Truly Frightening Books for Halloween

With Halloween just around the corner, we’ve created a list of some great horror-filled, thrilling novels to get you in the scary spirit. From mind-bending, psychological thrillers to down-right terrifying ghost stories, these imaginative books will make turning off the light at night a little more difficult. Enjoy!

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Any scary story that professes to be based off real events is automatically petrifying. Regan MacNeil, a 12-year-old girl, starts to act extremely strange—leading her mother to believe that Regan is possessed by demonic spirits. Regan’s mother and a priest, Father Merrin, perform an exorcism to throw out the evil spirits haunting Regan, with terrifying consequences.  The character’s inner battles with their own conscious as well as their difficult relationships makes the story more relatable, engrossing, and frightening.The classic horror movie The Exorcist is based of off Blatty’s namesake book.  

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

So many of Stephen King’s books could have made this list, but something about dead children coming back to life is always unbearably frightening. With a title like Pet Sematary, you might not expect this Stephen King novel to be one of his darkest, but trust us: you will be disturbed and freaked out for quite some time after reading this.  

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Henry James’ suspenseful novella is a mysterious ghost story that truly messes with the reader’s mind.  Unlike classic ghost tales, the supernatural in this story don’t physically harm anyone, but their effect on the character’s psyche is just as chilling. The Turn of the Screw incorporates a multitude of themes from everyday life, like repression, appearances vs. reality, and good vs. evil, all with a chilling, paranormal twist.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Judas Coyne, an aging rock star with typical narcissistic qualities, orders a ghost online, which sounds a bit kitschy, almost humorous.  But the heart-shaped box he receives contains a dead man’s suit, as well as the man’s spirit which is hell-bent on getting revenge against Coyne and everyone he knows, as the spirit claims Coyne is responsible for his step-daughter’s suicide.  In this sinister tale by Stephen King’s son, Coyne’s past truly comes back to haunt him.

The Collector by John Fowles

This chilling story is told in part from the view of Frederick, an obsessive sociopath who collects butterflies, as well as from the perspective of the beautiful girl he abducts, Miranda. What makes this book so freaky is that Frederick thinks his bizarre and disturbing thoughts and actions are morally okay, while Miranda, who we hope will make out it alive and sane, struggles to escape. The Collector will stick with you.

The Terror by Dan Simmons

The premise of this story, about a ship named HMS Terror led by Captain Sir John Franklin that gets lost in the freezing Arctic, is based on real, unsolved events that occurred in the 1840s. Dan Simmons fictionalized telling of what could have happened is downright scary. The crew faces real dangers: darkness, freezing temperatures, relentless snow and ice, disease, betrayal, and death.  There is also a mysterious and murderous water-monster that stalks the ship. Eek!

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Oskar is a bullied boy with only one friend, his new neighbor Eli. She is a curious girl who only comes out at night.  When the body of a teenage bully is found, drained of all blood in an apparent ritual killing, Oskar hopes this is some sort of revenge on his enemies, which is only part of Oskar’s creepy, dark side. Meanwhile, Eli’s dark side is more gruesome—a trail of blood follows her. Although fantasy is included in Let the Right One In, the real horror comes in the form of bullying, paedophilia, and alcoholism. When you’re done with the book, watch the movie (the Swedish and American version are both super creepy and entertaining).

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This list wouldn’t be complete without Jackson’s supernatural thriller about four people who enter Hill House, a supposedly haunted eighty-year-old mansion. The build-up is perfect; each character slowly experiences strange occurrences, like inexplicable writing on the walls and the realization that the hand they were holding was not human, until one of the characters seems to be possessed by the house. Unreliable narration, vague writing, and complex characters make this book incredibly unnerving.  

 What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?


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