16 Halloween Reads for Every Spooky Mood
It is officially Spooky Season, and that means one thing to us bibliophiles: Cozying up with a reliable Halloween read. Horror is not for everyone, but there are books out there that will suit whatever level of scare you’re comfortable with.
So, be ready to ward off the spine-tingling shivers, because here is a list of Halloween reads for whatever ghoulish mood you are looking for. But will it be a trick, or a treat? Don’t forget! If you purchase any of these terrifying reads, you might want to make sure no harm comes to them while you frolic around the pumpkin patch. Browse our book protectors and find the right one to match your current read!
Books are sacred… Just ask Winifred Sanderson or either of her sisters. They have the power to lure you right into their trap…
Rated from light Halloween hijinks to hardcore horror… Choose your poison:
1. ‘Say Cheese and Die!’ by R.L. Stine - This is number four in the Goosebumps series, and it would be criminal not to include Stine on this list. Childhood favorites that can still be enjoyed and delighted in as adults.
“Greg thinks there is something wrong with the old camera he found. The photos keep turning out . . . different.
When Greg takes a picture of his father's brand-new car, it's wrecked in the photo. And then his dad crashes the car.
It's like the camera can tell the future--or worse. Maybe it makes the future!”
2. ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor - These two also created the incredibly popular podcast by the same name, but now you can enjoy the mysteries and strangeness of this town in the form of a string of novels. Like the first on this list, it’s more fun than pure fright, but still, lock yourself in for an atmospheric and enjoyable read.
“Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.”
3. ‘Hold Me Closer, Necromancer’ by Lish McBride - A witty title. If you want something with humour as well as supernatural escapades, then this is the perfect match for you. It’s not particularly scary, in the same way ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ isn’t necessarily scary. But it will give you all the Halloween vibes you need.
When Sam discovers he is a necromancer, he quickly finds himself in hot water…
“With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?”
4. ‘The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires’ by Grady Hendrix - Not the first time this author will appear on this list. If you want different, fresh perspectives on Halloween and Horror, then Hendrix is your guy. All of his titles are intelligent, reactive to pop culture and just a real hoot to read!
“Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the '90s about a women's book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.”
5. ‘Slayer’ by Kiersten White - This is one for all the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fans out there. Following a new era of Chosen slayers, and how the paranormal underworld operates since Buffy smashed the old patriarchal system, ‘Slayer’ is fun and fresh, while still holding on to everything that made the TV series so popular.
“Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers.”
6. ‘The Halloween Tree’ by Ray Bradbury - A bit of a modern classic, this book is a serious trip. A time travelling, historically laden, costume wearing adventure that captures the very essence of Halloween in its search for the meaning of. An absolute cracker.
“On Halloween night, eight trick-or-treaters gather at the haunted house by the edge of town, ready for adventure. But when Something whisks their friend Pip away, only one man – the sinister Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud – can help the boys find him.”
7. ‘The Bloody Chamber’ by Angela Carter - A collection of short stories, Carter retells popular fairy tales in a way that just might change your life. A lyrical, intelligent writer, she interprets stories in surprising ways, often subverting them and making vignettes that are both exhilarating and terrifying. This one is a bit of a curveball in the sense that it isn’t quintessentially “scary” but it has that psychological edge.
“In The Bloody Chamber - which includes the story that is the basis of Neil Jordan's 1984 movie The Company of Wolves - Carter spins subversively dark and sensual versions of familiar fairy tales and legends like "Little Red Riding Hood," "Bluebeard," "Puss in Boots," and "Beauty and the Beast," giving them exhilarating new life in a style steeped in the romantic trappings of the gothic tradition.”
8. ‘Dread Nation’ by Justina Ireland - What a book. If you want your undead adventure politically and socially poignant, then look no further. Ireland creates an alternate history that you do not want to miss exploring.
“Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.”
9. ‘If It Bleeds’ by Stephen King - The master of horror and the King of Halloween, surely? What kind of spooky list does not contain at least one title by this author? ‘If It Bleeds’ is a new release, a collection of four novellas so perfect if you want a bite-size scare!
“The novella is a form King has returned to over and over again in the course of his amazing career, and many have been made into iconic films, If It Bleeds is a uniquely satisfying collection of longer short fiction by an incomparably gifted writer.”
10. ‘Horrorstor’ by Grady Hendrix - Who knew IKEA could be so horrifying? But Hendrix strikes gold again with this whole concept. The book is an adventure both textually and visually. A little bit bonkers, but there is something that works wonderfully about the whole thing that you do not want to miss it.
“Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.”
11. ‘Horns’ by Joe Hill - Let’s bring our heart rates back down a notch. Joe Hill never disappoints when it comes to the creepy and the kooky, and ‘Horns’ manages to stay on the side of spooky rather than scary. The movie is fantastic (ever wanted to see Harry Potter with an American accent?) but the book is even better.
“Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.”
12. ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker - This is a true classic. It’s synonymous with horror and with the legend of the vampire within pop culture. If you have not yet experienced this iconic read then now is the time, even if it’s just to say you’ve done it.
“When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries in his client's castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck; and a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his 'Master'. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing into questions of identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.”
13. ‘Frankenstein: The 1818 Text’ by Mary Shelley - The O.G. ‘Frankenstein’ stands side-by-side with ‘Dracula’ as one of those books that is so legendary you essentially know the story before you even start. But that doesn’t mean you should skip it.
“Obsessed with creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life with electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear.”
14. ‘The Girl With All the Gifts’ by M. R. Carey - This is one where you can read the book and then watch the film. Or the other way around, if you’re that kind of heathen. Carey takes the zombie trope and makes it new. Without giving too much away, you will just have to trust that this book will sink its teeth into you.
“Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.”
15. ‘The Woman in Black’ by Susan Hill - Daniel Radcliffe makes his second appearance, because he heads up the movie adaptation of this intensely creepy read. Expert setting and atmosphere means you can expect to feel the hairs stand up on your neck, and keep checking over your shoulder.
“The classic ghost story by Susan Hill: a chilling tale about a menacing spectre haunting a small English town.”
16. ‘Ring’ by Koji Suzuki - The film that made us sleep with the lights on, and still haunts us to this day… So why not rub salt in the wound and read the book that began it all? This one will scare your socks off, there’s no sugar coating it. Maybe read it in the daytime?
“A mysterious videotape warns that the viewer will die in one week unless a certain, unspecified act is performed. Exactly one week after watching the tape, four teenagers die one after another of heart failure.”
With a list like that, there is no way October will be anything but an amazing month for reading. So whatever your spooky mood, there is a book for everyone. Which level are you? Could you make it further than 7? Whether you want a full-on freak out or just a simple scare, enjoy your Halloween reads!