Books for Halloween – My Favourite Spooky Reads

As autumn bleeds into winter, my thoughts tend to turn to dark and scary things. By five at night, we’re already starting to lose the light and by six it’s pitch black outside with the street lamps throwing pockets of orange light into the shadows. Inside where it’s warm and light, I like to sit by the window and read about ghosts, vampires and the monsters under the bed (although given all the other stuff under ours, it would be a very small monster, pocket sized in fact). I don’t really have Halloween movies, although I do tend to like watching Sleepy Hollow and the Nightmare Before Christmas around now, instead I have Halloween books that I pull out and scare myself with.

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So in no particular order here they are:

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

Fair enough, this isn’t particularly scary but feeds into my love of vampires and witches. Plus humour helps dilute the fear a touch.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

I first read this as a young girl, maybe early teens but I suspect a bit earlier and was terrified by it. One particular part left a lasting impression on my mind and it’s now one of my favourite books for snuggling up under a duvet and reading, assuming of course I’m not alone in the house.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

I read this for the first time during High School French. My teacher at the time apparently had better things to do than teach us and so I and the girl I shared a desk with spent our fourth year reading our way through Stephen King. Reading under the bright classroom lights was one thing, but walking the mile and a half home in the dusk another altogether. Instead of taking my usual short cut through the park and along the river bank, I almost ran the long way under street lights just in case.

IT by Stephen King

I still make sure my hair is safely tucked out of the way before I lean over any plug hole thanks to this book. The idea of anything being able to see our darkest fears and use them against is terrifying enough but somehow King manages to make it extra frightening right from the first few pages.

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

Whilst I like the all novels in this particular series, the first one stands out perhaps because it was the first one I read, anyway you can’t go wrong with a spin on the Dracula story.

The October Country by Rad Bradbury

Nothing beats creepy short stories for those quick bursts of heart pumping fear between chores.

From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury

In all Bradbury’s stories about the Elliott family, I can’t shake that feeling of familiarity. No, my nearest and dearest aren’t mummies, ghosts or vampires but they are eccentric, strange and oddly fond of once living animals now stuffed and inanimate. Somehow the family dynamic is similar although my Grandmama doesn’t just come out at Halloween.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

This is the book I always imagined reading to my children on Halloween, when their sated with sweets and the candle burns low in the Jack O’Lantern.

The Mistletoe Bride by Kate Mosse

The first story in this collection reminds me so much of the ghost stories of my childhood, whispered undercover of darkness by my Grandmother and my Great Grandmother.

 

There are others, books which somehow catch the edge of what frightens me, the darkness inside not out, that send a tingle of fear tripping down my spine but these are my favourites. That said, I’m always on the look out for more books that make me curl up by the light so any suggestions of spooky things to read would be appreciated.

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