5 Scary Books To Read This Halloween

Not feeling sufficiently spooked yet? Settle in with these scary stories to give yourself some Halloween nightmares

Halloween Books To Read

by Alexandra Heminsley |
Published on

1. Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories, edited, introduced & illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger

Graphic novelist and author of The Time Traveller’s Wife has edited and illustrated this luscious collection, which includes both new commissions and stone cold classics. Niffenegger has a lovely tone and the introductions really enable you to pick a story to suit a mood.

‘Dead is the most alone you can be,’ she announces, before launching into a bit of Edgar Allen Poe. It’s a beautiful hardback, the sort of thing you’ll keep for years. Lucky really, as you’ll probably only be able to manage a couple of stories per year. For example, Edith Wharton’s 1931 entry, The Pomegranate Seed, is heart-stopping.

(Vintage £14.99)


2. Slade House, by David Mitchell

This inhabits the same universe as last year’s The Bone Clocks and has sprouted from a Twitter short story that David Mitchell began last autumn. But it still works as an independent, and utterly terrifying haunted house novel. No-one has as much fun writing as Mitchell does – he just bloody loves telling stories! – and this is a great example if you’ve never felt up to taking on Cloud Atlas or his bigger work. Oh, and it ends at midnight on 31 October, so prepare to feel time shrink and slow as Halloween itself approaches…

(Sceptre, £12.99)

3. The Visitors Book & Other Ghost Stories by Sophie Hannah

Tiny but mighty, this is a pocket-sized hardback that looks like the sort of thing a Dickensian fop might have tucked into his tweed jacket. But the contents are very modern. A ghost story about a snobby boyfriend obsessed by his visitors book, an aspirational middle class kids’ party that sees one ghostly child left behind – the settings are familiar but, well, they’re full of ghouls. The combination of everyday and supernatural works a treat, meaning this is more than worth an hour of your time before you head out on the 31st.

(Sort of Books, £8.99)

4. The Woman in Black & Other Ghost Stories by Susan Hill

This is a gorgeous-looking collection that includes The Woman In Black (which set the benchmark for a generation of modern ghost stories) as well as a handful of her more recent short stories. It’s pretty much a perfect spooky collection, and having them altogether like this makes you realise what fantastic use she makes of location – whether it’s remote Yorkshire, Victorian London or the Fens at its creepiest. Go on, pack it if you go away for Halloween, and give someone a sleepless mini-break by reading to them before bed. Mwahahaaa.

(Profile books, £ 12.99)

5. The Witches Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff

A near-perfect telling of the Salem witch trials. It’s very detailed, and somewhat scholarly in tone but remains utterly gripping because of its being utterly frickin’ true. No amount of ghouls, mists and creaking doors that a creepy storyteller could come up with will ever be more sinister than the epidemic of hysteria, deaths and Puritan anti-women mayhem that was wrought in 18th-century Massachusetts. If you’ve ever thought you might like to know a little more about what went on, this is a fantastic start. Prepare to be chilled for weeks.

(Weidenfeld & Nicholson, £20)

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

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Follow Alex on Twitter @Hemmo

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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