From the beginning of time, humans have always seemed to be afraid of the woods. In many ways, dark forests have always represented the unknown, and we have long imagined the various terrifying creatures that may hide there. For some, the beast in the woods is a supernatural terror, while for others the threat of a fellow person in the woods is horror enough. In honor of Halloween, here are fourteen books about the scary things you may find in the woods.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Emily Carroll’s beautifully drawn graphic novel is a thrilling venture into visual horror that will stay with you long after the last page. Featuring several stories, this collection blends Carroll’s spectacular storytelling with chilling illustrations in these five original tales. Though the stories are dark, the illustrations rarely venture into graphic imagery, and in the few instances where they do, the result is utterly terrifying.
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware’s bestselling thriller follows reclusive crime writer Leonora Shaw as she attends a remote bachelorette party in the English countryside for a estranged high school friend, Clare. As she settles into the weekend away, she finds that no one at the celebration seem especially happy for Clare, who herself is acting strangely. By the end of the first night, Leonora comes to the horrifying realization that, despite being in the middle of the woods, these women are not alone in the forest.
In the Woods by Tana French
In a small Dublin suburb, three children go missing in the woods. Two are never seen again, while the third, young Rob Ryan, is found clinging to a tree with sneakers drenched in blood, unable to remember anything about the past twenty-four hours. Twenty years later, a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods. Ryan, now a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad, jumps at the chance to find the girls’ killer and potentially solve his own personal mystery.
The Woods by Harlan Coben
Twenty years ago, four teenagers went missing in the woods. Two were found murdered, and two were never seen again. For county prosecutor Paul “Cope” Copeland, dealing with his sister’s disappearance has gotten no easier over the past twenty years. When Cope positively identifies a murder victim as the other teen to go missing, he wonders if it is possible that his sister is still alive, and if she is in grave danger.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland is Red Sox relief pitcher Tom Gordon’s biggest fan. When she goes missing on a hike in the woods with her family, she fights off her growing hopelessness and fear by tuning her radio to sports broadcasts following Tom Gordon. As her radio begins to die, Trisha loses her grip on sanity and imagines that Tom Gordon is with her in the wilderness, protecting her from the ominous force that has begun hunting her.
The Ritual by Adam Nevill
When four old college friends go on a camping trip in the remote Scandinavian woods, they decide to take an impromptu shortcut in order to end their trip early. What could possibly go wrong? Well, if the title of the book didn’t give it away, cults, black magic, and an ancient evil are just some of the terrifying things these men run into. Though tensions between them are already high from having drifted apart, what brings people together better than supernaturally scary wilderness survival?
The Troop by Nick Cutter
In this critically acclaimed novel by Nick Cutter, a tight-knit Boy Scout troop is in for the surprise of their life when they take their annual camping trip to the Canadian wilderness. Before the first night is over, a nightmarish man stumbles upon the camp and introduces the troop to horrors unlike any ghost story they have ever told. Faced with survival in the most inhospitable circumstances, the boys must do whatever it takes to stay alive, no matter how gruesome.
Hunted by Darcy Coates
When 22-year-old Eileen goes missing while hiking on a remote trail, Chris refuses to believe she is gone. After the police abandon their search, he and four of his friends decide to take matters into their own hands, forming an unofficial search party. But as the comb through the wilderness, Chris and his friends begin to suspect that they are not alone in the woods, and that Eileen’s disappearance may have been much more sinister than they originally suspected.
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
In 1846, the now infamous Donner Party of eighty-seven pioneers was stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the harshest winter California had ever seen. By the end of the ordeal, only forty-eight people survived, many of whom had resorted to cannibalism in order to fend off their excruciating starvation. In this novel, Alma Katsu presents the story of the Donner Party with a supernatural twist, bringing an extra layer of horror to an already gruesome tale.
Wytches by Scott Snyder
In this graphic novel, the Rooks family moves to the town of Litchfield, New Hampshire in the hopes of escaping a terrible trauma, only to be met by a myriad of supernatural happenings in their new home. As time passes, they become more and more convinced that there is something evil in the woods, and that it has taken a particular interest in their family. Originally published as a comic series, here the entire story is presented with gorgeous illustrations.
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
When Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old, her father takes her away from civilization to live in the wilderness, convinced that the apocalypse is just around the corner. Believing her father when he tells her the world has been destroyed, Peggy eventually settles in to life in the woods. But her father is not well, and the longer they stay isolated, the looser his grip on his sanity gets. When she finds a pair of boots in the woods, she begins to wonder: did the apocalypse really happen?
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
Nineteen-year-old Ruthie Washburne’s mother has always told her that bad things happen in the woods by their farm. Ruthie never believes her, until one day her mother suddenly goes missing, and she discovers in her house a hidden trove of mysterious artifacts. Most interesting in the group is the long lost diary of Sara Harrison Shea, who went missing from the same house over one hundred years ago, only to be later found dead. Will history repeat itself, or can Ruthie save her mother?
Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman
Running away from a failed academic career, WWI veteran Frank Nichols and his young wife move to a small Georgia town of Whitbrow where his family’s old plantation sits abandoned. Upon arrival, Frank and his wife notice that the small town residents seem to live in fear of the plantation, nestled in the woods right across the river. Soon, Frank finds that it isn’t just the estate’s history that is steeped in blood, and that those across the river still demand a horrific price.
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Now a Netflix movie, this book imagines a world in which a supernatural terror causes violent and destructive impulses to those who see it. Five years after civilization as we know it is destroyed, Malorie decides to make the perilous journey with her two young children to a rumored safe haven. But there are twenty miles of woods and river she must travel blindfolded, all while keeping herself and her children safe from the sinister force that is pursuing them.