We love Halloween- it’s scary, campy, and you can be whatever you want to be (which you can mostly do all the time, unless what you want to be is a ghoul or a sexier version of something decidedly unsexy). Unfortunately, getting down to the last episode of your favorite show is not the fun kind of scary. But if your show is on this list, here are some spooky, whacky, and genuinely frightening reads to tide you over.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Those of us with Buffy nostalgia face a challenge that can be scarier than the show itself- the fact that the show’s been finished since 2003. But if you can’t live without the misadventures of the teens quietly (and sometimes NOT so quietly) defending Sunnydale from monsters, why not explore an untold part of that story?
Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here explores the lives of background characters in a nondescript town like Sunnydale for those of us who have never fought a vampire with our bare hands (or, you know, with anything else). Teenagers beset with their own slew of issues try to exist as the Chosen Ones deal with their zombie cops and spooky blue lights from outer space. This genre-bending book merges fantasy with reality as Ness explores how ordinary human lives fit in with the high stakes of genre fiction.
Unlike with Buffy, anyone who watches Supernatural knows there’s no shortage of content. Now entering its fourteenth season, the cult classic has thrilled viewers since 2005 with its story of two inseparable brothers who save lives, hunt monsters, make questionable choices, and fight with each other nonstop.
V.E. Schwab’s Vicious is a twist on the typical superhero story, following two former classmates who were once as close as brothers. When a string of bad decisions puts the friends in uncomfortably close contact with the world of the supernatural, some lives are saved- and others are lost. The mercurial relationship between Schwab’s protagonists may remind you of Supernatural‘s infamous brothers, and the hunting definitely will.
This hit TV show taps into 80s nostalgia in a serious way, and so modern books just won’t always sate your craving. You can take the edge off this with a book with the story that inspired last fall’s pop culture phenomenon: Stephen King’s IT.
Written in 1990 and set in the mid 80s, the story also focuses on a gang of kids taking on a threat that adults in town don’t understand. Featuring a familiar camaraderie, the Losers try to stop the entity that they have discovered, attempting to save both their town and themselves. And is there collateral damage? Well, isn’t there always?
The Walking Dead
Zombies might seem to be the territory of genre fiction and pop culture, but that isn’t always the case. Literary superstar Colson Whitehead’s Zone One blends genre and literary fiction as it explores not the zombie apocalypse exactly, but what happens after.
With the mixture of tenderness and violence that viewers expect from The Walking Dead, Whitehead explicitly wanders into the thematic landscape of zombies, discussing at length the kind of moral and existential questions that many zombie stories only hint at.
American Horror Story
It might be hard to decide what will get you your AHS fix, given the wide range of premises the show offers. Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus shares a similar versatility, blending elements of magic and witchcraft (like AHS season 3) with the creepy aesthetic of a sinister traveling circus (season 4). With a flair for the strange, cruel, and dramatic, The Night Circus’ range of amoral characters and tragically doomed human connections are reminiscent of all seasons of AHS.
While not explicitly a horror show, Black Mirror’s one-off dystopian plot lines terrify audiences with their creativity… and plausibility. Often focusing on motifs of alienation and technology, the show provides us with a horrifying reality that we both can and cannot imagine. A YA classic, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies depicts a dystopian world in which, on their sixteenth birthday, teenagers undergo surgery to become Pretties- artificially enhanced beautiful people with equally beautiful lives (sounds exactly like being sixteen, right?). Unfortunately, life is not quite as beautiful as it appears. And unfortunately, that’s not all the surgery does.
Featured Image Via 2glory.de. All in-text images via Amazon.