The fascination with paranormal activity is nothing new in our culture. We’re obsessed with exploring the unknown—and there are countless movies and TV shows to prove it. But with all the publicity these fascinating shows receive, it’s easy to forget about the exceptional books on the subject.
These underrated paranormal books—from chilling real-life investigations to works of fiction—deserve a place on your TBR pile. They're sure to keep you reading long into the night.
In this book, archaeologist-turned-paranormal researcher Jeff Cole delivers thrilling firsthand accounts of his experiences with the “other side.” Cole investigates paranormal phenomena with the best and most up-to-date technology, trying to uncover solid scientific evidence of a world beyond the living. As he outlines his investigative techniques and details his explorations, Cole also utilizes testimonies from different paranormal research teams he’s worked with to flesh out a full picture of his discoveries. From Gettysburg to the St. Albans Sanatorium, Cole’s work is riveting and spine-chilling.
California is more than just endless sunshine, Hollywood glitz, and sprawling beaches. In this creepy chronicle, historian Keven McQueen unearths spooky tales of horrifying hauntings and true crime cases throughout California. From Stanford University’s little known occult memorabilia collection to the San Francisco home moved to the other side of town in an effort to evict its ghoulish residents, this book dives into California’s dark oddities.
Apparitions and Haunted Houses
Apparitions and Haunted Houses collects paranormal cases from the British politician, author, and council member of the Society for psychical Research, Sir Ernest Bennett. While some of the tales documented here are from private sources, the cases are authenticated accounts. From folklore to superstitions to ghost sightings, the paranormal investigations documented in this collection provide a necessary baseline for anyone interested in that which lies beyond our earthly plane.
Horror in the Heartland
While some people define the American Midwest by its bucolic backdrop and simple living, others see a macabre horror in the abandoned barns and forsaken fields. In this book, Keven McQueen collects paranormal and true crime accounts from the small towns and country roads of Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Horror in the Heartland offers strange insights into the nature of humanity with its compiled stories that range from burial customs to ghost stories to murder-suicides.
Rhode Island's Haunted Ramtail Factory
Since 1885, Foster’s Ramtail Factory has been officially recognized as haunted by the Rhode Island Census. The building’s dark history begins over 70 years ago, when Peleg Walker and four family members started a business together. When the partnership crumbled nearly a decade later, Peleg’s body was found hanging from the bell-rope he used to ring in each shift change. But was it suicide, or murder?
To this day, Peleg’s spirit is said to keep watch over the factory, ringing his bell and careening around dark corners with his candle lantern. Ghost experts Tom D’Agostino and Arelene Nicholson bare all of their extensive research on this chilling haunting in Rhode Island’s Haunted Ramtail Factory.
In this book, occult expert and bestselling author J.H. Brennan explores a spooky side to history—the influence of the spirit world. Brennan posits that important events through time have actually been heavily impacted by the voices from beyond the veil. He takes a scholarly look at the occult beliefs of King Nebuchadnezzar and Adolf Hitler and the policies that developed as a result, as well as the impact of religious visions from the likes of Joan of Arc and native shamans.
Ghosts of the Queen Mary
Now settled in the Port of Long Beach, the RMS Queen Mary may seem like a tourist trap. But this stately ship, which sailed the North Atlantic for 31 years, is said to be haunted by more than 600 spirits. Paranormal investigators Brian Clune and Bob Davis dive into the history of the once-luxurious ship and take readers through the hot spots of activities as they recount spooky tales from the ship's past.
Related: Lost at Sea: The 85-Year-Old Mystery of the SS Morro Castle and its Fiery Demise
Supernatural Lore of Pennsylvania
This book dives into the legends and lore that haunt the state of Pennsylvania—from child ghosts to werewolves. If you're a fan of paranormal history (that still touches people today), then Thomas White's book is a great place to begin. Along with a group of experts, he dives into Pennsylvania's sometimes-frightening past, from phantom trains that can still be heard making their way down tracks that have long since been removed to ghosts of the Civil War.
A pioneer of paranormal research, Hans Holzer has investigated some of the most famous haunted places across the globe and throughout history, including the Bell Witch of Tennessee and the Millbraw Poltergeist. His inquiries were conducted along with his trusted psychic Sybil Leek, whose insights were eerily accurate despite receiving no information from Holzer or those who experienced the hauntings. Throughout their research, equipment inexplicably broke down, ghost sightings were recorded, and other strange events occurred. The team’s best photographic evidence appears in this book, illustrating Holzer’s detailed reports.
The Haunted House
In 1879, author Walter Hubbell traveled to Amherst, Nova Scotia to investigate the rumored haunting of eighteen-year-old Esther Cox. Prior to Hubbell’s arrival, unexplained events happened to Cox’s family—including Esther being plagued by a mysterious illness. Hubbell spent six weeks in the family home, where he witnessed the terrifying events, now known as the Great Amherst Mystery. Eventually, Hubbell documented the ordeal in this bestselling book.
A Beleaguered City and Other Tales of the Seen and the Unseen
Victorian author Margaret Oliphant delivers eerie and shocking supernatural terrors in this collection of short stories. “The Library Window” offers uncertain philosophies at the moment when night and day become one. “The Land of Darkness” spins a tale of terror as it depicts purgatory as a modern urban epicenter full of otherworldly spooks. And in the novella A Beleaguered City, the dead return in droves.
Originally published in 1963, this book is a collection of Scottish ghost stories rooted in historic realism. Historian William Croft Dickinson centered his richly eerie tales of the epic Scotland landscape around real people, places, and things. From hellish writing that leaves its readers dead, to a ghoulish feudal baron cutting a path of slaughter, each story is unsettling and horrific.
Sammy Kehoe, his sister Charlotte, and her four-year-old daughter Maggie travel to the isolated Fox Island to grieve lost family members in the wake of a terrible accident. In their old Maine home, they lean on each other as they try to heal—and the locals have more comfort to offer them than expected. But when Sammy and Maggie’s shared and strange paranormal abilities threaten their hard-won peace, ghosts begin to claw their way to the surface. Fox Island suddenly isn’t a very nice—or safe—place for the Kehoe siblings to be.
Property of a Lady
Michael Flint agrees to help out his American friends with a little housesitting. Yet he has no idea how dark and strange his life is about to become. Tasked with looking after the Charect House in Shropshire, Michael is ill at ease about the home’s cursed reputation. The building has laid vacant for nearly one hundred years, and it holds strange echoes of the past. But when the widowed Nell West enters the home, the malevolent force within comes out in full in this "inventively plotted, goose-bumps inducing ghost story" (Booklist).
The Going and the Rise
Author F.G. Cottam spins a tale of "old-fashioned suspense combined with modern horror imagery" (The Times, London) in this eerie novella set upon the Isle of Wight. Michael Aldridge meticulously constructed a dream home for his family, but after moving in, their life is not the bright fantasy he had hoped it would be. His daughter’s disturbing illness only worsens, and odd occurrences stack up until he sees terrifying unearthly forces gliding through the island mist. Sinister events soon unfold before him. Can Michael unearth the ancient truth before all is lost?
Related: What Are the Best Weird Fiction Books? Here Are 13 Tales of Cosmic Horror to Get You Started
The Tesla Gate
Although The Tesla Gate is a work fiction, much of its inspiration came from Mimms’ experience as a paranormal researcher. Mimms supervised over 100 investigations and authored numerous articles on the paranormal while he was the Technical Director for The Atlantic Paranormal Society. Combining his strange experiences with fiction in The Tesla Gate, Mimms examines the phenomenon of spirits living among us as “Impalpables” and the realistic effects these specters might have on institutions that seek to eliminate them or harness their power.
After being injured in a car accident, Pamela is taken in by the Whittakers—a family living on a remote farm in the Ozark hills. At first, Pamela takes comfort in the family’s peaceful lifestyle, but soon it becomes clear that the family is hiding secrets. And when Pamela is faced with a terrifying, unnatural evil, she knows she must escape…that is, if they let her.
The Silence of Ghosts
A war-torn English countryside serves as the backdrop for this "abominably ominous . . . bloody good ghost story" by the author of Naomi's Room (Tor.com). After suffering an injury during WWII, Dominic Lancaster decamps to his family’s country estate in search of some much-needed rest and relaxation. Joining him is his deaf 10-year-old sister Octavia and a private nurse named Rose. At first, the change is good; Dominic even starts to kindle a romantic relationship with Rose. Soon, however, Octavia begins to hear things. The chilling twist shakes Dominic and Rose to their core—especially when they find out what it is Octavia is hearing.
A Face at the Window
When the Selways head to London to escape the eerie quiet of their own home, they realize that they’ve simply traded one horror for another. Fifty years ago at the Hotel Willerton, a girl fell to her death from one of the windows. And now, that girl is haunting recovering alcoholic and drug addict Cookson Selway.
Stories of Terror and the Supernatural
This must-own anthology collects twenty-two tales penned by literature's greatest ghost storytellers. From Charlotte Bronte and Henry James to Willa Cather and , prepare to meet the grandmasters of darkness in this chilling collection brimming with psychological terror and spectral visitors from beyond the grave.
The Light at the End
New York City is a mess. Ten people have been killed on the subway—murders that defy all reason and have no pattern. Dubbing the criminal as the “Subway Psycho,” police have no idea who, or rather what, they’re looking for. This novel of paranormal suspense will have you hooked.
If you’re a fan of small town horror, you’ll love Douglas Clegg’s novel. When a young man returns to his hometown to find the girl he once loved, the town must confront its terrifying past. This book has possessed children, a creepy abandoned house, and more paranormal horror.
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Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Hans Holzer's trusted psychic was named Sylvia Leek. It has been corrected to Sybil Leek.