These stories have turned the blood to ice in our veins, caused our heart rates to rise, and sent our necks, arms, and leg hair standing on end. They’re the stories that kept us up at night and somehow still do, even after we’ve long read the last word and closed the book. They stay with us, lurk in the back of our minds, waiting for us to remember the scare they’d given us days, months, even years ago. We asked our Bookstr team what their most hair-raising ghost story recommendations are, and the list is in! Check out our choices.
A Creepy Babysitters Club
Haunted Babysitters: True Ghost Stories by Allen Zullo
If you want a chilling book that will keep you up all night and truly raise the hairs on your neck, then this book is it. It’s a collection of true ghost stories told by young teens who have watched over their neighbors’ children and their own siblings. Younger me read this and was scared to death; old me still thinks of these stories today! They are seriously some of the most terrifying stories I have ever read. One such story was of a young girl who kept witnessing the death echo of two runaway slaves down in the basement of the home where she was babysitting. It wasn’t even her house, but the twist is out of this world crazier than the haunting!
Another one of the hauntings that have stayed with me was one where a young babysitter was caring for her neighbor’s child. She felt someone snuggle next to her on the couch, and when the sitter rolled over, let’s just say it wasn’t a child wrapped under her arm and sleeping beside her! Talk about hair-raising — I haven’t been able to release the visual of the ghostly child from my memory. I honestly dare horror fans to pick this book up and give it a read. It’s an old book, but it definitely holds up.
Quiarah B, Editorial
A Less Welcoming and More Frightening Haunted House
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
By far, one of the spookiest books I’ve ever read is Shirley Jackson’s classic novel, The Haunting of Hill House. It tells the story of John Montague, Eleanor Vance, Theodora, and Luke Sanderson, who all come to stay at the Hill House mansion for a summer. Luke, the heir to Hill House, has agreed to host the three guests at his isolated estate. As a supernatural investigator, Montague is hoping to find evidence to support the existence of the paranormal at Hill House, and he has invited Eleanor and Theodora to join him due to their past supernatural experiences. As their stay at Hill House wears on, the group begins to experience increasingly strange and alarming occurrences. But Eleanor develops a connection with the house that makes her want to stay despite the danger. The setting of Hill House becomes its own character in this book, which amplifies the terror of the classic haunted house story.
Mike Flanagan’s 2018 adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House into a limited series is also nothing short of hair-raising. While the plot of the show is a major departure from the events of the book, it still maintains the scare factor with haunting visuals, terrifying lore, and one of the most effective jump scares I’ve seen to date. If you love a good ghost story, both the book and the show will be right up your alley.
Lauren Nee, Editorial
A Prayer to Help You Sleep Again at Night
Crazy: A Prayer for the Dead by Stephen LaChance
This book literally had me up all night and afraid of the dark. It was a one-sitting read, as I knew if I put it down, I would never pick it back up. While it was terrifying, I had to finish it. I needed to know what happened to each person involved. The terror and emotional turmoil had my chest constricted in fear, my arms coated in goosebumps, and my mind racing to solve the unsolvable.
LaChance’s novel is a mix of truth and fiction of a real haunted location, the Tri-County Truck Stop, located on Route 66 in Missouri. Based on the paranormal occurrences and his investigation in 2006, LaChance tries to piece together the backstory of those haunting the truck stop. True evil might not be the devils of myth but the humans of reality and the remains of their terrible actions.
Kristi Eskew, Editorial
A Dark and Otherworldly Children’s Story
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman’s book honestly sent chills down my spine when I read it. I was gripped by the story and Coraline as a character. While I was completely scared, I wanted to see what happened.
The movie also scared me so much as a child. I still have a mild fear of dolls to this day because of the movie. Nevertheless, both the book and the movie are actually one of my most favorite shows and books ever. I definitely recommend both if you want a good scare this spooky season!
Alison M, Graphics
Seek and You Shall Find Them
Seeking Spirits by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson with Michael Jan Friedman
This book is a collection of stories from The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) in the United States. These are all true stories involving real people and their families. It details some of their most bizarre and abnormal cases as well as personal experiences that will make your skin crawl. Some will surprise you and leave you intrigued. Others will hit you deeply and emotionally in a truly horrific way. One case that I read made me close the book and take some deep breaths because what I read was horrifying, awful, and sad at the same time.
Christina H, Graphics
An Unnerving Mindbender
Uzumaki by Ito Junji
A Japanese manga about a town that slowly starts to change. This was my personal introduction to horror graphic novels, and it was haunting. Ito Junji is a master at creating creepy and disturbing images; pile on a mysterious story and engaging characters, and you have the horrific masterpiece of Uzumaki.
This story stuck with me out of all the other scary things I have read because of what haunts the town. It isn’t a person or a thing, or a creature. It’s a pattern. A swirl, nothing more, nothing less. How can a pattern as basic as a swirl torment a town? In creepier ways than you could ever imagine.
Brandon Smith, Editorial
Interested in more of our Bookstr team picks? Click here.