Let’s put the scary back in Halloween.
Back in the day, a regular Christmas tradition was to read books and stories to the family. Many times, those stories included a spooky theme – think A Christmas Carole with it’s three ghosts.
So, why isn’t that a tradition for the spookiest time of year, Halloween? What better time than fall to curly up with a book? And what better time to share a spooky story than during Halloween?
Let’s change that! Enjoy a bit of the Halloween spirit with a list of spooky books that you can read every October. These are sure to get you in the mood for All Hallows Eve.
The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson
Considered a classic American horror story, The Lottery was written in 1948 and was considered haunting for readers at the time. While standards of horror might have changed since then, this story still gives readers chills. Jackson is a master at combining subtle suspense and perfect descriptions of both the chilling and mundane.
The Lottery is a short story that takes place in a small American town that holds an annual Lottery. It is one of the few small towns that still practices the annual lottery and does so to continue for the good of the community. While the lottery is great for the community, it seems, that it isn’t necessarily something you want to win. This story is a great and quick read to kick off your spooky season.
The Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones
This novel is a perfect blend between classic horror and social commentary. Stephen Graham Jones is known for his ability to craft a horror story in the most beautiful and heartbreaking way. This story is no exception. The flawed character and engaging plot will pull you in and just as you find yourself invested in the plot, the horror seeps in. Strange things start happening and you’ll find yourself getting chills as your imagination starts to race.
Years ago, four indigenous men went hunting on sacred land reserved for tribal chieftains. Their hunt resulted in the death of nine elk. However, one of those kills was especially haunting. Years later, the men have to face the consequences of their actions and fight for their lives. However, they find themselves at a disadvantage having left behind the culture and traditions that could save them.
Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado
This collection of short stories is perfect for refreshing bursts of reading. Each story is a small capsule of spooky that is perfect for a chilling bedtime story or a haunting read around a campfire. Carmen Maria Machado blends psychological realism and science fiction together in a unique way that will give you chills while also making you question the ways in which we live our lives. This debut collection focuses heavily on the realities of women, their lives, and the violence put on their bodies.
Here is a peek at just a few of these masterful stories: A woman shares her past sexual encounters as a plague begins to consume humanity. A store clerk finds something horrifying in the seams of prom dresses. Weight- loss surgery leaves one woman with an unwelcome guest. Finally, Machado re-imagines Law & Order: SVU as a supernatural police procedural.
The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror, by Daniel Mallory Ortberg*
Fairy tales were never intended to be full of happy endings. They were always there to teach silly young children a much-needed lesson. These tales are modern versions of those traditional tales, full of the horror, suspense, and mischief with which they were originally told.
Daniel M. Lavery, known for his trademark wit, takes readers through a series of stories that may seem familiar on the surface, but slowly start to unsettle and unnerve readers. There is always something lurking beneath the surface of these tales. While faithful to the original source material, you may not find happy endings. In fact, you might be alarmed at just how complex and spooky these stories are, especially before bedtime.
*This work was published before Daniel’s transition. Therefore this work is listed as being penned by Mallory Ortberg in the image.
White is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi
Fans of classic haunted house stories will want to add this novel to their October TBR list. Helen Oyeyemi takes readers to the closed-off town of Dover, England, and to a house that is so much more than just an atmosphere. Actually, sometimes, it is the narrator itself. This atmospheric horror feels like a fairytale, without any reference to one.
The Silver family house is grand, almost cavernous, with hidden passageways and hidden secrets. It has been home to four generations of Silver women but is now owned by twins Miranda and Eliot. It isn’t until their mother dies that the house suddenly starts to change, not only itself, but it’s inhabitants. Suddenly Miranda cannot eat, and a house guest is attacked. Soon this family home becomes hostile and leaves everyone irrevocable changed.
Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This novel is full of everything you love in a Gothic novel – but with a Mexican twist. Author Silvia Moreno-Garcia creates an independent socialite protagonist who views marriage as an early burial. Set in 1950’s Mexico, a woman like Noemi Taboada is likely to cause controversy. What begins as a trip to visit her ailing cousin in a mansion in the country, soon turns into much more.
While the beginning of the novel hints at the horror to come, it isn’t until Noemi finds herself out of help’s reach that things take a turn. From hallucinatory visions to sleepwalking and eerie cemeteries, this novel soon becomes more grisly. Moreno -Garcia truly shows her talent in suspense here.
The Good House, by Tananarive Due
Fans of horror might be aware of Tananarive Due’s other novels, all of which effortlessly mix horror, mystery, and the supernatural. This novel is no exception. Actually, this haunting novel could be her scariest yet. At the very least, it will make you want to look under the bed before you fall asleep.
The people of Sacajawea Washington call Angela Toussaint’s grandmother’s home the Good House. But Angela doesn’t see it that way, not after her son committed suicide there one summer. Angela stayed away from that home for years, but now she is finally ready to uncover the truth behind her son’s death. What she finds, however, is an evil force that thrives on driving people to acts of violence. Combining psychological thrills with supernatural horror, Due crafts a truly terrifying tale.
These are only a few terrifying tales to add to your TBR list this October. So, instead of watching another cheesy, gory, or overrated horror film this Halloween season, pick up a hauntingly good book instead. Let’s start the tradition of telling terrifying tales this October.
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Featured photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash