The time of ghosts and spooks is upon us, which means it’s time to shelf the beach reads for a month or two and dig into something a bit more atmospheric. There are the classics of course. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Turn of the Screw, The Haunting of Hill House, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and etc.
But what if you’ve already read them, or you need/want something different and fresh? Maybe you’re looking for a new twist on vampires or something with a bit of humor. Maybe you need something to make sleep impossible. Well, don’t worry. I got you!
The following are some great Halloween reads you might not have heard of, but will definitely enjoy.
1. HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER – Lish McBride
Okay, yes. If you follow me on twitter or Instagram, you know I go on about this book a lot. And yes, I will always look for an excuse to recommend it to people. But that’s because it’s brilliant and an absolute favourite. It centers around Sam, a (you guessed it) necromancer. Except he’s only just discovered he’s a necromancer, thanks to a fast food prank that puts him on the radar of Douglas, a powerful necromancer that wants to join forces… or else.
This book and its sequel or straight perfection. It’s funny, original, and has a fabulous cast of characters, including a re-animated talking head. What more do you want?
2. SERVANTS OF THE STORM – Delilah Dawson
Looking for something with more of a creep factor? This will do the trick.
After a hurricane blows through Savannah, Georgia and takes the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly, with it, Dovey disappears into a medicated haze. But something truly sinister blew in with that storm. Dovey will need to stop her meds and follow it into the darkness if she wants to save her friend and her city.
This one is legitimately creepy. It had me on the edge of my seat and screeching at Dovey like a lunatic until the final page. Read this one with the lights on.
3. THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN – Holly Black
It’s not Halloween without some vampires, and not only did Holly Black take on one of the world’s most overdone monsters, she managed to give it new life (no pun intended) in the process. From the book jacket:
“One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.”
This is the book that made me fall in love with Holly Black. Read it, friends. Read it.
4. HEART-SHAPED BOX – Joe Hill
Time to get back into the scary, and for that we turn to the master, Joe Hill. From the book jacket:
“Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre … so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it. The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit.”
I loved this book so much, even though it gave me some pretty intense willies. From the moment that box arrived, I was filled with dread and the tension continues to build with every page. It’s a truly phenomenal ghost story, and when you’re done with it make sure you read HORNS as well, also by Joe Hill and also a masterpiece.
5. REST IN PIECES: THE CURIOUS FATES OF FAMOUS CORPSES – Bess Lovejoy
Throwing a little non-fiction into the mix. Why? First of all, it’s delightfully macabre, which is perfect for getting into the spirit of Halloween, and second, it’s fascinating! Lovejoy tells the stories of what happened to many of the famously dead and the results are both hilarious and horrifying. You honestly won’t be able to stop reading and frankly, you’re going to have some killer dinner party stories (at least if your friends are any fun you will).
6. I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER – Dan Wells
Creepy and original, Wells manages to mix two perfectly terrifying ideas: serial killers and demons. From the book jacket:
“John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it. He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential. … Now for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside of himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.”
If you’re looking for a page turner, this is it. Perfectly crafted and researched, this one kept me up all night.
7. SUNSHINE – Robin McKinley
I couldn’t resist adding another vampire book. ‘Tis the season, right? And like Holly Black, McKinley was able to completely re-invent the classic monster, with excellent writing and plot to boot. From the book jacket:
“There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind. Until they found her…”
I’m not going to beg you to read this… Okay I am. It’s just so good!
8. JOHANNES CABAL THE NECROMANCER – Jonathan L. Howard
Oh, how I love this book! It’s so clever and satisfying and utterly perfect.
Johannes Cabal makes a deal with the devil and the battle of wits begins. He must collect 100 souls in one year in order to get his own soul, which he traded earlier in life, returned to him.
Is there anything else I need to say to convince you? How about that it’s funny and unexpected and did I mention already that it’s perfect?
9. THE BOY MEETS GIRL MASSACRE – Ainslie Hogarth
We’re back to creepy. And this one is a slow burn, a deeply, deeply creepy read. From the book jacket:
“Noelle takes a summer nightshift job at the infamous Boy Meets Girl Inn, even though she’s well aware of the grisly murders that happened there decades ago. That’s why she has a diary – to write down everything she experiences. But the inexplicable freezing drafts, the migrating rotten-flesh smell, and the misplaced personal items don’t really scare her. Noelle has bigger problems: her father’s ailing health, her friend Alfred’s inappropriate crush, and the sore spot on the back of her head that keeps getting worse.”
I’m not going to lie. I had to take breaks while reading this one because I was getting too freaked out.
10. THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS – M.R. Carey
Don’t worry. I wasn’t going to leave you hanging. What’s a list of Halloween reads without zombies? Especially new and exciting ones. Carey re-imagines zombies in this brilliant work, making them both eerie and terrifying, as well as sympathetic. I’ll let you read to find out what I mean.
One thing’s for sure, you won’t be able to put it down.
All right, that’s it friends. Make sure to share this article with friends who are also looking for something good to read this Halloween. (I’d love it if some of these became book club picks). Follow me on Instagram and twitter if you’d like to see more of what I’m reading on a regular basis. Now, go forth and read!