I love Halloween. There’s something deliciously fun about embracing all things dark, eerie, creepy, and mysterious. And around this time of year, when darkness comes early, and dead leaves skitter across the road on the breath of a sharp wind, there is little I love more than snuggling up with a spooky story.
With Halloween fast approaching, here are some of my favorite books (in no particular order) to put you in the most macabre of moods….
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. Set in rural Vermont, this spine-tingling page-turner has it all: missing children, town legends, the raising of the dead, and a super creepy ghost.
The 13th Tale by Diane Setterfield. The perfect Gothic tale for rainy night reading. A young woman joins an eccentric old writer at her English estate and begins to uncover secrets from the past. As if that wasn’t enough, there are creepy twins and lots of dreary weather.
Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley. Not a ghost story, but this YA novel is freaky as hell. A girl is kidnapped from summer camp. When she shows up at home three years later, she remembers nothing of what happened to her… but her other personalities do. Not an accurate portrayal of dissociative identity disorder, but a super creepy thriller that kept me up at night.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl. This one is like the American Horror Story of novels: a pull-out-all-the-stops, creepy for creepiness sake, smorgasbord of Hollywood horror. A fun house of a book to make your heart race and your fingers flip eagerly to the next page. (See my review on Burlesque Press.)
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. If you prefer your ghost stories to include some romance, this one is for you. Not as creepy as the others on this list, but very interesting and beautifully-written. I’ve never read a ghost story quite like it.
Wait ‘Til Helen Comes by Mary Dawning Hahn. This middle-grade novel was my absolute favorite in elementary school, and it still raises the hairs on the back of my neck. When her family moves into a converted church in the country, twelve-year-old Molly is afraid of the adjoining graveyard. But her younger step-sister seems strangely drawn to it… and claims to have made friends with one of its residents.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. In her now-classic novel, Anne Rice rejuvenated the myth of the seductive vampire. A compelling, dark, and atmospheric tale of a tormented soul.
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link. If you prefer your scary stories to be sprinkled with humor, magic, and fairy-tale-like whimsy, this is the short story collection for you. In the first story, “The Wrong Grave,” Miles tries to dig up his dead girlfriend to recover the poems he buried with her, except he picks the wrong grave (a mistake anyone could make, he says). Things only get crazier from there…
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. In this classic Gothic romance a young woman is haunted by the memory of her husband’s first wife. A psychological tale of horror and suspense, you’ll never forget Mrs. deWinter, the sinister Mrs. Danvers, or their manor home of Manderley.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. By now everyone should have read Gone Girl, so if you’re hankering for more by Gillian Flynn, try this intensely gripping crime thriller. But be warned: if satanic sacrifice and gory murder disturbs you, you may want to stay away from Dark Places.