Halloween, the season of creepy monsters and cavities, is also the perfect time to curl up with a good book. Whether you like to be scared stiff by your reading material or prefer a romantic ghost story instead, the literary world contains ghouls and goblins galore if you know where to look. From classic tales of the macabre to modern supernatural thrillers, a good Halloween book offers both tricks and treats. Celebrate the holiday with some of the spooky and supernatural titles mentioned here.
Recently adapted for a UK movie starring Daniel Radcliffe, this supernatural grindhouse thriller follows Ignatius Parrish in an unpredictable and suspenseful battle for his own soul. Ig’s small town reputation catches up to him in a unexpected way the morning he wakes up from a night of heavy drinking to find a pair of unmistakably demonic horns growing from his skull. Written by the son of Stephen King, this thriller has dynamic pacing and a climax that will leave you gripping the edge of your seat.
This intensely poetic and nostalgic novel from the mind of fantasy genius Ray Bradbury focuses on one autumn in the lives of two twelve year old boys. Set in the year that “Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show” visits their small American town, it follows the two boys, one of their fathers, and the mysterious carnival leader – a haunting presence known as “Mr. Dark.” Bradbury’s title comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, uttered by a witch as she completes her spell. This novel holds secrets and terrors for the protagonists and for all readers who possess the kind of romantic Halloween spirit that still inspires dreams of running away with the circus.
Set in the future following a zombie apocalypse, humanity finds itself presented with the unique complications of raising zombie children. In this dystopia, many humans have been infected with a fungus that deprives them of their mental powers and inspires them to feed on the flesh of healthy, live specimens – leading the remaining members of the human race to refer to them as “hungries.” This unusual and compelling thriller tells the story of Melanie, an “intelligent hungry” who is escorted to her classes every morning at gunpoint and studies in a room full of strapped down and carefully monitored zombie children. The Girl With All The Gifts offers a refreshing and imaginative new perspective on a classic Halloween staple, with strong characters and a page-turning plotline.
This suspenseful, cerebral novel follows a twisted narrative of spiraling madness unlike anything you’ve ever read. Hidden within textured degrees of separation, constructed as a novel-within-a-novel, this strange story focuses on a small family who awake one morning to find a door in their kitchen that wasn’t there before. This simple discovery starts a dark chain of events that threatens to swallow every piece of their lives. The ghostly premise, unique formatting and labyrinthine pacing give this novel a crushing feeling of claustrophobia that will haunt you long after you finish the final twist of the tale.
While the 1968 film adaptation of this book is spooky enough, the novel itself is celebrated as a horror classic that chills like none other. Rosemary is an optimistic young housewife whose dreams of starting a family go hauntingly awry when she and her husband move into a new building with a bad reputation. After announcing her pregnancy, their seemingly friendly neighbors start showing an unhealthy interest in the unborn child. As it would turn out, they’re actually members of a Satanic coven. A short and punchy fiction gem from thriller master Ira Levin, Rosemary’s Baby makes a quick and entertaining Halloween read. Played by Mia Farrow in the film version, available here as well as on YouTube, Levin eventually published a sequel to the novel, titled Son of Rosemary, in 1997 and dedicated it to the waifish star.
This modern take on witchcraft follows an investigative journalist who embarks on a bizarre journey, ultimately unravelling the secrets behind the death of his wife and child in ways that he could never have imagined. This supernatural detective story follows a strange trail of magic and mayhem through the heartland of America, where a series of accidental infant deaths may be more than just a mundane tragedy. After responding to several incidences with paramedics, he discovers that all the dead children were read the same nursery rhyme from the same book before they died – this nursery rhyme or “culling song” being the same one he read to his wife and baby, killing them as well. Tracing this haunted lullaby back to it’s African origins, this thoroughly contemporary gothic tale explores the creeping horror that lives within everyday things and perfectly normal people.