It’s that time of the year when we look forward to reading scary stories where supernatural entities wreak havoc in innocent characters’ lives. No matter how unnerving it is to read a horror book, we continue reading it till the wee hours of the morning fearing even the slightest of sounds. I am presenting below a compilation of the best scary reads to read for Halloween. If you are a horror aficionado like me, then you can dive into these books any time of the year, not just Halloween.
Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
Pages: 123 || Published on April 6th, 2015, by Subterranean Press
When the Imagine Network commissioned a documentary on mermaids, to be filmed from the cruise ship Atargatis, they expected what they had always received before: an assortment of eyewitness reports that proved nothing, some footage that proved even less, and the kind of ratings that only came from peddling imaginary creatures to the masses.
They didn’t expect actual mermaids. They certainly didn’t expect those mermaids to have teeth.
This is the story of the Atargatis, lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the bathypelagic zone in the Mariana Trench…and the depths are very good at keeping secrets.
Little Girls by Ronald Malfi
Pages: 331 || Published on June 30th, 2015, by Kensington
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…
At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?
The Fisherman by John Langan
Pages: 266 || Published on June 30th, 2016, by Word Horde
In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.
Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Pages: 384 || Published on April 26th, 2016, by Tor
Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.
Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters your homes at will. She stands next to your bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened.
The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in so doing send the town spiraling into the dark, medieval practices of the past.
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Pages: 286 || Published on June 2nd, 2015, by William Morrow.
The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.
To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.
Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface–and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.
The Neverglades: Volume 1 by David Farrow
Pages: 307 || Published on July 12th 2019 by Amazon Digital Services
Mark Hannigan is a homicide detective in the isolated town of Pacific Glade, located in the dense forest regions of Washington. The town is so shut off from the rest of the world that it has earned the nickname “Neverglades” from its longtime residents. The Neverglades are no stranger to bizarre and inexplicable events, and Hannigan has seen plenty of things on the police force that seem to defy earthly explanation.
Enter the Inspector. A mysterious figure always seen with a cigar and fedora, this otherworldly detective knows more about the workings of the Neverglades than any human being rightly should. There’s a rip in reality around Pacific Glade, he says, making it a breeding ground for the strange and supernatural, and the Inspector is just one of many entities who have managed to slip through.
In these nine interwoven stories, Hannigan and the Inspector traverse the haunted grounds of the Neverglades, where it’s going to take everything they’ve got to make it out alive. Time paradoxes, pocket universes, giant dream-weaving crabs and star-snuffing leviathans – it’s a lot for one measly little human to handle. But with an eldritch abomination by his side, Hannigan just might stand a chance.
Bone White by Ronald Malfi
Pages: 286 || Published on August 1st, 2017, by Kensington Publishing Corporation
Paul Gallo saw the report on the news: a mass murderer leading police to his victims graves, in remote Dread’s Hand, Alaska.
It’s not even a town; more like the bad memory of a town. The same bit of wilderness where his twin brother went missing a year ago. As the bodies are exhumed, Paul travels to Alaska to get closure and put his grief to rest.
But the mystery is only beginning. What Paul finds are superstitious locals who talk of the devil stealing souls, and a line of wooden crosses to keep what’s in the woods from coming out. He finds no closure because no one can explain exactly what happened to Danny.
And the more he searches for answers, the more he finds himself becoming part of the mystery. . .
Stolen Tongues by Felix Blackwell
Pages: 320 || Published on June 27th, 2017.
A romantic cabin getaway doesn’t go exactly as planned.
High up on the windswept cliffs of Pale Peak, Faye and Felix celebrate their new engagement. But soon, a chorus of ghastly noises erupts from the nearby woods: the screams of animals, the cries of children, and the mad babble of a hundred mournful voices. A dark figure looms near the windows in the dead of night, whispering to Faye. As the weather turns deadly, Felix discovers that his terrified fiancée isn’t just mumbling in her sleep – she’s whispering back.
Originally a contest-winning story on reddit.com’s horror community NoSleep, Stolen Tongues has received widespread acclaim and is now being adapted into a feature film.
The Changeling by Victor LaValle
Pages: 431 || Published on June 13th 2017 by Spiegel & Grau.
One man’s thrilling journey through an enchanted world to find his wife, who has disappeared after seemingly committing an unforgiveable act of violence, from the award-winning author of the The Devil in Silver and Big Machine.
Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air.
Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts. Apollo then begins a journey that takes him to a forgotten island in the East River of New York City, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest in Queens where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever. This dizzying tale is ultimately a story about family and the unfathomable secrets of the people we love.
The Carrow Haunt by Darcy Coates
Pages: 370 || Published on Published March 26th, 2018, by Black Owl Books.
“The dead are restless here…”
Remy is a tour guide for Carrow House, a notoriously haunted building. When she’s asked to host seven guests for a week-long stay to research Carrow’s phenomena, she hopes to finally experience some of the sightings that made the house famous.
At first, it’s everything they hoped for. Then a storm moves in, cutting off their contact with the outside world, and things quickly become twisted. Doors open on their own. Seances go disastrously wrong. Red liquid seeps from behind the wallpaper. Their spirit medium wanders through the house during the night, seemingly in a trance.
Then one of the guests dies under strange circumstances, and Remy is forced to consider the possibility that the ghost of the house’s original owner, a twisted serial killer, still walks the halls.
But by then it’s too late to escape.
Perron Manor by Lee Mountford
Pages: 320 || Published on October 29th, 2020.
Perron Manor—a place evil calls home.
Sisters Sarah and Chloe inherit a house they could never have previously dreamed of owning. It seems too good to be true.
Shortly after they move in, however, the siblings start to notice strange things: horrible smells, sudden drops in temperature, as well as unexplainable sounds and feelings of being watched. All of that is compounded when they find a study upstairs, filled with occult items and a strange book written in Latin.
Their experiences grow more frequent and more terrifying, building towards a heart-stopping climax where the sisters come face to face with the evil behind Perron Manor. Will they survive and save their very souls?
Devil’s Creek by Todd Keisling
Pages: 405 || Published on June 16th, 2020, by Silver Shamrock Publishing.
About fifteen miles west of Stauford, Kentucky lies Devil’s Creek. According to local legend, there used to be a church out there, home to the Lord’s Church of Holy Voices—a death cult where Jacob Masters preached the gospel of a nameless god. And like most legends, there’s truth buried among the roots and bones.
In 1983, the church burned to the ground following a mass suicide. Among the survivors were Jacob’s six children and their grandparents, who banded together to defy their former minister. Dubbed the “Stauford Six,” these children grew up amid scrutiny and ridicule, but their infamy has faded over the last thirty years.
Now their ordeal is all but forgotten, and Jacob Masters is nothing more than a scary story told around campfires.
For Jack Tremly, one of the Six, memories of that fateful night have fueled a successful art career—and a lifetime of nightmares. When his grandmother Imogene dies, Jack returns to Stauford to settle her estate. What he finds waiting for him are secrets Imogene kept in his youth, secrets about his father and the church. Secrets that can no longer stay buried. The roots of Jacob’s buried god run deep, and within the heart of Devil’s Creek, something is beginning to stir…
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Pages: 769 || Published on January 8th, 2007, by Little, Brown and Company.
The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in.
When the expedition’s leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival, or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear that there is no escape.
Sinkhole by April Taylor
Pages: 336 || To be Published on May 11th, 2021 by Celadon Books
Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot is a psychologically suspenseful novel about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it.
Could you learn to get along with a complete stranger – or even your worst enemy – to save your life?
A sinkhole swallows a girl in Michigan. Fire shoots into the sky in Pennsylvania. Deer attacks leave people hospitalized in West Virginia. And this is all just the beginning of a catastrophic series of global events that will make you question everything you think you know about the planet, nature, and humanity.
A harrowing tale of a world gone mad. Can anyone survive when Mother Nature unleashes her bad side?
The Hill by Iain Rob Wright
Pages: 175 || Published on August 19th, 2020, by Ulcerated Press.
An ancient land breeds a new threat…
The Scottish Highlands; a sparse, mountainous region some say was carved by the gods themselves. Few places are as untouched as this harsh, prehistoric landscape. It is no place for man.
But nestled deep within the wilderness lies a cottage, and behind that cottage is a hill…
When a group of friends travel up from Manchester and hire the cottage for a weekend of boozy fun, they discover a threat far greater than the harsh landscape and unwelcoming weather. Something deadly lies upon the hill.
And it’s spreading.
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Pages: 368 || Published on July 21st, 2020, by Ace.
In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.
But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.
Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.
The Children God Forgot by Graham Masterton
Published on February 4th, 2021.
A rash of strange and horrifying births sweeps through London in the new horror thriller from master of the genre Graham Masterton.
A young woman is rushed to the hospital with stabbing pains. The chief surgeon performs a C-section and delivers a catastrophically malformed fetus that is somehow alive…
Sewage engineer Gemma is plunged into a ghostly darkness in the tunnel where she works. She escapes, but her boss goes missing in the chaos. He is later found alive… but his legs have been severed and his eyes pulled out.
DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel of the supernatural squad must team up once more to solve the mystery and save the city. But, if they are to succeed, first they must delve into the dark arts of witchcraft…
Tidepool by Nicole Wilson
Published on August 3rd, 2021.
If ye give not willingly, the Lords will rise…
In 1913, Henry Hamilton disappears while on a business trip, and his sister, Sorrow, won’t rest until she finds him. Defying her father’s orders to remain at home, she travels to Tidepool, the last place Henry visited.
Residents of the small, shabby oceanside town can’t quite meet Sorrow’s eyes when she questions them about Henry. When corpses wash up on shore looking as if they’ve been torn apart by something not quite human, Sorrow is ready to return to Baltimore and let her father send in the professional detectives.
Then, she meets Mrs. Ada Oliver, a widow whose black silk dresses and elegant manners set her apart from other Tidepool residents. After a terrifying encounter involving Mrs. Oliver, Sorrow discovers Tidepool’s dark, deadly secret, and the town’s denizens—human and otherwise—are hell bent on making sure she never leaves.
Atmospheric, riveting, and frightening, Tidepool is a must read Lovecraftian dark fantasy for those who pursue the truth no matter the personal cost.
Summary copied from respective publisher’s pages of the books/Goodreads.
Hiya friends! Did any of the above books pique your interest? Let me know in the comments’ section below.
If you are in a mood for a captivating, spooky read perfect for the middle-grade audience, then check out The Mulberry Tree by Allison Rushby.