Double double, toil and trouble! Today is Halloween, when the supernatural and the paranormal hover on the periphery of our world. However you celebrate, there are plenty of literary works to get you in the spooky mood.
Because it’s Halloween, and because I am being over-the-top with this post, I’m offering up an unlucky 13 recommendations for some truly haunted reading. Some are classics, some are modern. Some are truly creepy, and others are fun. Some are short stories and some span entire series. So pick one at random and see if you like it! After all, isn’t Halloween about finding out if you’ve received a treat or a trick?
- “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe
Poe was the master of frightening tales. This short story about a man holding a longtime grudge will leave you with the hairs on the back of your neck standing up and a shiver on your spine.
- Goosebumps by R. L. Stein
These thrillers-for-kids terrified me as a child, but if a good scare is what you’re after, pick any of these quick reads to be transported to a world of mummies, werewolves, ghosts, and more.
- “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving
In the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow (a real place! I live nearby!) there is a ghost of a headless horseman who makes a nightly ride through the town. Ichabod Crane is a mild-mannered school teacher who is in love with the mayor’s daughter. The only problem is that his rival suitor wants him dead, and Ichabod winds up in the Headless Horseman’s path.
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
What’s Halloween without a little mystery? If you haven’t read this classic, it’s time to journey to an island with ten guests who start dying, to “pay for their crimes.” Who’s killing them? Who’s next? Is anyone safe?
- Witch Child by Celia Rees
Mary Newbury has a secret – her grandmother was burned as a witch back in England. But here, now trying to live among Puritans in the New World, Mary isn’t sure how long she’ll be able to escape a similar fate as panic grips her town and the witch hunts start anew.
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
This book is the epitome of the trope of a mad scientist creating a grotesque monstrosity. The creature does terrible things but struggles as well. He demands happiness as a living being. As readers we must ask who is the real monster? The creation or Dr. Frankenstein himself?
- House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
This has been hailed as the postmodern horror story. It’s in parts a thriller, a suspense novel, and a psychological mind-bender. From the synopsis – “a young family moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.” In fact, the house seems to be aware that it is a house. As the family tries to make sense of things, their own demons creep out of the woodwork and nothing is ever as it seems.
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
A retelling of The Jungle Book, except it takes place in a graveyard. With ghosts. And ghouls. And a vampire. This book is whimsical, quirky, and darkly humorous, in the way only Neil Gaiman can pull off.
- The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
The charismatic Lestat and the lore of New Orleans as vampire stomping grounds has seeped into vampire literary culture. All of Rice’s characters are beautiful, damaged, and human in their inhumanity. Plus, after a long hiatus (of oddly enough, writing Christian fiction), there is a new novel in the series coming out, Prince Lestat.
- The Shining by Stephen King
Stephen King reigns as, well, king of horror. A man becomes caretaker of a hotel in the mountains. Blizzards cut him, his wife, and 5-year-old son from the surrounding world. A sinister feeling settles in over the seemingly empty hotel. But what about the masked guests in the elevator, or the random woman? In this book, it’s impossible to tell what’s real and what’s not.
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
Where all the vampire tropes truly began. Read the 1897 novel that would someday go on to inspire vampires that sparkled in the sun.
- The Hollows series by Kim Harrison
In this alternate future, where a virus has nearly wiped out the human race while supernatural beings were immune, and their existence now common knowledge. They live “separate but equal” lives to the humans. In this world, Rachel Morgan is a witch and bounty hunter who captures those magical beings who break the law. But when she breaks her contract, she ends up being the one with a hit out on her life.
- The Little Leftover Witch by Florence Laughlin
Felina is a young witch who breaks her broom on Halloween and ends up stuck living with a human family for an entire year until she can fly home again. Felina is delightfully grumpy and refuses to take off her black hat and stop causing mischief, and both family and witch must learn to live, somehow, with each other.
Happy haunted reading! Let us know, do you have any books that are perfect for Halloween?
Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at Brilliant Buckets.