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As summer comes to a close, there are some books on my “to-be-read” list that I have put off reading until it was autumn. Now that autumn is right around the corner, a round-up of 9 not-so-scary spooky books to get you into the Halloween spirit was in order!
The genres will vary a bit, but all of the books on this list fit the spooky vibe check, so to speak.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
1. “We Have Always Lived In The Castle” by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived In The Castle is unsettling in the best way. It is a wonderfully put-together showcase between an unreliable narrator and the eerie relationship between naivety and horror.
If you’ve been thinking about reading any of Shirley Jackson’s work, start here!
“Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiousity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.”Summarized by Penguin Random House
2. “The Hex Ex” by Erin Sterling
Erin Sterling’s The Hex Ex received a lot of buzz last year, making its way through the #booktok community at blazing speed. This book gave me major Practical Magic vibes and I LOVE Practical Magic. Next to Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic is guaranteed to put anyone in a spooky mood.
“Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.
That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.
Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.”Summarized by Goodreads
3. “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie
This list would not have been complete without Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None to help you ease into the spooky season. If you need another movie reference, this story gives off major Clue vibes, as ten guests are invited to an isolated mansion, each with something to hide. And naturally, each character gets picked off one by one, letting us readers spiral away at who is behind all of the murders.
“Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to an isolated mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…
Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?”Summarized by Amazon
4. “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs
Ransom Riggs weaves a magically and slightly scary tale in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and it would have felt all sorts of wrong to leave it off of the list. This book is a bit different as the author incorporates vintage-style photographs into the story, which I found incredibly cool.
“A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.”Summarized by Goodreads
5. “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson
If you haven’t read Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde what are you still waiting for?! This book is a classic for a reason. I studied this book for psychology classes while I was in college. There is something unhinged within this book that makes it perfect for the spooky season.
“Robert Louis Stevenson’s masterpiece of the duality of good and evil in man’s nature sprang from the darkest recesses of his own unconscious—during a nightmare from which his wife awakened him, alerted by his screams. More than a hundred years later, this tale of the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll and the drug that unleashes his evil, inner persona—the loathsome, twisted Mr. Hyde—has lost none of its ability to shock. Its realistic police-style narrative chillingly relates Jekyll’s desperation as Hyde gains control of his soul—and gives voice to our own fears of the violence and evil within us.
Written before Freud’s naming of the ego and the id, Stevenson’s enduring classic demonstrates a remarkable understanding of the personality’s inner conflicts—and remains the irresistibly terrifying stuff of our worst nightmares.”Summarized by Goodreads
6. “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier
A book that is going to haunt me in my sleep if I don’t read it by December. Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca is a haunting tale of a second wife who contends with the strong presence of her new husband’s first wife.
To put it in laymen’s terms as it is up next on my list to read, right after I finish “The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave.
“Ancient, beautiful Manderley, between the rose garden and the sea, is the county’s showpiece. Rebecca made it so – even a year after her death, Rebecca’s influence still rules there. How can Maxim de Winter’s shy new bride ever fill her place or escape her vital shadow?
A shadow that grows longer and darker as the brief summer fades, until, in a moment of climatic revelations, it threatens to eclipse Manderley and its inhabitants completely…”Summarized by Goodreads
7. “A Deadly Education” by Naomi Novik
Imagine you get accepted into Hogwarts, except you, only study Defence Against the Dark Arts and there is a giant troll in every bathroom. This is the vibe I get from Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education.
“Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly.
A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.
There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.
El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.”Summarized by Goodreads
8. “Practical Magic” by Alice Hoffman
Remember earlier when I mentioned Erin Sterling’s novel “The Hex Ex” gave me Practical Magic vibes? There was no way I could leave Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic off of my spooky reads list. Witches, black cats, and a small Massachusetts town? Sign me up!
While I have always loved the movie, I read the book a couple of years ago and fell in love with Gillian and Sally and their story all over again. It always puts me in the perfect autumn mood.
“The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.
For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.
One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic…”Summarized by Goodreads
9. “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman
This book makes it onto every spooky book list, which is why I am super excited to read it this autumn! While it is on my to-be-read list, it also felt fitting to save a spot for it here on this list as well. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic writer and I have no doubt The Graveyard Book is a must-read this fall.
“Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a perfectly normal boy. Well, he would be perfectly normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the world of the dead.
There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of ghouls; friendship with a witch, and so much more.
But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.”Summarized by Goodreads
There you have it! 9 not-so-scary spooky books to get you into the Halloween spirit!
I hope you light some candles, find a cozy blanket, and let some (or all) of the books on this list help you seamlessly transition from the hot summer heat, to cool autumn days.