Tis the season to get scared—and stay scared! October brings with it cooler weather and a sudden rush of people everywhere looking for something truly chilling. What better way to amplify the to-read-pile than with a slew of quick reads that can keep you mortified?
We gathered up a slew of must-read novellas that’ll help grow your reading lists.
This utterly unique novella by author Naben Ruthnum has become one of the most surprising reads of 2022. Taking place in the early 20th century, readers are introduced to Louise, a nurse that is taking care of her sick husband, Edward. Whatever affliction he has bordered on surreal, and truly a standout display of body horror. Ruthnum deftly offers both Louise's and Edward’s perspectives while battling both the haunting suffering and his inevitable mortality.
McGregor is prolific and you really can’t go wrong with any of his books. The recently released Lure is a well-written tale of cosmic horror, about a small fishing town called Torgrimsvaer and a character named Kaspar Lensman as a storm rolls in to change the towns lives forever. McGregor’s master world-building and ability to pace a story so well that the pages turn will ensure that Lure is a single-sitting unforgettable read.
Kelsea Yu’s Bound Feet, the latest from Sadie Hartmann’s My Dark Library series of novellas out from Cemetery Gates Media, will have readers diving headfirst into Chinese folklore. Set in Portland’s Chinese Garden and Ghost Museum on the night of the Hungry Ghost Moon, which is when spirits can return to the corporeal plane, Jodi and her friend decide to go to the museum after hours, hoping to commune with the ghost of a toddler that drowned in the museum’s pond. When it turns out there’s more than the ghost of a young toddler orbiting the museum, you can bet things do not go as planned.
And Then I Woke Up
If you’re kind of tired of post-apocalyptic pandemic-related fiction, I don’t blame you. Thankfully, Malcolm Devlin’s And Then I Woke Up does things differently. Here it’s a world suffering from a virus that causes the infected to succumb to a delusion, unable to see reality for what it is. It’s a cool take on affliction and is even better articulated by Devlin’s choice to set the story at a rehabilitation facility. Readers will go in confused and end up feeling as though they’ve seen their own sense of reality peel back to reveal something untold, new, and utterly frightening.
Hightower has been writing some of the best, most dynamic horror for a while now. If you haven’t checked out her novella Below, definitely get at the one too.
However, if there’s one to start with, it’s her novella Crossroads. The book is utterly devastating in that sort of manner that makes you remember how important your friends and family are. Chris’s son dies in a horrible car accident and leaves her shattered. She still sees him everywhere, and even goes so far as to talk to him like he’s there, just out of her line of sight. Hightower knows how to make us care about Chris’s fractured life, and then once that trust is given, she ensures that fear, like a bloodletting, is drawn out in full.
The Girl in the Video
Got to love a story that accurately portrays paranoia and obsession. Wilson’s The Girl in the Video is about a guy named Freddie who randomly gets a video DMed to him on Instagram. It depicts a girl in a Hello Kitty mask that shouldn’t be anything major but for some reason… he can’t look away and is utterly changed after viewing it. Then more videos show up… the idea alone of being sent such videos randomly and from a stranger is creepy enough but Wilson clearly had fun with the concept and goes even further. It’s a quick read that’ll stick with you for a long time.
Forget The Sixth Sense, Sonora Taylor does the "seeing ghosts" concept right. Here we see the “gift” attributed to a girl named Abigail; she’s experiencing puberty at the same time she starts seeing blood trails that lead to ghosts. You know, something she isn’t supposed to see. No big deal, until she begins pursuing the blood, the ghosts, rather than being afraid. Taylor manages to weave together a swift-moving storyline that at once lulls you into a sense of knowing and comfort, only to then later disrupt and creep you out to the core. It’s a testament to Taylor’s powers on the page, and Seeing Things is a must-read for any time of the year, but damn near required reading for October!
Brian Keene is a master of many things and you better believe one of them is horror.
In With Teeth, one of his latest books, Keene brings us into the woods where something supernatural is lying in wait, ready to feast on some unsuspecting human beings. Those beings, in fact, come in the form of a friend group of middle-aged bros looking to turn to the world of crime and illegality to save themselves from mediocrity and financial doom. No, not drugs. Think moonshine. Of course, that supernatural element makes it impossible, and they are suddenly thrust into a fight for their lives as an inventive take on the vampire ratchets up both the novella and the reader’s energy until a satisfying end. Keene had full command of the story and it shows.