Frightening Creature Features for Summer

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That’s right y’all, Shark Week is back on in less than a month. But if you’re like me- you need some frightening creature features to get you through until then!


Shark Week... and Creature Features

Now I love watching episodes of Shark Week at night before bed- it’s like watching a slightly terrifying aquarium. Mr. Rochester luckily enjoys watching it too- it’s the only reason we have a TV in our room. Well, that and when I need to watch my comfort movie (The Fellowship of the Ring). 

Even though our relationship was built on lies (like when he said he LOVED Battlestar Galactica… and he had never watched it). Shark Week is the first thing we knew that we had in common. And what do you know? It was enough to make our marriage work.

I kid, I kid.

In a similar vein to Shark Week- I love frightening creature features- both film and books. Shark books are so great to bring to the beach, but there are so many other fun monster/creature books out there to enjoy beach or pool-side!

So for this list, I set a couple of rules:

No Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, Ghosts, or UFOs.

These are flesh-and-blood Earth creatures (some that have been created or… woken up) that will keep you engrossed until the last page!

Creature Feature Summer Picks!

Peter Benchley

I mean, what? Am I not supposed to include this one?

Benchley based this titular novel after the 1916 shark attacks in New England (see below for a non-fiction account.) While the novel isn’t as cinematic as the movie (I mean, obviously?) it’s still an exciting ride on the Orca as three men try to hunt down a great white that is terrorizing Amity Island.

Steve Alten

Okay, Steve Alten writes super-fun creature features. (Check out The Loch if you’d like a Loch Ness Monster book!) This one differs from the recent movie with Jason Statham and Li Bingbing which I think makes the movie more enjoyable for me.

Jonas Taylor, once a top-secret navy sub deep-sea pilot, lost his nerve after a harrowing dive where he saw a shark rise out of the Mariana trench. A reeeally big one. The Navy (of course) doesn’t believe him, and he becomes a laughing-stock. Years later, he’s approached by Masao Tanaka- he needs a deep-sea sub pilot for an urgent dive in the Mariana Trench. Seeking vindication, Jonas agrees to go… and well, the title says it all!

Stephen King

I was scared of dogs for years after reading this. Ask Alice and Anne- they were as surprised as I was when we got our puppy last year.

Cujo was a big, happy and loving Saint Bernard dog until he got bit by a bat and developed rabies. You will be scared. And then you will verify that your animals are up to date on their rabies shots.

Jack Warner

Oh man, you probably binge-watched The Tiger King on Netflix last year. It was such a train-wreck to watch. But before we all were exposed to “Hey all you cool cats and kittens”, this book explored the idea of what if… a bengal tiger escapes it’s captivity in a circus?

Katie Berry

Similar to The Meg- a once extinct monster is woken up by geological activities in Canada. Thought to be behind multiple horrific attacks in the town of (heh) Lawless, Christine and local authorities begin to hunt it down through the impenetrable fog.

Michael Crichton

I know, you’d probably expect me to recommend Jurassic Park as it’s the first of the two books. And I do, I really do.

But… I like this one better. There are still dinosaurs attacking right and left, but the story focuses around Ian Malcolm and his frenemy Richard Levine’s trip to Isla Sorna- InGen’s dirty little secret, where the dinosaurs were actually made. They’ve been loose for years now, reaching prehistoric-like equilibrium (theoretically- considering they’re man-made) making it a research trip like none other.

Jules Verne

I love this book. And don’t worry, there are sharks. 

I will say that this may not count as a traditional ‘frightening creature feature’- but the creatures are there. Professor Aronnax, his aide Conseil, and Ned Land (harpoonist) board the Edward Farragut to hunt a whale or leviathan that has been plaguing whaling ships. As their boat is attacked by the very same leviathan, the three are tossed from their boat and land on the whale- but it isn’t a whale, it’s a submarine vessel!

There they meet the enigmatic Captain Nemo and traverse the seven seas- seeing all the wonders of the sea along the way.

Theodore Taylor

Set in the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina (also known as the Powhatan Swamp), Samantha meets Chip Clewt who works in the nature preserve to tag bears. The hunting ban is set to expire, however- leading to a tense fight between the local hunters and the preservationists. 

Yann Martel

Okay, I don’t want to give too much away here. Suffice to say if you disagree that this is a creature-feature, I understand!

Pi’s family is immigrating to North America after selling their zoo. His family rides in the same boat as their previously owned zoo animals to make sure that they safely arrive to their new homes. But when a big storm sinks their ship, Pi finds himself alone on a lifeboat with their old 350 lb. tiger named Richard Parker. As they drift in the ocean for over 200 days, Pi has to rely on his ingenuity and wits to stay alive.

And Now For Some Frightening Non-Fiction Creature Features...

Alex Messenger

This is a crazy epic memoir about 17-year-old Alex- canoeing 600 miles in the Canadian wilderness and surviving a horrific attack by a grizzly bear. It’s a race against time as he and his friends tend his devastating wounds while trying to find help.

Doug Stanton

Going on with the Jaws theme, this is the real story of what Quint was relaying on the Orca. 

When the U.S.S. Indianapolis was torpedoed in 1945, 900 men fell into the water. They battled hypothermia, thirst,  dementia, and yes- shark attacks for nearly 4 days before rescue. Only 317 men survived- and this is their story.

Michael Capuzzo

So you like Jaws? Do you like it a lot? Do you like it enough to read the inspiration behind the story? If so- this is your book! Recounting the summer of 1916 where a lone great white shark leaves the deep ocean for the well-stocked (erm, populated) beaches of New Jersey.

More Fun Summer Reading:  Best Beach Reads for 2021

Frightening Creature Features FTW!

Okay yes, you know I love thrillers. But isn’t it just SO MUCH BETTER when you have a monster on the loose? (That isn’t human and doesn’t really keep you up at night…)


Who else is ready for the BEST. WEEK. OF. THE. YEAR?!?

Can’t wait to enjoy this year’s “Air Jaws”. 

What are your favorite creature feature recs? (Books or movies!)

– Jane

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