10 best horror books to read this Halloween season

Sometimes, dark times call for some kind of escape. For many (including myself), this escape comes in the form reading the scariest book that you can find. These stories can help you to practice bravery and teach how to deal with your internal and external fears and worries.

You might find a book too frightening to read and have to freeze it. Joey Tribbiani did this with his copy. ShiningIn that single episode of Friends(My freezer book is Ghosts in the HeadBy Paul Tremblay). But horror is also fun! Shouting “you idiot” or “oh no” or “absolutely not” out loud while reading a book can be cathartic.

This list contains horror novels, graphic novels and novellas that I believe are worth reading to get people interested in scary stories.

Cover image for Our Wives Under The Sea, with a pink background over what looks like  a mountain range made out of soft material.

Image: Flatiron Books

People don’t often consider horror and romance to go hand in hand. It’s all about the details. Our Wives under the Sea Julia Armfield created a fairy tale modern that’s as heartfelt and unsettling as it is strange.

After the deep-sea mission that she’s on takes a disastrous turn, Leah returns to dry land a changed woman. She drifts aimlessly around her apartment, doesn’t eat or drink, and runs the tap in the bathroom for hours at a time. It’s up to Miri, Leah’s wife, to seek out answers. Leah’s fate at the bottom is a mystery. Why won’t the company that Leah worked for answer Miri’s phone calls? And most importantly — is the woman who returned to Miri the same woman she fell in love with all those years ago?

Cover image for S.A. Barnes’s dead silence, featuring a glove hand behind a space ship’s cracked window. The text says “A ghost ship A salvage crew Unspeakable horrors”


Undoubtedly, space is terrifying. Even more terrifying is the idea of living on an abandoned spaceship with thousands of horribly mutilated bodies. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been chasing the high of Aliens Event Horizon You have been watching them since their first viewing. Silence of the Dead by S.A. Barnes might be just what you’re looking for.

The Aurora, a luxury space liner, has been missing for 20 years, so naturally it’s the last thing Claire and her scrappy and instantly lovable crew expect to find after picking up an emergency signal deep in outer space. The Aurora soon proves to be a dangerous and lucrative venture that quickly becomes a battle for survival. It is impossible to hold your breath when Claire and her crew navigate the dark halls of Aurora.Silence is dead You will be astonished at the details of what you hear in the evening.

Cover image for P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout, featuring a figure wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood with mouths for eyes, and a pair of outstretched black hands.


In P. Djèlí Clark’s America, demons wear white hoods. Literally. Hell burst open and dispensed the Ku Kluxes. They have been spreading fear and violence for decades across this country. Maryse Boudreaux (Black woman), a magical sword that can be used to defeat them, as well as a bunch of resistance fighters with tough skin who will keep you on the right side from page one. Ring Shout is a nonstop action thriller that doesn’t pull any punches; it’s fun as hell and packed with some seriously gruesome body horror (this one isn’t for the faint of heart), and Clark doesn’t shy away from the terrifying history and nature of racism.

This is, genuinely, one of my favorite horror novels that I’ve read in years,And I hope more people find it and like it as much I enjoyed.

Cover image for Declan Shalvey and Gavin Fullerton’s Bog Bodies, featuring two people walking on a desolate surface, with a figure floating in the starry sky.

Image Credit: Image Comics

Bog BodiesDeclan Shalvey, Gavin Fullerton

You can find it in the mountains near Dublin. Bog BodiesGavin Fullerton and Declan Shalvey have created a horror-filled, beautifully illustrated survival tale that will leave you gnashing your teeth. When a young Irish gangster — badly injured, unarmed, and on the run from a job that has gone wrong — encounters a woman who has gotten herself lost in the woods, they are forced to band together to survive the desolate bog that lies between them and safety.

Bog BodiesThis novel pushes boundaries in its field. It’s a relentless tale of violence, regret, and ghosts that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading it. A24 is only a matter time before they discover this comic and adapt it to the big screen.

Cover image for Alexis Henderson’s The Year of the Witching, featuring a Black woman in pilgrim-like clothing backgrounded by bare trees.

Image: Penguin Random House

If you’re a fan of stories that feature cult-like religion, examinations of race and misogyny, and — you guessed it — terrifying and extremely powerful witches, then Year of the WitchingAlexis Henderson’s book is perfect for you.

Set in a puritanical society, Immanuelle Moore’s existence alone has brought shame to her family. Immanuel, who has been complacent throughout her life, kept her head down. However, when Immanuel is gifted an unexpected gift from the spirits at the Darkwood, Immanuel soon realizes that being complacent is not an option. Henderson has crafted a terrifying, heart-pounding, and surprisingly romantic feminist fantasy that you’ll tear through in a day.

Cover image for Margaret Killjoy’s The Lamb Will Slaughter The Lion, which shows a body of water with a menacing stag-like creature lurking upside down under it — like a reflection without the actual creature on top.


You cross an transient anarchist with a bloodthirsty demonic and hypocritical cult like ideologues to get what you want. The answer is Margaret Killjoy’s totally kick-butt novella, The Lion Will Be Slaughtered by the Lamb.

In the wake of an old friend’s suicide, Danielle Cain — a queer, punk traveler — sets her sights on Freedom, the utopian squatter town that he called home, in search of answers and, perhaps, some closure. Danielle is instead confronted with a blood-red and three-antlered spirit who was summoned from the townsfolk in order to be their judge, jury, or executioner. It is not a good idea to invite a frightening demon in your home. Danielle quickly finds herself fighting for her life as it attacks Freedom.

Cover image of Jac Jemc’s The Grip Of It, a childlike hand drawing of a house and scattered stick figures, with the words “A Novel” repeated four times.

FSG Originals

They say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but It’s all about the grip by Jac Jemc has, hands down, one of the most unsettling covers I’ve ever come across. A picture alone doesn’t do the terrifying, half-hidden faces on it nearly enough justice, so you’ll just have to trust me here and pick up a copy to see it (and them) for yourself.

James and Julie are moved into their home by strange and monstrous looking images. In addition, hidden rooms and rooms begin appearing and disappearing during the night. Stranger and more alarming still are the bruises that appear on Julie’s body, and how they seem to mirror the stains on the walls of their home.

Like all good horror stories, the closer they get to the truth of what is happening, the more disjointed and dangerous James and Julie’s lives become.

Cover image for Kenneth Oppel’s The Nest, which looks like shaded in tree bark with white images of hornets on it.

Simon and Schuster

NestKenneth Oppel

Don’t let the fact that you’ll find this book in the kids’ section of your local indie bookstore fool you. Kenneth Oppel’s terrifying novel NestThis is one of the most terrifying horror stories you will ever read. The story is a perfect example of what trauma or anxiety can cause, and it also includes a lot of supernatural and uncanny elements.

The Nest’sSteve, the young protagonist can count on one hand his worries. Steve worries about his little brother who is too weak and small to combat the debilitating illness. Steve is also worried about his parents. They are obviously struggling to deal with the loss of their youngest member. When a mysterious and beautiful (and, to readers, instantly sinister) angel appears to Steve in his dreams and offers to “fix” his little brother, he begins to think that his nightly prayers have been answered. Steve needs to simply say “Yes”, a powerful, dangerous, but unchangeable word, so all of his fears will vanish.

The cover image of Isabel Cañas’s The Hacienda, featuring a woman in a red dress standing in front of a dilapidated building and behind some spiky plants.

Image: Penguin Random House

The beautiful, remote property that lies at the center of the Gothic is just like all the great Gothics. Hacienda by Isabel Cañas is harboring a malevolent presence. This was done in the wake of Mexico’s War of Independence. HaciendaThis is as much historical fiction as it’s ghost story. After Beatriz’s father is brutally executed and her home is destroyed, she finds some solace in the handsome and charming Don Rodolfo Solórzano’s marriage proposal. She ignores the rumors about his first wife’s sudden death and chooses the security of his estate instead. When Beatriz arrives, she is plagued with violent nightmares. In desperate need of answers, Beatriz turns to a hot priest in the area who closely guards his own secrets.

Hacienda This is an eerie and horrifying tale, that combines folklore with religion. It will make you feel like you have a book hangover. If Isabel Cañas’ first book is this gripping and terrifying, then I cannot wait to see what’s in store for us next.

The cover of What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher, a surreal image of a rabbit interspersed with a rabbit skeleton made of mushrooms.


I didn’t think it was possible to make “The Fall of the House of Usher” stranger or more twisted than it already is, but T. Kingfisher has done it (and done it extremely well). The Dead’s Movement An expert interpretation of a disturbing horror movie that will scare you.

When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, hears that a childhood friend is dying, they mount up and make way for the Ushers’ estate to be with her in her final moments. Alex arrives at the Ushers’ estate to find a home in disarray and nightmarish fungal growths. Mexican Gothic another spectacular horror novel, will adore this book), a nightmarish lake, and dead rabbits that don’t always stay dead. Kingfisher’s writing is deeply unnerving and incredibly clever. You’ll never look at fungi the same way again.

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