As you may have noticed, my read shelf is woefully underplenished with horror offerings. Though novels with any sort of gothic showing are right up my alley, genuinely creepy books? Not quite. So in an effort to remedy that, I’ve come up with a Halloween TBR. Also heretofore known as my ‘getting cracking’ list before this time of year 2017. Hopefully I discover some A+ books in the process to recommend, the unique brand of horror that awakens the inner Stephen King in this wuss. So without further ado, let’s cut to the books!
Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker
It’s no secret that I’m hardly a fan of magical realism. In most instances, they’re ho hum at best and painfully pointless at worst. But Natalie C. Parker’s debut, Beware the Wild, was an exception to my steadfast opinion. Enjoyable in every facet, and oozing in bayou creep, it figured out a story to tell and stuck with it from beginning to end. Perhaps most shockingly; the plot is ideal for a Halloween read. And who’s to say the companion novel will be any different? Behold the Bones is all about Louisiana swap lure, this time through the perspective of Wild’s resident expert on the topic, Candy. This means that if I thought tales of figures forming from mist, and children being lost to marsh was damn freaky the first time around well, let’s just say things are about to get real. I love how this is a bit of an unexpected pick for the season, but spooky all the same. Do not overlook!
The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
If you’ve ever read a Katie Alender novel, you’d know her MO is supernatural/paranormal topics with heavy doses of humor. In her hands, could be creepy stories such as Bad Girls Don’t Die quickly become akin to (slightly) gritty contemporaries. Not that this is a bad thing, but just not the stuff of Halloween reads. I’ve read such fantastic reviews of The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall however, that I decided to add it to this list! I mean, who hasn’t needed a bit of comic relief on the night of terrors? Much like another book appearing in this compilation, Dead Girls is set in the new home of protagonist Delia…a mansion formerly known as the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females. Like the girls who resided there a century before, Delia becomes trapped inside the asylums dark past; learning in the process it’s still haunted. Described as “a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness”, I can’t wait to read this one!
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
My Best Friend’s Exorcism, besides having an awesome cover, has a premise that practically screams Halloween. It follows Abby and Gretchen, two best friends heading into high school together. But then, Gretchen starts acting a little, well, strange. As the clues pile up Abby comes to one conclusion; her friend is possessed. I love the idea of this plot, and the ‘80’s setting is the icing on the cake. It’s actually a pretty under known book, so I’d love to discover a hidden gem in the dust. Not to mention that I’m way to big of a baby to watch the actual Exorcist, so this is a close second!
As I Descended by Robin Talley
I’ll admit, I was a bit reluctant to include As I Descended on this list. Though high school can definitely be a scary time, is it really the stuff of a Halloween read? Well, when Robin Talley sets her story as a modern Macbeth retelling, I say yes. This novel follows a power couple, Maria and Lily, who are desperate to upset queen bee Delilah from her throne. They’ll go to any length to secure Maria a full scholarship to Stanford, be it through lies, cheating, or manipulation. Now this could go a lot of ways, but from reviews I’ve read it seems all cite it for being extremely creepy. It features ghosts, insanity, and all the other spooky plot elements of the original. The tagline of “Unnatural deeds, unnatural troubles” is said to describe the book perfectly, and I must say it’s pretty appealing to me. Unexpected for sure, but so worth reading!
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
I don’t think people truly appreciate how scary historical fiction can be, so let me enlighten you. The answer is very. Mindy McGinnis, being the genius writer she is, gets that in her latest release A Madness So Discreet. Set in 1890 Boston, the story starts off with our protagonist, Grace Mae, being institutionalized on grounds of insanity. And if equally frightening novels such as These Shallow Graves have taught me anything, it’s that so called mental health rehabilitation is as scary as it comes. Add to that Sherlock style murder sleuthing, and you have a book designed for fright. I’m so excited to read this one, and can’t imagine a more perfect time to devour it. As I mentioned in my Favorite Gothic Settings post, oftentimes the horrors that stick with us are those that actually happened. It’s gothic, it’s terrifying, and it pays homage to real life. A must read for all!
Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman
I love compilations. Just kidding, I’ve never actually read one. But as my TBR pile can testify to, I certainly love the idea of them. And one curated by Neil Gaiman? Talk about one I just *have* to get to. You know, right after I finish the two bind ups from Stephanie Perkins 😉 But if you’re someone who isn’t known to procrastinate like yours truly, check this one out. Unnatural Creatures was published way back in 2013, but the topics it covers are timeless; the monsters that exist only in ours minds. The sixteen stories contained range from the whimsical to truly terrifying, however all share a common denominator…nothing is as it first appears. Though this is fitting for obvious reasons, the subject matter is the stuff of nightmares any time of year. Be it if you snuggle down with a blanket in October, or bring it to the pool in July, check this one out! (But extra props for the brave soul who reads it on Halloween night!)
Have you read any of these books? What’s on your Halloween TBR? Let me know in the comments!
-Keep Calm and Read On