This is a big post, so buckle up! If you didn’t already know, Darcy Coates is my favourite female horror author (aside from Anne Rice – Rest In Peace Queen) and this year, I challenged myself to read/rank her entire works. In total, she has published 22 stories (with more coming in 2022). Needless to say, it took me 12 months to complete this goal. What I’ve realised from this experience is that she cannot write a bad book. There are definitely some I prefer over others, but overall, she is perfection and SO underrated. If you don’t know where to start, let this be your guide. Also, my best pal Caleb (@the_bookeyman) and I are going to do a live show on Instagram in January, comparing our rankings. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Make sure you’re following us both, so you know when to tune in. Without further ado, here is my list from best to worst…
1.) The Carrow Haunt
Remy is a tour guide for Carrow House, a notoriously haunted building. When she’s asked to host seven guests for a week-long stay to research its phenomena, she hopes to finally experience some of the sightings that made the house famous. At first, it’s everything they hoped for. Then a storm moves in, cutting off their contact with the outside world, and things quickly become twisted. When one of the guests dies under strange circumstances, Remy is forced to consider the possibility that the ghost of the house’s original owner, a twisted serial killer, still walks the halls.
In my opinion, this is the best book Darcy has ever written. It’s scary, exciting and a spooky good time. I am also very attached to it. The Carrow Haunt was the first novel to kick off my bookclub. You can read more about that here. Furthermore, it introduced me to Caleb and lots of other special internet friends. I don’t think this one will ever be topped…but knowing Darcy, she will find a way.
2.) Ghost Camera
When Jenine finds an abandoned Polaroid camera in a lighthouse, she assumes the ghostly shapes in the photos are a glitch or a prank – but then the spirits begin to hunt her down, and she’s forced into a deadly race to free herself from the camera’s curse.
In second place, we have Ghost Camera. I’m a huge fan of the horror photography trope. This short story is only a bit over 100 pages, but boy is it brilliant. Please read it. It is TERRIFYING! I recommend getting an electronic copy as it’s ridiculously expensive to buy in paperback form. My friend Caleb managed to snag a copy though!
3.) The Haunting Of Ashburn House
Following Edith’s death, her sole surviving relative, Adrienne, inherits the property. She doesn’t believe in ghosts, but it’s hard to ignore the unease that grows as she explores her new home. Strange messages have been etched into the wallpaper, an old grave is hidden in the forest behind the house, and eerie portraits in the upstairs hall seem to watch her every movement. There is no denying that the building has a grisly past and the dead are anything but resting.
In third place, we have The Haunting of Ashburn House. I believe Darcy said in an interview that this was her most popular book. I can see why. It is your classic haunted house story…with a twist. You could not pay me enough money to stay in this mansion. I was so scared, I struggled to sleep. It’s excellent. Definitely some of her finest work.
A guard discovers an unusual lifeform on her remote moon outpost. She disregards protocol to investigate it, with catastrophic consequences. The parasitic alien wears its victims’ skins and adopts their personalities. It’s a perfect disguise, and allows the creature to spread without being detected. By the time humanity realises it’s facing extinction, a third of its six hundred space stations have already gone dark. As the alien wipes out defenses and leaves hundreds of stations to fend for themselves, a handful of remarkable individuals must find a way to battle the greatest threat the universe has ever encountered.
Parasite is Darcy’s take on sci-fi/horror and quite frankly, she nailed the assignment. I love how it was split into five parts, each covering a different space station but fighting the same evil. I would advise not getting attached to anybody in this story and to read it during the day. You have been warned.
22-year-old Eileen goes missing while hiking in the remote Ashlough Forest. Five days later, her camera is discovered downriver, containing bizarre photos taken after her disappearance. Chris wants to believe she is still alive. When the police search is abandoned, he and four of his friends create their own rescue team to scour the mountain range. As they stray further from the hiking trails, they begin to believe they’re not alone in the forest… and that her disappearance wasn’t an accident.
Hunted is so different to anything Darcy has ever written before. It really sits apart from the rest of her bibliography and for that, it made my top five. This is one of those stories that you’ll most likely devour in one sitting. It is so fast paced and intriguing, you won’t be able to put it down until you learn the truth.
6.) House Of Shadows (Book #1 – Ghosts & Shadows)
Sophie’s world is shattered when disaster bankrupts her family. She’s still reeling from the news, when she’s offered an unexpected solution: Mr. Argenton, a wealthy stranger, asking for her hand in marriage. Marrying him will restore her family’s fortunes and save them from scandal, but it also condemns Sophie to a life in Northwood, a vast and unnaturally dark mansion situated hours from civilisation. As she struggles to adjust to her new position as mistress over the desolate house, she is inevitably pulled towards the terrifying truth: Northwood’s ancient halls are haunted by the family’s long-dead ancestors. The malevolent spirits – produced by grisly deaths – resent her intrusion into their home.
Darcy typically writes stand-alone novels, but she’s no stranger to a spooky series. House of Shadows is the first book in the Ghosts and Shadows duology. I loved the setting, the dark romance and the hidden secrets that came to light. There is something so captivating about this one. Give it a go.
7.) Secrets In The Dark (Book #2 – Black Winter)
As mentioned above, Darcy doesn’t just do stand-alone novels. This is the second book in the Black Winter series. I won’t spoil anything, but the sequel to Voices in the Snow was incredible. It was so action-packed, chilling and intense. I’m not usually a fan of the post-apocalyptic/survival genre but as always, our beloved author knows how to make it work. If you found the first installment a little slow, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Secrets in the Dark will more than make up for it and carry you to the end.
8.) Quarter To Midnight (A Collection Of Short Stories)
Quarter to Midnight is Darcy’s collection of fifteen short horror stories. She has published two of them, but this one is far more superior in my opinion. It amazes me how she is able to create an entire world in just a finite number of pages. My absolute favourite tale in this book is titled: The Mannequin. I also loved Lights Out and Crawlspace. I highly recommend picking up a copy and reading one story per night. Actually, don’t do that. You’ll lose sleep.
9.) The Folcroft Ghosts
Two siblings are sent to stay with their estranged grandparents after their mother is hospitalised. May and Peter Folcroft seem charming at first…but strange things start happening. The kids must try to keep up the pretext of a happy family, but an empty journal and locked room provide clues to the unforgivable lies, secrets and decades-old murders entwined with the Folcroft’s history.
I couldn’t stop thinking about The Folcroft Ghosts after I read it. It is her creepiest (not scariest) book to date. There are several twists to this story and what I like to call progressive horror. Things continue to build to a terrifying frenzy. It’s a masterpiece.
10.) The Whispering Dead (Book #1 – Gravekeeper)
Homeless, hunted, and desperate to escape a bitter storm, Keira takes refuge in an abandoned groundskeeper’s cottage. Her new home is tucked away at the edge of a cemetery. The graves are alive with faint, spectral shapes, led by a woman who died before her time and Keira, the only person who can see her, has become her new target. Determined to help put the ghost to rest, she digs into the spirit’s past life with the help of unlikely new friends, and discovers a history of deception, ill-fated love, and murder.
This is the first book in the Gravekeeper series. Stay tuned for the sequel in 2022. This was such a fun, mystery horror. I loved the side characters and spooky setting. I’m excited to see what happens next.
11.) The Haunting Of Blackwood House
Mara and Neil purchase Blackwood House, a derelict property outside of town. They’re warned about strange occurrences in the crumbling building. Doors open by themselves, voices whisper in the night, bloody handprints appear on the walls, and cold spots linger in the basement, where the house’s original owner was murdered. But Blackwood was dirt-cheap and came with a large plot of overgrown land. Mara loves her new home, and disregards the warnings. Because ghosts aren’t real…are they?
Yowser this book was scary. One of her most frightening stories I daresay. This is higher up on my list because it scared the pants off me. However, it was very unrealistic. There is no way I would’ve stuck around as long as Mara did. That put me off it slightly.
12.) Craven Manor
Daniel is desperate for a fresh start, so when a mysterious figure slides a note under his door, offering the position of groundskeeper at an ancient estate, he leaps at the chance. Against his better judgment, he moves into the cottage tucked away behind the old family crypt. But when a candle flickers to life in the abandoned tower window, Daniel realizes he isn’t alone after all. Craven Manor is hiding a terrible secret…one that threatens to bury him with it.
This book is a big favourite for my buddy Caleb. I actually bought it for him last Christmas. For me, it was decent. The reason I gave it a lower ranking was because I absolutely hated Daniel’s cousin. I know he was meant to be unlikable but he was such a bad person, it made the story less enjoyable for me. Also, it did not go in the direction I was hoping it would. However, I still recommend it.
13.) House Of Secrets (Book #2 – Ghosts & Shadows)
House of Secrets is the second book in the Ghosts and Shadows duology. It definitely didn’t live up to the first one. In fact, in my review, I wrote that House of Shadows didn’t need a sequel. It could have stood on its own. However, I did like the story and the ending wrapped things up nicely. I cannot say too much more without spoiling things.
14.) The Haunting Of Rookward House
When Guy finds the deeds to a house in his mother’s attic, it seems like an incredible stroke of luck. Sure, the building hasn’t been inhabited in forty years but he is convinced he can clean it up and sell it. He’d be crazy to turn down free money. Right? But there’s a reason no one lives in Rookward House. A deranged woman’s ghost clings to the building like rot. She’s bitter, obsessive, and jealous… and once Guy has moved into her house, she has no intention of ever letting him leave.
By now, you will have noticed that Darcy has written a lot of haunted house stories. You would think us fans would be over them but somehow she manages to approach this setting from different angles, making it fresh and exciting every single time. This was dark, scary and disturbing. I didn’t really connect to the main character and found some of his choices a bit silly but I still had a good reading experience.
15.) Voices In The Snow (Book # 1 – Black Winter)
Clare remembers the cold. She remembers abandoned cars and children’s toys littered across the road. She remembers dark shapes in the snow and a terror she can’t explain. And then…nothing. When she wakes, aching and afraid in a stranger’s gothic home, he tells her she was in an accident. He claims he saved her. Clare wants to leave, but a vicious snowstorm has blanketed the world in white, trapping them together, and there’s nothing she can do but wait. Between the claustrophobic weather and the inescapable sense of being hunted, Clare is on edge and increasingly certain of one thing: her car crash wasn’t an accident. Something is waiting for her to step outside the fragile safety of the house…something monstrous, something unfeeling. Something desperately hungry.
This is the first novel in the four part Black Winter series. It is a post-apocalyptic/survival saga with plenty of twists and turns. Voices in the Snow had a very slow start. I could tell Darcy was building up the story and setting the scene. Unfortunately, I was a bit bored. There were a lot of mundane tasks repeated over and over in the beginning. However, the ending was wild. I loved it! It definitely made me eager for the sequel, which ended up being highly ranked.
16.) Small Horrors (A Collection Of Short Stories)
This is the second collection of short stories from Darcy, but instead of fifteen tales, there are fifty. Wax Museum was my favourite. I don’t know how she manages to freak me out in just ten pages. It’s a gift. If you want to dip your toes into the horror pool, I recommend starting out with this one. It’s easier to commit to than a full-length novel.
17.) Whispers In The Mist (Book #3 – Black Winter)
Whispers in the Mist is the third book in the Black Winter series. Once again, I won’t spoil anything but I struggled a lot with this one. For one, there is a new character that is so irritating, I wanted to throw my copy against the wall. We eventually learn why she’s this way but it still didn’t help. It’s also quite slow in the middle. Not a whole lot happens. The beginning and the end contain the most action.
18.) Silence In The Shadows (Book #4 – Black Winter)
Silence in the Shadows is the fourth and last novel in the Black Winter series. The ending was solid but the beginning and middle dragged on. I was expecting the story to kick off with a bang but it deviated into territory that underwhelmed me. This was the final book of hers that I had to read before writing this post. I was hoping to finish on a high note but it wasn’t meant to be.
19.) The House Next Door
I live next to a haunted house. I began to suspect something was wrong with the gothic building when its family fled in the middle of the night, the children screaming, the mother crying. They never came back to pack up their furniture.
No family stays long. Animals avoid the place. Once, I thought I saw a woman’s silhouette pacing through the upstairs room… but that seems impossible; no one was living there at the time. A new occupant, Anna, has just moved in. I paid her a visit to warn her about the building. I didn’t expect us to become friends, but we did. And now that Marwick House is waking up, she’s asked me to stay with her. I never intended to become involved with the building or its vengeful, dead inhabitant. But now I have to save Anna… before it’s too late for the both of us.
Firstly, I was not a fan of the main character. She was bizarre and disturbing. I actually preferred the vengeful spirit to her. Secondly, the plot was very disjointed. It was all over the place. I loved the setting and the ghost’s backstory, but that was about it.
20.) The Haunting Of Leigh Harker
Leigh Harker’s quiet suburban home was her sanctuary for more than a decade, until things abruptly changed. Curtains open by themselves, radios turn off and on and a dark figure looms in the shadows of her bedroom door at night, watching her, waiting for her to finally let down her guard enough to fall asleep. Pushed to her limits but unwilling to abandon her home, Leigh struggles to find answers. But each step forces her towards something more terrifying than she ever imagined.
I wrote an entire blog post reviewing this book. You can check it out here. This is not any fault of Darcy’s, but this book was marketed as her scariest novel ever written. Darcy is extremely skilled at creeping me out, so I had high expectations. Unfortunately, it barely raised a hair on the back of my neck. I wasn’t frightened in the slightest. After the big reveal, things seemed a lot less threatening. That disappointed me. Also, the build up to the twist was quite slow. I like a novel with a lot of dialogue, so if you’re anything like me, don’t go in expecting a lot. This book is mainly made up of poetic language and description. Once again, not a fault of the author, just personal preference.
21.) Dead Lake
A week’s visit to the remote Harob Lake cabin couldn’t have come at a better time for Sam. She’s battling artist’s block ahead of a major gallery exhibition. This getaway is her final, desperate attempt to paint the collection that could save her floundering career. It seems perfect: no neighbours, no phone, no distractions. But the dream retreat disintegrates into a nightmare when Sam discovers she’s being stalked. A tall, strange man stands on the edge of her dock, staring intently into the swirling waters below. He starts to follow her. He disables her car. He destroys her only way to communicate with the outside world. Stranded at Harob Lake, she realises she’s become the prey in the hunter’s deadliest game…
Coming in at second last place is Dead Lake. Honestly, this short story wasn’t bad, it just didn’t measure up to the other books in this post. I’m a not a massive fan of outdoor horror. By that I mean lakes, forests, camping, cabins etc. It was a bit unmemorable to be honest. I wish there had been more of a purpose or story linking the man and Sam together.
22.) The Haunting Of Gillespie House
Elle can’t believe her luck; she’s spending a month, house-sitting the beautiful Gillespie property. Hidden near the edge of the woods and an hour’s drive from the nearest town, its dark rooms and rich furniture entice her to explore its secrets. There’s even a graveyard hidden behind the house, filled with tombstones that bear an identical year of death. If only the scratching in the walls would be quiet… The house’s dark and deadly history quickly becomes tangled with Elle’s life. At the center of it is Jonathan Gillespie, the tyrannical cult leader and original owner of the house. As Elle soon learns – just because he’s dead, doesn’t mean he’s gone.
In last place, we have The Haunting of Gillespie House. Darcy mentioned in an interview that this was the first book she ever wrote. It shows. It wasn’t as fleshed out or detailed as the rest of her works. I am not a big fan of cults to begin with, so it lost points for that too. Overall, it wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t represent the author I know and love today.
Darcy Coates – Extras
Darcy has written some short stories that have appeared in certain editions of her novels or were released as a gift to her newsletter subscribers (like myself) on different occasions. I didn’t include them in the rankings because a.) you cannot buy them in electronic or physical format and b.) I haven’t been able to read all of them. Unless you’ve been following her from the beginning, you’ve probably missed out on these extra snippets she likes to share. Nevertheless I’ll list them here for you:
– The Haunting of Graham House – this is a short story following The Haunting of Blackwood House. The link to this tale does not work anymore, so I never got to read it.
– Once Returned – this is another short story that was released around the same time as Ghost Camera. I cannot for the life of me find it anywhere. I have not read this one either.
– Mistral Bed and Breakfast – this can be found either at the end of The Haunting of Gillespie House or in her newsletter. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t anything groundbreaking.
– Bellamy – this was offered as a limited release to newsletter subscribers. Unfortunately it was before I had discovered her, so I never got to read it.
– The Run To Broken Ridge Lighthouse – This is the latest short story offered to newsletter subscribers. I liked it. There was a Bloody Mary vibe to it.
Darcy Coates – 2022 Publications
Here is what we can expect from Darcy in 2022. I’m so excited!
– The Ravenous Dead (Book #2 Gravekeeper Series) – March 2022
– From Below – June 2022
– Gallows Hill – September 2022
I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if you agree/disagree with my rankings. What is your favourite Darcy Coates book? Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo