21 Perfectly Spooky Books for Halloween

I’m a huge fan of Halloween, and I really enjoy the horror genre (with both books and movies). So, I wanted to share a list of wonderfully spooky books for Halloween – or spooky season, which is basically the entire month of October!

This list ranges from scary horror stories by authors like Stephen King to spooky thrillers and not-so-scary, lighter Halloween reads. There’s something for everyone!

spooky books for Halloween

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Spooky Halloween Book List

I’ve included a mix of newer releases and Halloween classics. And, the scare factor for the books on this list varies. Some will scare the pants off you, and some are more fun or slightly eerie than straight creepy.

So without further ado, let’s get to the list!

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Clubs Guide to Slaying Vampires book cover

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The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is 1990’s housewives meets Dracula, with a whole heap of Southern charm.

Patricia is a devoted housewife in South Carolina in the ’90s. The highlight of her week is book club, where she meets with other wives in the neighborhood to discuss true crime novels.

One day, a mysterious man moves into her neighborhood. Not long after, children start to go missing. Patricia slowly starts to realize the charming new stranger isn’t who he says he is. Unfortunately, no one will believe her – not even her own husband.

Grady Hendrix is one of my favorite modern horror authors. His stories are so unique and so much fun (if you can handle a bit of a scare)!

Read my full review of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires here!

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, and this is one of the first books of his that I ever read! If you’ve seen the popular animated movie with the same name, this is the story that it’s based on.

Coraline is about a girl who moves with her family into a new house with lots of rooms. Strangely, one of the rooms is always locked, with nothing but a wall behind it.

One day, Coraline unlocks the door and finds something else – a passageway into another house, one that looks just like hers. Except, there’s something different about it.

Need some Halloween costume inspiration? There’s a cool Coraline costume – plus more ideas – in this bookish Halloween costume ideas post!

The Shining by Stephen King

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I had to include another of my favorite authors: the one and only Stephen King! His storytelling ability is simply outmatched, and his books are always a great choice for spooky season.

The Shining follows the Torrance family as they agree to take care of the remote and eerie Overlook Hotel during the off-season, with a harsh winter brewing. Young Danny – the son – discovers an uncanny ability, and is the only one who notices the sinister forces closing in.

This classic horror novel will scare your socks off – especially if you watch the movie adaptation afterward! Then, you can check out the sequel: Doctor Sleep.

If you love Stephen King and/or short stories, be sure to check out this post for all of Stephen King’s short story collections in order, plus the best TV and movie adaptations based on those stories!

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

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As a child, Maggie Holt moved into an old estate called Baneberry Hall with her parents. Just three weeks later, they flee during the night, and her father writes a bestselling book about the horrors they supposedly encountered.

Maggie, too young to remember what happened, returns to the estate twenty five years later after her father’s death. She doesn’t believe what her father wrote – but soon, strange events at the house have her questioning everything.

I loved the atmosphere in this spooky story. It’s my favorite Riley Sager book so far!

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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One of the most well-known and classic haunted house stories, The Haunting of Hill House follows a doctor researching hauntings at a notorious mansion with a sordid past – Hill House – with a group of people he has recruited to help. But the house is more powerful than they ever imagined.

(The Netflix TV show adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House is definitely worth watching, too, though it’s much different than the book!).

Check out this post for more spine-tingling haunted house books!

The September House by Carissa Orlando

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Margaret has finally found her dream house – a gorgeous Victorian place at a shockingly reasonable price. But soon, she comes to find out why: every September, the house comes alive in a terrifying way, and ghosts roam free.

Despite this, Margaret is determined to stay. That is, until her husband leaves abruptly and her daughter comes to the house, unaware of the secrets it holds.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

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Vic McQueen is a girl with a strange knack for finding things. While exploring on her bike, she finds a strange bridge that takes her anywhere she wants to go. It’s fun, until she crosses paths with a terrifying man named Charles Manx.

Years after Vix escapes Manx’s grasp, she’s all grown up and trying to forget. But what she doesn’t know is that Manx is back – meaning, Vic’s son is in danger.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

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This book is so much fun and wildly imaginative, with a great sense of humor! It’s a quirky mix of horror, fantasy, and sci fi – like a cross between an adult Stranger Things and Pan’s Labyrinth.

After her marriage falls apart, Kara moves in with her uncle in his taxidermy museum, dubbed by their small town as ‘The Wonder Museum’. But just as she’s getting settled in, she stumbles on a hole in the wall that wasn’t there before, and a corridor that shouldn’t be there.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

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If you’re looking for a less-scary, lighter Halloween book, this is a fun choice! It’s a young adult fantasy set at a boarding school for witches and paranormal creatures.

A quick synopsis: After Sophie Mercer discovers she’s a witch, she’s sent to a reform school for witches, faeries, and shapeshifters on the East Coast, called Hex Hall. After her first day, she’s already made multiple enemies and has a vampire for a roommate.

But soon, Sophie learns that students are being attacked, and a secret society is hell-bent on taking out people like her.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

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This story flows back and forth between past and present. The past takes us to Brookhants School for Girls in the early 1900s, where two young girls mysteriously die and strange happenings continue to occur long after.

In the present, we follow three modern women, all involved in the making of a movie covering the haunted history of Brookhants.

This story is part Gothic horror, part modern horror, and a perfectly atmospheric read for spooky season!

Slade House by David Mitchell

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Slade House is a strange manor – with a door that only appears in the right conditions – where a strange brother and sister live. Once every nine years, someone is allowed in. But too late, they’ll realize they can’t leave.

David Mitchell is one of my favorite authors, and when it comes to genre, he’s in a league all his own. Typically, he writes what I’d call literary magical realism, but this novel – his foray into horror – is absolutely worth reading.

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

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From the bestselling author of the Vampire Chronicles comes an epic saga following multiple generations of a family of witches – the Mayfair family.

This is the first book in this popular series, and definitely gives off spooky season/autumnal vibes!

For more fiction books about witches, check out this list of the best witchy fiction books!

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Set in 1950s Mexico, Mexican Gothic is a unique take on Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (and was one of my favorite reads of 2020!).

A debutante receives a letter from her newly-married cousin – who believes she’s in danger – asking for help. She arrives at the mysterious gothic mansion, only to be greeted by even more dark secrets.

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig

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“A family returns to their hometown—and to the dark past that haunts them still—in this masterpiece of literary horror by the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderers.”

This book gave me Stephen King’s IT vibes, but it was definitely its own story, too. You can’t help but love Oliver (and feel fiercely protective over him).

Getting glimpses into the history of the area where the novel is set (remote coal mines with a sordid past) was as fascinating as it was chilling, and added another layer to the story.

There were definitely some gross moments, so if that’s too much for you then this might not be your thing. But if you’re looking for a unique, addicting, and engaging horror novel with great characters: this is it!

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

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A young woman travels to a small town to find out what happened to her aunt, who disappeared years ago after working the night shift at a seedy motel. She quickly finds out the town has a sordid history of suspicious murders.

This creepy mystery/thriller has a sprinkling of horror elements that make it a fabulous Halloween read!

Check out this post for more spooky mystery books – perfect for Halloween!

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

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This quick and atmospheric read gives all the Halloween vibes! Set on Halloween night, a group of boys encounters a strange man near the haunted house just outside of town.

As they search for their lost friend Pipkin, they are taken on a journey through time and space – all centered around the history and meaning of Halloween.

(For more, here are the best Ray Bradbury books to read in October!).

The Whisper Man by Alex North

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After a tragedy, a father and son move to a new town for a fresh start. Instead, they get caught up in the investigation of a serial killer who’s been preying on their new town, when the boy insists he hears whispering at his window.

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife book cover

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If you’re looking for a suspenseful thriller to read that isn’t scary (i.e. doesn’t have any horror elements) – I highly recommend this one!

A woman returns to her elite Southern college for a 10-year reunion, reconnecting with her tight-knit group of friends from all those years ago. But they each have dark secrets to hide, and being at the college brings back memories of their friend’s unsolved murder.

Was one of them involved? Someone certainly thinks so, and they’ll do anything to find out the truth.

(Here are all of Ashley Winstead’s books in order).

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box by Josh Malerman book cover

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The world is driven to madness when something begins driving people to violence with a single glance. Five years later, one of the few survivors must venture back out into that world with her children – all blindfolded – to help save them.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

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“The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. [But the local priest] Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of a possession.”

The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories by Angela Carter

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Angela Carter was a renowned storyteller whose works inspired some of our favorite short story authors today. This must-read collection features gothic and darkly subversive retellings of classic fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, and Bluebeard.

I hope you enjoy these spooky books for Halloween! Do you have any favorite books to read or movies to watch during spooky season?

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