The Fiction Fox
Autumn Reading Recommendations (pt. 2): Halloween
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
As announced in Part 1 of my Autumn Reading Recommendations; I've saved the spooky books for a little closer to Halloween. With only 2 more weeks to go, it's time to gather around the campfire and start compiling our TBR's for my favourite season when it comes to reading. Without any further ado, let's talk spooky books:
Haunted Houses… To start this list off right, I'll start with one of my absolute favourite tropes in fiction: the haunted house. I love the idea of ghosts and hauntings as a literary device, especially when they take place that should be your absolute safe-space: your home. Of course, I can't go without mentioning the classics like The Turn of the Screw or The Haunting of Hill House, but if you want a more recent take on the genre, you may want to check out any of the following books.
- Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
- Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
- Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia
Ghosts, but not the way you know them… The problem with loving a trope, and wanting to read all of it, is that you run the risk of a burnout. At some point, all those ghost-stories become a bit same-y... Tired of your average bump-in-the-night-poltergheists? You might want to give one of these books a try. Whether it be a haunting by a bossy literary figure, friendly spectral dogs, or Kings most recent take on the afterlife: these are ghosts like you haven't seen them before...
- The Upstairs House by Julia Fine
- Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
Lost in the Woods… Moving on to the next classic horror-trope: the spooky forest. Featuring anywhere, from gothic literature to monster-slasher fiction, the woods have always inspired a deep dread in us. So do the woods within the following stories:
- In the Nightwood by Dale Bailey
- The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
Here there be Monsters… No Halloween can pass without ghouls, vampires and monsters gallore... These three novels all include a spooky setting, home to monsters of various kinds...
- The River has Teeth by Erica Waters
- The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
- Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Witches and Folklore... Witches have taken quite the flight (pardon the pun) within fiction recently, especially around the autumnal months. They've already had their mention within part one of this list, but for this second part I'm narrowing the recommendations a bit futher down. The following three novels all deal with witches as depicted in English, Scottish and Wells folklore: interweaving witchcraft with changelings, fae and more... I personally can't get enough of this subgenre of spooks...
- The Lighthouse Witches by CJ Cooke
- The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Small Town Paranormal As with the witch-novels, "small town paranormal" already made an appearance in part one of this list. However, where those were mainly atmospheric with some light spooks, todays mentions dial the horror-factor up a notch. Where Harrow Lake may be a bit more on the campy-side of YA horror, both Burn our Bodies Down and Pet Sematary are among the few books that genuinely got under my skin when I read them for the first time.
- Pet Sematary by Stephen King
- Burn our Bodies Down by Rory Power
Female-Body Horror… Speaking of books and tropes that genuinely unnerve me, there's another highly specific sub-genre that seems to always be a little more effective for me than its competitors: body horror, to do with the female body. I'm not talking about final-girl-slasher-novels here. Instead, these books all focus on the more psychological side of physical nature of female bodies. These three books all explore that theme in unique and insightful ways. All of them are inclusive (LGBT and genderqueer), and handle the subject with care.
- Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Ghosts and Goosebumps: Middle-Grade to give you creeps... If after all those scares you need something a little more lighthearted, or if you're just starting on your horror-journey; middle grade novels are the perfect middleground to dip yout toes in the water. I highly recommend the following middle-grade ghost-stories for the perfect mix of wholesome and spooky.
- Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko
Fantasy to read in the dark… Not in the mood for horror this year? No problem! There's plenty of spooky atmosphere to go around within the fantasy genre as well with these books. I'll especially recommend Sacaran Nights, as it's an indi-published novel by an author I've really enjoyed working with before that deserves a lot more recognition!
- The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis
- Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
- Sacaran Nights by Rachel Emma Shaw
Extraterrestrial terror… I don't know about you, but ever since I was young, not many things were scarier to me than outer space. The contrast of a claustrophobic space-ship with the endless, fathomless vaccuum in which you could be lost and alone for literal infinity... Or perhaps the possiblilty that you aren't alone after all. If you're in the market for that brand of existential extraterrestrial terror: these books are for you.
- The Luminous Dead by Caitlyn Starling
- Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
- We have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen
Spooky and Short... No time to read a full novel on Halloween Eve? No problem; that's what short story collections are brilliant fore. These are the latest collections by three of my favourite authors. All fall into the slightly disturbing magical realism category, and if you like either of these authors, you will probably enjoy work by the others as well.
- From the Neck Up by Aliya Whiteley
- The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers: And Other Gruesome Tales by Jen Campbell
- Things We Say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan
Death Personified… Lastly, if you really want something outside the horror-genre that still has some Halloween-vibes: I have just the overly-specific recommendation for you. All three of these books have the personification of Death as a central figure, yet all take a very different approach to its portrayal.
- Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
- Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune