Halloween is my favorite holiday, hands down. I love dressing up and playing around. I love handing out candy. I love horror movies and scary books.
I was looking back and realized I’ve never done a Halloween book list. How is that even possible?
I have no idea, but I’m fixing it now.
In no particular order, 11 fun and scary books:
‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King
This is classic vampire horror set in a claustrophobically small town. As more people become vampires, a small group needs to figure out how to survive. The body count is high and the vampires are nasty. If you’ve never read it, it’s held up to the test of time pretty well.
The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
It’s a terrifying story about a haunted house, and demonstrates beautifully how an author can use a reader’s imagination against them.
Rebecca, by Daphne duMarier
It’s a classic for a reason. The unnamed narrator is stuck in a creepy house with the shadow of her husband dead first wife and a housekeeper who hates her. What really happened to Rebecca?
Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris
The Silence of the Lambs gets more love, but I found the first novel in the series to be the creepiest. A serial killer is killing families, and Will Graham has come out of retirement to hunt him. Alternating between Graham’s point of view and the serial killer’s, the book ups the tension until the terrifying climax.
Hell House, by Richard Matheson
This book combines two of my favorite things, haunted houses and psychological horror. Not only do people go into this house voluntarily to investigate creepy things, but the house begins to attack their sanity.
The Girl From the Well, by Rin Chupeco (YA)
Okiku is a restless spirit who kills people who kill children. She’s single-minded and perpetually furious. But then she meets Tark, a teenaged boy whose body contains a barely contained evil spirit. Okiku decides to help him fight this spirit contained inside him. This is more creepy than terrifying, but it is fantastic.
House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski
Reading this book is a serious commitment. Not only does it clock in at 705 pages, but it’s also got footnotes, pages that need to be turned to be read, and other weird things. It’s a crazy story of a guy who finds a manuscript referring to a haunted house that gets larger than it should be, and what happened to a family who tried to investigate their new house. The manuscript says it really happened, but as Johnny tries to find out more about if the haunted house really existed, he becomes more obsessed with the manuscript and begins to lose his mind. It’s crazy and creepy and a fantastic reading experience.
Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, edited by April Genevieve Tucholke (YA)
It’s a YA anthology of short stories. Many of the stories are creepy and pull zero punches. It’s good, solid horror that runs the gamut from bloody to psychological (and some of the best stories had both).
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black (YA)
When Tana wakes up after a party, she finds everyone there dead except for a chained up vampire and her ex-boyfriend (who’s been bitten). For reasons she can’t even fully understand, she rescues them both and takes them to Coldtown, where vampires have been quarantined. The vampires there have their own TV show, and while the present a glamorous, sexy face to the world, the truth is that their world is just as bloody and terrible as you’d expect from a bunch of vampires.
And the Trees Crept In, by Dawn Kurtagich (YA)
Like House of Leaves, this is another book written in an odd style, with journal entries and odd formatting. When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s house, all they know is that they were fleeing from their abusive father. They didn’t know that the house was cursed or their aunt was crazy. After their aunt retreats to the attic, Silla and Nori try to keep the land going, but nothing grows. And the trees are creeping closer. It’s magnificently creepy, especially if you live surrounded by trees, as I do.
The Mask, by Dean Koontz
When Jane ran out in front of Carol’s car and had no memory of where she came from, Carol and Paul immediately feel connected to her, and take her in. But as strange things begin happening, they realize that maybe there’s more to Jane than they originally thought.
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list. I could do an entire list of just Stephen King books. And I left off all the classics, like Dracula and Frankenstein because those are too obvious.
What are your favorite scary books?