Although I’m still not completely ready to acknowledge that summer is already drawing to an end, it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the decreasing temperatures and browning leaves. The fact that I’m typing this indoors, wearing an oversized sweater, sipping a scolding hot coffee and debating whether or not it’s too early to turn on the heater says enough: autumn is here.
I’ll have to find solace in the fact that those cooler temperatures and rainy weather make for prime reading conditions, and I have a bunch of books on my TBR that I’m more than excited to get to. Today, I’ll share 8 books from my autumn TBR, that I hope to get to within the next couple of months. Most of them share that “atmospheric” nature that makes a good autumn-read for me. So without further ado: let’s get into the autumn-reading material.
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
High on my list of most anticipated novels of 2019 was Middlegame by Seanan McGuire, and although it’s been out for a few months now, I’ve held off on it until closer to autumn as it seems perfect for this time of year.
At the time of writing this post, I’m already about 100 pages into this beast of a book, and man… it’s equal parts weird and awesome so far… I’m really excited to see where this goes next.
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (The Diviners #2)
Mix nineteen-twenties-New York-glamour with an amazing diverse cast of characters and throw in a serial killer and a generous serving of occultism, and you basically get The Diviners. After hearing so much hype over this series, I finally started it at the beginning of 2019, and boy was I sleeping on a gem until now. If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it, especially round this time of year. As for me: I’ll be picking up its sequel Lair of Dreams sometime soon.
Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin
I’m honestly not quite sure how to introduce this novel, as I don’t know too much about what it is about and would like to keep it that way. That being said, part of my was so intrigued by the description on the backflap, that I almost blindly bought it upon release. Instead of my summarizing it, I recommend you click the title and read the description for yourself on Goodreads, as it does a better job of giving you an atmospheric impression than I could do. After you’ve done that: tell me that doesn’t sound like a perfect autumn/Halloween read…
Things we Say in The Dark by Kirsty Logan
Another one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, is the latest work by one of my all-time favourite authors Kirsty Logan. Things we Say in the Dark is a gothic short-story collection that looks equal part enchanting and profoundly unsettling to me. With stories of lingering ghosts in overgrown pools, schoolgirls obsessed with anatomical models, and a monster that calls to a girl at night, this collection promises to address themes of “female bodies, domestic claustrophobia, desire and violence, and more.” I can’t wait to get my hands on this one!
House of Glass by Susan Fletcher
I started House of Glass earlier this year, but put it down for the time being, as I was unable to get into it properly. Like I mentioned in my wrap up then: this was 100% my problem, not the books, as my mind was just not in it, and I planned on picking it back up at a later time, preferably in autumn. That’s what I plan on doing now.
House of Glass is a gothic historical fiction novel that tells the story of a young woman, tasked with creating a miniature paradise within the greenhouse at a mysterious mansion. Things however, are not what they seem around the premises, leaving Clara to explore the secrets of not just the manor, but all its inhabitants. Perhaps even including herself…
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
Another historical gothic fiction, this time by an author I’ve been closely watching for some time now: Jess Kidd. Described as gothic mystery set in the dark underbelly of Victorian London, where a female detective is pulled into the macabre world of fanatical anatomists and crooked surgeons while investigating the kidnapping of an extraordinary child…
Not sure about me, but this screams “perfect Halloween-eve read” to me.
House upon the Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell
I won’t lie: I know very little about this second to last one, other than it being recommended by some reviewers I trust and the description from Goodreads. The latter hits all the marks for a good autumn read for me: it’s vague, yet unsettling and sounds whimsical but ominous at the same time. Described as “strange atmospheric magical realism” with fairytale elements, and an underlying tale of obsession and grief: I really hope this one doesn’t disappoint.
The God Jar by Phill Featherstone
The final book on my list is a bit of a shot in the dark, as again: I know very little about this one, other than the description from Goodreads. I requested an early copy of this novel via Netgalley, purely off of the description, and it sounding like an interesting supernatural thriller. The God Jar follows a young couple, after they find a mysterious, possibly cursed object whilst scuba diving off the Cornish coast.
Many of you will know that I have a soft spot for anything with an ocean-(side)setting. Few will probably know that, as much as I adore the ocean from a distance, it’s also one of my greatest fears, so horror/thrillers based around scuba-diving are particularly effective to me. I really hope this doesn’t disappoint, and plan on writing a full review after finishing this one.
As per usual, I will probably add and/or make changes to this list as I go along, but at least for now, these are the books I’m most excited to get to this season. I’m looking forward to seeing other peoples autumn TBR’s (or even Halloween TBR’s, as those aren’t far away either anymore), and hope to find some more inspiration there.
Until then, stay warm and cozy, and happy reading!
The Ultimate Guide to
“When the witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers 'tis near Halloween.” Yes my ghouls, girls and goblins… It is that time of year again… Whenever the days start to lengthen, the leaves start to turn and the pumpkins come out, many a readers favourite time of the year has arrived. As someone who adores books with a deeply immersive atmosphere, either magical, creepy or otherwise, I can certainly see why. Halloween recommendations was one of my first dedicated posts ever two years ago, and will for that reason always have a special place in my heart. Each year, I’ve made it my mission to put together a recommendation list for readers of a variety of readers. From the horror-veteran, who wants their pants scared off them, to the “scaredy-cat” that just wants a good atmospheric read: we all deserve a happily bookish Halloween.
This year’s list is larger than ever before, including 40 books, divided over 10 categories, and even then I had a hard time narrowing some of them down. All of the following titles are based on my personal recommendations, and I’ve tried to include some lesser known books wherever I could. All titles will be linked to their corresponding Goodreads pages, where you can find more information, reviews and links for purchase.
A Scary-free Halloween: all of the atmosphere, none of the scares...
In spite of what this time of year might make you believe, not everybody is here for your typical Halloween scares. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice atmospheric read that has all of the magic, but none of the scares. If this sounds like you, here are four suggestions that are less trick, and more treat:
One of my all-time favourite books, and a go to for non-scary Halloween recommendations is The Nightcircus by Erin Morgenstern. Against the backdrop of a circus that only appears at night, we follow the lives of two young magicians, tangled in a high stakes game of magic, love and dreams.
If you want witches, but not in the scary sense, Spellbook of the Lost and Found is just what the doctor ordered. Set in Ireland, we follow three teenage girls who find a spellbook that promises to “conjure back lost things”. Each of the girls carries with them their own loss, and their own motivation for bringing it back. Perhaps however, not everything that was lost, was meant to be re-found.
Eleanor combines literary fiction with magical realism-elements like I’ve never read before, in the story of family tragedy and sisterly grief that swells and calls like the ocean. Despite not being scary in the slightest, with its melancholic seaside setting and impactful story, Eleanor is a one of the most haunting books I’ve read over the past few years.
When the Moon was Ours is one of those magical realism stories that just oozes magic from every single page. A girl who grows roses from her wrists, a boy who hangs the town with his handpainted moons, a family of witches and secrets that go back years in the past. All of this written in Anna Marie McLemores uniquely lush and magical writingstyle makes this a perfect atmospheric read for me. The same can be said for her other works including The Weight of Feathers and Wild Beauty.
Middlegrade spook: for ghoulies big and small
(8 years and up)
The Witches – Roald Dahl
The Witches is almost a classic at this point, and for good reason. This delightful tale follows a brave young boy and his spunky grandmother on the hunt for witches. Not the type you read about in storybooks, mind you… “The real kind of witches”. Roald Dahl manages to create a story that is witchy, witty and just a bit scary, for young and old. 7-year-old me was terrified, 9-year-old-and-up me loved this story.
Do you want to read something Halloween-themed, but not necessarily scary? I have just the right fit for you! Silverwing follows the adventures of a bat (yes, a bat!). I remember thinking that would be so boring, and being proven more than wrong, as this became one of my favourite books as a kid. These bat-characters have more personality and depth to them, than many a human character I’ve read about and truly felt like my friends by the end of this series. Again: not the creepiest book of them all, but definitely fitting for this Halloween-theme.
This wonderfully creepy, yet delightful novel has its roots in Caribbean folklore, and follows a brave young heroine who must protect her island home from the mysterious trickster-boogiemen known as “jumbies”. Beautiful writing, friendship, bravery, an original take on a lesser known myth and júst the right amount of scares, make this one of my favourite Halloween reads of the year.
A schooltrip takes a turn for the spooky for our smart and brave protagonist Ollie, as their bus breaks down in the middle of a cornfield. What follows is an adventure involving scarecrows, a mysterious book and the warning to “avoid large places, stick to the small”. This one is definitely the spookiest of the bunch, so reading this with a parent might be a good idea.
Young Adult Creeps: Sleepless nights for young adult readers (15 years and up)
This novel dominated the YA-community upon its release around Halloween last year, and believe me: that hype was deserved. We follow three girls on the island of Sawkill Rock: “where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.” I don’t want to give anything else away, other than the fact that it kept me reading until the late hours. I can also highly recommend the audiobook for maximal immersion!
A boy goes missing in a Lousiana swamp. Afterwards, nobody but his sister seems to remember he ever existed at all… This supernatural thriller pulled me in with that description, and kept me hooked to the end.
Heads up to any and all YA-fantasy readers: this is one trilogy that you cannot miss out on. “Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.” All I want to add to this synopsis is the fact that it’s the single series dealing with angels/demons that hasn’t made me cringe away from it. If you haven’t gotten to this series just yet, this time of year is the perfect time to start: it’s absolutely worth your time!
My current read as of the time of reading this, but I’ve been enjoying it enough so far to include it in this list anyway, as I feel like this is the perfect time to read this. Twins, witches, haunted houses and black “cats” form the décor of a beautiful coming of age story that will give you more feelings than just creeps…
Literar(il)y chills: gothic literary fiction in a modern coat of paint
The following is my personal favourite category to read from, so I may have snuck a few extra books in here… These six gorgeously crafted works all belong in the (modern) literary fiction category, but all have that eerie, gothic vibe to them.
In nineteenth century London, a female detective gets wrapped up in the mysterious case of a kidnapped child, rumoured to be a little less than human. What follows is a journey involving obsessive anatomists, creatures in jars, melancholic ghosts and the lurking shadow of our detectives own past. I adored everything about this intricately woven narrative and its unusual cast of characters. I genuinely hope this book finds its way into the hands of many this fall, as it’s one that deserves a lot more attention than it’s gotten so far.
Another severely underrated gothic novel that would be perfect for this time of year. House of Glass follows a young woman who, over the summer of 1914, is summoned to an isolated manor to fill the greenhouse with exotic plants. Soon however, she finds not everything around the manor is as it seems. Beautifully atmospheric and descriptive and full of character.
Sarah Perry made a name for herself in the literary world with her bestselling novel The Essex Serpent. Although not as strong as the former, Melmoth is Perry’s latest work and lends itself even better to be a Halloween read. Young English translator Helen discovers a strange collection of letters from different time periods among her work. Not only do all of them share themes of guilt, exile and redemption, they also share the presence of an ominous creature, old as the numbering of days and straight from the depths of occult folklore: Melmoth the Witness. Who is Melmoth? What is her purpose? Is she a product of folktales, or maybe something more to Helen… Sarah Perry shows herself again to be a fantastic writer, both in her technical literary skill as her ability to craft sentences that are a joy to read.
Iceland, 1686. Rosa, a village girl from an impoverished family, is send off into a marriage of financial convenience. Rosa’s new found life does not come easy to her, as she has to deal with the distrust and unwelcoming attitude of the isolated community she’s thrust into. Rumors of witchcraft and misdeeds are mumbled around town, seemingly having Rosa’s new husband Jón at the center of them. What is Jón hiding? What’s in the attic that is so private Rosa is never allowed up there? And most importantly: what happened to Jón’s previous wife Anna, that nobody seems to dare to speak of.
I mentioned this title in last years list, as it was a fresh release at the time, but as it was still on my TBR then, I couldn’t give you my recommendation on it yet. I’ll make up for that by including it in this year’s list, as this is still book few people seem to know about. Dark Water has the scariest setting I can personally imagine: a month’s long journey on a ship at sea, as the madness of the sheer isolation starts to take its toll on the crew. Claustrophobic, paranoia-inducing and even more chilling once you think about the true events that formed the inspiration for this piece of fiction.
Last but not least in this category: another favourite of mine. I have talked at length about this novel before, so I’ll keep it short here. Everything Under is an exploration of the murky depths of memory, set in an equally gloomy and atmospheric world of canalboats, muddy riverbanks and creatures of folklore that may or may not lurk in the waters. If you like the idea of a stunningly written novel about mother-daughter relationships, folklore and the meaning of language in life, this one is for you.
This scary world we live in: (non-paranormal) realistic thrillers
Shutter Island has been a constant factor in all of my Halloween recommendations over the years, yet I just can’t bring myself to not include it again. One of my all-time favourite thrillers follows detective Daniels to the titular island, Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. What follows will bend not only the characters minds, but yours as well. I also highly recommend the movie adaptation, which is perhaps even better than the book.
5 women walk into the forest on a teambuilding-hike. A few days later, only 4 return… Follow the footsteps of Australian detective Aaron Falke into the rugged terrain of the Giralang Ranges and uncover what forces of nature acted upon the five, to lead to the tragedy that occurred. This book will remind you that our civilized and cultured manners only go skin deep and primal instinct are still just inches beneath the surface.
The start of Stieg Larson’s famous Millenium Trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hooks readers in from the start, and does not let go. Combining the (by now) iconic characters of Michael and Lisbeth Salander with the intricate plot that covers the political, the criminal and the psychological, makes for an amazing thriller. I do have to say that this trilogy is not for the faint of heart, and covers some very gruesome topics and behavior with such callous ease that it was too much for me the first time. If you worry about triggering content, please do your research before delving into this one.
It must have been at least 10 years since I read this book for the first time, and it still remains fresh in my brain due to the terrifying and mystifying concept and highly atmospheric execution. Although this is part of a series, the Rizolli and Isles novels can be read as standalones just fine. In this one, medical examiner Maura Isles’s skit-rip with her friends gets cut short when their SUV strands them on a snow covered mountain, miles from the nearest refuge. As the group desperately hikes into the valley below to find shelter form an upcoming blizzard, they come across an remote village where the inhabitants seem to have disappeared into thin air. What is this village, what happened here, and will our protagonists find out in time to make it out alive…?
Fear the unknown: Sci-fi horrors to haunt your android dreams...
Annihilations might be the most polarizing read out of this entire list, as people either seem to love or hate this story. For me personally, this first book is an all-time favourite, and one that terrified me on an almost existential level. As with all Jeff Vandermeers books, this is weird and requires a bit of an open mind, but is one of the few books that still has me spontaneously thinking about it regularly. I personally went in blind, and think this is the best way to go, so I won’t give a synopsis here. If you like the book, the Netflix Original movie is also extremely good in my opinion. It’s such a loose adaptation that the it’s debatable to even call it such, yet both are incredible works of their own. Warning though: this movie is either probably the second scariest and most haunting one I’ve ever watched and had me lying awake at night thinking of “that scene”.
Last year, I featured Blake Crouches Wayward Pines trilogy and Dark Matter in my recommendations. This year, to avoid repeating myself too much, I’m including his newest work Recursion. Similarly to Annihilation, I’m not going to give a detailed synopsis. Read the backflap if you want to, or go in as blind as possible. If you were a fan of Dark Matter, I highly recommend you pick up this latest work by the author as well.
One of the scariest titles I’ve ever come across, suitably belongs to one of the scariest sci-fi horror novels I’ve ever read. I hate this story, as the concept thoroughly freaked me out, yet I have to admit that it’s a great piece of writing for evoking such a reaction in me. This collection explores seven horrifying thought-experiments of technology gone too far. The titular one in particular is one that haunts me to this day.
Last on my sci-fi-horror list, I had to feature one of my more recent discoveries, and one of the most unique novels about alien life I’ve ever come across. When their space ship crashlands on the wrong planet, a group of colonists must survive in this strange ecosystem where not animals, but sentient plants form the apex of the evolutionary chain. What follows is a highly original (and strangely biologically accurate) tale of first contact and space-colonization like I had never read before.
Something Strange in the Neighborhood: Urban Fantasy with a dark twist...
Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks. A novel that needs barely any introduction, from the well-known and well-loved king of the weird and macabre: Neil Gaiman himself… Any book by Neil Gaiman could have taken this spot to be honest, but I’m putting Neverwhere as a placeholder for all of them. In my opinion, this is the perfect place to start if you’re new to Gaiman, especially the audiobook, narrated by the author himself.
Whilst currently making my way through the second novel in this quartet, I just can’t help but recommend the first one to everybody who enjoys urban fantasy with a darker, occult twist. Follow sassy, lippy country girl Evie O’Neill, as she travels to nineteen twenties New York to live with her pariah uncle Will, curator of the American museum of Folklore and Superstition. While Evie’s initial concerns are only which speakeasy and party to attend first in this bustling new city, she is soon swept up in a darker affair, concerning the occult mysteries, a killer that strikes form the shadows, and a power within herself she never knew existed.
So, I don’t quite know how to introduce this novel, other than that it completely blew my mind and was one of three books I read this year to make it to my all-time-favourite list. A sci-fi fantasy story of epic proportion, that centers around alchemy, science and the bond between a unique set of twins who were separated at birth, but keep finding each other over and over. In my opinion, this is Seanan McGuires magnum opus, so even if you (like me) didn’t enjoy her Wayward Children novella’s, I highly recommend you give this book a try.
This last book is a bit of a wildcard in this category, as I personally would lable this more as literary fiction than. Yet according to Goodreads, it’s both, and honestly, I’m happy to be able to shout it out anywhere on this list. I might not be completely impartial to the author of one of my all-time favourite novels Grief is the Thing with Feathers, but in my honest opinion, this book is a dark little masterpiece. In my review I described this as art Melmoth by Sarah Perry, part Autumn by Ali Smith, part Reservoir 13, and yet, at least for me, better than all those things. If you enjoyed Max Porters first story like I did, take this one on faith, and give it a blind try.
Fall Time, Cosy Time
Crunching leaves: the world is full of colour. Chose a book that has reds, oranges and yellows on the cover.
Allow me to take the opportunity to talk about 3 of my favourite books that happen to foot this bill: The Martian by Andy Weir, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and The Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. If you haven’t read any of these books; please be sure to give them a chance!
Cosy sweaters: it’s finally warm enough to don warm, cozy clothing. What book gives you the warm fuzzies?
What exactly are “the warm fuzzies”…? If you mean that kind of cozy-homey feeling that some books can give you, that you can’t quite describe but we all know what it feels like…? That…? I think most books on my favourite list will foot that bill, simply because they mean a lot to me.
Alternatively: I’ve been reading more middlegrade novels lately, and find they also often give me that feeling. Take for example August Isle by Ali Standish, The Hour of Bees by Lindsey Eagar or Departure Time by Truus Matti: all of which I (re-)read as an adult, and all of which gave me all the fuzzies…
Fall storm: the wind is howling and the rain is pounding. Choose your favourite book or genre to read during a storm.
Anything really, as that sounds like the perfect type of reading weather to me. Other than the standard answer of fantasy or gothic horror, I’d probably say: something with beautiful language, like some well-written magical realism or literary fiction. For some reason, those type of books appeal to me more in the darker seasons than during the summer. I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I’ve found that during the winter, I find it easier to get completely lost in an authors beautiful writing and language, whilst during the summer, I’ll sometimes prefer a “lighter type of read”. And I don’t just mean thematically, but also when it comes to the writing style.
Cool crisp air: who’s the coolest character, you’d like to trade places with?
I tried to think of a more original answer, but I honestly don’t have one… It’s Hermione Granger, has always been Hermione Granger and will always be Hermione Granger. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to go to Hogwarts, and who wouldn’t want to do so with all the bravery, smarts and sass of our favourite female witch of all time.
Hot apple cider: what underhyped book do you want to see become the next hottest thing?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you all are sleeping on Kirsty Logan as an author! I wish more people would read either The Gracekeepers or The Gloaming by her, as I truly think both are more than worth.
Coats, scarves and mittens: the weather has turned cold and it’s time to cover up. What’s the most embarrassing book cover you own, that you like to keep hidden in public.
I thought I didn’t have an answer for this one, but oh boy: I sure do. One of my all-time favourite books is The House of God, a novel filled to the brim with dark humor and cynicism about the first years of a medical intern in an American hospital. My edition of this book however, is an absolute abomination. It does not represent the content of the story at all, and will make it look like you’re reading some type of cringy, wattpad-doctors-romance story, instead of what it actually is. This is probably one of the few bookcovers that I’d actually cover up when reading it in public.
Pumpkin spice: what’s your favourite fall-time comfort food?
Soup! I love me my soups all year round, but especially during the colder seasons. I’ll basically appreciate any type of soup, as long as it’s vegetarian, but my favourites during autumn are probably spicy pumpkin, or mushroom-soup.
That concludes the Fall-Time, Cosy Time Book Tag, originally created by Novels and Nonsense on Youtube. I hope you enjoyed, and would love to hear: what's your favourite fall-read?
Autumn Book Tag
What is your favourite thing about autumn?
In recent years, autumn weather in the Netherlands has been in a bit of an identity crisis. We flipflop between rainy days and cold temperatures that require sweaters, scarfs and hot drinks to stay warm, only to have an Indian summer with temperatures over 25 degrees just a few days later. I personally love that duality (although the implications of it, regarding climate change terrify me), and it makes me enjoy both types even more. Additionally, I love the atmospheric nature of this entire season: people combating the incoming cold and shortening days with cosy scarves, candle lights and good company. There’s something beautiful to that contrast to that.
What book reminds you of your school days?
These are not going to be very original ones. First of all: the Harry Potter series, as I read most of them around autumn for the first time, while in school. Other books that come to mind are the Doran series by Monica Furlong, as I remember bringing those books to school, and reading them after I’d finish my work in class during my last years of middle school.
What cover reminds you of autumn?
The first one that comes to mind is one that is on my autumn
TBR-pile for this year: House of Glass by Susan Fletcher, for
obvious reasons. The colourscheme and the autumnal leaves
are a given.
What is your favourite horror or Halloween story?
This is more difficult than I thought it would be… I don’t read too many “hardcore horror novels”, but have a lot of favourites that have that atmospheric, slightly unsettling vibe to them. One of my all-time favourite books is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, which could be considered a Halloween-read in a way.
Most recently, I adored the first book in The Diviners Series , which would make for a perfect Halloween read as well.
What is your favourite horror or Halloween film?
There are honestly two types of Horror movies that I enjoy watching: first of all, the ones that have genuinely good stories and actually deeply unsettle me. Those are the type of movies that become all-time favourites and stick with me for a long time, even when I don’t particularly like to watch them over and over again. Some examples of this are Hereditary, Annihilation, and recently the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House.
Then there’s the ones that I like to watch over and over on repeat on Halloween. Spoiler alert: most of them are not actually as terrifying. One of my favourite things to watch over and over is It's a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, as I watched a lot of Snoopy with my mum when I was little, and it brings back great memories for me.
What fall book release are you looking forward to?
Fall is usually my favourite release-season for books, and this year is no different. My most anticipated release of the year, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern is coming out in November. Additionally, I’m very much looking forward to Things we Say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan, and The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake, both released in October.
What autumn movie release are you most anticipating?
I don’t have one currently.
What are three books you plan to read this autumn?
I have a full autumn TBR up already, which you can find above.
I haven’t been able to find the original creator of this tag, so I’ll just link where I found it. If you know the original creator, please let me know, so I can properly credit them.
Classically Haunted: “The Ghostly Classics”
My personal favourite classic horror story: a novel about a haunted house, as much as the haunted people living within it. Although it’s a very loose adaptation, I also adored the Netflix Original Series of the same year that aired last year around this time.
My second favourite classic walks the line between psychological horror, sci-fi, dystopia and a bit of ethics. I’ve only begun to appreciate the full brilliant depth of this story after reading it when I was in medical school. This is one of those classics that is truly timeless, and seems to only become more relevant as years pass by, and science advances.
Sherlock Holmes might not be the first title to come to mind at the mention of Halloween, yet The Hounds of Baskerville was one of those stories that did manage to give me the creeps, and had me looking twice at those rustling bushes when cycling alone in the dark. In this famous story Sherlock investigates the deaths surrounding a legend of a hell hound roaming the murky moonlit moors. However, perhaps he has more than just a mere dog to fear in doing so…
The last classic on this list, is the novel that inspired the movie “The Thing”, telling the story of an isolated research base on Antarctica, plagued by a shapeshifting creature that haunts the crew. The completely isolated setting and the almost Lovecraftian descriptions of the shapeless creature that leave much to the imagination, make this a truly scary read.
Short and Scary: Short stories, best read by moonlight
I can’t pass up a chance to mention one of my all-time favourite authors new work, especially when it fits the theme at hand perfectly. Kirsty Logans new short story collection is described as a powerful contemporary collection of feminist stories, ranging from vicious fairy tales to disturbing horror and tender ghost stories. Perfect for fans of Angela Carter, Jen Campbell and Anne Valente.
Similar in style to Things we Say in the Dark is Salt Slow, a collection of literary, magical realism that are all about “bodies”. An absolutely stunning debut collection that deserves way more attention than it got upon release, and contained stories that I still spontaneously think about from time to time.
Not in the market for the more abstract magical realism, but just want some stories to creep you out? The next two recommendations might be just for you. Of course, you cannot make a Halloween recommendations-list without mentioning some Stephen King (in fact, he’s the only author that’ll make multiple appearances on this list). I mention Night Shift, as it’s Kings first collection, but honestly, the other collections I’ve read from (Everything’s Eventual, Skeleton Crew and Bazaar of Bad Dreams are equally as good).
Sleep is for the weak:
the scariest books of recent years
Thanks to the 2019 film adaptation, this book will probably be themost well known of the four, yet it’s still very much worth a mention as one of the creepiest books I’ve read in recent years. In a postapocalyptic world, a literal “unseen” terror forms a thread to everyone who lays eyes on it. We follow a woman and her two children on a blindfolded journey to safety, never knowing what horrors might lurk just in front of their faces at all time. For someone like me, who hates closing their eyes, even in a familiar and safe setting, this world is truly the stuff of nightmares.
Full disclosure: I personally didn’t enjoy this novel, because I probably went in with the wrong expectations. It is however, a favourite of many of my friends who love horror, so I found it worth a mention nonetheless. A group of four college friends reunite to go on a hiking trip through the Scandinavian forests, in honour of their fifth friend who is no longer with them. When they decide to veer off the beaten path and end up lost in the isolated wilderness, their trip takes a turn for the nightmarish. This book as well, has a movie adaptation available on Netflix for those of you who are interested.
My second mention of the King of thrills. The Outsider was the well-deserved winner of the mystery-thriller goodreads choice award 2018. Following the horrifying murder case of a young boy, this book takes some twists and turns I did not see coming…
Indiana Jones meets X-files, meets absolute horror in this adventure-thriller about a film crew investigating the existence of a long hidden cave that is rumoured to exist in the Grand Canyon. The crew gets more than they bargained for when they not only find the cave, but become trapped in its integrate network of tunnels and chambers, with possibly more than just the darkness to fear… Absolutely terrifying, especially for any one with a mild case of claustrophobia…