This February 12th marks the Lunar New Year for 2021! Happy New Year!
The Lunar New Year marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar, which instead of following the calendar year is regulated by the cycles of the moon and the sun. In East Asian countries, the date usually falls in late January or early February. Some parts of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East also celebrate a Lunar New Year (though the timing might be a bit different).
We thought we’d celebrate the LOHF way, by sharing some excellent book and movie recommendations to highlight Asian and Asian American women in horror.
We do earn a teensy percentage if you buy any of these books through our Bookshop affiliate links. All proceeds go toward keeping LOHF operational.
Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu, art by Sana Takeda
Now with five volumes available, this epic graphic novel series is set the 1900s in Asia, but this story creates an alternate matriarchal history. A young girl shares a psychic link with a dreadful monster. It’s steam punk, art deco, and very dark. Come for the story, but stay for the artwork!
The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun
This novel from Korean author Hye-Young Pyun evokes major Misery vibes: the main character is a man who is paralyzed after the car accident that killed his wife. Good thing he has his mother-in-law to take care of him, only she doesn’t have his best interest at heart.
Bluebeard’s First Wife by Ha Seong-nan
This collection of short stories sits quietly on the edge of your bed as you sleep, suffusing your dreams with dark imagery. All of the stories but one focus on female protagonists, and they end up being about much more than the plot, offering commentary on women’s roles and society’s expectations of them. If you love it, check out her other collection, Flowers of Mold.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Young-he and her husband live a quiet life, until she throws all social mores out the window and decides to stop eating meat. Her simple decision takes the story down a dark and disturbing path, and the story offers a unique commentary on psychological oppression and trauma.
Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco
“When a hidden prince, a girl with secrets, a ragtag group of unlikely heroes, and a legendary firebird come together . . . something wicked is going down.” This first entry in a new series by Chupeco is perhaps more on the fantasy side of the speculative veil, but it’s more than worth checking out. If you’re looking for straight horror, definitely check out her Girl From the Well series.
13 Moons by Eeleen Lee
This short story collection delivers supernatural chills with a variety of settings, from an office building with a dark secret to a haunted playground to a forgotten well to a nightclub.
The Girl and the Ghost by Hannah Alkaf
This YA read from Malaysian author Alkaf shares the story of a girl who receives a pelesit—a spirit familiar—from her witchy grandmother. But being friends with a ghost is not all fun and games; there is a dark side too.
Bedtime Stories from the Dead of Night by Julya Oui
This story collection is more a harbinger of nightmares than sweet dreams: “In the dead of night you will find a girl wishing she had not taken her own life. You will get to know a man who would do anything, yes, anything, for a million bucks. You will experience an erotic dance that will lead you to places you never want to go.”
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
This first entry in a dark fantasy series is “is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women.” A feminist high fantasy, this novella follows a young royal through the eyes of her handmaiden as she rises to power.
Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
A middle grade horror novel from the founder of We Need Diverse Books, this story follows Harper as she faces down the ghosts haunting her younger brother. One of the highlights of this ghostly mystery is definitely the dog, Pumpkin!
A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts by Ying Chang Compestine
This collection of stories offers a window into Chinese history, culture, and cuisine through the traditional tale that anyone who dies hungry or unjustly will come back to haunt the living.
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd
In this debut novel, the world begins ending when people start losing their shadows. It turns out that the shadow is in some way connected to memory and without it, we forget everything, and I do mean everything. And if you can’t remember the way things are supposed to work, things aren’t fixed anymore and it turns out that just about anything is possible.
In this dark tale, a tenement building in Hong Kong is taken over by supernatural entities—it isn’t enough to just be haunted, this place is filled with ghosts, vampires, and zombies. Stunning visual and special effects! If you have never heard of the hopping vampire films, a cult genre in China, this film pays homage to that, albeit with a much darker twist.
A Tale of Two Sisters
This movie is almost like a fairytale, a dark and disturbing fairytale with ghosts, that is. After spending time in a psychiatric hospital, a pair of sisters return home to a domineering and unbalanced stepmother. This is an excellent psychological horror film.
Aunt Mei is famous for her youth rejuvenating dumplings, but when an aging actress becomes obsessed with finding out the secret ingredient, things take a turn for the worse. Miriam Yeung as the aging actress has an especially memorable performance.
If you loved Parasite, you must check out all of Bong Joon Ho’s other movies, but especially this one. When her son is charged with the brutal murder of a woman, a mother takes on her on investigation, willing to do anything to prove that he’s innocent.
When Maya finds out that she might inherit a property from her estranged family, she travels with her friend Dina to a small, remote village. But any good horror fan knows that nothing comes without a cost. . . This one pulls out all the stops!
This 1998 South Korean film is the first entry in a series of supernatural horror narratives set at an all-girls boarding school. In this installment, a former student returns to teach, but soon dark secrets and memories bubble to the surface when another teacher is found dead.
Audra and her horror hound, Ouija, help manage the Ladies of Horror Fiction Instagram page. When not ghost hunting or rollerskating, she also contributes articles and helps maintain the website.
Toni is one of our LOHF Admins. Toni hosts the Ladies of Horror Fiction podcast, manages our guest posts, and oversees community outreach and communications for the LOHF team.