Halloween isn’t all candy and costumes; for many horror buffs, it is the time of year where horror movies reign supreme. Here are some spectacularly spooky reads to get you in the Halloween spirit. Make sure not to read these books late at night.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves exists in the terrifying space between a horror novel and a horror anthology. Though it features a frame story, much of the book seems to be the rantings of a mad man — because they are. The novel is presented as the scrambled research manuscript of a man studying a documentary he claims to have once seen, but has never found proof of existing. The supposed documentary tells the story of a family that moves into a new home, only to discover that their home is somehow bigger on the inside. Through the several narrators and stories interwoven in this book, Danielewski’s pieces together a truly haunting tale.
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
If the name John Darnielle sounds familiar, it’s likely because he is also the creative mind behind indie folk band The Mountain Goats. In Universal Harverster, Darnielle tells the story of Jeremy, a small town video store clerk in the late 90’s who lives with his father. While on the job, Jeremy discovers that someone has been recording over portions of VHS tapes in the store, and that the clips being spliced in feature incredibly puzzling and disturbing content. As more clips appear, the unnerving video additions begin to paint a bigger picture. Slowly but surely, Jeremy begins to unravel more of the dark history behind the clips, and the decades of history that led to their creation.
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
No list of horror fiction can be complete without Ray Bradbury’s famous horror fantasy, telling the story of two thirteen-year-old best friends and their nightmarish experience with a traveling carnival that comes to town, led by the terrifying Mr. Dark. As the carnival begins to affect the town and its people, the boys discover that Mr. Dark is not what he seems, and that the carnival’s attractions are much more sinister in nature than they originally thought. Preying on the desires and wishes of the townsfolk, Mr. Dark and his carnival members must be stopped, or else the entire town may find themselves enslaved to the circus.
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron
Horror fiction is known just as much for its short stories as it is its novels, and Laird Barron’s third collection of horror stories is the perfect terrifying read for any horror fan. The stories themselves are actually loosely connected, but it is Barron’s astute ability to weave bone-chilling scares into each tale that earns this book a place on this list. In fact, Barron won a Bram Stoker award in 2013 for Superior Achievement in Fiction Collection for The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All. The award, named after the author of Dracula, is given out each year by the Horror Writers Association to celebrate the year’s best in horror and dark fantasy writing.
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
One of the most well known horror authors of all time, Stephen King has penned numerous novels that went on to become horror film classics, including The Shining, Carrie, Misery, and It. Though these movies often get heralded as King’s best, many readers of King’s books consider Pet Sematary to be his most horrifying work. When tragedy strikes, a young family turns to dangerous powers to bend the rules of life and death. Though at first their solution seems to work, it quickly becomes clear that dead things are meant to stay that way, and that whatever has come back is not what they thought it was.
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
Paul Tremblay received uproarious praise for his 2015 horror novel, A Head Full of Ghosts, but this summer his brand new release took the horror world by storm. While on a trip to a remote cabin with her parents, a young girl, Wen, is approached by a man who apologizes for what he is about to do. He is joined by a few other strangers, and tells her that he and his friends need her family’s help to save the world, and that it won’t be pleasant. What follows is a gripping story of sacrifice and paranoia, in a strange tale where the fate of the world lies upon the difficult decision of a single family.
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Victoria “Vic” McQueen is the only child to have ever escaped from the clutches of the despicable Charles Talent Manx and his 1938 Rolls-Royce (with a NOS4A2 license plate. Many years have passed since she was whisked away to his nightmarish home known as “Christmasland.” Now an adult, Vic wants to do everything in her power to forget her harrowing escape from evil. But Manx has kept Vic in his sights for years, and now he has chosen a new victim: Vic’s son. For the sake of her son, Vic must now face off against the literal demons of her past in this exciting tale from Joe Hill.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Along with several other children, Carolyn was taken in by a man she and her adopted siblings refer to as Father, who they suspect may be God. He has forced them to tend to his library, where he has them study his ancient customs and powers. When Father goes missing, his adopted children, now adults, are left to protect his secret library and the vast control it holds over the world. Facing off against impossibly powerful foes, Carolyn and her siblings must defend the library without sacrificing the very things that once made them human.