With Halloween right around the corner, you might be looking for a few good books to enjoy during this spooky holiday. I love this time of the year, not only because you can get away with wearing scarily dressed costumes but also because you can really get under the skin of all things creepy and kooky with some fabulous novels.
Best Halloween Books To Read!
Finding the right read might be quite the task with so many books out there on the market. Don’t worry though, I got your back! I have compiled a list of 15 books to read this Halloween that is sure to put goosebumps on your hand and also keep you up at night! So, sit back (or turn up the lights) and read the scariest books of all time.
1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I’m quite certain that it wouldn’t be a literary Halloween without a book by Shirley Jackson. And, when in doubt, I always opt for We Have Always Lived in the Castle. “We have always lived in the castle,” begins with the tale of two mysterious sisters, Merricat and Constance. The chilling tale begins with Merricat saying, “I am convinced there are men who enter some houses as you might carry off a leaf or a bit of loose change.” Her older sister, Constance, killed her family, and now the two sisters live independently–except for Uncle Julian, who sometimes visits.
Jackson’s depiction of the Blackwood family, particularly the horror which they live with, is fascinating because it presents something of a sociopath of someone who does not realize how their actions affect those around them. There’s no question that Shirley Jackson’s debut novel is considered a modern classic of horror fiction. However, I think it is also an excellent example of the gothic genre, not just for the last few pages. You can get the book here! 📖
2. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is a celebration of all things that scream Halloween. Mara Dyer fears her sanity in the wake of her father’s death. She sees people that aren’t there and hears voices on the radio. She’s haunted by strange visions and bad dreams whenever she falls asleep. She can’t stand to be touched by anyone except for her brother, Daniel. But Mara isn’t crazy.
Her visions are all too real—visions that tell the future, and they say that something terrible is coming for her, someone or something that she should stay away from at all. In an effort to start a new life, Mara flees from her home in Florida to Ohio with her mother and brother. Her demons have followed her, and soon after she lands there, she finds herself being pursued by a mysterious boy named Noah Shaw, and he’s just as dark and twisted as Mara’s future-self promises. You can get the book here! 📖
3. Little by Edward Carey
Are you a fan of a good read on a scary evening? If so, Edward Carey’s book is a great choice. This text features two main characters from opposite ends of the class spectrum, who begin their lives in Jamestown, Virginia, in the 17th century. Little tells the story of how children were involved in early colonial America. The main character is a young girl named Marie Armante who has to flee her home after being falsely accused of theft by her brother-in-law.
She’s on the run when she meets many people during her journey through Paris, including two philanthropists, Madame Tussaud and Philippe Curtius, Marie’s escape from prison before escaping to London, where she turns into one of the most famous wax figures there. I found this book fascinating to read. It was an amusing, often satirical take on the tale of Josephine Trossen, who was taken in by royal benefactors, imprisoned after the revolution, almost killed, and then rose again to become the creator of the most famous wax museum in the world. You can get the book here! 📖
4. Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
If you’re looking for a creepy read for this Halloween, this review of Daughter of the Burning City is for you. Our lives are filled with stories. They can be big or small. They can come to us, or we need to seek them out, but one thing is for certain: they are all special. They need to be celebrated. And that’s exactly what Amanda Foody does in her book, Daughter of the Burning City, where she beautifully blurs boundaries between fantastical worlds and harsh reality. Her words carry you on a journey of magnificent imagination, sizzling romance, and even the darker themes that lurk just below the surface of our seemingly innocent reality. You can get the book here! 📖
5. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
I read House of Leaves last Halloween. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t influence my decisions to decorate for Halloween, cook food for my friends, and even try to scare my guests. A great example of metafiction, this novel plays with the idea of a story within a story. The house itself is the embodiment of this metafictional conceit in a very exciting way for me as a reader. The actual story in the novel also reflects the playfulness in its writing, involving layers upon layers of detail and mystery about a family who moves from Virginia to Los Angeles after the father, Will Navidson, returns from a trip with photographs that seem to show that their house has grown in size. You can get the book here! 📖
6. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
This novel was my favorite Halloween read of the year, and although ghost stories are not my favorite, I found this haunting one to be the most spookiest. The Haunting of Hill House is a classic piece of literature that still haunts audiences today. It’s a complex piece filled with dark imagery and emotionality. The Haunting of Hill House is a gothic-style tale about a woman who tends to her psoriatic mother.
She and her four siblings grew up living in a house that is haunted by a figure that they call “The Bent-Neck Lady.” Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been described as “totally cosmic, man” and “one of the three or four most frightening novels I have ever read.” One of the most famous haunted house stories in American literature, it has also been called the archetypal haunted house story to this day. You can get the book here! 📖
7. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes is a charming novel that should be read any time of the year, but particularly on Halloween. Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is a great example of an allegory masterpiece. It’s so full of meaning and metaphors and can be interpreted in so many ways and still retain the core of the major concepts. The story is about two friends, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, who find themselves under attack from some kind of evil force.
They set out to find out what’s going on as Bradbury pulls you into his twisted vision of reality as he tells his story. The themes throughout ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ are that the battle of good versus evil is eternal, and humans will forever be under attack by those dark forces which force them to walk a fine line between the light and the dark areas of their lives. You can get the book here! 📖
8. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
This classic is a little different from the other books you might have read. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a book made up of short stories that will give you the chills and make you wet your pants! Oh yes, you read that right. I remember reading these goosebumps-inducing stories time and time again, and my most hated story was The Red Spot. I have a feeling you may have had a similar reaction! Alvin Schwartz was a master at preying on the fears of children. But as an adult, what you might find even scarier is how horrifyingly real some of these stories are. It’s the perfect way to be prepared for those inevitable trick-or-treaters at your door this Halloween. You can get the book here! 📖
9. The Shining by Stephen King
In what has been hailed as the masterpiece of his career, Stephen King not only creates a supernatural thriller of terror and suspense but also raises provocative questions about the very roots of horror in this world. His epic novel The Shining tells the story of Jack Torrance, an alcoholic struggling writer who takes a job as a caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. The book follows the story of a family that has relocated and had issues with their son, Danny, prior to moving.
Moving into an offbeat hotel that’s closed for the winter just seems like the icing on the cake. As Jack settles into the hotel for the winter, Jack’s son Danny – who possesses “The Shining” – begins to see ominous visions of ghosts and the previous caretaker of the hotel. There’s a lot going on in The Shining–an epic battle of both wits and wills between two men. It also gives us a chance to have a glimpse of what it was like to live at the Overlook Hotel as it closed down for winter. You can get the book here! 📖
10. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This book is one of the most renowned thrillers of all time by the queen of mystery herself. Ten people get invited to a mansion near Devon’s island, but the host himself is not present. The guests have no connection to each other, though they all have dark secrets in their pasts. Soon, the curtains are pulled, and the secrets get revealed. And everyone gets punished for their doings. The whole story revolves around a nursery rhyme that is hung inside the mansion. As you delve into this story, the dark and creepy atmosphere of this island will start to haunt your soul. It will keep you hooked till the very last line for one simple answer – Who choreographed this spine-chilling tale? You can get the book here! 📖
11. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, is a non-fiction novel about the murder of a family in rural Holcomb, Kansas. Capote has been heralded as the father of the modern true crime genre for this book. And while In Cold Blood might be a work of “non-fiction”, it’s a truly gripping book that reads like a mystery novel. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood describes the events, via journalistic narration, leading up to November 15, 1959, murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas.
Capote tells the story through individual interviews with many of the townsfolk involved. The story follows the murder of a farming family in Holcomb, Kansas, and the subsequent investigation and trial. It is told by a series of different narrators, starting with the local sheriff and ending with Alvin Dewey, an investigator from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). You can get the book here! 📖
12. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
If you’re a fan of books that give you the chills, then Never Let Me Go is a must-read for this Halloween. This book will have you thinking about your life and what your purpose is. Your head will be spinning from trying to comprehend the meaning of the book even after it’s finished. It’s an unimaginable yet fascinating story of three friends growing up in a boarding school where they volunteer to be donors/carers for other organs within the same bodies.
The children don’t know what they are doing, and the individuals who they donate to live for between three and five years before “release” at which point all their internal organs are recycled, and they die. The story starts with the narrator and proceeds backward and forward through time dialogue and flashbacks. Not a happy or laid-back sentimental book, but one you’ll read in one sitting. You can get the book here! 📖
13. White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
Oyeyemi is a believer in the sheer unadulterated power of storytelling. This is never more evident than it is in White Is for Witching, where, for the first time in her writing, she allows herself to drift completely away from realism or at least realism as most people regard it. White is for Witching uses a thesis of a “ghost story” to explore the place of the immigrant in England.
The novel follows Miranda, a young girl from Nigeria, who moves with her mother and brother to a large Gothic house on the coast of England. While Miranda struggles to adjust to her new life, she also tries to understand why her brother has been sent away from the house and has been placed in a “special school” for troubled children. This book is so good and scary that it will make you think about it for weeks after reading it. You can get the book here! 📖
14. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
If you want to feel nostalgic and read a middle grad spooky read, then Coraline will be perfect for you. Neil Gaiman‘s brilliant writing feels equally appealing to kids as well as adults. Little Coraline is brave, adventurous, curious, and independent. After moving into a new place with her parents, she finds one weird door that has only a brick wall on the other side. But one rainy day, out of boredom, she unlocks the door to find a passage to another world just like her own.
There is even another mother and another father who provides her with everything that is missing from her life. But they have buttons sewn over their eyes, and they want Coraline to live with them as their daughter. As she returns to her new home, she realizes things are not the same as before. Now, she has to gather all her courage to save herself and her family from this creepy world. In spite of being spooky, this book is widely appealing to all kids around the globe. You can get the book here! 📖
15. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
A story from 1800 that portrays how women’s mental health was treated merely like hysteria. This story is a claustrophobic depiction of a woman’s psychological battle. In spite of being a doctor and a “rational husband”, John doesn’t help his wife Jane to overcome her postpartum depression. Instead, he keeps her inside a room and advises her only to sleep. Her husband is a perfect mirror of the patronizing society that neglects her and dismisses any activity that she likes to do.
The story is written in the form of passages from Jane’s journal. While being suffocated inside a room with her mental illness, Jane starts to lose her grip on reality. She describes the yellow wallpaper in her room as a mystery that she cannot solve. She imagines someone being trapped under it, and this obsession descends her towards insanity. Though it is not a ghost story, it is a story of horror, which will give you a spine-chilling yet thought-provoking experience. You can get the book here! 📖
There are plenty of spooky events, haunted houses, and scary costumes to go around. But if you’re looking for something more than than than that, then give one or two of these books a read. I’ve included both classics and newer titles below to satisfy all tastes, even the pickiest Halloween bibliophile.
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