Small Town Horror (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Ryan's June 2024 pick (3 of 4)

About six months before this book was published, I was at a Horror convention chatting with Clay McLeod Chapman (Ghost Eaters, What Kind of Mother) when Ronald Malfi approached us to say hi to Clay. Immediately Clay began gushing enthusiastically about Small Town Horror, which he had just finished reading. As I watched, amused, Clay talked about the immersive nature of the book, the horrors within, the expertise of Malfi, the way he’s mastered the art of writing Chesapeake Bay Horror, and several more delicious compliments that I can no longer recall. It was delightful to watch, and in the back of my mind, I bumped Small Town Horror to the top of my To Be Read list. 

Now, having read it, I can confirm that everything Clay McLeod Chapman said about this book was true. 

In Small Town Horror, long-buried secrets push their way to the surface and crawl out to haunt the people who buried them. This novel is steeped in the briny waters of fear and regret. Small Town Horror pulls you into the sweltering terror of a curse come to collect. 

If you’re looking for a Southern Gothic with shades of Stephen King and Peter Straub, with characters you can’t help but love, with horrors that creep off the page and settle beneath your skin, look no further, you’ve found it. 

— From Ryan


Five childhood friends are forced to confront their own dark past as well as the curse placed upon them in this horror masterpiece from the bestselling author of Come with Me.

Maybe this is a ghost story…

Andrew Larimer has left his past behind. Rising up the ranks in a New York law firm, and with a heavily pregnant wife, he is settling into a new life far from Kingsport, the town in which he grew up. But when he receives a late-night phone call from an old friend, he has no choice but to return home.

Coming home means returning to his late father’s house, which has seen better days. It means lying to his wife. But it also means reuniting with his friends: Eric, now the town’s deputy sheriff; Dale, a real-estate mogul living in the shadow of a failed career; his childhood sweetheart Tig who never could escape town; and poor Meach, whose ravings about a curse upon the group have driven him to drugs and alcohol. 

Together, the five friends will have to confront the memories—and the horror—of a night, years ago, that changed everything for them. 

Because Andrew and his friends have a secret. A thing they have kept to themselves for twenty years. Something no one else should know. But the past is not dead, and Kingsport is a town with secrets of its own.

One dark secret...

One small-town horror...

About the Author

Ronald Malfi is the award-winning author of several horror novels, mysteries, and thrillers, including the bestselling horror novel Come with Me. He is the recipient of two Independent Publisher Book Awards, the Beverly Hills Book Award, the Vincent Preis Horror Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, and his novel Floating Staircase was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Maryland and tweets at @RonaldMalfi

Praise For…

"Ronald Malfi is a talented storyteller known for the quality of his writing and the way he brings an element of elegance to the genre, and Small Town Horror -  relentlessly creepy, unapologetically dark, and surprisingly heartfelt - might just be his best novel yet" 
-Locus Magazine

Malfi refreshes a familiar horror trope—the surfacing of a long-hidden secret—with nuanced characterizations and a genuinely surprising reveal.  Christopher Golden fans will be especially pleased.    -Publishers Weekly

"Malfi is horror’s Faulkner, and Small Town Horror might be his best novel yet. Stylish, dark, and with a haunting, salty atmosphere, this is a superb novel about how the ghosts of the past always dance with those of the present." Gabino Iglesias, Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson award-winning author of The Devil Takes You Home

"Small Town Horror blends the sunburnt southern noir of S.A. Cosby with the homespun haunts of Raymond Bradbury, creating a brackish blend of sin-ridden horror unlike anything else scuttling across bookshelves today. Ronald Malfi is the Bard of Chesapeake Bay gothic and the outright brine of this beautifully terrifying book will be steeped into your subconscious forever." Clay McLeod Chapman, author of What Kind of Mother and Ghost Eaters 

"An eerie and deeply unsettling horror epic with faint shadows of Peter Straub and Robert R. McCammon flickering at the periphery . . . Small Town Horror is the kind of masterful and deftly written horror fiction that makes me fall in love with the genre all over again." Eric LaRocca, Bram Stoker Award finalist, and author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke

"This isn’t only Malfi’s masterpiece, it’s a heroic swing at the Great American Novel, and will be nakedly terrifying to anyone who’s been a kid—and to anyone who’s grown up with regret. This is heavyweight horror, a total knockout." Daniel Kraus, New York Times bestseller and author of Whalefall

“Malfi is a masterful writer, a storyteller who has no interest in pulling punches or playing nice when it comes to his fiction, but Small Town Horror is a vicious, merciless assault; a relentless, passionate, nightmarish kaleidoscope of guilt and vengeance, witches and curses, murder and deception, with just enough supernatural mayhem to keep the whole thing feeling like a fever dream from hell. Buckle up kids, this is one you won’t soon forget.” – Philip Fracassi, author of Boys in the Valley

"With strokes of King and shades of Jackson, Malfi burns bright in Small Town Horror." Lindy Ryan, Bram Stoker Award-nominee and author of Cold Snap and Bless Your Heart

"Ronald Malfi is a gifted writer. You fear for his characters because they feel like people you know, ordinary people with dire secrets. Small Town Horror gives us broken people wrapped up in a past that won’t set them free, the kind of story Malfi has truly mastered. Nobody else can weave the kind of chilling, small-town horror story I grew up reading the way Malfi does. His writing is so strong and so of-the-moment that these horrors and fears tap into horror nostalgia while also feeling brand new. It’s some kind of magic trick, which makes Malfi one hell of a magician." Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of The House of Last Resort and Road of Bones

"Damaged characters, dark secrets, and traumatic histories swirl in this haunting and beautifully written tale of a grim past that refuses to stay buried. Ronald Malfi is fast becoming one of my favourite writers, and Small Town Horror cements his reputation as one of the best horror writers working today." Tim Lebbon, Among The Living

“As the Peter Straub of his generation, Ronald Malfi shines a poetic iridescence into the darkest corners of a speculative thriller, and Small Town Horror showcases the full range of his talent. Haunting, suspenseful, and just plain damn smart, it is everything Malfi fans have come to expect, cranked to full volume. People will be talking about this book all year.“ Rebecca Rowland, author of White Trash & Recycled Nightmares

Praise for Ghostwritten:

"It's no coincidence that there are four chambers to the human heart and Ronald Malfi's 'Ghostwritten', both bound by muscle and full of blood, but once this quartet of nightmarish novellas gets pumping, your own ticker is sure to stop."
Clay McLeod Chapman, author of 'Whisper Down the Lane'

"Malfi makes reading about the perils of reading a terrifying delight." 
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"A terrific horror novelist and his edge is just as sharp at novella length fiction also... beautifully crafted and a pleasure to read"
Ginger Nuts of Horror

"Malfi makes horror feel viscerally real by showing it to us through the eyes of his vividly described characters—if they are frightened, apprehensive, or just confused, so are we."

Praise for Black Mouth:

"Stunningly good, with echoes of King, Bradbury, Straub, and McCammon, but somehow purely Malfi. Full of malevolence and dread, and peopled by truly compelling characters, the book locks in Malfi’s place as one of the best writers in the genre.”
Christopher Golden, 'New York Times' bestselling author of 'Road of BONES' and 'Ararat'

"'Black Mouth' is good magic about dark magic: a powerful meeting between adulthood and childhood, the people we pretend to be and the people we have to be. Smart, character-driven horror."
Andrew Pyper, author of 'The Residence' and 'The Demonologist'

"Malfi has established himself as one of the all-time great horror writers, and 'Black Mouth' shows him working at the peak of his dark powers. Equally terrifying and heartbreaking, 'Black Mouth' is a book filled with terror, ghosts, and murder, but also hauntings of the heart, and the soul. Riveting, bloody, and cosmic, this novel will tear you apart in all the best ways.” 
Philip Fracassi, author of 'Beneath a Pale Sky'

"Malfi, like Stephen King and Stephen Graham Jones, tells horror stories that are anchored in the real world. His characters, like theirs, are ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. He earns his screams and shudders honestly, through good writing and careful plotting: there are no B-movie jump scares here, just an increasing sense of dread that erupts into blood-chilling horror. Don't miss this one."

“The well-done cosmic horror and mix of mundane and magical scares make this a standout.” 
'Publishers Weekly'

"From one of horror's best storytellers... If you’re looking for a good, unsettling, smart and well-written horror novel, 'Black Mouth' should certainly be on your short list. This is doubly true if you enjoyed Stephen King’s 'IT'."

"Expertly crafted and thoroughly engrossing, Black Mouth is a sure-fire contender for the book of 2022."
Bloody Flicks

Praise for Come with Me:

Malfi is a modern-day Algernon Blackwood... I'm gonna be talking about this book for years
JOSH MALERMAN, author of Bird Box

This is what it is to be transported: you might think you're on solid ground, but Come with Me is a story that will carry you, inescapably, into the uncanny, the horrific.
Andrew Pyper, author of The Residence 

Part mystery, part ghost story, Come with Me chimes with rare beauty and page-turning brilliance. I surrendered to it completely.
Rio Youers, author of Lola on Fire

A must-read for fans of Stephen King. Come with Me is so damn good, truly chilling and suspenseful, yet also hauntingly nuanced
Christopher Golden, author of Ararat

Come with Me is Malfi's masterwork – a haunting, heart-breaking novel about grief and secrets. Utterly engrossing and terrifying. Highly recommended!
Brian Keene, author of The Rising

Shines as both a nightmare journey of shadows and secrets, and a poignant testimony to love and loss. I read it in a single day because I had no other choice: it’s that damn good.
Richard Chizmar, author of Gwendy's Button Box

Malfi impresses in this taut, supernaturally tinged mystery... and sticks the landing with a powerful denouement. There’s plenty here to enjoy.
Publishers Weekly

Malfi artfully fits the reader’s head in a noose and s-l-o-w-l-y begins to take out the slack. Take a deep breath. You’ll need the oxygen
The Day

Ronald Malfi is a talented storyteller known for the quality of his writing and the way he brings an element of elegance to the genre, and Small Town Horror—relentlessly creepy, unapologetically dark, and surprisingly heartfelt—might just be his best novel yet—Locus Magazine
Product Details
ISBN: 9781803365657
ISBN-10: 180336565X
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 400
Language: English