The 20 Best Romantic Horror Books – Ultimate Guide

Horror and romance have been intertwined for centuries, from the first stories of creatures seducing humans to their miserable deaths or stories of lovers doomed by some supernatural curse. Understandable, since romance can so easily fit into almost every other genre, and horror is no exception.

The 20 Best Romantic Horror Books - Ultimate Guide

These books will thrill you with tales of terror and cold, foreboding settings with lovers both new and old taking the stage. While they may not all have a happy ending, no doubt these books are the twenty best romantic horror books to get your fix on the genre.

The Best Romantic Horror Books

Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice

Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, Book 1)

A classic of the horror romance subgenre as well as gothic and vampire literature changed the game for every writer that came after. Rice’s Vampire Chronicles are some of the bestselling horror novels of all time, transcending the genre and saturating the mainstream.

The main thread of the series is centered on the vampire Lestat, a handsome bad boy who everyone wants despite the chaos he brings. There’s on-again-off-again love between Lestat and more vamps to count, while the gothic horror overtones give everything that rich feel with supernatural suspense lurking everywhere.

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Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Rebecca By Daphne Du Maurier(2002-07-30)

Rebecca stands as one of the oldest and most prominent gothic horrors, threading the genre’s themes of doomed love into a haunting ghost story that’s ambiguously supernatural.

When a young woman becomes engaged quickly to an absurdly wealthy man, she’s whisked off back to his private estate of Manderley where she begins to uncover the history of his late wife, Rebecca. The mystery around Rebecca unfolds as our narrator in the story finds out how she was regarded by staff and townsfolk, with everyone speaking only good.

There are twists and turns so unexpected it’s a wonder this story isn’t touched on more in modern horror literature and film, with plenty to draw from in a relatively short read filled with romantic dread.

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You by Caroline Kepnes

You: A Novel

Look, we all know Penn Badgely is charming and handsome but the Joe of Caroline Kepnes’ original novel is way scarier than the television version audiences have come to love.

Joe is just an average guy working at a bookshop. Beck is a writer trying to make her way in the city. A simple meet-cute turns into a psychological horror and romance that’s more twisted than a licorice factory. The Joe of the novel is cunning still, but much less particular about how he goes about his business. Meanwhile, Beck makes what was a game of cat and mouse more into a game of cat and another cat.

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There’s Someone In Your House by Stephanie Perkins

There's Someone Inside Your House

This one is more of a young adult-oriented pick, but both the romance and slasher elements hold up for a fun, quick read that brings the goods.

Makani moves into a small town after some trouble back in her hometown. Naturally, not long after she moves in, mysterious killings start happening all around the town and the new girl is the suspect.

Full of suspense and under 300 pages, it hits the ground running and doesn’t look back.

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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy, Book 1)

Diana Bishop teaches history of science at Yale. She’s also a witch, but she doesn’t like to talk about that. When she finds an ancient text things get a little out of control and her powers become a massive threat, causing her to team up with a vampire to try and find a way to get control of herself.

Humor, horror tropes, romance, and fantasy are all tied together with elaborate threading through the entire trilogy. The characters despite their fantastical leanings all have fantastic humanity at the core, leading to a combination of incredible fun throughout the read.

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Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse Book 1)

Better known as the debut of Harris’s most popular character, Sookie Stackhouse. Vampires make a very public coming out, revealing their existence to humans after developing a synthetic blood substitute they can live off of. There’s equal exploration of the central characters and how humans coexist with their newfound nocturnal brethren, some better than others.

The stars are the ensemble cast though, as Sookie the small-town waitress falls in love with old Louisiana vampire Bill, meanwhile, her coworkers deal with their own ins and outs with the supernatural. The first novel leans itself into a supernatural mystery, with the characters being stalked by a cunning and mysterious vampire hunter.

For people that say they’ve seen the show so know what will happen- no, you don’t. The series diverges pretty wildly before long, with the books being a lot more consistently on the rails than off like the adaptation.

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Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K Hamilton

Guilty Pleasures: An Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Novel

Laurell Hamilton has been quietly chugging along for decades now, publishing almost thirty novels so far in this series following vampire hunter Anita Blake. This, the first in the series, is everything needed to be sucked into the world of forbidden love amongst the vampire underground.

Anita spends her days returning the recently dead to life and putting down any supernatural beings who get a little too hungry. When multiple messy slayings go down one after another, she’s eventually approached by the head vampire of the city for help. Vampire human love, a mix of noir-supernatural leanings, and a haunting mystery all bring the series together for the horror equivalent of a cozy afternoon read.

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A House At the Bottom of the Lake by Josh Malerman

A House at the Bottom of a Lake

Two teens out on their first date go to a small, secluded lake to canoe and dive. With the date going well and the two having a great time, they eventually begin diving down into the lake, discovering a house at the bottom. As they explore though, the house begins to become more and more sinister in the dark depths of the lake.

Malerman brings that same sense of creeping dread as he used in Bird Box, this time turning the romance from adults in the apocalypse to two teenagers just at the beginning of their innocent romance as something strange takes hold.

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Darkhouse by Karina Halle

Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1)

A woman who can see ghosts signs up to take part in a ghost-hunting reality show. They immediately set out for filming, investigating the spirits of her family’s old, decrepit lighthouse that’s hiding more secrets than they could imagine. In between the ghost story and horror, Halle throws in a fantastic romance with an air of danger.

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Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna Dressed in Blood Series Book 1)

A folk tale about a dead girl haunts a town, with the specter of a young girl drenched in blood haunting an abandoned mansion. When a small family of spirit hunters moves in, the mystery of the girl’s death will lead to a supernatural romance and a terrifyingly haunting story of love and loss.

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Ten by Gretchen McNeil


A teen slasher on a deserted island, Ten is quick, fun, and a wildly inventive slasher that thrives in the isolated island environment. Two best friends get into the most exclusive party around, spending the weekend with friends on a deserted island, except trouble comes sweeping in along with a massive storm.

As their friends begin falling to a mysterious slasher, our two heroines have to find a way to survive and escape the island.

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Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

Plain Bad Heroines: A Novel

Dual love triangles a century apart, a girls’ school shut down after a string of mysterious murders, and a feud between actresses start out Plain Bad Heroines, opening the story up for a wealth of character moments and well-placed scares.

A century after three girls mysteriously die, setting off a chain of gruesome deaths, three actresses return to the crumbling school building to make a film about the mystery. Unfortunately, the spirits aren’t as willing to cooperate with the filming, trying to shut it down at every turn. Guess they weren’t getting the SAG rate.

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Certain Dark Things by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

Certain Dark Things: A Novel

The author of Mexican Gothic weaves a mingling story of a vampire/human budding romance against a conspiracy to upset the balance of the supernatural and human existences. It’s fast-paced, fantasy-heavy, and draws from great horror tropes for many of its characters and settings.

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The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners

Take the settings and wild sensibilities of The Great Gatsby and add the paranormal, with the main character Evie discovering her powers as a psychic during the Roaring 20s in Manhattan.

She quickly moves from the wild parties and speakeasies of the time into a seedy underworld, trying to catch a vicious serial killer while also navigating her own love life.

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What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson

What Dreams May Come: A Novel

One of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read, and a classic work by a bygone master of horror, What Dreams May Come follows one man who journeys through heaven and hell to find his long-lost wife. The stark beauty of Matheson’s heaven contrasts so extremely with his bleak vision of hell, with the uniting power of love conquering all.

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The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked Deep

Taking inspiration from the Salem witch trials, The Wicked Deep focuses on one town haunted by the vengeful spirits of three girls, who drowned in the harbor as witches centuries ago. Every summer the witches return to the small town, attempting to turn the residents against each other by stoking the same fear and rumors that got them executed all those years ago.

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Haunting Adeline by HD Carlton

Haunting Adeline (Cat and Mouse Duet Book 1)

The classic horror trope of an obsessive stalker, except the victim is aware and thrilled by the stalking. While this one wasn’t necessarily for me, it’s caught some major attention with audiences for the taut horror and steamy romance.

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What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

What Moves the Dead (Sworn Soldier Book 1)

Gothic romance and terrifying mushroom horror (so in right now) collide in Kingfisher’s revisioning of Fall of the House of Usher. Following a retired soldier as they investigate the news of a dying friend, discovering everything is not as it seems in the woman’s old estate.

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The Whispering Dead by Darcy Coates

The Whispering Dead (Gravekeeper Book 1)

A homeless woman on the run hides out in an abandoned shack near a graveyard during a storm, finding a home among the spirits and tombstones. While most of the ghosts are friendly, most just wanting to move on to the next life, some are more malevolent, bringing about a race to free one spirit before the chance is lost forever.

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These twenty books might not have you scared silly, but we’re here for love not to be completely terrified. From lovers caught in a dangerous slasher situation to humans falling in love with various supernatural forces, hopefully, that romantic yearning is sated, and maybe you’re a little spooked too.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63: A Novel

The best romance subplot that King has written, hands down. While the novel relies on the unknown strangeness of time travel for any of the horror overtones, with King only occasionally dipping in for the deep scares, it succeeds with a romance subplot that blooms around midway through the story.

I could rave about this book for pages, but to keep it short, the main plot revolves around Jake, a newly divorced teacher with not a whole lot going for him until he finds a portal to the past in his favorite diner. From here he begins a mission to save John F. Kennedy from assassination on that fateful date and, he hopes, makes a change for a better future.

The shine is King’s writing though, with a love story between the divorced and jaded Jake and Sadie, who’s in hiding from a toxic and abusive ex. King explores the two characters meeting and finding healing love with each other, leading to an even more emotional climax with higher stakes for the couple.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is horror romance?

Other than the self-explanatory horror story with romance involved, which encompasses probably 98% of the genre, these books focus on the various love stories as opposed to putting horror first and foremost. While it may also use horror as a narrative device, it’s usually used as a larger setting within the story to give the characters a push toward each other.

Are there different types of romantic horror?

Of course! Like the ever-flowing cycle, one genre splinters into various subgenres and so on. Romantic horror in particular has two main subgenres that dominate the field- Gothic and Paranormal romance.

Gothic typically pertains to an overall aesthetic like doomed romance, a sense of dread, and foreboding darkness, while the characters navigate twisted love lives.

Paranormal romance meanwhile, usually mixes things up with humans becoming involved with vampires, ghosts, or any other possible creature.

Who are the leading romantic horror authors?

Anne Rice was a trailblazer in terms of romantic horror, popularizing love triangles between creatures of the night and humans while weaving intricate stories throughout time. Laurell K. Hamilton often gets overlooked, though she has been steadily filling out the genre for over two decades already.

When did romantic horror emerge as a genre?

While horror mixed with romance is as old as time, it’s usually agreed that The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole was the first of note. Relatively light on the horror, it mostly involved using the horror of spontaneous tragic events as opposed to anything outright.

Carmilla is largely considered to be one of the first heavyweight entries, focusing on the queer love story between a young woman and the vampire Carmilla, who she explores romance with. Carmilla would go on to inspire the likes of Bram Stoker and writers to follow.

What if I don’t want horror but still want a romance that’s a little spooky?

Dark romance would be the genre for you. While it doesn’t have spooky elements necessarily, it does center around darker themes and sometimes veers into the thriller category.

What if I want more horror with a good romance to hold it up?

While tougher to find, it exists. The writing of Poppy Z Brite explores a lot of queer romantic themes set against the splatterpunk genre backdrop. The characters are often deeply flawed and disturbed, so it may be a pass if you don’t want things too extreme.

Writers like Darcy Coates will often flip between, offering lighter horror with more front-and-center romance while delving into some very terrifying spots when the romance takes a back seat.

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Ross Tyson