Okay, so it’s Halloween month, and you’re looking for some bone-chilling reads, right? I’ve got you covered! Here are some of my absolute favorite spooky reads, listed in alphabetical order by author. They span genres and ages, so there should be something for everyone!
This is Our Story by Ashley Elston is a book that I gobbled up in two days flat. It’s a mystery that’ll leave you guessing right up until the end. Five boys, all friends, went into the woods one day, but only four of them came out alive. The fifth? In a body bag. It’s also formatted in a really fun way (most of the chapters are third person POV, but there’s a first person POV that leaves you guessing since no one is named) that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman is just one of my favorite children’s books ever. It’s just as creepy as the film, so buckle yourself in if you’re going to give it a look. And if you haven’t seen the film, this follows a little girl named Coraline who’s recently been forced into a move to a dreary old house with bizarre neighbors. She takes up dowsing, skulking through the fog, and talking to a cat to pass the time until she finds a secret door that leads to an alternate universe.
Obviously, if I have to pick only one Joe Hill to put on this list (shhh I know there’s two), it’s got to be Horns. It’s weird. It’s creepy as heck at times. And it’s hilarious. If you don’t believe me, watch the movie. It’s got Daniel Radcliffe! When Ignatius (I KNOW) wakes up with horns growing out of his head, he thinks it makes sense. He’s responsible for his girlfriend’s untimely death, after all, so he deserves to be made into a devil. The thing he’s not expecting is this bizarre side effect of how everyone starts acting around him.
Yes, I am putting two Joe Hill’s on this list! I want to put all the Joe Hill’s, so be relieved there are only two. Welcome to Lovecraft, illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez, is not only the start of a wonderful, spooky, and riveting tale, but it’s also being made into a Netflix series, so get your butt in gear and get reading! This graphic novel series follows three kids, who have just moved into their old family house in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. When they start discovering keys around the house that do strange things, like open up their heads so they can rummage around in their memories, they think maybe moving won’t be so bad.
Don’t even come near me, Zebulon Finch, or I will smother you with love. The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch by Daniel Kraus is one of those books that people are going to look at me when they hear that I am obsessed with, but y’all, I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS BOOK. Holy moly, I love this little undead asshole so much, it’s not even funny. TW for extreme body horror, gore, and general awfulness. Seriously, this book is ugly, but it’s also perfect for Halloween because, you know, living dead boy. After Zebulon is shot at age 16 and subsequently drowned in a lake, he thinks that’s it. Lights out. Naw. Give or take a few torturous days, and he’s back to normal. Oh, and he’s dead.
Look, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I think about Mr. Morningside’s backward feet, and I just want to die a little. House of Furies by Madeleine Roux is creepy af, and if the covers hadn’t already convinced you of that, well I don’t know what to tell you. The trilogy follows Louisa as she embarks upon Coldthistle House, where murderers are drawn into the clutches of the actual Devil and then done away with by his very capable, very creepy staff.
Is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley arguably one of the best spooky reads ever? Without a doubt. Is it also the first ever science fiction novel, and sparked the horror genre as a thing in and of itself? GUYS READ THIS BOOK. It’s creepy af, it’s got some seriously questionable morals, and it’s fantastic! Plus, who doesn’t love a good mad scientists creates man in his image and it all goes wrong kind of story?
Let me start with this: this book is only mildly scary, but it will make you laugh to death. The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart has a creepier cover than it does story, but imagine it’s the 80s, and you’ll end up loving this. It follows four (five?) teens who sacrificed their loneliest desires into a box when they were young, and who are being drawn back to it now that it’s been disturbed. My favorite character is Arkle, and I just want you to prepare yourself now for how absolutely absurd he is. (You still won’t be prepared enough.)
Ohhhhhhh man, let me tell you about Bad Call by Stephen Wallenfels. Next year, when I write this list, I’m going to be hard pressed to choose between this and Deadfall, and I haven’t even read that yet. I read this in one sitting, absolutely glued to the pages. When four teens go hiking in the woods, they’re ill-prepared for both the violent snowstorm that descends on them and the animosity that has been building between them.
The only other classic I have on this list is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde because no film adaptation ever prepared me for how truly creepy this book is. Like sure, they do it pretty well, but Dorian Gray probably would have been a serial killer given the opportunity, and that is never conveyed in any films. He’s already creepy for being so beautiful that his portrait ages and he does not, but then all the added stuff he does? Someone lock him up.