Maryanne M. Wells
Law school is hell, and Maryanne M. Wells takes that statement literally in her Undead Bar Association novels. The first in the series, Matriculated Death, follows two women as they study hard by day and deal with ghosts and vampires in the law school library by night. Part Harry Potter, part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s grand pulp series with a legal spin that is worth sinking your teeth into.
Fans of Lovecraftian horror will definitely get a kick out of Amanda Downum. Her novel Dreams of Shreds & Tatters is a chilling walk through a nightmare landscape. A young woman travels thousands of miles to help a friend who has fallen into a strange coma, only to find the world of dreams and waking is disintegrating around them. It’s a dense book written in a very classic weird tale style that can be hard to follow for readers not used to the genre, but if you put the effort in it’s totally worth it.
Anna L. Davis
If you lean more science fiction, then check out Anna L. Davis’ novel Open Source. It’s a cyberpunk story about a grisly murder with the only witness being a man who refuses to be microchipped like the rest of the world. It’s an admittedly tropey work, but Davis wields all the tools expertly. Best yet for horror fans, it’s full of gore, zombies, voodoo, and other things that make the book far closer to horror than most works in the genre. Being a book, it’s also a lot less glitchy than the last cyberpunk thing you probably tried to experience.
E. M. Markoff
This one is slightly cheating as Markoff now lives in California, but she used to live in Austin. I ran across her during another disaster, the Camp Fire in the Golden State where she published a remarkable horror anthology to raise money for the victims. She’s also a fantastic horror fantasist, and you should check out her novel The Deadbringer. It’s your typical Chosen One story set in a sword and sorcery world, but Markoff is a mistress of the macabre so it’s quite a bit scarier than your average fantasy novel. That’s to be expected when your main character can raise the dead.
Last on the list is Tonia Ransom’s chilling novella Risen. An ER doctor is shocked to discover that she has been raised from the dead to do the bidding of an evil magician, and Ransom’s gift for dry, clinical prose makes the whole process incredibly visceral and frightening. It’s a deeply compelling short work about a scientific mind examining the intricacies of death from the other side, all while in the midst of a hideous resurrection tale. It’s enough to take anyone’s mind off the horrors outside our windows right now.