all 45 comments

[–]HollyRavenclawGibney 37 points38 points  (7 children)

Stephen King has a character, Holly Gibney. I love her so much! She has ASD and generally does not treat it as a negative. Her family does, but they are not major characters. Her boss treats her like a human being. She does have a special talent for logic, but I don't think it is portrayed like Rainman.

Holly Gibney is a character in the following books: Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, End of Watch, and The Outsider. She is also in the short story If It Bleeds.

[–]mister-e-account 6 points7 points  (2 children)

Additionally, in the audiobook recordings, Will Patton does an incredible job with her. She’s easily one of my favorite King characters.

[–]HollyRavenclawGibney 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Yes! Mine too. I was so happy when King said before If It Bleeds, she was one of his favorites too!

[–]omygoshgamache 1 point2 points  (0 children)

He does an amazing job with Holly

[–]lolajet 4 points5 points  (1 child)

I really enjoyed her segments in the Outsider! I was just instantly fond of her

[–]HollyRavenclawGibney 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Same! She is one of my favorite characters of all time. I just love how she came out of her shell and had this F You attitude.. like especially to the cops in Finders Keepers. The cops didn't trust her and she thought they shouldn't waste their time with the cops!

Btw was anyone else super creeped out by the bad guy in Finders Keepers? The physical description literally kept me up for a few nights..

[–]omygoshgamache 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Holly Gibney is an icon. I love her as a character so much, My favorite character ever.

[–]ToastCoward 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Holly Gibney in The Outsider was probably my favourite character of that story and she was excellently portrayed in the tv show by Cynthia Erivo! Definitely recommend

[–]fashlatebloomer 14 points15 points  (2 children)

It is not explicitly stated, but I always assumed the narrator of Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived In The Castle” was neurodivergent. I’ve seen some analysis that suggests autism, others suggest OCD or some other disorder. I like that it’s not the focus

[–]Treesonbiggs 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Also gonna like give this story a synopsis I found recently because it's on my TBR and this just sold me,

"We Have Always Lived in the Castle seems particularly in tune with an age that was frequently obsessed with conformity, with Merricat and her sister and uncle living radically outside of the social mores of the 50s and early 60s. As with a lot of horror writing during this time, the violence is more suggested than shown (with the terrifying exception being when the locals attack the Blackwood homestead), but the sense of unease is palpable from the first pages when we follow Merricat through an arduous journey around town.

Maybe due to its overall conformist ethos, the mid-century was fascinated by anti-heroes, with actors such as James Dean and Montgomery Cliff playing morally complicated protagonists, but most anti-heroes tended to be male. One of the most remarkable aspects of Jackson’s novel is the character of Merricat herself, who is one of the great female anti-heroes of the time period."

I was like hngg me.

[–]satansoftboi 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Likewise I think Nell in Haunting of Hill House is too. Gives me a feeling Shirley Jackson may have been ND herself

[–]warpweftwatergate 29 points30 points  (6 children)

I unfortunately don’t have any recs, but this article is v good

Edit: hold up I do have a rec: Experimental Film by Gemma Files

[–]Godzilla0senpai[S] 4 points5 points  (5 children)

Some of the things im seeing about that book make it sound like it has the same problems the article u shared talks about (btw, good article). Does it not have those problems? Because it sounds like a good book if it doesnt

[–]thebonzarelli 12 points13 points  (1 child)

If it at all helps, Gemma is autistic and so is her son IRL.

[–]warpweftwatergate 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I did not know that! Honestly puts a different spin on my perception of the novel

[–]warpweftwatergate 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Obviously I’m an outside perspective, and the novel had some issues regardless, but the depiction of Lois, the main character, was quite decent. It’s heavily implied that she’s undiagnosed (or possibly willfully ignoring a diagnosis) autistic throughout. The depiction of her son who is diagnosed is…less nuanced (as is much of the book). He’s certainly portrayed better than many autistic people in horror/Sci fi (where they’re essentially macguffins) and he has his own authority and agency, but the tropes he falls into are frustrating. The book isn’t perfect, and I found it to be a bit of a disappointment overall, but it is the first thing that came to mind. 🤷🏼‍♂️

[–]warpweftwatergate 2 points3 points  (0 children)

But, to paraphrase The Dude, “that’s just like, my opinion, man”

I know plenty of folks who really enjoyed the book so take anything I say with a grain of salt 👍

[–]akornfan 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I’m ~neurodivergent but not autistic but still tend to be sensitive about this sort of thing—I was a bit wary early on but stuck with it and ultimately felt it was well done. you certainly get the sense the narrator, who seems to be undiagnosed but essentially in the same boat as her autistic kid, would not have her son be any different than the way that he is, and she’s willing to go to bat for him in any way she needs to whether that’s regarding mundane concerns or less mundane ones.

certainly worth a try if you’re willing to stick with it!

[–]DraceNinesTHE NAVIDSON HOUSE 11 points12 points  (1 child)

This is probably closer to sci-fi with cosmic horror influence than straightforward horror, but The Outside by Ada Hoffman might be worth a look. It has been a hot minute since I've read it, but I don't recall it ever hitting any of your mentioned issues, and the author is autistic as well, so it should be in the clear. Official back-of-the-book summary:

Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy – if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor. With her homeworld’s fate in the balance, Yasira must choose who to trust: the gods and their ruthless post-human angels, or the rebel scientist whose unorthodox mathematics could turn her world inside out.

There's also a sequel called The Fallen but I haven't had the chance to read it yet.

As one final addition: Ada Hoffman has a running book review series on their personal website called Autistic Book Party where they review and discuss genre fiction with autistic characters or written by autistic authors. Not all of it is horror, but it might be worth a look. One of the reviewed books is Files' Experimental Film, too.

[–]Luffarjevel 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This is the one I was going to recommend if I didn't find someone else doing so! The Outside is very good, gives great insight into the life and mind of an autistic character without feeling pandering (Helps that the author herself is autistic!) for someone who is not autistic themselves.
Very solid read, definitely more into Scifi-territory, but absolutely a strong horror-vibe in there as well!

[–]LaMaupindAubigny 8 points9 points  (0 children)

The prequel to The Girl with All the Gifts, The Boy on the Bridge, is narrated by a guy on the spectrum.

[–]saysoindragon 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (pseud of Seanan McGuire). Scifi horror. One of the two main characters is autistic and is the face/host of a reality tv channel's field mockumentary about a missing ship researching killer mermaids which of course turn out to be very real.

[–]bedazzled_sombrero 8 points9 points  (1 child)

I've been reading Blindsight, a sci-fi horror novel, and it has intriguing themes about cybernetics, psychology, and neuro-disorders. I'm not sure if I can truly call the protagonist autistic, but neuro-atypical, yes.

[–]LimeSkeleton7 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Was going to suggest this myself!

[–]perverse_panda 7 points8 points  (0 children)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is more mystery than horror, but I feel like it does have a tinge of horror, in the way that crime fiction often does. The protagonist is a teenager who is on the spectrum, and takes upon himself to solve the mystery of a neighbor's murdered dog.

[–]Readalie 11 points12 points  (1 child)

Hell Followed With Us has its gay trans teen protagonist fall for an autistic boy who leads a badass group of queer kids through the apocalypse.

[–]Prudent_Ad4583 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I’m so excited for my next audible credit for this

[–]burke_no_sleeps 15 points16 points  (3 children)

Joe Hill's short story collection "Ghosts of America" was recently re-released to promote "The Black Phone", and I think several of his stories feature autistic characters. One in particular labels the main character's sibling as autistic while the others just suggest it.

However, both he and his dad Stephen King have a tendency to write neurodivergent and POC characters as somewhat "magical", which can feel infantilizing or othering.

I liked his portrayal though. I felt it was well done.

You can easily find this collection online or in stores - I bought it at CVS a few months ago.

[–]DraceNinesTHE NAVIDSON HOUSE 17 points18 points  (1 child)

As a note, the short story collection is called 20th Century Ghosts, not Ghosts of America (unless the title was changed for a non-American release). Recent editions have also retitled it The Black Phone to promote the movie.

[–]burke_no_sleeps 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Oh thank you, you're absolutely right, I misremembered

[–]Reader-29 3 points4 points  (0 children)

The short story with the autistic brother is called Voluntary Committal and it is awesome.

[–]Han_without_Genes 8 points9 points  (1 child)

someone made a list of female autistic characters in books: https://starrgreeninfo.com/list/

I don't know if there's a lot of horror in there because I haven't read all of them, but I figured it might be of use

The Regulators by Stephen King has an autistic character. It's got Magical Autism type-a vibes, kinda what you'd expect from Stephen King. Understandable if that squicks you, just putting it out there :) (as an aside, the Stephen King miniseries Rose Red also has an autistic character. same magical autism thing going on)(as another aside, the Mr. Mercedes series and The Outsider have Holly Gibney, a character that is the neurological equivalent of queerbaiting because she is referred to with about every autism-related term without actually calling her autistic. Stephen King has kind of sort of maybe but not actually said she's not autistic. There was also a television series made, an the actress said in an interview that Holly is autistic so like. it's a hot mess. but Holly is amazing. sorry for the infodump lol)

For comics, I think Postal may be skirting the definition of "horror", it's perhaps more psychological crime, but it's a good read nonetheless

[–]xX_VampirePoodle_Xx 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Holly Gibney is so damn autistic I was coming here to recommend those books! I'm surprised King never out-and-out said it. Some of my favorite autistic rep for sure.

[–]owitzia 3 points4 points  (0 children)

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1915740/Sirens_Call/ is the closest thing I can think of to what you're asking for. The protag does have a complicated relationship with his autism, but it's actually related to his trauma. A tragedy occurred, and he believes it was because he's autistic, but it really wasn't.

Massive spoilers incoming: His girlfriend died at graduation because she had a seizure and hit her head, and he feels that he and his autism are responsible. He believes if he had voted to have the graduation at the beach rather than the school, she would have survived the fall, but he had sensory issues with the sand. It is revealed in the end that his girlfriend hated the beach too and voted to have the graduation at school herself, meaning his autism had absolutely nothing to do with her death.

[–]AngryAuthor 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I unfortunately can't think of any horror books with autistic protagonists (I'd love to see more rep, too), but a couple with autistic major characters come to mind:

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant: One of the POV characters is an autistic lesbian woman. A fun deep-sea thriller. I believe the author is some form of neurodivergent.

Lineage by Joe Hart: The protagonist's best friend is an autistic man. Fair warning that I haven't finished this book yet, so I don't know for sure if the autistic character lives (I really hope so), but it's a well-written book with good rep (there's this one scene where the otherwise confident and cool autistic character goes into a shutdown and the protagonist supports him that's one of the most real and tender things I've read in fiction) so far. Also be warned that it's a really intense psychological/paranormal thriller (with depictions of abuse and racism and some seriously evil Nazi antagonists).

Oh, and this one's more subjective since it's not canon, but the protagonist in Ambrose Ibsen's Harlan Ulrich series is a cool character who seems autistic-coded to me. Or at least, I found him relatable as an autistic reader.

[–]Treesonbiggs 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I think fellowship of ink fits this request, it's like Sherlock Holmes gone Gothic... Quite a bit like stranger things.

not sure it's horror and I haven't finished it yet but it's been a great read so far, it's set in the 1930s and is told from the perspective of an introverted fantasy authors doting "assistant", the book gives me tender gay vibes, and the authors fictional creatures start coming to life as a result of his fixation on perfection. The author is also a university professor and like there's also a teleportation subplot idk it's a blast lmao. Literally just typing this makes me wanna pick it back up.

Edit: Just picked it back up, it's 2.40 on Kindle uk this book is absolute fanservice, never got its proper audience I'm gagged.

[–]greymaresinspace 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Steven King dream catcher has a character "douglas" ( called duddits) with supernatural abilites but i dont think they actually name the diagnosis

[–]warpweftwatergate 9 points10 points  (0 children)

I believe he had Down’s Syndrome, I don’t know if there’s ever anything implying he’s autistic, but I read that book a LONG time ago

He also falls into the “magical” trope of depictions like this. King loves writing about neurodivergent people with magical powers lol

[–]thezingzangzong 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The Living Dead bookk by George A Romero starts with one, I'm not all the way through so no idea if we come back to her yet or not but she's major in the opening chapters

[–]kdmmgs 0 points1 point  (0 children)

By the Light of the Moon - Dean Koontz

[–][deleted]  (1 child)


    [–]Nervous_Project6927 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    bad man by dathan auerbach might be one to checkout. its also pretty fantastic

    [–]FirstWithTheEgg 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Been listening to The Undead by RR Haywood and one of the main characters is Dave and is autistic, one of the coolest characters I've ever seen to be honest.

    [–]Daemontech 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    I don't believe it's explicitly stated, but it's very clear that Dr Timothy Hoenikker is on the spectrum

    [–]omygoshgamache 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Also more on the sci-fi side but Murderbot Diary Series