins to capture Sarah’s imagination, she begins to write a new story about it. But she’s not prepared for what her research reveals.

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

An eerie retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Fall of House Usher’, Kingfisher’s novel will be a big hit with Silvia Moreno-Garcia fans mexican gothic, with its gothic horror vibes and terrifying mushrooms. The story begins in 1890 when a soldier named Alex is called to their old childhood friend Madeline as she is dying. Madeline resides in her family’s ancestral home in rural Ruritania. What Alex finds there is not just their sick, sleepwalking friend, but his deranged brother, nightmarish fungal growths galore, seemingly possessed wildlife, and a dark lake that seems alive. Alex is used to fighting in the military, but it’s a whole different kind of battlefield. Can Alex, with the help of a doctor and a mycologist, discover what are the secrets of House Usher before it consumes all its inhabitants?

These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall

In this YA horror story (with a side of queer romance), Helen was left with a heavy inheritance: her family’s large ancestral home, vast land, and a substantial fortune. The only problem? She must live in Harrowstone Hall for a full year, never leaving, to inherit. If she wants to fulfill her dead uncle’s request and survive the year in Harrow, she must go back to her childhood and unlock her family’s secrets. Helen has no idea why she and her mother left Harrow when she was a child and why they don’t talk to any members of their extended family. But she remembers Harrow; it’s been haunting since she left. Now that she has arrived, her life has become a waking nightmare. The house is built as if to purposely get you lost, a strange creature digs holes in the forest floor, and it’s been inexplicably sick for weeks.

White is for Witchcraft by Helen Oyeyemi

In Oyeyemi’s melancholy and deeply disturbing novel, the house in question is haunted in much the same way as its inhabitants, and is just as alive. A character in their own right, the Silver family home sits on the cliffs of Dover and likes to keep the women of the family to themselves. it’s that kind of monster. Twins named Miranda and Eliot live in the house with their father. All three mourn the death of Lily, the family matriarch and mother of the twins. Miranda – the strange character in the novel – is particularly sensitive to the silver women from beyond the grave who are now part of the house. Soon, her connection to the other world begins to take precedence over her place in the ordinary world, where her brother and father watch helplessly as she slips away. Oyeyemi’s writing feels like a fairy tale in its timelessness, and the novel’s shifting viewpoints – including one that belongs to the house itself – are a resounding success.

Tell Me I'm Worthless by Alison Rumfitt

This gruesome haunted house story with lots of blood and guts puts British fascism and TERF to the test, as well as exploring contemporary trans life in the UK. The story begins three years after friends and/or exes Alice, Hannah and Ila spend a terrifying night in an abandoned house. Ever since, Alice has been sleepwalking through life, haunted by memories. But when Ila asks her to come home, she knows what she has to do. As Alice and Ila prepare to face what they have already been through there and new horrors upon their return, Hannah – whom neither of them has seen since the fateful night – has been taken prisoner by the House. Faced with the burden of supernatural and real horrors such as trauma, violence and social injustice, Alice and Ila struggle to save Hannah and to remain intact, physically and psychologically.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

A group of old friends who hunted ghosts together in their youth in Malaysia reunite as adults for a wedding celebration at a haunted Heian-era mansion in Japan. They aren’t fazed when they find out the place is haunted; in fact, it was the selling point of the bride-to-be. The story of the old house goes like this: Centuries ago, a woman whose fiancé died on the way to their wedding had herself buried alive in the house to await the arrival of her ghost. Every year since, another young woman is buried within the walls of the house to keep him company. How nightmarish can this wedding become when the attendants are out there looking for ghosts? Like a living hell, it turns out. With a bisexual representation!

Which queer haunted house book are you looking forward to reading this spooky season? Do you have any others to recommend?

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