It’s official: the spooky season is upon us. While I, like many others, read scary, mysterious stories all year round, I especially like reading them in October. A good thriller or horror novel is the perfect way to get excited for the best holiday of the year: Halloween.
This year I’ve decided to compile a list of my favourite thrillers and mysteries, as well as my favourite spooky authors. Obviously I have to start with the classics. These are books I’m sure everyone has heard of, but if you haven’t read them it could be the perfect time to try.
Dracula by Bram Stoker. Before Twilight, Dracula was the standard to which all things vampire-related were held. There is nothing sparkly and pretty about this terrifying tale (except for Stoker’s writing, perhaps). Catch up with Count Dracula in his Transylvanian abode this month by picking up a copy of this classic.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. This is my absolute favourite Sherlock Holmes book. The setting - a creepy moor in England - is perfect to get you in the mood for Halloween. Add in one mysterious beast prowling the property and the greatest detective of all time and you’ve got yourself an October classic.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Ok, so here is my opinion: Mary Shelley is an OG. She basically launched the horror genre with this novel about a scientist who creates a grotesque man-like creature in a bizarre experiment.
Of course there are numerous other classic horror novels, but these are my top three. Next we’ll move on to some of my favourite mystery, horror, and thriller authors who have centred their careers on writing about the macabre and spooky.
Stephen King. This one is so obvious it almost goes without saying. He’s written more books than I can count, and he is responsible for some of the most beloved scary novels of my generation. The Shining, It, Misery, and Carrie are just a few of the titles you can try this month if you’ve never read anything by King before.
Gillian Flynn. After the release of Gillian Flynn’s hit novel Gone Girl (and the subsequent film adaptation) it felt like a week couldn’t go by without another “The Girl Who” “The Girl With” “The Woman In” book coming out. Flynn turned the thriller genre into a fan favourite, and her earlier works show just how talented she is. Grab a copy of Sharp Objects, about a troubled journalist who returns to her home town to report on a series of murders, or Dark Places, about a woman who’s family was killed during the height of the Satanic Panic. Flynn’s most recent work, a novella called The Grownup, is a perfect spooky and quick read for October. It’s about a step-mother who seeks help from a fortune teller for her troubled son.
Riley Sager. Sager, who writes under a pen name, has quite firmly cemented himself as whatever the book version of a scream queen would be called. The first book released under the name Riley Sager, called Final Girls, is the ultimate Halloween read. It’s about three women who have survived horrific massacres and are thus branded as “the final girls”. When one turns up dead, the other two have to band together against whatever - or whoever - is after them. Sager’s newest book, The Last Time I Lied, is about a woman who takes a job at her childhood summer camp in hopes of solving the mystery of the girls who went missing during the last summer she spent there.
Ruth Ware. Ware has made a name for herself by penning fast-paced, complex thrillers. Her debut In A Dark, Dark Wood is one of my favourite novels, centring around a woman who reunites with an old friend to celebrate her engagement only to wind up in the middle of a murder investigation. Set in a cabin in the woods, it’s a perfect October book. Ware has also written other books like The Woman In Cabin Ten, about a journalist who witnesses a terrible crime on a cruise ship, and The Lying Game, a review of which you can find here.
Karin Slaughter. She really lives up to her last name. The author of numerous female-driven thrillers, Slaughter is one of the best in the game. If you’ve never read any of her work before, I recommend starting with Pretty Girls, a terrifying but exciting story about two sisters who overcome their estrangement after a frightening discovery about one of their husbands.
As for individual novels, my Halloween recommendations are as follows:
The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn. This book has been a resounding success since it’s release early this year. Separated from her family and forced to stay indoors, Anna Fox has taken to watching her neighbours through the windows of her house. One night she sees something she shouldn’t have, and is drawn into a complicated, frightening mystery that all but takes over her life.
The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. If you haven’t read this book you may be a little behind the times. It was a massive success and was even made into a feature film starring Emily Blunt. An alcoholic woman takes the train to London every day, and has become obsessed with a family whose house she passes during her commute. When the wife turns up missing, the woman becomes so absorbed in the mystery that she inserts herself into the investigation, with disastrous consequences.
I would also recommend taking a look at my last “What To Read If” post about true crime. There are some great spooky true stories in there that might be perfect for the Halloween season.
I hope you find the perfect spooky read!!