As Halloween is just around the corner, is there a better way to get into the spooky spirit than by diving into the thrilling world of horrors? We’ve already covered horror movies in one of the previous posts, so today, we’ve put together a list of the best horror books to read before Halloween that will keep you up at night and give you haunting nightmares that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. There are also true-crime books that reveal real horror. Meet the horror books that will send chills down your spine.
Graveyard of Lost Children
By Katrina Monroe
Graveyard of Lost Children is a bone-chilling tale that also tells about the horrors of early motherhood and postpartum depression. The book follows Olivia Dahl, a woman who was nearly killed as a baby. Her mother believed that Olivia was a changeling and tried to give her away to the spirits of dead women in a well. Years later, Olivia is expecting to give birth to a daughter, but she soon realizes that something is wrong with the baby. She starts to hear the voices of the dead children and sees visions of a mysterious woman who wants to take her child. Olivia must face her past and uncover the truth behind the well before she loses her daughter and her sanity. The book will haunt your thoughts long after you’ve closed its pages because some nightmares are all too real.
by Aron Beauregard
Playground horror book is a story of three low-income families invited to a cliffside estate by a wealthy and eccentric woman named Geraldine Borden. She offers them a large sum of money to let their children test out her exceptional playground, which she has been developing for decades in the basement of her gothic castle. However, the playground is actually a trap designed to torture and kill the children in gruesome ways, while Geraldine watches and enjoys their suffering. The novel is dark and violent; it’s about growing up fast, coping with betrayal, getting revenge, and so much more. It also contains 15 interior illustrations. Keep in mind that this is an extreme horror story pretty much like Saw, so be ready to stay awake all night after reading it.
by Peter Straub
Julia was the first among Peter Straub’s horror novels. Published in 1975, it dealt with the supernatural and was adapted into a film in 1977. The novel follows Julia Lofting, a woman who escapes her abusive husband and moves into a haunted house in London. She can’t forget her dead daughter and makes an attempt to start anew in a large, old-fashioned house in Kensington. However, things are not that simple. She soon starts seeing a mysterious little girl—very much like her daughter—both in the neighborhood and her dreams. Yet, the girl (and the house) both feel evil. So, get ready for the haunting… One of the best horror novels, according to some reviews.
Looking Glass Sound
by Catriona Ward
In Looking Glass Sound, writer Wilder Harlow returns to his childhood vacation home in Maine to finish his memoir about a summer of terror and murder that he and his friends witnessed. However, as he writes, he begins to question his own sanity and reality, as he finds mysterious notes, sees ghosts, and discovers that his old friend Sky has turned his unfinished manuscript into a best-selling novel. If you were looking for a gripping and unsettling read that will keep you guessing until the very end, this is it. Many reviewers are raving about it, with some even predicting that it will become a classic in the American horror genre and studied for years to come.
How to Sell a Haunted House
by Grady Hendrix
How to Sell a Haunted House blends horror and humor in a story about family, memory, and a haunted house. One of the best horror books for adults, the story follows Louise, a successful writer who returns to her childhood house in Charleston after her parent’s death. She plans to sell the house with the help of her brother Mark, who still lives there and has a troubled history. However, the house has other plans and is not willing to let them go so easily. They soon find themselves facing terrifying puppets, ghostly messages, and a dark secret that links them to a series of murders that happened decades ago. Add some share of supernatural weirdness and a bit of familial psychodrama and mix it with the talent of Grady Hendrix for all horror tricks, and here you are, reading one of the best horror novels ever.
by Max Booth III
“Bad times are waiting for you.” Abnormal Statistics is a collection of thirteen short horror stories that explore the dark side of human nature and the horrors that lurk in everyday life. The stories are about lonely people and range—from twisted tales of suburban decay to disturbing accounts of familial horror and eerie lullabies that haunt the listener. Although it’s not for the faint of heart, the book is a perfect choice for horror fans who love unpredictable, shocking, and chilling stories. With Max Booth III’s exceptional writing style—tight, insightful, and thought-provoking—you get a really good horror book to try. But we warn you, this book doesn’t bother if you feel hurt, so be ready to feel pain.
by Victor LaValle
Lone Women is a story of Adelaide Henry, who carries a locked steamer trunk with her as she travels from California to Montana in 1915. She is one of the “lone women” who took advantage of the government’s offer of free land for those who can tame it. But Adelaide is not alone, and the secret she hides in her trunk might be the only thing to help her survive the harsh and dangerous territory. Don’t miss this new vision of the American West, as this is a “powerful” story that blends “shimmering prose” and “an unforgettable cast of adventurers.” And a monster in the chest, of course.
We Were Once A Family
By Roxanna Asgarian
We Were Once A Family is a real horror story. And by saying real, we mean that the book is based on a true story that describes a tragic murder-suicide. On March 26, 2018, a wrecked SUV was spotted at the bottom of a cliff along the Pacific Coast Highway. Rescuers at the stop found the bodies of Jennifer and Sarah Hart (a white married couple) and their several adopted Black children. What looked like a loving family turned out to be a nightmare. In reality, the six children the couple adopted from Texas endured neglect and abuse until it all finally ended as it did. In her book, Roxanna Asgarian, an investigative journalist from Houston, tried to shed some light on the dysfunctional foster care and adoption systems and the devastating impact they can have on the lives of children and their families. How about such a horror book? We decided to include it in our list, as not all books should be entertainingly scary. What do you think?
By Tananarive Due
Now, to historical fiction. The Reformatory is set in 1950 and follows the story of Robert Stephens Jr., a 12-year-old boy sent to a segregated reform school that turns out to be a chamber of terrors. Robert can see ghosts, and in the Gracetown School for Boys, he witnesses all sorts of horrors for both the living and the dead. The book is based on the real-life atrocities at the Dozier School for Boys, where hundreds of boys died or went missing for decades. If you’re looking for a gripping read, an ingenious ghost story, and “an illuminating if infuriating look back at a shameful period in American jurisprudence” (according to Kirkus Reviews), this is the one. The book is expected to be published on October 31, 2023, and is bound to receive rave reviews from critics and readers alike.
A Slow Death: 83 Days Of Radiation Sickness
By The Nhk TV Crew
As our last suggestion, we also have a real horror story of sorts, this time about radiation poisoning. A Slow Death: 83 Days Of Radiation Sickness is a book by the NHK TV Crew, a team of journalists from Japan’s public broadcaster. It’s based on the true story of Hiroshi Ouchi, a worker who was exposed to a lethal dose of radiation in a nuclear accident at Tokaimura, Japan, in 1999. The book documents the 83 days of his treatment at the University of Tokyo Hospital, where he suffered from severe organ failure, skin loss, and chromosome damage. If you want to delve into the medical and scientific aspects of radiation poisoning, there’s plenty to learn. However, equally important is the fact that you’ll be reading about heartbreaking human suffering and resilience when faced with a nuclear disaster. How about such a horror book?