As we get into September, the weather cools, the leaves turn, and we’re really start getting excited for fall. In fact, we basically can’t wait for October, when we can sip PSLs, dress up in costumes, and get into the Halloween spirit. And what’s one of our favorite ways to prep for Halloween, you ask? Super scary books, of course. It may be too early to carve pumpkins and decorate, but that doesn’t mean we can’t totally freak ourselves out with the magic of literature while we wait.
Spooky books often get overlooked in favor of creepy movies, but they can deliver just as many chills and shivers. A good scary book — unlike a ton of scary movies — has a way of slowly but surely seeping into your consciousness until you are creeped out to the very bone. And it’s amazing.
If you want to dive into some scares, but aren’t sure where to start, here’s a list of 13 eerie books that will totally get you into the creepy mood.
1“It” by Stephen King
Okay, okay, you had to know we’d start here. It, the story of a creepy clown monster that lurks in the sewers of a small town, can turn the brightest, sunniest day creepy and terrifying. That’s the power of Stephen King. It’s the perfect scary read, whether you plan to see the new movie or not. Find the novel on Amazon here.
2“Slade House” by David Mitchell
The Goodreads page says it best, “Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t.” We already have chills. And bonus: It’s from the same author who brought us the genius that is Cloud Atlas. Get it here.
3“Fledgling” by Octavia Butler
If you like your eerie vampire tales with a side of biting social commentary, then Octavia Butler’s Fledgling is the book for you this Halloween season. The novel tells the story of a young girl suffering from amnesia, who realizes that she’s actually a 53-year-old vampire and she must confront those that want to destroy her. It’s available on Amazon here.
4“The Ghost Stories” by Edith Wharton
You may not have known, but the award-winning author of The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth also had a scary side. Edith Wharton was so scared by ghost stories in her youth that she wanted to pass that experience onto the rest of us. Each of these beautifully-written stories will totally make your toes curl, just in time for the creepy season of Halloween. Find the collection on Amazon here.
5“Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier
Another haunting, scary classic, Rebecca tells the story of a new wife haunted by her husband’s first wife. And it will chill you to the bone. One of the best-loved gothic novels of the 20th century, Rebecca is a must read for anyone who loves creepy stories. Claim your copy on Amazon here.
6“Affinity” by Sarah Waters
Inside the walls of a Victorian women’s prison, things get pretty eerie. Affinity tells the story of an upper-class woman who visits prisoners for charity, but becomes obsessed with one inmate in particular who held a séance that went horribly awry. The novel pushes the boundaries of reality, creating a totally spooky setting perfect for the Halloween season.
7“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James
This classic tale of the governess who starts seeing things at her job helped to create the concept of the “unreliable narrator.” By about the middle of this novella (and definitely by the end), the reader and the narrator aren’t sure what to believe. A governess comes to work at a new house tutoring two children when she starts to see ghosts. And believe us, you might start seeing ghosts as well. Find this classic on Amazon here (and as a bonus, it’s free as an ebook).
8“Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist
If you’re looking for another creepy movie and book combo, this will be perfect. This story features a gruesome, creepy murder and a new girl in town who seems just a little off. We recommend reading this one with the lights ON. You can thank us later. Find this eerie tale on Amazon here.
9“NOS4A2” by Joe Hill
One of the creepiest books you will ever read, end of story. And what would you expect from Stephen King’s son but the perfect Halloween read? The story follows Victoria, a girl who escaped from a terrifying kidnapper called Manx. As an adult, Victoria returns years later to confront her eerie past. Pick up this spine-chiller on Amazon here.
10“The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty
This classic story of demonic possession might be one of the creepiest movies that we’ve ever seen. But if you haven’t read the book, know that it might be even more terrifying. Your Halloween will definitely get a whole lot scarier, but isn’t that what we want? Pick this book up, if you dare, on Amazon here.
11“The Demonologist” by Gerald Brittle
Sometimes the eeriest things become that much scarier because they’re true. The Demonologist tells the story of real life paranormal investigators and the unexplained things they encountered. These two ghost hunters approach the subject with such seriousness and logic that it’s impossible to deny that there MIGHT be something paranormal out there. Find this book on Amazon here.
12“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson
What happens when four people obsessed with the paranormal visit the scary Hill House? Terror, naturally, ensues. This classic was written almost sixty years ago, but the scares still feel totally fresh. Find a copy on Amazon here.
13“My Soul to Keep” by Tananarive Due
What would you do if you found out your husband was an immortal and mysterious being? That’s the question that confronts Jessica in My Soul to Keep. In this magically creepy book, Jessica and her husband have to somehow outwit her husband’s Ethiopian sect of immortal beings, or it might mean her life. It’s a totally new take on one of these kinds of tales. You won’t be able to put it down, but you might throw it across the room once or twice. Find it on Amazon here.