I’ve always been one to recommend a TON of different books for Halloween but one recommendation post that I always love doing (and never gets old) is the scariest books I’ve read. There are still a few of my favorites that have yet to be dethroned by other books but there are a few new faces on the list this year! So let’s just get right into it, shall we?
These aren’t in any particular order and I will link up my full reviews (if available) to each one as well as a Goodreads link in case you’re curious for more info! Just click the book titles or links below each one!
This book takes “creepy child” to a whole new level, I’ve honestly never been more terrified of a tiny child in my whole life! Think movies like “The Omen” (minus the Antichrist), “Orphan”, or “Children of the Corn”. Creepy kids!
It’s about Hanna, a very young child, who adores her father but wants him all to herself. Her mother stands in the way of that, and she will do whatever it takes to get rid of her.
It’s an absolute chilling story, there’s just something that’s terrifying about a child going to such lengths to get rid of their own mother. Or a child just doing any of these things in general…. Still, this is one of my absolute must reads if you’re looking to get spooked and you aren’t into ghost stories or creature features!
I would argue that this book might just be my current all time favorite horror book. I have yet to read something that was as beautifully written and terrifying as this book. Darcy Coates is a queen.
It revolves around a young woman (and her cat) who inherits an old house from a distant relative. The house, of course, is considered to be haunted and is full of secrets from strange messages etched into the walls and furniture to the hidden grave in the woods. And the tagline within the synopsis says it all: “Only one thing is certain: Ashburn’s dead are not at rest”.
Honestly, I don’t want to reveal too much because you want to be surprised for this one. It has a very Gothic feel to it and the atmosphere is haunting, also Coates’s writing is gorgeous and will have you staying up all night to finish it. 100% recommend to anyone looking for a spooky read but definitely recommend to anyone who adores spooky old houses and ghost stories!
This book has been a long reigning champion on my “scariest reads” lists and it is still hanging in there! I just find myself constantly thinking of it whenever I think of scary books, I also recommend it constantly and have loaned my copy out to many friends. Nothing wrong with an oldie but a goodie!
This is a YA horror anthology with some fantastic authors (Kendare Blake, Marie Lu, Jay Kristoff, Leigh Bardugo, etc.) and each story draws inspiration from a classic tale (revealed at the end) which makes it super fun to try and guess what it is while reading. “In the Forest Dark and Deep” by Carrie Ryan is my favorite story in the collection, it’s one of the creepiest stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading! Overall I think there’s a spooky story in here for everyone.
The first and only sci-fi horror book on this list (and honestly might be the only one I’ve read so far…) and it is a hard hitter. This book is extremely fast paced and it really gets the adrenaline going! It’s reminiscent of the ‘Alien’ film franchise (very similar to the prequel ‘Prometheus’ actually) as far as a setting goes.
A search and rescue team is dispatched to a distant, remote planet after receiving an SOS call (first mistake honestly, does responding to an SOS call in space ever go well?). When they arrive they discover everything in disarray and seemingly everyone dead, they begin investigating. You can imagine how the rest goes, I’m sure.
Constant action and the horror aspect is truly ghastly stuff, I won’t reveal any more than that because it’s best to not know anything remotely spoiler-y. It’s a fast read and if you like some sci-fi with your horror and enjoy some jump scares it’s definitely worth checking out.
Because of the Netflix movie I’m sure a lot of people are now familiar with this one. I know it probably sounds blasphemous but I have yet to watch it, however, I can say that the book is absolutely excellent. Though I’m unsure how the movie holds up in comparison. This is more of a “quiet” horror, it’s slow and when it arrives it really grips you.
Something is out there and one glimpse of it will kill you. Years after it started there are scattered groups of survivors and Malorie, our protagonist, has two small children she must flee with several miles downriver while blindfolded.
The horror of not knowing what this “thing” looks like and taking away a major sense is what makes this book a scare masterpiece. The suspense will drive you into devouring it right away! I’d say this one is perfect for people who want more of a thriller or dystopian horror book than an outright horror book (ie: ghosts, monsters, etc.).
I am terrified of ghosts with long dark hair covering their faces and anything that does the creepy disjointed, bone-cracking walk. Terrified. This book has a Japanese ghost who has that long, dark hair covering her face AND at the start of the book does that creepy crawl out of a bathtub. Recipe for terror, right there. She hunts murderers and child killers, though, so it’s a good vengeful, scary spirit.
For over 300 years, Okiku, has hunted murders after someone killed her and threw her body down a well. When a strange boy moves into the neighborhood she discovers something dark has followed him there. Both get drawn into the world of dark doll rituals and Shinto exorcisms, even traveling to Japan to discover the secret about this boy.
If you’re terrified of anything resembling “The Ring” or “The Grudge” and want to be that level of scared, this book is for you. Trust me.
This one was such a fun surprise, I did not expect it to end up being as horror centered as it did. It starts out pretty subtle but by the end it’s full blown creepy time! The synopsis is vague for a reason though, you don’t want anything spoiled for you and I’m not looking to do that either. Once you reach the last third of the book though, it’ll come at you like a freight train!
It’s about a group of friends reuniting after one has been missing for two years. However, since Julie has returned something is really off with her and they’re about to find out.
I found this to be a fairly fast paced read, however, if it seems to build slowly I promise the ending is very well worth it.
Another book that I’ve had on this list a number of times and that, my friends, is why it’s going to take something pretty damn good to dethrone its spot here. This book was gory, scary, and gets pretty wild! It’s definitely not your typical YA horror, I was pleasantly surprised.
Set in America during the 17th/18th century it’s about a young woman who discovers her family is moving out onto the prairie from their remote mountain cabin. She’s also harboring a secret, she’s pregnant by the young boy she has been meeting without her family’s knowledge. When they arrive at their new home they discover an abandoned cabin covered in blood and things only get stranger from there.
This is really a wild ride, the beginning is a bit slow but the ending is pretty crazy. Creepy babies, demons, man eating pigs, scarecrows = nightmare fuel. It’s worth the read!
This one is right up there with “The Haunting of Ashburn House” as my tippity top favorite. When I read this book I was blown away with how good it was and how much I loved it. It’s well written and scary as hell, which is honestly all I need. It has a borderline Gothic feel and the atmosphere is EVERYTHING, so spooky.
It revolves around David, a skeptic of the supernatural, who is invited to stay at the “most haunted house in Virginia”, which he believes will be a typical case. However, the house has a very dark history and things linger there because of it. David is also haunted by the woman he turned away years ago and she ended up taking her own life, and he believes she has followed him to the house.
If you, like me, love a good haunted house story then this book is for you. It’s terrifying but also has a great story to tell full of turns and the writing is fantastic.
I originally thought this book wasn’t going to be that scary, I figured with a group of teen girls trying to summon Bloody Mary that it was actually going to be kind of cheesy. I’m glad I was wrong because this book not only has some very chilling moments but is also straight up entertaining and FUN! It’s very fast paced and Mary herself was incredibly creepy (if any of you have seen the Supernatural episode with Blood Mary, that’s exactly the shit I’m talking about!).
Of course the story revolves around the summoning of Bloody Mary, by a group of young girls, and something goes wrong allowing the ghastly spirit to slip through the mirror and take revenge on the girls.
It’s a wild ride, with some truly scary scenes. It was like watching a horror movie play out, as I said it was just plain fun and I think it’s a fun, quick read for anyone looking for a spooky good time.
Check out my other Halloween Recommendation posts below!
- Scariest Books I’ve Read
- Devils & Demons & Ghosts, Oh My!
- Double, Double Toil and Trouble (Witchy Book Recs)
- The Real Monsters Are Human (Serial Killers, Murderers, & Downright Awful Humans)
- Zombies & Other Infectious Creatures
- Monsters, Horrors, & Other Stuff of Nightmares
Have you read any of these books too? What did you think?
What are some of your favorite scary reads?
Let me know in the comments!