Hispanic Heritage Month and spooky season overlap during the first half of October, making this the perfect time to talk about Latinx horror.
Once almost exclusively the provenance of white authors, horror fiction has seen an explosion in the number of Latinx authors joining the field in recent years. This month alone has seen the publication of “Sundown in San Ojuela” by Matthew Olivas, “The Devil’s Promise” by Celso Hurtado, “Hatchet Girls” by Diana Rodríguez Wallach, and “Nefando” by Mónica Ojeda (translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker), among others — and October is by no means different from any other month of the year.
While the percentage of Latinx authors among authors overall is still small — 6 percent according to Lee and Low Books’ Diversity Baseline Survey, 7 percent according to the 2022 report on diversity from the Government Accountability Office — the growing visibility of Latinx horror writers has brought a new vitality not just to the genre itself but to the breakdown of Latinx as a monolithic identity. Authors spanning the spectrum of experience from V. Castro (a Mexican American now living in the UK) to Cynthia Pelayo (a Puerto Rican from Chicago) to Gustavo Eduardo Abrevaya (Argentinian) now populate the shelves of horror, bringing with them the particular flavor of their histories and personalities.
Below, we’ve compiled a guide to some of our favorite recent books in hopes that you too will find something to get you started, or to help you continue your exploration of a new, and vital, trend.
“Silver Nitrate” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Fans of Moreno-Garcia might expect to see “Mexican Gothic” here, but “Silver Nitrate” is exceptional even among Moreno-Garcia’s distinguished body of work. Relentlessly dark and strange, this novel about a cursed film brings together history, Nazis, occultism, and magic, which means it has everything a reader of spooky narratives could want. It’s also a perfect example of how historical fiction, culture, and speculative fiction can mix seamlessly to deliver wildly entertaining stories.
“Monstrilio” by Gerardo Sámano Córdova
Heartfelt, bizarre, and unexpected, Sámano Córdova’s “Monstrilio,” which tells the story of a grieving mother who ends up raising a creature that grew from a chunk of her dead son’s lung as her child, is unlike anything else in contemporary horror. At once a novel about family and love, a creepy tale that questions what it means to be human, and a celebration of queer stories, “Monstrilio” is as shocking as it is profound, and as humorous as it is thoughtful. With any luck, this novel, which is rich in cultural context and ideas, will catapult its author straight into the radars of not only horror lovers but also all readers who enjoy great writing.
“Tender Is the Flesh” by Agustina Bazterrica
When a virus makes all animal meat poisonous to humans, governments initiate something called the “Transition.” Soon, eating human flesh is perfectly acceptable. The world adapts to it quickly and makes the process as efficient as possible. That’s the dystopian premise of Bazterrica’s novel, which follows Marcos, a man who works in the meat business, as he’s forced to face just how much things have changed and what his work entails. This is a gruesome and shocking novel, but also an incredibly deep and smart one. This combination made Bazterrica a household name in Argentina and cemented her as one of the most exciting voices in contemporary horror.
“Our Share of Night” by Marina Enriquez
Few novels bring together horror, family, and history the way “Our Share of Night” does. Epic in breadth and scope, this novel about a father trying to protect his son from individuals who want to use him for nefarious purposes is truly a masterpiece of supernatural horror and a narrative that shows a superb storyteller at the height of her powers. Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, this deep, complex novel shows how multilayered horror can be.
“A Night of Screams: Latino Horror Stories” edited by Richard A. Santos
There are hundreds of novels we could add here, but sometimes the best way to delve into a genre is by consuming the equivalent of a sampler platter, and this collection is a great introduction. Packed with horror narratives from some Latinx stars like V. Castro, Ann Dávila Cardinal, Rubén Degollado, Ivelisse Rodriguez, and Richie Narvaez as well as outstanding up-and-coming writers like Leticia Urieta and Pedro Iniguez, this is the perfect anthology for those looking to dip their toes into the world of Latinx horror.
Gabino Iglesias is a book critic and the author of “The Devil Takes You Home.”