25 Spooky Books to Read This Halloween Season
Looking for a real scream this October? Tap into your deepest fears with these books about paranormal activity, haunted houses, kidnappings, and even psychological mind games. Warning: You may want to keep the lights on.
1. DON'T YOU CRY, BY MARY KUBICA
After Quinn wakes to find her roommate Esther missing from their Chicago apartment, she ransacks her room for clues. But what she discovers is that she never knew who her best friend actually was. Elsewhere, in a small Michigan town, a mysterious woman catches the eye of 18-year-old Alex. Though he's swept up in her beauty, he quickly learns she's far more sinister than meets the eye.
2. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10, BY RUTH WARE
In this novel, travel writer Lo lands her dream job covering a ship's first cruise. It starts off as smooth sailing: The champagne is flowing, the small number of guests are welcoming, and the cabins are luxurious. Then, she sees someone being thrown overboard. The twist: All passengers are accounted for. Or, so they say.
3. UNRAVELING OLIVER, BY LIZ NUGENT
When the titular character's wife Alice confronts him about his past, the charismatic children's writer loses his cool—and sends her straight into a coma. Alternating among several perspectives, from Oliver's classmates and neighbors to ex-lovers, author Nugent pieces together what really drove him over the edge.
4. EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, BY MINDY MEIJIA
Desperate to break free from her small town, high school senior Hattie strikes up a fatal online romance. Nearly a year later, she's brutally stabbed to death and her dark secrets start to come to light. Now, as they try to unearth who killed the golden girl, the three narrators ask, who was Hattie?
5. THE AMATEURS, BY SARA SHEPARD
Five years after high school senior Helena disappeared from her backyard, four wannabe sleuths try to unravel the mystery. But someone is watching—and is desperate to stop their manhunt. The Pretty Little Liars author's killer new series takes unpredictable twists until the very last chapter.
6. THE GIRL BEFORE, BY J.P. DELANEY
Following a traumatic robbery, Emma is on the hunt for a new place to call home. Enter: One Folgate Street. Sure, the house’s architect still retains control over decor and doesn’t allow for books, personal pictures, or clutter whatsoever, but she’s desperate. Then, three years later, Jane moves in, looking for her new beginning. Instead, she uncovers the mysterious death of Emma, who also happens to look just like her. Soon, she begins to experience the same terrors as, well, the girl before.
7. THE CHILD, BY FIONA BARTON
Journalist Kate Waters jumps at the chance to investigate the skeletal remains of a baby found at a demolished London house. But as she digs through the neighborhood’s history, she stumbles across three women, each with a gripping fascination with (and connection to) the murdered infant.
8. ALL THE MISSING GIRLS, BY MEGAN MIRANDA
With her father ailing, Nic is yanked home to the rural, small town she thought she escaped. But her arrival opens up a decade-old cold case: the disappearance of her best friend Corinne. And within days of her homecoming, another girl mysteriously vanishes. Told in reverse over two weeks, the harrowing story seeks to tell how the two events are ominously linked.
9. WITH MALICE, BY EILEEN COOK
Jill remembers nothing. Not her school's trip to Italy, that fatal car crash or…possibly killing her best friend Simone in a jealous rage. Instead, she wakes up in the hospital with a cast on her leg, stitches in her face, and a lawyer team on her case. Now, with evidence mounting against her and the media painting her as a sociopath, Jill questions just what she's capable of.
10. HAUNTED, BY DORAH WILLIAMS
The Williams lived in constant fear. On a whim, they moved into an alluring Victorian home that just always seemed to be vacant. It doesn't take long to find out why: It's haunted. The true story is told through the perspective of matriarch Dorah, as she recalls the chilling paranormal events the family experienced and how they uncovered the backstory of their ghosts.
11. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, BY THOMAS HARRIS
There's a new killer on the loose: Buffalo Bill, who starves his victims before killing—and skinning—them. To catch him, an amateur FBI agent must rely on cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter, currently locked away at a hospital for the criminally insane. The 1991 film adaption scored five Academy Awards.
12. SHUTTER ISLAND, BY DENNIS LEHANE
In the midst of the Cold War, U.S. Marshal Teddy and his partner Chuck head to Shutter Island, the home to a hospital for the criminally insane. There, the duo intend to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando, who allegedly escaped the facility. But in the gripping thriller of mind games where nothing is what it seems, Teddy is forced confront his own fatal wrongdoings.
13. GOOSEBUMPS: THE HAUNTED MASK, BY R. L. STINE
Desperate to get revenge on school bully Steve, Carly Beth buys a monstrous mask for Halloween. But as fright night goes on, she starts acting aggressively, even choking her best friend Sabrina. When she goes to remove the costume, she realizes it's become permanently attached to her face and she is now possessed.
14. CARRIE, BY STEPHEN KING
Hell hath no fury like Carrie scorned. When a bucket of pig's blood is dumped on her at senior prom, the titular character decides to use her newly discovered telekinetic powers to kill everyone in school. King's 1974 debut has been adapted into two films and a Broadway musical.
15. FRANKENSTEIN, BY MARY SHELLEY
Obsessed with the notion of giving life to lifeless matter, scientist Victor Frankenstein creates his own human using stolen body parts. However, his masterpiece is hardly a work of art. Tormented by exile, Frankenstein's hideous monster goes a murderous tear to exact revenge on his creator.
16. THE EXORCIST, BY WILLIAM PETER BLATTY
While living in Washington, D.C. with her famous mother, 12-year-old Regan begins to display some odd behavior. She stops eating, refuses to sleep, and starts an increasingly aggressive streak. Though her mom initially chalks her behavior up to teen angst, the movie star soon realizes her daughter is disturbed. She enlists two priests to help purge the girl of the demonic presence. Blatty's cult-classic spent 57 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
17. COME CLOSER, BY SARA GRAN
Amanda has the perfect life. Until she doesn't. Suddenly, she's burning her husband with a cigarette, shoplifting, cheating, and cursing at her boss. And there's a woman, reminiscent of her imaginary childhood friend Naamah, controlling her dreams. Has she lost her mind?
18. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, BY JAY ANSON
They lasted 28 days. In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new, beautiful home … that turned out to be terrorized by the paranormal. Before fleeing the harrowing mansion, they were plagued by swarms of flies, received random welts, and heard mysterious sounds. Plus, their tot Missy gained an imaginary friend Jodie, a demonic pig with glowing red eyes. The true story has launched a multi-million dollar franchise with 15 films.
19. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, BY SHARI LAPENA
Anne and Marco are going to their neighbors' for dinner. They're told they can't bring their 6-month-old daughter, but that's ok. They have the baby monitor and every 30 minutes or so, one of them will check in on their sleeping infant. After all, they're just next door. But when they return home, they find their door ajar—and their daughter gone from her crib.
20. PRETTY GIRLS, BY KARIN SLAUGHTER
Sisters Claire and Lydia do not speak. In the decades since their sister Julia disappeared, Claire has gone on to be a millionaire's trophy wife while Lydia is a single mom dating a con man. But when Claire's husband is murdered, the devastating old wounds are ripped open. How could a vanishing teenager and a dead middle-aged man be connected 20 years apart?
21. THE SECRET OF CRICKLEY HALL, BY JAMES HERBERT
When one of their three children tragically disappears, Gabe and Eve Caleigh leave London for the coast. There's a beautiful river, a garden, and the promise of an idyllic future. That is, until their dog is perpetually spooked, the kids claim to be stalked by a man with a cane, and Eve insists her missing son is communicating with her. Soon, the quintet uncover the house's dark secrets carried over from World War II.
22. BROKEN MONSTERS, BY LAUREN BEUKES
She thought she had seen everything. Then, Detective Gabriella Versado discovers a unique body in a Detroit tunnel: It's the head and torso of a young boy fused with a deer. As more of these horrifying creatures begin to pop up, she becomes obsessed with tracking down the killer. Meanwhile, her teenage daughter Layla starts an online flirtation with a predator. Both their lives are thrust into a dangerous web.
23. REBECCA, BY DAPHNE DU MAURIER
The gothic's unnamed heroine cannot believe her luck when she meets—and falls for—rich and charming widower Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo. After a quick romance and wedding, he sweeps her away to his Manderley estate. There, she encounters their sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. Still loyal to the titular character, who died mysteriously in a boating accident the year before, Danvers begins to manipulate the new Mrs. de Winter, pushing her so far she begins to contemplate suicide. Alfred Hitchcock's adaption of the thriller won two Academy Awards.
24. THE WITCHES, BY ROALD DAHL
Forget what you thought: Real witches don't ride on broomsticks, wear black hats, or have warts. In reality, they're conniving creatures who disguise themselves as regular, ordinary, mundane women. And in the twisted fairy tale, they especially love to taunt children and turn them into mice. Be warned: You'll never know you've met a witch until it's too late.
25. HORNS, BY JOE HILL
Written by Stephen King's son, the horror begins with Ig waking up to find he's … different. After a drunken night, he has knobby horns growing from his head. And suddenly, when he talks to people, they tell him their darkest secrets. ("I don't want you to be my kid anymore," his mother quips.) It could easily be a mental breakdown. He's still reeling from his girlfriend's murder, in which he was the only suspect. Though he was never charged, he's still guilty in the court of public opinion. Or, is this just his new reality? After all, he has horns. So is he the devil?