We’re officially a month out from Halloween, and that means it’s time to amp up the eerie vibes and get in the spooky spirit! And what better way for a bookworm to get in the Halloween mood than by reading a hair-raising horror novel so chilling it’ll have you sleeping with the lights on? Or if that’s not your speed, how about a twisty thriller? Or a black comedy? Whatever your preferred flavor of horror, this list has a book that will suit your tastes. So brace yourself, because it’s about to get spooky.
How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
The last thing Louise wants to do is return to her childhood home in Charleston — stuffed to the brim with memories she would rather not face. But when her parents die, Louise has no choice but to go, leaving her daughter with her ex while she helps her brother, Mark, prepare the house to be sold. Mark, who never moved away from Charleston and can’t hold down a job, has always begrudged Louise for the life she was able to make for herself. Unfortunately, the house is in rough shape, so Louise and Mark will be stuck under the same roof again for the foreseeable future. But the house isn’t ready to let go of them, and the siblings are now at its mercy.
Grady Hendrix’s horror novels are a gateway drug to the genre… By weaving violence, family trauma and humor, Hendrix creates a texture that engages the reader emotionally and viscerally…[a] gripping, wildly entertaining exploration of childhood horrors.The New York Times
The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw
In this gruesomely twisted take on a classic fairy tale, Cassandra Khaw offers a haunting rendition of The Little Mermaid story we’ve grown up hearing. Forget what you think you know about the story. In this version, the mermaid and her children come to the surface to lay waste to the prince’s kingdom, ripping it to shreds with their razor-sharp teeth. Fleeing punishment for her bloody crimes, the mermaid encounters an enigmatic plague doctor who may be hiding a wickedness of their own. Together, the mermaid and the plague doctor will have to accept their inner darkness if they hope to survive the horrors that lie ahead.
A feverishly gory, grotesquely beautiful and baroque fairy-tale-meets-love-sonnet. Cassandra Khaw’s imagination is limitless.Author Paul Tremblay
She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran
When Jade Nguyen’s estranged father offers to help financially support her through college if she visits him in Vietnam, Jade has no choice but to go. Spending five weeks with her family will be a massive feat, especially since Jade knows she’ll have to repress her true identity to present the straight Vietnamese-American persona her father wants to see. They’ll be staying in the French colonial house her father is currently restoring for the duration of the trip, and upon arrival, Jade immediately realizes something is not right about the house. Plagued by sleep paralysis and ghosts that deliver mysterious messages every night, Jade will have to protect her family from the house that seeks to destroy them.
This exquisitely disturbing tale of identity and colonialism and intergenerational trauma will eat its way under your skin and live there forever. Read this one with the lights on. I’m ready to be haunted by whatever Trang Thanh Tran writes next.Author Emily X.R. Pan
Tell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt
After investigating an abandoned house with her friends three years ago, Alice’s life has never been the same. She’s hit an all-time low: selling explicit videos for money, partying even though it makes her miserable, and getting drunk to numb the pain of it all. When her friends suggest they go back to the house, Alice can’t help but accept. There, Alice and her friends must reckon with what happened three years ago. And when the house tries to attach itself to one of the girls, Alice must do everything in her power to rescue her friend, even if it means destroying herself in the process.
A hallucinogenic, powerful, transgressive novel that uncompromisingly goes into uncomfortable territory and then wallows there, digging deeper and deeper into the things that make us human, and eventually posits that love might be the way out of the things that trap us the hardest.Locus
Sisters of the Lost Nation by Nick Medina
Anna Horn is haunted — by her bullies, by the disrespectful patrons at the reservation’s casino, and most of all by the presence that seems to follow her around, a tribal legend come true. When strange events begin plaguing the casino and girls start disappearing, Anna turns to the past, hoping to find some sort of solution to stop these horrors. Then, her younger sister goes missing, amplifying Anna’s desperation. But the forces of evil at work on the reservation are powerful, and if Anna can’t uncover the untold stories of her tribe’s history, she may be the next girl to disappear.
With the excellent Sisters of the Lost Nation, Nick Medina expertly balances Native mythology, a grounded coming of age story, and a modern, all too real and terrible mystery of Native girls going missing. Gripping, heartbreaking, and vital, this is a novel you won’t soon forget, and Anna Horn will no doubt become one of your most cherished fictional characters.Author Paul Tremblay
Burn the Negative by Josh Winning
When she was a child, Laura Warren starred in a horror film called The Guesthouse. Since then, the film has become a cult classic due to the uncanny resemblance between the deaths of eight members of the film’s cast and crew and how the film’s villain, the Needle Man, killed his victims. Now, the film is being adapted into a horror series, and Laura, who works as a journalist, has come to L.A. to cover the production. But when she sees a man jump to his death from a bridge, Laura knows the curse of the original film is coming back to haunt her. As the death toll rises, Laura must find a way to end the curse before she becomes its next victim.
Burn the Negative is a creepy, twisty, compulsively readable haunted house of a book built from horror movies and our obsessive response to them. You’ll root for Laura and fear the Needle Man. Be sure to make the popcorn and dim the lights.Author Paul Tremblay
The Spite House by Johnny Compton
Leaving behind the life he once knew in Maryland, including his wife and his home, Eric Ross flees from a past swathed in secret with his two daughters. He’s in dire need of money, but his mysterious history and his paranoia about staying in one place for extended periods don’t allow him to work a regular job. Then he sees an advertisement for a caretaker position at the Masson House, which has a reputation for being haunted. The job seems simple enough: live in the house and document any paranormal activity that occurs. However, the house’s previous caretakers have all been driven insane. The payout could be life-changing for Eric’s family, but will he be able to make it out of the house unscathed?
Compton’s chilling debut is horror with heart that puts a refreshingly modern spin on the haunted house story…This tense work of gothic horror provides a complex and multidimensional look at how anger, grief, and trauma can strengthen bonds of familial love…Even the most jaded horror fans will be wowed.Publishers Weekly
Browse these books and more on our Bookshop Spine-chilling Horror bookshelf.