7 Trippy Horror Novels That Will Mess You Up

Ever since watching Terry Gillam’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and subsequently reading the novelI’ve been obsessed with mind-altering substances and psychedelic experiences. Not so much in real life (my body and mind are not equipped to handle it), but through art and movies and music and, of course, literature. My new novella, Rainbow Filthcomes out September 5th from Ghoulish Books, and it’s about a group of college students and one eccentric professor who become obsessed with an all-natural substance they believe can physically transport them to an alternate dimension. 

Yeah. Weird stuff. 

Anyway, the new release got me thinking about some of my favorite trippy horror novels. Here’s a list of (maybe) seven titles that will scramble your brain. And if you’re like me — you’ll enjoy that very much. 

"Fever Dream" by Samanta Schweblin 

This short novel is a mind-bending trip to hell and back. A woman wakes up in a clinic next to a boy she doesn’t know, and the reader is slowly fed pieces of what happened through backstory told in dreamlike segments. It also highlights some major environmental issues facing the author’s home country of Argentina. It’s super short but packs a mean punch, and it will leave you feeling gutshot.

Get Fever Dream at Bookshop or Amazon


"Ghost Eaters" by Clay McLeod Chapman 

When I read Ghost Eaters, I did so with a smile for the entire 300 pages. Even when I was creeped out. Chapman’s novel follows a group of friends as they experiment with a hallucinatory drug that claims to make you see ghosts. Wanna get haunted? is maybe the best tagline ever? Put this one on top of your TBR. 

Get Ghost Eaters at Bookshop or Amazon


"The Cipher" by Kathe Koja

The Cipher is one of those novels that just sticks with you, the kind you can’t get out of your head no matter how hard you try. Much like “The Funhole” in Kathe Koja’s novel about a guy who discovers a black hole in his complex’s storage room and the chaos that ensues when he starts putting things inside it. This one is wild. And it’s not just one of my favorite trippy horror novels, but one of my favorite novels PERIOD. 

Get The Cipher at Bookshop or Amazon


"Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This novel starts off in familiar territory for fans of gothic horror, but somewhere in the middle of the story we go off the rails in the best way possible. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Mexican Gothic turned out to be one of my favorite surreal, trippy horror reading experiences. 

Get Mexican Gothic at Bookshop or Amazon


"John Dies At The End" by John Pargin

Quintessential trippy horror novel right here. In John Dies at the End, our main characters begin to experience weird supernatural phenomena after ingesting a drug known as “Soy Sauce.” It’s a unique reading experience with clever twists and turns, loads of humor, and enough psychedelic nightmares to quench your thirst for such things. I’m also a big fan of the film adaptation and the other novels in the series. 

Get John Dies... at Bookshop or Amazon


"Annihilation" by Jeff Vandermeer

This book is a literary masterpiece that will probably break your mind if you let it. I remember only being able to read fifteen pages in a sitting because I’m pretty sure I was getting high inside Area X. In the novel, a group of women explore a secluded region which is filled with weird biology and strange botanical specimens. I love this novel so much. 

Get Annihilation at Bookshop or Amazon


"The Drive-In" by Joe R. Lansdale

Like a novel that describes two human bodies fusing to form a creature known as the Popcorn King is NOT gonna make this list, right? This three-part series reads like a bad acid trip to bizarro country, and that's a compliment. Lansdale is a creative storyteller, and The Drive-In is what happens when an author at the top of his game lets their imagination run wild; this story has no bounds and everything is on the table. Monsters, dinosaurs, horrific chaos — it’s all on display at the drive-in and the price of admission is well worth multiple showings. 

Get The Drive-In at Bookshop or Amazon


BONUS: "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski

As far as mind-benders go, this one will do you pretty good. Told through a unique, story-within-a-story narrative, House of Leaves will often leave you confused, frustrated, blown away, downright terrified, and will have you questioning reality by the time you reach the end (if you make out alive).

Get House of Leaves at Bookshop or Amazon


BONUS II: "Drencrom" by Hamelin Bird

Whoa, what’s this? Two bonuses? That’s outrageous. And so is this nasty novella that recently hit the market. Drencrom is about a girl on a quest to score the legendary psychedelic substance known as “adrenochrome.” What happens when she finds it is absolutely wild, a trip like no other. My brain is still recovering. 

Get Drencrom at Bookshop or Amazon

Get Rainbow Filth directly from Ghoulish Books

Tim Meyer

Column by Tim Meyer

Tim Meyer dwells in a dark cave near the Jersey Shore. He’s the author of more than fifteen novels, including Malignant SummerThe Switch HouseDead DaughtersLimbs, and many other titles. When he's not working on the next book, he's usually hanging out with his wife and son, shooting around on the basketball court, playing video games, or messing with a new screenplay. He bleeds coffee and IPAs.

His newest novella, Rainbow Filthis out now through Ghoulish Books. You can learn more about his books at timmeyerwrites.com.

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