13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain
Image: Tor Nightfire/Macmillan/MCD

There’s something about mushrooms and fungi that’s inherently creepy. They can grow just about anywhere, feed on anything, and wiggle their weird little mycelia into the cracks, corners, and crannies of any house, home, or body. It makes for very good horror. I’m excited to show you.

So, for some of these book the presence of fungi might not be apparently obvious (some of these entries could border on spoiler territory), but I need you to trust me that all of these books slide neatly into horror mycology, and simply knowing that will not spoil your enjoyment of the book. It might even, I’d argue, improve your wonder, horror, awe, and fascination.

Mexican Gothic

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

Mexican Gothic combines glamorous 1950s Mexico and gothic haunted house horror as Noemí attempts to find the truth behind her cousin’s murder.

Sorrowland

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

Sorrowland follows a young mother as she’s ostracised from her community and brings her children take solace in the woods… but the changes happening to her body are impossible to stop.

The Seep

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

An alien entity spurs the establishment of a new utopia in The Seep, but when she tries to save a young man from the alien devotees she comes face to face with her own grief.

The Girl With All The Gifts

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

A zombie outbreak by way of fungi, The Girl With All The Gifts is a wrenching exploration of humanity after something mindless has had its way with it.

Hothouse

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

Published in the ‘60s, Hothouse is a classic piece of sci-fi climate-fiction that takes place millions of years in the future. As fungi flourishes on an increasingly unsurvivable planet, our main character Gren must dive deep into the forest in an attempt to save himself.

Finch

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

As Detective Finch attempts to uncover the grisly secret behind a pair of murders, the Eldrich panopticon keeps watch lest the two deaths unravel the very foundations of the city of Ambergris.

Rosewater

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

As citizens live in fear inside of a massive biodome, the world outside begins its terrifying creep into the centre of the town Rosewater, revealing a massive conspiracy tangled in its roots.

The Woodwitch

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

Another older book, The Woodwitch is a 1988 fungal horror that takes tropes of toxic masculinity very literally, pushing the main character to a grisly and stomach-churning conclusion.

Fungi

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

Featuring a couple authors already noted here (Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jeff VanderMeer), Fungi is a short story anthology that’s a must-read for anyone who wants to explore mycological body horror.

The Unfamiliar Garden

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

As a mycologist reels in the aftermath of the death of his family, he must learn as much about the debris left over by the killer comet as he can or risk a world-wide infection. The Unfamiliar Garden is the second book of Percy’s Comet Cycle.

Wanderers

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

As a group of infected sleepwalkers — called Wanderers — march toward an unknown location, an unknown calling, immune shepherds must protect them from an increasingly violent government. Read an except on Gizmodo here.

The Beauty

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

In The Beauty, as men gather ‘round a campfire to hear about the lost generation of women, a young boy ventures into the forest, finding strange fungi growing from the cemetery where the women are buried.

What Moves the Dead

13 Fungal Horror Books That Want To Rot Your Brain

A grisly, queer retelling of Poe’s short story, The Fall of the House of Usher, What Moves the Dead is a haunting exploration of grief and decay. I read this book a few weeks ago and devoured it in just a day or two. It’s disgustingly wonderful, genuinely creepy, and will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. I recommend it highly.