As Halloween creeps ever closer, it’s finally time to treat yourself to some spooky reads. Inundated with all things that go bump in the night, these books will likely keep you awake, and not just because of the captivating prose and well-constructed plot.
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson is a household name in the horror genre, and a list of spooky Halloween reads would be heretical without one of her chilling tales. The Haunting of Hill House tops the lot for me; with a paranormal investigation, a haunted mansion and an abundance of psychological terror, the novel is quintessentially spooky. All this leads to a shocking ending that’ll leave you questioning whether it’s lingering madness or unquiet spirits that stalk the halls of Hill House.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
In anticipation of the upcoming Netflix series of the same name, I’d recommend picking up the first collection of the comic series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It’s a darker take on the beloved Archie comic character. Best known for her campy 90s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, it is overflowing with illustrator Robert Hack’s suitably creepy imagery.
The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
If you found the movie The Exorcist scary, be prepared to be truly terrified by William Peter Blatty’s novel which inspired it. Based upon true accounts, this novel follows the demonic possession and subsequent exorcism of a famous actresses’ daughter and brings you face to face with evil incarnate. What makes this novel so deeply unsettling is the conviction of the author: he sincerely believed in the subject matter, making the malicious entities feel ever so palpable.
McNamara’s account of his reign of terror is tremendously chilling and will leave you double-checking your windows and doors before bed
I’ll be Gone in the Dark – Michelle McNamara
In the immortal words of American Horror Story’s Sister Jude, “All monsters are human”, and this statement couldn’t be truer in relation to the infamous Golden State Killer. McNamara’s account of his reign of terror is tremendously chilling and will leave you double checking your windows and doors before bed. Part true crime, part memoir, this book, although unsettling, is ultimately a testament to the dedication of the late author and her passion for bringing a monster to justice.
The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
Initially published as a true account, and later revealed to be an elaborate hoax, the story of the Lutzs is well-established in the horror cannon. Even as a work of fiction, the slow build-up of paranormal events over 28 days leading to them fleeing in terror is highly unnerving. For just a taste of the insanity, one of the prominent events surrounds a demonic pig named Jodie with glowing red eyes who befriends the Lutz daughters.
Whilst this book may not leave you scared to turn off the lights, it will turn your stomach with its unnerving depiction of human evil
Anything by H.P Lovecraft
If Stephen King is the father of modern horror, Lovecraft is undoubtedly the grandfather, with his speciality being cosmic horror and existential dread. For anyone new to Lovecraft hoping to dip your toes into the Cthulhu infected waters, I’d recommend ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ or ‘The Shadow over Innsmouth’. Both are quintessentially Lovecraftian – full of cults and incomprehensible cosmic deities ideal for these October evenings.
We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
Unlike my other recommendations, the horrors of Shriver’s novel, following the mother of a school shooter, are deeply grounded in reality. Vividly, and at times poetically, exploring the taboo horror of motherhood, We Need to Talk about Kevin will leave you reconsidering your desire for a family, and confront you with the disturbing and unimaginable question: “What if your child is a monster?”. Whilst this book may not leave you scared to turn off the lights, it will turn your stomach with its unnerving depiction of human evil.