If you’re like me, you enjoy uniting your love of reading with the festivities of Halloween. Time to break out the candy corn and scary books!
Join me this year in participating in All Hallow’s Read, a phenomenon originated by author Neil Gaiman and his fans that celebrates scary stories through community, sharing, and best of all: gifting! This Halloween, we’re forgoing the tricks for the treats: You can give your closest bookworm a spooky paperback…and if they’re anything like me, receiving a scary book is the best Halloween present anyone could ask for!
At a loss for what to grab from your closest bookstore’s shelves? Here are my top recommended novels that will haunt any reader this magical season.
The Night Circus is an elegant, captivating tale that takes place throughout the late 1800s to early 1900s about two magicians poised against each other in a live chess match manifested through a unique black-and-white, nocturnal circus. Though I didn’t find this one particularly frightening, Erin Morgenstern’s crisp prose and weird happenings are scary good! This one is perfect for the more mature booklover who loves getting swallowed up in elaborate tales and substantial romance, and have fantasies of joining the circus themselves.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s short, barefaced novel about a man, summoned back to his hometown by a funeral, recalling strange events in his childhood about three immortal witches and a sickening monster who is after not just his family, but his life. Its scares rose on me gradually, creeping onto me until it shocks. For adults like me who love to reminisce, macabre, and out-of-the-box elements, this one is tailor-made for us!
Carrie is a horrific tragedy that takes place in 1979 about a high school girl who is ruthlessly bullied to the point of breaking, using her newfound telekinesis to get revenge on a monumental scale. Stephen King himself has said the tale has a “surprising power to hurt and horrify." As a novelist myself, any work by the master of horror is a must-read, and I devoured King’s breakthrough novel in just a few days. Give this one to the reader who is open to rawness, loves thrills, and maybe has imagined teaching their tormentors a thing or two.
World War Z is a post-apocalyptic piece by Max Brooks about a global disaster that is the zombie plague, following multiple characters around the world but focusing particularly on a male UN agent. Though scary only in its heart-pumping, close-to-home hits, I find this zombie story is perfect for the action-lover who dreams of just what they’d do if disaster were to strike. This could also be a gift for someone who loved the recent movie version!
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving—a short story set in 1790. Most of us know the story through movies, shows, and recreations, but nothing can compare to the original. Sleepy Hollow’s most famous supernatural phenomenon is the ghost of the Headless Horseman, who lost his head on the battlefield. The Horseman is believed to be always in search of his head. I love this quick read for its ability to frighten and thrill!
A few honorable mentions include The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Horns by Joe Hill, Wicked by Gregory Maguire, and The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket. And of course, don’t forget the classics! Dracula, Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are all chilling winners—both on my list and among the All Hallow’s Read community.
Halloween approacheth! Time to swoop in to Barnes and Noble or Half Price Books to invest in smiles and goosebumps for your victim…er, recipient.
Happy Halloween Read!