Halloween is the time for getting seriously spooked, whether it be exploring haunted houses, watching horror movies, or heading out trick-or-treating with your little ones.
I thought I'd join in the fun and give you a recommendation list guaranteed to make your teeth chatter. So here it is, my favourite thrillers, horrors, mysteries and everything in between.
"This is how the story begins.On a dark, dark hill,there was a dark, dark town..."
Warm, funny and perfect for a post-trick or treating bedtime story.
“My darling," she said at last, "are you sure you don't mind being a mouse for the rest of your life?"
There's a Roald Dahl story for every occasion - the very endearing The Witches is my Halloween recommendation for you.
"The witch had a cat and a very tall hat,
and long ginger hair which she wore in a plait."
The story of everyone's favourite clumsy witch and her adventures.
"A gruffalo? What's a gruffalo?""A gruffalo! Why, didn't you know?
He has knobbly knees, and turned-out toes,And a poisonous wart at the end of his nose..."
Another Children's classic, this time about a little mouse and his monstrous friend.
“Because,' she said, 'when you're scared but you still do it anyway, that's brave.”
I'm obsessed with Neil Gaiman since reading Good Omens and Coraline is spectacularly spooky. Perfect for older kids this Halloween.
"A thousand live bats fluttered from the walls and ceiling while a thousand more swooped over the tables in low black clouds, making the candles in the pumpkin stutter."
Whether it's fighting a troll or devouring the Halloween feast in the Great Hall, Harry Potter has just what you need this Halloween. Ghosts, witchcraft and all sorts of monsters.
"But then, prepared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world."
Not an obvious Halloween choice but a secret, locked-up wife is enough to creep anyone out.
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
"My fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand. The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, "Let me in—let me in!"
The perfect Gothic romance. Spend your Halloween on the foggy moors of Wuthering Heights.
World War Z, Max Brooks
“The monsters that rose from the dead, they are nothing compared to the ones we carry in our hearts.”
A zombie favourite and one of our staff picks this month - "good for Halloween, though not for kids!"
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
“Nick Dunne took my pride and my dignity and my hope and my money. He took and took from me until I no longer existed. That’s murder.”
The number one thriller of the last decade. Amy is a complex and fantastic character who's revenge plot is a brilliant read.
The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris
“When the Fox hears the Rabbit scream he comes a-runnin', but not to help.”
Shudder. This one's too creepy to talk about.
The Woman in Black, Susan Hill
“I have sat here at my desk, day after day, night after night, a blank sheet of paper before me, unable to lift my pen, trembling and weeping too.”
My personal favourite ghost story and one I delve into every year. Essentially, the reader just follows Arthur Kipps about a creepy house for 200 pages and then everything is horrible. Must read!
The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
"Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
The Netflix adaptation of this novel is just as brilliant as the original story, though it has a new take on its characters. Read the novel, and try not to turn every page with a shiver - I didn't quite manage it.
We have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in our family is dead.”
Shirley Jackson is spectacular at writing thrillers and giving us an excellent plot twist. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is fantastic.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
“All I know is this: nobody's very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down.”
A psychological thriller for you now. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a complicated but incredible read.
Carrie, Stephen King
“They were still all beautiful and there was still enchantment and wonder, but she had crossed a line and now the fairy tale was green with corruption and evil.”
We couldn't very well have a Halloween recommendation list without a bit of Stephen King now, could we? Carrie is an absolute terror and a reminder to us all - be nice to others or they may develop telekinetic powers and kill everyone.
IT, Stephen King
“Drive away and try to keep smiling. Get a little rock and roll on the radio and go toward all the life there is with all the courage you can find and all the belief you can muster. Be true, be brave, stand.”
This book and its subsequent film adaptations are probably the reason people are afraid of clowns. Utterly fantastic and utterly horrific - the perfect gory read.
Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane
“Which would be worse, to live as a monster or to die as a good man?”
Shutter Island is fantastic - a psychological thriller with an incredible twist. Genuinely goosebump-inducing.
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”
The absolute queen of Gothic, creepy stories. Frankenstein is so much more than just a story about a doctor and his terrifying creation - it's about loneliness and cruelty and isolation and love and friendship and revenge - I could go on for days. Mary Shelley is fantastic.
Dracula, Bram Stoker
“How good and thoughtful he is; the world seems full of good men--even if there are monsters in it.”
The original vampire, before Edward and his gang appeared. Another Halloween classic that does much more than it says on the tin.
War of the Worlds, H G Wells
“For a time I believed that mankind had been swept out of existence, and that I stood there alone, the last man left alive.”
A dystopian classic and inspiration for many of the Sci-fi films, novels and TV shows that came after.
So there we have it. Our list of Halloween must-reads, from sweet and silly to downright terrifying. Let us know your go-to books and stories for when you're up for a little creeping out, and of course, have a happy Halloween!
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