13 Spooky books to read for Halloween 2021
Something wicked this way comes
Full of ghosts, witches and the supernatural, the following 13 spooky novels, thrillers and fantasies will help you find the Halloween spirit—prepare your night lights.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
This dark fairy tale by novelist Melissa Albert weaves a gripping tale of the supernatural as her main lead, Alice, attempts to unravel the secrets of her family after the disappearance of her mother.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The title of this Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker says it all. This legendary tale first introduced the world to Count Dracula in 1897, and more than a century later, it’s still a must-read, especially during Halloween.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
If you liked the 2018 Netflix reimagining of Shirley Jackson’s legendary novel of the same name, then you’ll love it in the original format, considered one of the best literary ghost stories published in the last century.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Sticking with the isolated house theme we’ve got going, this novella by Henry James has laid the groundwork for countless adaptions and retellings, and you’ll see why. It’s about a governess who has been hired to watch over a man’s niece and nephew, Flora and Miles. Sound familiar? It should, it was just adapted as The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
The second Shirley Jackson novel to consider this season, this pick comes from my personal themed reading list this month. Often called Jackson’s masterpiece, this short novel follows Merricat Blackwood, her older sister Constance and their uncle Julian in an isolated house, after a family tragedy one fateful night six years before.
Rebecca by Dame Daphne du Maurier
The final slot for a haunted house book on this list belongs to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. It’s not your typical ghost story, however. The novel follows an unnamed narrator as she marries a wealthy widower and moves to his remote mansion (of course), just to discover that the first wife, Rebecca de Winter, may be dead, but she’s far from forgotten. If you’re not up for reading this one, it also has a Netflix movie adaptation.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
This warm-hearted young adult fantasy novel by master storyteller Neil Gaiman is a story about a boy who is raised by ghosts after the murder of his parents. The novel takes place almost entirely on a graveyard, with just the right amount of creepiness and mysticism to make it a perfect pick for this Halloween-themed reading list.
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Don’t let the flashy title turn you away. This 2020 horror novel by American author Grady Hendrix may be an easy-to-read telling of a women's book club as they face a vampiric threat, but it dives deeps into one woman in the American South as she fights for the safety of her loved ones. The story isn’t perfect, but it’s 100 per cent engaging—and a solid reading option for All Hallows’ Eve.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Very few creatures of horror have seized the minds of readers like Frankenstein’s horrifying creation in this imaginative 1818 classic by Mary Shelley. While it might be a harder read than the more modern books on this list, it’s a done deal for any Halloween reading binge.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Another remarkable (and spooky) Neil Gaiman fairy tale, Coraline may be found under the children’s section in bookstores, because it’s certainly anything but, as the title character discovers an alternate world with chilling secrets. It’s the perfect Halloween for adults look for a bit of whimsy, and for children who don’t mind a little fright.
Carrie by Stephen King
No list of spooky reads would be complete without a selection from the master of horror himself, Stephen King. His first published novel, the supernatural horror page-turner Carrie, tells the story of Carrie White, a shy bullied high school student, as she flexes her newly discovered telekinetic powers.
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
If you’ve watched the 1968 movie adaptation of this urban horror story, and thought it was scary, you owe it to yourself to experience the terrifying spiral of Rosemary Woodhouse in its original text. In this truly haunting read, you’ll follow along helplessly as evil forces to consume the life of the young protagonist, slowly but surely.
The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
The latest horror offering by T. Kingfisher, otherwise known as Ursula Vernon, the children’s author and graphic novelist, The Hollow Places introduces readers to Kara, now recently divorced and living back at home. That’s when she discovers a mysterious bunker behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house, and where she starts her journey through portals into countless alternate realities. But little does she know what she’ll find on the other side. You won’t want to miss this wildly imaginative, humorous and horrifying read.
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