With summer finally here, it’s the perfect time to escape the city, travel upstate, and rent a house with your closest friends. You can spend your days exploring unmarked hiking trails, or even befriend a ragtag band of locals. Who knows, you might also partake in a harvest ceremony beneath the full moon!
Just as our parents once said “nothing good happens after midnight,” nothing good happens in isolated cabins and wooded areas either. We recommend avoiding them altogether, and reading a book from the comfort of your own air conditioned apartment instead. The following books are our top recommendations for getting the thrills and chills of the creepiest cabin vacations and outdoor adventures—without the danger of whatever hides among the trees.
The Constantine family has relocated to small-town New England, hoping the country air will give them a simpler, more peaceful life. Sure, their new neighbors are a bit eccentric—particularly when it comes to the annual harvest festival—but perhaps the Constantines are too accustomed to the hustle and bustle of the city. But they'll soon find that what seems innocent on the surface is actually steeped in a dark and horrifying evil…Published in 1973, Harvest Home is the “brilliantly imagined” horror classic that inspired Stephen King's Children of the Corn (The Boston Globe).
The Man in the Woods
As the new girl in school, Helen just wants to survive her first day and get the heck home. Out of pity, the principal puts Helen on the school paper, where she meets a fellow student named Pinky Levy. After school one day, the girls witness a fatal car crash—and notice that a strange man is standing in the woods nearby. Though one of the students is arrested for causing the wreck, Helen and Pinky know the mysterious man is the person (or thing) responsible...
The Spirit Wood
Peter and his wife, Meg, think they’ve hit the jackpot when they suddenly inherit a vast family estate out in the woods. But there’s something very sinister awaiting them in their new home—a spirit that takes the form of a beautiful woman. And this woman wants Peter all to herself. Featuring plenty of pagan rituals and blood curses, The Spirit Wood is another fantastic supernatural chiller from writer-slash-occult expert Robert Masello.
Trick or Treat
Martha’s going through a decidedly Beetlejuice-esque summer when her father remarries and moves the family to a drafty house in the country. As if that isn’t enough, Martha knows the place is haunted—something lurks in her closet at night—though everyone else thinks she’s being high-strung. Once left to their own devices, however, Martha and her new step-brother will discover the home’s bloody history and realize they aren’t the only ones living inside its walls…
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
While on an epic hike with her mom and brother, Trisha’s wanders off on her own, needing to escape their incessant fighting. Just when she thinks she’s found a shortcut out of the woods, the trail only takes her farther and farther from safety—and into the night. As she struggles to get her bearings, she imagines her favorite Red Sox player, Tom Gordon, is at her side. But while Tom’s presence is just a wishful fantasy, Trisha isn’t as alone as she thinks...
Related: The 6 Scariest Stephen King Books
One of the most terrifying and controversial modern horror novels (and movies), James Dickey’s Deliverance may have you swearing off wilderness excursions forever. Four friends on a canoe trip find that they’re no match for the Georgia wilderness, where the dense woods mask the presence of an absolute evil. With its bone-chilling suspense and palpable sense of menace, this a harrowing “novel that will curl your toes” (New York Times Book Review).
Now an equally unsettling film, The Ritual also tells a wilderness survival story starring four male friends. Unfortunately, their adventure in a Scandinavian national park—a trip made in honor of their recently-deceased buddy, Rob—takes a terrifying turn when they get helplessly lost. With the elements against them and supplies running low, the men must band together if they hope to make it out of the park alive…Especially when they stumble across an eerie cabin with even creepier things inside.
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Featured still from "The Cabin in the Woods" via Lionsgate