Despite living in the most high-tech phase of modern history there will always be idealistic and dedicated fans of one of the most classic forms of entertainment, Of course, we are referring to reading. So if you’re not into fancy films with super-expensive costumes and special effects, video games, TV shows, and any form of high-technology entertainment we selected 25 scary books that will keep you up at night this Halloween.
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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
The scary stories of the title are pieces of folklore and urban legends collected and adapted by Schwartz, while the marvelous Stephen Gammell is responsible for the scary illustrated pictures within the pages. This is one of the best choices for any reader who wants some diversity on Halloween night.
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
First off, let’s make it clear that Joe Hill is not Stephen King and he will never be as great as his father but with this book he proved that he is capable of writing tales nearly as scary and good as those of his father. With this poltergeist caper about an aging rock star who collects macabre memorabilia Hill manages to offer us creepy images that will haunt our minds for a long, long time.
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M. R. James
R. James is a master at developing the suspense in his tales of terror. In this book you will find many creepy, scary short stories that will definitely disturb your sleep for quite a while. The best advice we can give you is to read this collection with the lights on the whole time.
Under the Skin by Michel Faber
In this book, which recently became a movie with the gorgeous Scarlet Johansson, a beautiful woman that is not what she appears to be picks up big, muscular male hitchhikers. What she does with them . . . well, let’s just say it will turn you into a vegetarian for at least a month (if not the rest of your life) and we can definitely say that this would be Hannibal Lecter’s favorite book if he were more than just a fictional character.
The Right Hand of Evil by John Saul
John Saul did an excellent job with this psychological thriller. The reader can completely relate to the characters and the big quandary they find themselves in. Even though there’s a good chance you might find it hideous instead of scary at times, this book will manage to give you a fright and freak you out at the same time.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
If you’re looking for just another scary monster story you might be disappointed with this one since this book is so much more than it appears to be. The writing itself is simple but also very effective and the beautiful illustrations fit in perfectly and enhance the imaginative quality of the story. This book is a must-read for anyone who seeks some generous doses of “sophisticated horror.“
Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
An amnesia victim suffers from short-term memory loss in S. J. Watson’s debut, Before I Go to Sleep. As the victim, Christine, spirals into paranoia, the reader wonders if—and why—her husband is not being entirely truthful with her. Without question, Before I Go to Sleep is a suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller relentlessly paced.
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
In Ghost Story the characters are interesting human beings with flaws, the small-town setting is vividly wrought, and the supernatural menace is palpable. Straub is without a doubt a great writer with many awesome books under his belt, but this one is the perfect book to get introduced to Stephen King’s infrequent writing partner.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
With this book Anne Rice manages to deliver the confessions of a vampire in the most realistic and masterful way. Not necessarily scary and horrifying but without a doubt hypnotic, shocking at times, and irresistibly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty, about love and loss and the extraordinary power of the senses. As for the fans? We’re still trying to make up our minds if we liked the book or the film better.
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton by Edith Wharton
With this book you get what the title says. Eleven spine-tingling tales of the supernatural bring to light the author’s interest in the traditional New England ghost story and her fascination with spirits, hauntings, and other phenomena. This is definitely the right book for those who have had the opportunity to watch the BBC adaptations of these stories, but also for every fan of fright who tends to keep the lights on at the night.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
If you’ve seen the Tim Burton film with Johnny Depp in the main role or the countless TV versions based on the headless horseman then The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of those classics that you can’t just skip. Additionally, make sure you’re okay with feeling chills crawl up your spine because we can assure you that you will feel many effects such as this while reading this classic.
Chasing the Dead by Tim Weaver
This book is a road trip back to life, literally. Susan Young’s daughter gets kidnapped and the strange voice on the other end of her telephone line tells her to follow a specific route from her childhood hometown where she has to pick up a dead body that she assumes is the corpse of a man she knows was killed many years before. We can’t say more without giving too much away but we highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys almost unendurable suspense!
Gods of The Nowhere: A Novel of Halloween by James Tipper
This book totally has a classic feel to it, like a book that’s been around for a while. Druids, witches, skeletons, vampires . . . they’re all here and they want their world back. What follows is a roller coaster ride through a haunted world that bleeds into our own on Halloween night. Did I mention it was creepy?
Harbour by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Lindqvist attempts to find horror in the element of water and he achieves this feat with Harbour, a stunning story of a man who loses his daughter to the sea and a pair of ghosts. If you’re looking for an intelligent, spooky, and mostly non-gory horror tale, this beautifully written story is just the ticket.
Seven Gothic Tales by Karen Blixen
If you’re into early twentieth-century gothic fiction then this is definitely the book for you. Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen) amazingly captures the wild power of the imagination and in each of these tales includes suspense, intrigue, violence, and a strong, unconventional woman. The narratives contain many twists and only a careful reading will absorb the full beauty of her language. If you’re a feminist who happens to love the classic gothic stories then this book will make you more than happy.
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft
More horrific than haunting, The Call of Cthulhu is the perfect example of H. P. Lovecraft’s incredibly morbid but creative imagination. Lovecraft is probably the most influential writer of horror fiction in history and here he explores the pervading power of cults and will probably astound you with his ability to illuminate the seemingly indescribable in nearly every story included in the volume. Additionally, his striking skill in elucidating unnatural, unworldly situations in such comprehensive, disturbing detail is simply one of a kind.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
We’re not going to lie but before you buy this book you should know it isn’t one of those easy reads that holds your hand and where everything falls into place as you’re reading. Instead it makes you work, and what you get out of it depends on how much you’re willing to let your creative imagination work.
House of Leaves is difficult for the most part, incredibly complex, occasionally pretentious, and definitely not the ideal book for the casual reader, but if you’re looking for something that will take you to another level (and you’re willing to put the effort into it) then go for it and you won’t regret discovering this little gem of horror.
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
Way before The Conjuring and Annabelle there was The Amityville Horror, a supposedly true story of a family of five who moved into a new home, complete with finished basement, swimming pool, and boathouse back in the mid-seventies. Twenty-eight days later, they fled in terror, leaving most of their belongings behind but forever keeping their terrifying memories after experiencing a series of paranormal events.
The rare story of this family’s experiences was widely publicized on network television, in newspapers and national magazines, and eventually became a really scary book.
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
Carrion Comfort is one of those books that you will probably have a hard time finishing even if you’re a die-hard fan of horror literature. Don’t get the wrong idea since this is a true page-turner, but it can be way too dense and frightening at times to the point you will have to take a break or two. It’s kind of a vampire story, but it’s also about the legacy of the Holocaust. It’s brilliantly suspenseful and cinematic in its imagery, but it’s often more concerned with exploring the nature of evil itself.
It is, in short, a horror story about WWII and the Nazi brutality from a supernatural point of view. It can be confusing and it’s not exactly easy reading, but according to the critics the reward is worth the effort.
Neverland by Douglas Clegg
This frightening and eerie story was originally published in the early nineties, and continues to be as haunting as it was twenty years ago. It’s a Southern Gothic story of a ten-year-old boy who becomes drawn into a web of evil on his family’s vacation. There’s a shack on his grandmother’s property that the boy’s cousin has named “Neverland,” where reality blurs with nightmare. This is the kind of book that will scare even the bravest readers so watch out.
Lost Boy, Lost Girl by Peter Straub
There are certain writers to whose work you can always look forward and Mr. Straub is one of the very few selected “horror artists” who never disappoints any true fan of the genre. This novel is much shorter than most of his previous work but this is because it was exceptionally well edited where not one word is wasted.
The way the story shifts viewpoints between characters using both first- and third-person perspectives is very well done and gives you the sense of direct participation in the plot. The storyline moves swiftly and the conclusion ties up all the loose ends, as well as leaving us a little unsure of Mark Underhill’s fate.
The Shining by Stephen King
The only true regret you can have after reading this modern classic work of terror written by the master of the genre is that you didn’t read it sooner. Stephen King manages to create a really creepy and intense atmosphere to the point where it can feel like the reader is right there in the places he describes such as the hotel. To make a long story short, if you liked the film then you will love the book.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
This book will have you wondering why doctors and scientists insist on visiting remote, forbidding houses in search of the supernatural when in 99.9 percent of the cases it ends tragically and scares the crap out of you in the process. The Haunting of Hill House is a masterpiece of horror written by Shirley Jackson and is correctly considered one of the greatest ghost stories of the twentieth century, generating fear through the psychological breakdown of its main character, Eleanor Vance.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
This, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t just any vampire tale but the book that all vampire and even horror stories are judged by and is without a doubt the most famous fictional work to bring the historical Dracula to readers’ attention, though the debate rages on how closely Stoker based his vampire on the real Vlad the Impaler. What amazes us even more, however, is the fact that despite being written in 1897, it manages to thrill and excite readers like it’s the very first time he or she ever read anything about the supreme creature of the night.
Dark and vicious, creepy and sexually alluring, Dracula is probably the epitome of all evil characters. Even if you’re not a vampire fan, there’s a good chance you’ll become one after reading this.
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
This is probably the bible of all Halloween books and the ideal choice for anyone who’s not looking for just any horror book but an ultimate Halloween book. After having read The Halloween Tree, there’s a good chance that you might decide to read Ray Bradbury every Halloween, and we are not exaggerating with this statement.