13 MORE Books to Get You In The Mood for Halloween
If you know me at all, you know that I read a wide variety of books, but for some stupid reason I really love scaring myself. I don’t watch horror movies, but give me a scary book and I will stay up all night finishing it and then cowering in fear under my covers and cuddling my cats. There’s something about knowing that someone else has an overactive imagination that might be worse than yours. Maybe that’s just me, but I perversely delight in it.
Here are (in no particular order) 13 MORE books to get you in the mood for Halloween this year.
1. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Malorie hadn’t looked outside for four years. Four years of waiting for her children to grow up old enough to make the impossibly dangerous journey to a place where she might, maybe, hopefully be safe. Taking place in apocalyptic Michigan, outside of Detroit, this is very much a story of what you don’t see can very well kill you.
I read this book at Christmas last year (read my review here), sitting in front of the tree with it’s pretty twinkle lights turned on, while the snow fell peacefully outside. I wasn’t particularly scared while I was reading it (okay, lies, I was totally scared), but it wasn’t until afterwards that the story really hit me. In fact, I still think about that book occasionally. I’m not eager to re-read it, but I am so glad I did. Anyone want to borrow my copy?
How you should read it: In a house, with all of the curtains drawn as tight as possible, and the doors locked up tight.
Halloween treat pairing: Gummy eyeballs
2. Feed (Newsflesh #1) by Mira Grant
What if cancer was cured and the virus common cold was abolished? Sounds amazing right? Maybe not if the tradeoff is the rising of ruthless, killer zombies.
Despite being a zombie book, this really isn’t about zombies at all, but is rather about political journalism during a turbulent time. Fascinating world building and compelling characters were combined with an author who refuses to pull punches make for a book that made the epidemiology of zombies completely fascinating.
How you should read it: In line for your flu shot.
Halloween treat pairing: Rice crispy treats shaped into brains.
3. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Joe Hill’s debut, The Heart-Shaped Box, is a lovely (not lovely. It’s freaking scary) ghost story about a retired rock star who notoriously collects the strange, the macabre, and the weird. He sees an advertisement for a dead man’s suit/ghost and can’t resist adding it to his collection. What he didn’t count on was that the ghost had targeted him specifically and is now dead set on making his life a living hell.
How you should read it: In your treasure room, surrounded by your favorite things.
Halloween treat pairing: An old box of chocolates from Valentine’s day. The moldier, the better.
4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
This classic horror novel by the original badass goth, Mary Shelley, isn’t as scary as say Stephen King’s Cujo, but instead it’s simultaneously thought-provoking and horribly sad. There is a reason that once this book was published, it took over and hasn’t been forgotten since. Shelley masterfully wrote a tragic story about the horrors that Victor Frankenstein created and the consequences of his actions. Despite being published 200 years ago, the questions that this book brings up are no less timely. What does it mean to be human? Where is the boundary between nature and science? How far is too far?
How you should read it: While tossing Lord Byron’s poetry out the nearest window.
Halloween treat pairing: Sugar cookies that have been broken apart and then glued together.
5. The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey
Told from multiple perspectives, this story immediately veers away from the usual zombie trope of “how to get away from zombies, not be eaten, and other tales from the crypts”. Instead, we get a story that evokes sympathy and interest. Melanie is an intelligent (and funny!) ten-year-old girl who attends primary school strapped in a wheelchair and has guns pointed to her head. This is what she knows, this is her life, but it doesn’t stop her from asking questions, being curious, and getting to know the adults around her.
How you should read it: Next to your arch nemesis.
Halloween treat pairing: Haggis with a side of blood pudding.
6. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathon L. Howard
Irreverently funny and charming, this is a twist on the classic Faustian tale about a scientist who makes a deal with the Devil. First, Johannes wanted to be a necromancer, but now he’s ready to have his soul back. He’s ready for his second deal — 100 other people need to give up their souls or there is no going back for Johannes. Throw in a traveling circus, a crew of the dead, a vampiric brother, and a main character whose moral compass is so broken, it’ll point whatever direction will get him what he wants and you have the perfect recipe for a book that shouldn’t be funny, but oh–it really is.
How you should read it: While canvassing the neighborhood for a political party.
Halloween treat pairing: Circus peanuts shaped into fingers
7. The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown
I like to throw some non-fiction into the mix occasionally, because what’s scarier than scary stories? Real life.
When you think about the Donner party, the first thought you probably have is, “Yeah, they were those dumb-dumbs who forgot to check to the weather, got themselves stranded in the Sierra Nevadas, and then started eating each other.” And while you’re right, you’re also wrong. There was a lot more that happened on that trip. Told from the perspective of a new bride on the trip, you get a sense of what really happened and just how it affected the survivors.
How you should read it: Not anywhere near your family. You don’t want to be getting any ideas.
Halloween treat pairing: Maybe, uh, just stick with water.
8. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Coraline is one of my perennial favorites. Sure, it’s written for children, but oh man it is SO GOOD. Coraline is such a great character: she’s insatiably curious, smart, brave, and independent. She moves into a new house that has twenty-one windows and fourteen doors, only one of the doors doesn’t go anywhere except a brick wall. Once Coraline discovers how to truly open that last door, she discovers a new flat exactly like hers, with a new mother and a new father, and more interesting toys. Now, she has a decision to make: to stay or to leave.
Gaiman is one of the few writers that knows how to make a story interesting for both adults and children, without being condescending to either.
How you should read it: With your favorite child or pet. If you don’t have one, steal someone else’s.
Halloween treat pairing: Candy buttons.
9. Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Detectives, monsters, mysterious FBI agents, and anthropologists all come together to deliver a book I have unashamedly read multiple times (and been scared every time). The Museum of Natural History in NYC is gearing up for a massive exhibition, but people are being murdered right and left by something that cannot possibly be human, could it? But what is living in the museum basement? Or is it who?
How you should read it: Using a magnifying glass.
Halloween treat pairing: Spicy hot chocolate with a cinnamon stick stirrer.
10. The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman
Let’s go back in time to 1978 NYC and hang out with Joey Peacock, ladykiller, vampire and eternal teenage schmuck. If you thought NYC was a dirty, grungy, dangerous place to be in the late 70’s, this book will be even more of an eyeopener. Stick through the first bit of the book — Joey has a lot of his story to tell — because when he (and his other vampiric friends) are confronted with unimaginable horrors of child-vampires, the story gets into a groove that you’re not going to want to put down.
How you should read it: In the bath, with a bright red bath bomb.
Halloween treat pairing: Ketchup.
11. The Collector by John Fowles
One of the most disturbing books ever written, this book is now over fifty years old and has inspired countless story arcs in the myriad crime dramas on TV. It’s also inspired real life killers which is both chilling and terrifying.
Fowles didn’t write a book for the shock value, but rather explored personality, circumstance, and social class and money. The main character is reclusive, obsessive, strange, and able to reason that what he’s doing is perfectly morally acceptable. It’s a disturbing, terribly sad book, but it gives an interesting nuance to what are usually one-dimensional misanthropes.
How you should read it: Alone, doors locked, and every light in the house turned on.
Halloween treat pairing: Gummy worms pinned to styrofoam.
12. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
YA horror novel with a surprising amount of layers and characters and lots of vivid imagery. It would be your classic star-crossed teen lovers story, but he’s a ghost killer and she’s a murderous, rage-filled ghost. Seventeen-year-old Cas is dead set on avenging his father (also a ghost hunter before he died) while Anna, in a white dress covered in dripping blood, is a big fan of murdering anyone who dares to intrude in her home. This should be a short story (boy kills girl after girl tried to kill boy, the end), but something happens: Anna doesn’t kill Cas. There’s something there, something that’s dying to come out, and Cas and Anna will take you through that horrifying, gory journey.
How you should read it: While house hunting.
Halloween treat pairing: Marshmallow ghosties. So cute! Totally won’t murder you!
13. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
No Halloween list in complete without witches. Diana Bishop is a professor, descended from a long line of witches, who accidentally discovers a lost manuscript hidden in the stacks at Oxford. She, wanting nothing more than to be human and to avoid dark magic, banished the book in hopes of being done with it. Supernatural creatures from all over begin to surround her, wanting to know more about the alchemical manuscript. The academic bent on this smart, witchy book, combined with the rich world building and prosy exposition immerse the reader into a whole new type of academia in fiction.
How you should read it: While avoiding writing your dissertation.
Halloween treat pairing: Pretzel broomsticks.
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