It’s Halloweeeeeeeeeeen! Time for pumpkin carving, horror movies, dark nights, cold mornings, sweets (or candy, if my friends from across the pond prefer) and fancy dress parties.
…and also Jack Skellington, because obviously.
Halloween is one of my favourite times of the year, but because I’m old and (mostly) boring now, I will be doing very little for All Hallows Eve that doesn’t involve eating 2-4-1 chocolates from Tesco’s season aisle and trying to convince the boyfriend to watch Scream.
In lieu of any exciting Pumpkin-related plans, I’ve decided to bring you the next best thing: a Halloween Blog-tacular! Humour me, okay? First up is a list of books to make sure you never sleep again. Tread carefully, brave bookworms…
All covers linked to Goodreads.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is book that kept me up almost all night. Partly because I couldn’t put it down but mostly because I couldn’t shake the creeping feeling of unease crawling all of the way up my spine. This book was marketed using the tag line: ‘you’ll be terrified, but you won’t know why’ and let me tell you, they ain’t lying. If claustrophobic, psychological thrillers that make you sit up and go “WTF WAS THAT?” are your thing, then Iain Reid’s debut could be your Halloween bae.
Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell
Because Halloween isn’t Halloween without a room full of insidious looking antique dolls,
It by Stephen King
A Halloween book list wouldn’t be complete without an entry from the undisputed king of horror now, would it? If you’ve never read the book or watched the movie adaptation of It, let me fill you in: it’s bloody terrifying. It features nightmares, a seemingly quiet town where something isn’t quite right and quite possibly the scariest clown to have ever appeared in popular culture. HONESTLY, THE CLOWN. If you want to stay awake for the next four years, then It is a sensible choice.
Unless you’re not scared of clowns, of course, in which case I ask you: Why the hell aren’t you scared of clowns, you total weirdo?!
Hurting Distance by Sophie Hannah
Here’s another psychological thriller for all of you out there who like being scared for no discernible reason. Sophie Hannah is a British crime writer who has written some of my favourite thriller novels, which always feature a range of shady characters who may or may not be sociopathic, clever mystery plots and generally unsettling writing. Most of Hannah’s books are part of a series called Spilling CID, but they work as standalone novels too if that’s more your thang.
The Merciless by Danielle Vega
I haven’t actually read The Merciless but by all accounts it sounds absolutely horrific. In a good way, of course. If The Craft and The Exorcist had a literary love-child, this would probably be it.
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
This book doesn’t really fall into the horror category, but Fowley-Doyle writes with such tension and atmosphere that I couldn’t leave it out of the list. It’s a weird, unsettling, bold story featuring haunted houses, disconcerting imagery and an eerie Halloween party. If you want to get into the spirit of Halloween but still be able to sleep at night (like I dunno, maybe you have a job like me and calling up and saying I couldn’t sleep last night because I read a scary book isn’t an acceptable day off excuse) then plump for this one.
The Ice Twins by S.K Tremayne
I’m really, really sorry if you have a twin, but does anyone else find twin relationships a bit, well…creepy? If you don’t, then this book will probably go some way to changing your mind. Some of the scariest stories I can think of are driven by human emotion instead of ghouls or monsters, and The Ice Twins is a great example of how seemingly idyllic family settings can be rife with horror.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
How a bit of dystopia this Halloween? If you’re getting stuck into the new series of Black Mirror on Netflix and simultaneously loving/hating it, then I can guarantee you’ll be intrigued by Only Ever Yours. In this creepy future society, O’Neill turns her razor-sharp focus to feminism, misogyny, female friendships and the media. Although this book is quite clearly satire, a good proportion of it is frighteningly real. A cautionary tale for the 21st century if ever there was one.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
We’ve all read or at least heard about Gone Girl; Gillian Flynn’s blockbuster novel about the dark underbelly of marriage and how you can never really know someone, even if you once loved them. It’s a pretty scary work in its own right, but I think Flynn’s debut, Sharp Objects, is a lot creepier. Another story driven by human emotion and family secrets, Sharp Objects is a twisting, atmospheric, disturbing read where everything and everyone feels deeply unhealthy. Not one to read before a family reunion.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Proving that even the shortest of books can be scary, Gaiman’s classic middle grade novel is a deliciously intense, gothic masterpiece. Coraline is the otherworldly tale of a little girl who stumbles upon a parallel universe where everything is similar, but somehow not quite right. Possibly because everyone in this alternate world has tiny little black buttons for eyes. All together now: N-O-P-E.
What are you reading this Halloween, little ghosts and ghouls? Anything I should add to my spooky TBR? Scream at me in the comments!