Weird fiction is a subgenre of speculative fiction that deals with the strange, the uncanny, and the unexplainable. It often combines elements of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, but it is not easily categorized into any one genre. Weird fiction stories often feature protagonists who are confronted with strange and disturbing events that defy logic or explanation. The stories may be set in the real world or in a fictional universe, but they always leave the reader with a sense of unease and uncertainty. Weird fiction often features supernatural elements, such as ghosts, demons, and monsters. However, these elements are not always explained or understood by the characters or the reader. It deals with the uncanny, which is a feeling of unease or discomfort that arises from something that is familiar but also strange or unsettling. This feeling can be created by the presence of something that is out of place, or by something that is just slightly off-kilter. Weird fiction stories often feature events that defy logic or explanation. That can be a source of both horror and fascination for the reader.
Here are 20 of the best weird fiction books:
The King in Yellow (1895)
by Robert W. Chambers
A collection of short stories that deal with themes of madness, obsession, and the supernatural. The stories are all connected by the presence of a mysterious play called “The King in Yellow,” which is said to drive people insane. The King in Yellow is a classic of weird fiction that has been praised for its atmosphere and its exploration of the dark side of human nature. The stories in the collection are interconnected, and they all offer chilling glimpses into the world of the mysterious force that drives people insane.
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)
by H.G. Wells
A science fiction novel that follows a shipwrecked man who is rescued by a mysterious doctor who lives on an island populated by animals that have been surgically altered to resemble humans. The novel explores themes of morality, the nature of humanity, and the dangers of scientific experimentation.
The White People (1904)
by Arthur Machen
A classic disturbing and suspenseful short story that tells the tale of a young woman who discovers a strange and sinister world hidden in the woods near her home. The story addresses themes of the occult, the nature of evil, and the dangers of curiosity. The young woman, who is unnamed, is drawn to the woods near her home by a strange and beautiful woman. The woman tells the young woman about the White People, a race of fairies who live in the woods. The young woman becomes obsessed with the White People, and she eventually visits their realm. In the realm of the White People, the young woman witnesses strange and disturbing events, and she begins to lose her grip on reality.
The Willows (1907)
by Algernon Blackwood
A short story that tells the tale of two friends who go on a canoeing trip in the River Thames. The story expresses themes of the occult, the power of nature, and the dangers of the unknown. The two friends, who are unnamed, encounter a strange and sinister force in the willow trees that line the river. The force begins to exert a powerful influence on them, and they eventually find themselves in danger of losing their minds.
The Metamorphosis (1915)
by Franz Kafka
One of the most famous examples of weird fiction. The novella tells the story of a man who wakes up one day to find that he has been transformed into a giant insect. It is all about alienation, the absurdity of the human condition, and the fear of the unknown. The man, who is unnamed, is completely isolated from the world around him. He is unable to communicate with his family or friends, and he is forced to live in squalor. The story is a harrowing and disturbing depiction of the human condition. It has been praised for its symbolism and its exploration of the human condition. It is a powerful allegory for the alienation and isolation that can be experienced by people who are different from the norm. The story is also a reminder that the human body is a fragile and unpredictable thing.
The Dark Domain (1921)
by Stefan Grabiński
A collection of disturbing short stories that explore the dark and mysterious side of the human psyche. The stories deal with themes of madness, obsession, and the supernatural. They are all set in the same fictional town, which is described as a place where “the laws of nature do not always apply.” They are told from the perspectives of different characters, and they all offer chilling glimpses into the dark side of human nature.
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (1928)
by H.P. Lovecraft
A collection of short stories that helped to define the weird fiction genre. The stories in this collection feature Lovecraft’s signature blend of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, and they often deal with themes of cosmic insignificance and the madness that can be caused by knowledge of the unknown.
Exmples of the stories are The Call of Cthulhu, the title story of the collection, and it tells the story of a group of investigators who are drawn into a mystery surrounding the Cthulhu cult, a secret society that worships an ancient and malevolent being. The story is full of strange and unsettling imagery, and it explores themes of cosmic insignificance and the madness that can be caused by knowledge of the unknown. The Dunwich set in a small town in Massachusetts that is haunted by a mysterious creature that is the offspring of a human and an alien. The story is full of suspense and horror, and it explores themes of forbidden knowledge and the dangers of meddling with forces beyond human comprehension.
The Shadow Over Innsmouth follows a man who travels to a small fishing village in New England and discovers that the town is inhabited by a race of degenerate fish-men. The story is full of Lovecraft’s trademark cosmic horror, and it leaves the reader with a sense of dread and despair.
At the Mountains of Madness (1936)
by H.P. Lovecraft
A novella that tells the story of an expedition to Antarctica that discovers a vast and ancient city built by an alien race. The novel is full of Lovecraft’s trademark cosmic horror, and it leaves the reader with a sense of dread and despair.
Strange Evil (1957)
by Jane Gaskell
A coming-of-age story about a young woman who is abducted from her home in London and taken to a strange and magical world. The novel explores themes of identity, gender, and power, and it is full of strange and unsettling imagery.
The Hearing Trumpet (1974)
by Leonora Carrington
A surreal and thought-provoking novel about an elderly woman who undergoes a strange and transformative experience. The novel expresses themes of aging, dementia, and the power of the imagination. The woman, Marian Leatherby, suffers a stroke that leaves her deaf and partially paralyzed. She is forced to rely on her imagination to cope with her new reality. She begins to have strange and vivid dreams, and she eventually comes to believe that she is able to communicate with spirits.
Stranger Things Happen (2001)
by Kelly Link
A collection of short stories that explores the strange and the uncanny in everyday life. The stories in this collection are often funny, but they also have a dark edge, and they leave the reader with a sense of unease and uncertainty. As examples of the stories, in The Girl Detective a young girl is determined to solve the case of some tap-dancing bank robbers. The story is full of strange and unexpected twists and turns, and it leaves the reader wondering what is real and what is not.The Fainting Spells tells the story of a woman who begins to experience strange fainting spells that seem to be connected to a mysterious figure she saw in a dream. The story is full of atmosphere and suspense, and it addresses memory, identity, and the power of the subconscious mind. The Specialist is about a man who hires a specialist to help him with his amnesia. The story is full of dark humour and strange twists, and it leaves the reader questioning the nature of reality.
by Neil Gaiman
A fantasy novel set in a parallel London that is hidden from the everyday world. The novel follows the story of Richard Mayhew, a businessman who falls through a portal into Neverwhere and must find his way back to the real world. The novel is full of dark humour, suspense, and adventure, and it explores themes of class, homelessness, and the power of imagination.
Perdido Street Station (2000)
by China Miéville
A sprawling and imaginative novel about class, race, and the nature of good and evil. The novel is set in a city called New Crobuzon, which is populated by all sorts of strange and fantastic creatures. The novel’s protagonist, Isaac, is a former slave who is trying to find a way to save his girlfriend from a mysterious disease. Perdido Street Station is a novel that takes the reader on a wild and unforgettable journey.
House of Leaves (2000)
by Mark Z. Danielewski
A metafictional novel about a man who is trying to make sense of a manuscript that he has found. The novel explores themes of reality, perception, and the limits of the human mind. It is a mind-bending and challenging novel, told from a variety of perspectives, including the perspective of the man who is trying to make sense of the manuscript, the perspective of the people in the manuscript, and the perspective of the reader. House of Leaves is a novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.
The Etched City (2003)
by K.J. Bishop
A dark and atmospheric novel that explores themes of identity, memory, and the nature of reality. The novel’s protagonist, John Aubrey, is a man who is drawn to a strange and mysterious city that he believes is the key to his past. In the city, Aubrey encounters a cast of strange and memorable characters, including a talking bird, a headless woman, and a mysterious figure known as the Architect. Aubrey must use his wits and his newfound courage to survive in the city and uncover its secrets.
City of Stairs (2014)
by Robert Jackson Bennett
Afantasy novel that tells the story of a group of investigators who are sent to a city that has been abandoned by its gods. The novel explores themes of colonialism, the nature of power, and the dangers of forgetting history. It is a fast-paced, action-packed novel that casts a light on colonialism, the nature of power, and the dangers of forgetting history. The novel’s protagonist, Inspector Sharan d’Court, is sent to the city of Bulikov to investigate the disappearance of the gods. In Bulikov, Sharan discovers a dark and disturbing secret that threatens the entire world.
The Hike (2015)
by Drew Magary
A dark comedy novel that tells the story of a man who goes on a hike in the woods and ends up in a strange and dangerous world. The novel explores themes of isolation, madness, and the power of the human imagination. It is a suspenseful novel that explores themes of isolation, madness, and the power of the human imagination. The novel’s protagonist, Gary Pulsifer, encounters a cast of strange and memorable characters, including a talking dog, a giant spider, and a mysterious woman named Akiko. Gary must use his wits and his newfound courage to survive in this strange world and find his way back home.
The Fisherman: A Chilling Supernatural Horror Epic (2016)
by John Langan
A novel about a man who makes a deal with a mysterious fisherman in order to save his wife’s life. The novel is full of strange and unsettling imagery, and it explores themes of addiction, grief, and the power of the human imagination.
Shadows of Carcosa: Tales of Cosmic Horror (2013)
edited by S.T. Joshi
An anthology of weird fiction stories that feature the fictional town of Carcosa. The stories explore themes of cosmic horror, madness, and the futility of human existence. The town of Carcosa is a recurring setting in the works of weird fiction author Ambrose Bierce. Bierce never explicitly describes Carcosa, but he hints that it is a place of great evil and mystery. The stories in the anthology all offer different perspectives on Carcosa, and they all leave the reader with a sense of unease and dread.
by China Miéville
A complex and thought-provoking novel that explores a wide range of themes. The novel is set in a world where magic and technology coexist, and it examines the nature of power, the dangers of colonialism, and the importance of memory. It tells the story of a group of people who are drawn to a strange and mysterious island. The island is inhabited by a race of creatures called the kraken, who are said to be descended from dinosaurs. The people who are drawn to the island are all seeking something different, but they all find themselves caught up in a web of intrigue and danger.
And that’s our list of the 20 best weird fiction books. What’s your take on these – any surprises, or any weird fiction not on this list that you feel should make the top 20?