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Friday, December 30, 2022

2022 Review / 2023 Preview - Nicole Willson

I’m first and foremost a fan of spooky stuff. 2022 has been a very good year for horror fans; the books, movies, and TV shows that came out month after month made my dark little heart sing with joy. Below are a few books (not all from 2022) and other things that really stood out to me this year.


Gabino Iglesias, The Devil Takes You Home. Iglesias has a real gift for horrific imagery that crawls under my skin and lingers in my mind, and The Devil Takes You Home is no exception. I’ve seen debate on Book Twitter about where thrillers end and horror begins. This novel doesn’t make you choose; while there are plenty of otherworldly presences in the story, the plight that sends main character Mario down his dark path is all too real and relatable.


EV Knight, Three Days in the Pink Tower. This is a great but incredibly difficult read. Teenage Josey is abducted from her home and held prisoner in the woods. Her fight for survival is agonizing, in no small part because Knight used her own real-life kidnapping and assault as the basis for this story. The content may be really hard for some readers, but it’s a fantastic book that stayed with me for a long time. 


Jonathan Edward Durham, Winterset Hollow. I fished this novel out of my massive TBR pile after a couple of authors at a Scares that Care panel cited it as one of the best horror novels they'd ever read. A group of friends visit the place that inspired their favorite childhood book (it put me somewhat in mind of Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood). There, they discover that the story is more real—and more terrifying—than they ever imagined. The story is a slow burn at the start but becomes addictive by the end.


Gwendolyn Kiste, Reluctant Immortals. I’ve always enjoyed stories where Kiste gives voice and agency to female characters who have been near-afterthoughts in the well-known stories of what male characters do to them. Lucy Westenra (one of Dracula’s victims) and Bertha Mason (Jane Eyre’s “madwoman in the attic”), the reluctant immortals of the title, are living in the late 60s in Los Angeles. And you know it won’t be long until both of them are once again dealing with the men who wrecked their lives and still can’t let them go.


This was a great year to be an Eldergoth if you have a Netflix subscription. We finally got the long-anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s epic Sandman. While I thought the graphic novel would be almost impossible to adequately translate to film, the show rose to the challenge.


I also greatly enjoyed Wednesday. Jenna Ortega is wonderful as the titular gloom cookie, and I liked that the show put her in a whole new situation—a school for supernatural misfits—instead of simply retelling the Addams Family TV show or the movies.


I was ready to give up on American Horror Story after the dreadful tenth season. However, AHS: NYC wasn’t perfect, but much more engaging than recent seasons of the show have been.


And while HBO’s Barry is not horror, the final episode of its ultra-tense third season had some seriously scary, disturbing elements. And to think the show is billed as a comedy!


Nope did a great job of mixing science fiction with horror in an unpredictable way. Men was one of the more disturbingly original horror ideas I’ve seen in recent years. If Smile felt more than a bit derivative at times, the performances and a few genuinely scary scenes made up for it. And Barbarian, which was nothing like what the trailer had me expecting, really blew me away with its unexpected twists.


In 2023, I am greatly looking forward to Don’t Fear the Reaper, Stephen Graham Jones’s follow-up to his terrific My Heart is a Chainsaw. And I’m also excited to read K. C. Grifant’s Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger.


As for me in 2023, I’ve got a novel, a novella, and a couple of short stories out on submission. Keep your fingers crossed that someone brings me some kind of publishing deal for Christmas, won’t you?


Nicole Willson writes horror and dark fantasy. Her debut novel Tidepool (Parliament House Press) came out in August 2021 and was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Debut Novel and the Ladies of Horror Fiction Award for Best Debut. A Spanish translation of the novel is available from Dilatando Mentes Editorial. Her short fiction has appeared in two anthologies by Cemetery Gates Media. Find out more about Nicole at







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