11 Scary Books To Read For Halloween

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:

Unknown-5Salem’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.

Unknown-10The 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.

Unknown-7Hell 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.

Unknown-1The 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.

Unknown-6House 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.

Unknown-2Slasher 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).

Unknown-4The 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?

Haunted Houses

Photo credit: RJS Photography

Photo credit: RJS Photography

Going to haunted houses is one of my favorite things ever.  I wait all year for Halloween season.  In years past, I’ve had more or less friends willing to go with me.  When I first met my husband, he wasn’t “into” Halloween, but as time has gone on, he’s gotten more and more excited about it with me.

Last night we went to Nightfall at Old Tucson Studios.  By day, Old Tucson Studios is town that’s appeared as a set in many movies, such as The Quick and the Dead, Rio Bravo, and the Outlaw and Josie Wales.

It’s a perfect place for creepiness, and they did a great job.  They had a lot of different monsters circulating, and didn’t just rely on the typical chainsaw stuff.  They had a gnombie, a bad rabbit, and a really tall creature, among others.  There were three houses: Revenge of the Blood Witch, The Mine Shaft, and Dia De Los Muertos.  Although Revenge of the Blood Witch was the scariest with the best scary effects, my favorite house was Dia De Los Muertos.  We liked it so much that we did it twice.  It was all neon with black lights and they played mariachi music as we walked through various rooms with a dead mariachi band and sugar skulls.  This is a great bargain for people living in Arizona who love Halloween.

In previous years, I’ve enjoyed 13th Floor, Arizona Scream Park, and the Crypt.  I’m going to give the Chamber of Fear a try this year.  The only local attraction I don’t like is the Nest.  Lots of people love it, but I find it overpriced and lame.  If you can only do one thing this year, I’d recommend either Nightfall or Arizona Scream Park.  They both give you a nice bang for your buck, and you can spend a few hours enjoying either one.

‘Tis the Season… To Be Frightened!

Halloween season is back!  For me, it’s a month-long celebration with decorating and finding the best haunted houses.  Arizona has been rather disappointing in the haunted house department.  I found one last year that was fun, but not particularly frightening.

I’m pretty psyched that this year, AZ has one that’s made the list.  It’s called 13th floor, and I can’t wait to try it out.

This year, I’m going back East to Pennsylvania so that I can more fully enjoy the season.  I’m hitting my perennial favorite: Shocktoberfest in Sinking Spring.  I’m also going to try Eastern State Penitentiary.  I’ve been there for a daytime tour, and it was pretty creepy then.  I have high hopes for the Halloween tour.

I’ve included a couple lists to help you find your own Halloween adventure.



Fear and Haunting in Arizona

I went to a haunted house with a couple of friends last night.  It’s called the Crypt, in Mesa AZ, and it was pretty good.  Good scenes, good jump factor.  I’d recommend it for someone who wants something scary, but not too scary.  I’m off track, though.  One of my best friends doesn’t like anything scary.  She only likes romance novels and romance movies (how did we get to be friends?).  So, when I suggested a haunted house, and she agreed, I didn’t think anything of it.  I’m pretty blase when it comes to scary stuff.  I mean, my husband and I laugh at horror movies.  I’ve been pretty disappointed by most movies that are supposed to be scary.  She was really scared though, and it got me to thinking about fear.

I’m not afraid of much.  Mostly, I’m afraid of things I can’t see.  The dark really scares me because of what could be there.  I live in a neighborhood in Arizona, and it’s never dark in my neighborhood.  Back in Pennsylvania, I lived in a pretty rural neighborhood, and when the lights were out, it was DARK.  I remember getting home after dark, heart pounding, eyes scanning the darkness, jumping at every little noise– the stuff of real nightmares.

I kind of miss that fear.  I miss that pulse jumping feeling.  Maybe it doesn’t feel great at the time, but it always made me feel alive.  That’s why I keep watching scary movies and reading scary books.  I want to recapture that feeling of being safely scared.  Of knowing that there’s a monster out there, but that it doesn’t really want to eat me.

Maybe that’s why I prefer psychological horror these days.  Psychological horror is not about a monster I can see, but a monster that could be out there.  Something that could be lurking in the darkness.  It’s the possibility of fear that I’m addicted to.

What are you afraid of?