Now that the year's spookiest season is finally here, you may be craving a scary story to celebrate the occasion. Whether you’re a fan of the paranormal, unexplained phenomenon, or the mysterious beast lurking in the woods, we’ve got the best bone-chilling reads for you. These 16 scary books are sure to satisfy every October craving—just don’t blame us for the sleepless nights that are sure to follow.
Recently featured in The New York Times’ list for author-recommended scary books, Come Closer is literary horror at its finest: With her picture-perfect marriage and Manhattan loft, you could say Amanda’s life is almost perfect. “Almost” because there are things that keep going bump in the night—and she's received a creepy self-help book she never ordered. This isn’t your typical guide to thinking positive, but a primer on demonic possession that, with each passing day, becomes more and more relevant to Amanda's life. Suddenly, she has strong urges to harm her husband, nightmares about pointy-toothed women, and encounters she does not remember...Her unraveling is swift and terrifying—but is it proof that she is, in fact, possessed? Or has she gone insane?
Mad Madame LaLaurie
Fans of American Horror Story: Coven will get a kick out of this book on Kathy Bates’ character, Delphine Lalaurie. As the sadistic murderess of slaves and the inhabitant of one of New Orleans’ most haunted houses, she figures greatly in the folklore of a city known for its creepiness. But there’s still much to learn about “Mad Madame Lalaurie”—like the details of her alleged crimes, her motivations, and the 1834 fire that nearly burned down her home. Prepare for an unsettling but informative read as a historian and novelist shed light on these mysteries to reveal the real story behind this 19th-century monster.
When Stacey Oberman takes a shortcut off the main road, she hopes it'll cut down on her travel time—not her and her five-year-old daughter's lives. But that seems more and more likely once they find themselves stranded in the rain with a broken-down car, their only hope a dilapidated farmhouse nearby. And while the building’s exterior looks unwelcoming, Stacey will soon realize that its inhabitants are even worse—and that her ultimate destination may truly be the grave. “Scary from the first to last page,” this backwoods horror story will convince you to skip the unfamiliar country detours when you're driving to a Halloween corn maze this month (Dean Koontz)...
The Witch of Delray
While we love all things related to cauldron-brewing, broom-flying spookiness, the term “witch” has been used to marginalize women for centuries. Rose Veres, a Hungarian immigrant and boarding house owner in Depression-era Detroit, was one of the many to suffer the consequences. In 1931, she and her son were accused of murdering several of her tenants—crimes that earnied her nicknames like “the witch of Delray” and the “Hex Woman.” Karen Dybis’ true crime book examines the sensational case, from the original accusations to the Vereses’ 15-year sentences to their ongoing legacy as serial killers. Rose’s story may not be one of harmful spells and demonic wickedness—but it’ll still give you chills this Halloween season.
In 1978, a mother claims her son was kidnapped by a strange creature in the Swedish woodlands. In present-day, another child vanishes without a trace—though this time, there seems to be proof that a shapeshifter was probably at fault. To corroborate this evidence, professional troll hunter Susso Myren embarks on the quest she's always dreamed about—hoping she will solve both mysteries once and for all. But in searching of the truth, will Susso find a monster that she, like the missing children, will not be able to outsmart? Translated into English from the author’s native Swedish, this is an atmospheric, myth-infused horror novel that’ll definitely give you the heebie-jeebies on an October night (or any night, to be honest).
Ghosts of Salem
Welcome to Salem, Massachusetts, one of the most popular haunts for the ghosts of New England. Called “The Witch City,” it’s mostly known as the site of the 17th-century witch trials that saw 18 people hanged—and one man pressed to death. But their spirits are joined by many others, according to paranormal expert Sam Baltrusis, such as the murdered sea captain that inspired Edgar Allan Poe and the woman of Ropes Mansion (which is coincidentally featured in Hocus Pocus). Baltrusis examines all of the city's creepy legends in his book, taking you on a tour that’ll keep you looking over your shoulder.
After the car accident that kills his fiancée, an injured Michael wakes in a Montana hospital with a serious case of amnesia. As he gradually recovers, he finds himself getting to know the people of Trinity, including a beautiful window who takes him under her wing. But despite the kindness he’s shown, Michael can’t help but shake the eerie feeling that no one—even himself—is who they appear to be...Settle in for a mind-bending spine-tingler that’ll make you question what’s real and what’s imagination, what’s alive and what’s dead.
3 Gates of the Dead
Young assistant pastor Aiden is conflicted with his faith in God and the hypocrisy of the church. When he learns his ex-fiancée is the first victim in a thread of ritualistic killings, Aiden finds himself thrown into investigating her death. The more questions he asks, the more he learns about a strange Anglican priest, a paranormal investigation group, and a solo female detective—all with their hands somewhere in the murders. As he uncovers the truth behind gruesome rituals, ancient hidden secrets, and a long buried threat, Aiden’s world is begins to fall apart.
A Face at the Window
After sending their only daughter away to school, Cookson Selway and his wife Ellen decide to vacation in London to escape their now-empty house. But the trip doesn’t go according to plan. At their strange hotel with even more peculiar guests, Selway finds himself drawn into the mystery surrounding a young girl who fell from the hotel window 60 years before. As he falls deeper into the mysterious story, he threatens his marriage and jeopardizes the lives of those around him. But the consequences of his escape are far greater than he could have imagined.
When successful cartoonist Max Fischer meets Lily Aaron and her nine-year-old son Lincoln, he is oddly intrigued; but after a string of recent failed love affairs, he’s remaining cautious. As Max spends more time with the Aarons, he begins to fall in love with them—and they seem to love him with equal intensity. But as soon as Max moves in with the family, he uncovers disturbing secrets about Lily—including a suspicious lack of evidence that her ex-husband ever existed.
There’s Someone Inside Your House
Known for her young adult contemporary stories, international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with this classic high school slasher thriller. When the students at Osborne High begin dying in a series of gruesome murders, terror grows and the hunt for the killer intensifies. Slowly, dark secrets of the students begin to reveal themselves and must be confronted. Order unravels and chaos ensues in this frightening horror novel.
The Grip of It
This chilling story is about a young couple who purchases and lives in a haunted house. As James and Julie begin to settle into their new home, new relationship, and new life, strange happenings begin to occur. Their home begins to decay before their eyes—stains on the walls are animated and map themselves onto Julie’s body in the form of bruises, and mold taints the water James pours from the sink. Together, the couple must embark on a daunting search to find and end the terrors haunting the place they're so desperately trying to call home.
When washed-out, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne receives a black, heart-shaped box containing the suit of a dead man, he unknowingly welcomes a vengeful ghost into his home. Turns out, the ghost is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after 54-year-old Coyne used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to make Coyne pay, the ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his attack on the rocker’s sanity.
Let the Right One In
In the autumn of 1981, the remains of a teenage boy are found in a Swedish suburb—his body entirely emptied of blood. The murder is rumored to be part of a ritual killing. For 12-year-old Oskar, he’s hoping this means revenge for the daily bullying he endures in school. But the murders aren’t the only strange thing Oskar encounters: A new girl has moved in next door and she’s very odd—starting with the fact that she only comes out at night...
Dan is thrilled to enroll at New Hampshire College Prep for the summer, hoping to put his outcast past behind him. But when he arrives, Dan discovers his dorm used to be a sanatorium, also known as an asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane. With his new friends, Abby and Jordan, Dan begins exploring the hidden parts of their creepy summer home. And he soon realizes it’s no coincidence the three of them ended up there. The asylum holds the key to a terrifying past...and some secrets that just refuse to stay buried.
Beneath the Willow
Thomas would do anything for Keziah—so when she calls him one night in desperate need of his help, he doesn’t realize the horror has just begun. Keziah thinks she’s been bitten by a vampire, but Thomas doesn’t believe in things like that. However, when Keziah doesn’t heal and begins to change...he can’t can’t deny the truth. In this horrifying tale, Thomas will have to make the ultimate choice.
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