In celebration of the season, I’m sharing with you a list of some of my favorite creepy/spooky October reads! I’ve split things out into categories, so feel free to skip around to what interests you most.
If you’re looking for classic creepy stories..
I love a good “classic,” and I’ve come to really enjoy some of the more eerie books!
I read Rebecca earlier this year and was blown away by the twists and “big reveals” of the story. It’s such a great book, and a good one for the reader who enjoys stories about mysterious deaths, family secrets, and gorgeous old houses.
The Turn of the Screw is a great shorter read, so if you don’t want to dive into a full novel, I highly recommend it. It’s also a perfect story for those who enjoy the “Is she crazy, or is this real?” type of books.
And finally, A Clockwork Orange is a haunting story about the darkness of mankind. It’s probably the most difficult to read, because it is written in a weird invented dialect. It also touches on some triggering subject matter. But, the story is still gripping, and one of my favorites!
If you’re looking for something from the “King” of Horror…
It’s hard to have a creepy book recommendation list without mentioning Stephen King, so I figured I’d give him his own section!
Bag of Bones is my favorite of his “ghost” stories. The plot is super eerie and suspenseful, but it is also grounded in a believable historical context and addresses topics like slavery and civil rights. It’s long (like most of King’s books), but the audiobook goes by pretty quickly–and is read by King himself, if that interests you!
Pet Sematary is one of the scariest Stephen King’s I’ve ever read. The whole idea of people coming back from the dead…*shiver*! It’s a great one for those interested in zombies or folklore, and it’s ending will leave you terrified to look over your shoulder!
The Green Mile isn’t really a “scary” book, although it has its creep factor. I recommend it as my second favorite King book of all time. This book explores people’s reactions to miracles, as well as gives a sort of commentary on the brokenness of our legal system. If you aren’t sure about King’s darker stuff but want to give him a try, this is a great place to start!
And finally, the cream of the crop, the duology of The Shining and Doctor Sleep. I recommend The Shining only because it is King canon at its finest, and because you need to read it in order to understand Doctor Sleep. Doctor Sleep is my FAVORITE Stephen King book of all time. It has an excellent blend of suspense and the supernatural, but it also has amazing heart. It offers great closure to The Shining while giving you a brand new, haunting story all its own. Seriously, it’s amazing. I cannot recommend it enough!
If you’re looking for the creepy and the unexplained…
I was surprised that I had trouble finding peculiar books on my most loved list, but I suppose i=that’s because I’m rather new to this type of genre–I’ve read all of these in the last year!
The Apartment is a weird story about a couple who goes on holiday to an “Air BNB” place that is, like, a literal dump…and when they get back home, they aren’t quite the same. It’s a slow-burn mystery with minimal suspense, but Grey does an excellent job of exploring relationships through times of stress and fear.
I just finished The Little Stranger, and while I found the ending of the book a little lacking, there were individual creepy moments throughout that gave me serious goosebumps! Do not read this alone and in the dark–even if our protagonist tries to use logic to explain away all the phenomenon, some things feel too real to ignore!
The Amityville Horror has been debunked several times in recent years, and so many argue that this book does hold the same “scare factor” that it used to. However, even knowing that the events were made up, I felt the book was terrifying! Suspend your disbelief for a time, and read this imagining that you were one of those who picked it up and believed it was real.
If you’re looking for dark and twisted books about “creepy” people…
This is perhaps my favorite genre to read and to watch! For some reason, I greatly enjoy the “human monster” stories… I wonder what that says about me…? Haha!
The Girls is a great study in what may have been the mentality of the Manson Girls. It’s perhaps more dramatic than creepy, but it’s a look into lives that resemble some of the most terrifying murderers in recent history.
Unraveling Oliver starts off at 100mph with its first line: “I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.” The story then slowly unfolds through a series of perspectives, and we learn exactly who Oliver is–or do we? A great, suspenseful read where you want to yell to the characters, “Look out behind you!” “Don’t trust him!” and so on.
We Need to Talk About Kevin is one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read, particularly as it addresses a topic in the forefront of the American mind: What does a school shooter look like, and why does he do it? The ending makes my skin crawl every time I read it, and I lose sleep at night thinking about Kevin and his mom.
Then, there’s The Thirteenth Tale, one of the few books whose ending I completely didn’t predict. It’s a great one to keep you guessing, and another one where you aren’t sure who you can trust.
If you’re looking for some good young adult creepy…
These fall into all of the categories I’ve already mentioned, but they fit best together.
The She is a great read for those who enjoy mythology in nature. It’s more of a drama piece than horror, but the exploration of what “The She” is and how it destroys lives will leave you wary of beachfront houses…
Bad Girls Don’t Die is a sort-of tongue-in-cheek ghost story. It’s still a little creepy at moments, but it’s definitely got a “teen movie” vibe to it. I recommend it to the casual horror reader.
Allegedly may seem like an odd one to add to this list, as the majority of it is social commentary on racial injustices toward young, black mothers in the criminal system. But, the ending I found to be totally terrifying. This is definitely one that fits into the “who can you trust?” category.
One Was Lost is like And Then There Were None for a new generation. If you like action-packed thrillers with a lot of doubt and mistrust, you’ll enjoy this one. And, there’s just enough ghost story thrown in to make you wonder about the role of the supernatural…
I’m ending here with Mindy McGinnis–my fave. Her books are dark, and she herself has called This Darkness Mine “fucked up.” While they aren’t “creepy” in a ghostly sense, they definitely take a close look at the human psyche and how twisted it can be. The Female of the Species is great for those who enjoy psychopath/sociopath main characters, and it also offers great commentary on sexual assault and the #MeToo movement (even if it was ahead of its time by a couple years…). And, This Darkness Mine? Again, good reading for those who enjoy “fucked up” books.
I actually have two authors to recommend for tween/teen reading as well–they’re entire collections are worth trying out.
- Joan Lowery Nixon wrote dozens of books that are both mysteries and horror. One of my favorites by her is Whispers from the Dead.
- Lois Duncan also wrote several eerie and spooky titles for tween/teen readers. She’s probably most well-known for the book that became the same-titled movie, I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Both authors are now a little dated, which is why I’m not grouping them with the others. I recommend readers take on these stories with an awareness that they were written in a “different time.”
…or maybe even children’s literature…
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention miss Coraline on this list. But seriously, the Other Mother is so terrifying, I don’t know how children can stand to read this… Excellent, excellent book with such a dark and creepy plot! You can read it in one sitting, but I recommend doing so in the daylight…
And, of course, if you’re looking for dark and twisted Peter Pan…
This blog is named for the boy, so I feel obligated (and delighted!) to include a section devoted to demented Neverland!
Lost Boy is a retelling of the origin of Captain Hook, as though he started out as a Lost Boy himself. This is an unconventional take, as Peter is cast in a role of total depravity. There are also monsters and murders, so it’s not happy-go-lucky fairy kingdoms. But I give it my stamp of approval as a great twisting of the original myth.
Then, there’s Child Thief. This book is so dark and so creepy, I had to take breaks from it. It is by far the scariest Peter Pan book I have ever read, but it is also one of my favorites. Brom takes the myth and makes it frightening. And the close connection to our world makes Neverland seem more like a terrifying possibility on our horizon than a magical land in children’s dreams.
Seriously–if you value the pixie innocence of Disney’s Peter Pan, do NOT read this books. But, if you’re up for some dirty, messy, dark and creepy new takes, I highly recommend each of them.
What are some of your favorite creepy reads? Have you read these ones? What did you think? Let me know! And happy spooky reading!