Halloween Reads to Make You Scream
At long last, we have arrived at the very best time of the year. Break out your cauldrons, candy corn, and fake blood—it’s Halloween month. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to read scream-worthy stories all year round, but a deliciously spine-tingling read just hits different in October. I’ve taken the liberty of collecting some of my favorite Halloween horror so your rainy fall days never lack for books. Happy spooky season, friends!
Serial killers, sapphic romance, and code breaking. This book truly has it all.
Virginia, 1943: World War II is raging in Europe and on the Pacific front when Kit Sutherland is recruited to help the war effort as a codebreaker at Arlington Hall, a former girls’ college now serving as the site of a secret US Signal Intelligence facility. But Kit is soon involved in another kind of fight: government girls are being brutally murdered in Washington DC, and when Kit stumbles onto a bloody homicide scene, she is drawn into the hunt for the killer.
To find the man responsible for the gruesome murders and bring him to justice, Kit joins forces with other female codebreakers at Arlington Hall—gossip queen Dottie Crockford, sharp-tongued intelligence maven Moya Kershaw, and cleverly resourceful Violet DuLac from the segregated codebreaking unit. But as the girls begin to work together and develop friendships—and romance—that they never expected, two things begin to come clear: the murderer they’re hunting is closing in on them…and Kit is hiding a dangerous secret.
This is THE book for spooky season vibes. What’s more perfectly gothic than a dance with Death himself?
Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.
However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine.
The Girl in the Castle
by James Patterson
by Emily Raymond
Nothing is scarier than no one believing that what’s happening to you is real. This one’s for the psychological horror fans.
NOW: Hannah Doe is brought to Belman Psych, kicking and screaming, told she is suffering from hallucinations and delusions.
1347: Hannah Dory and her village are starving to death in a brutal winter. Hannah seeks out food and salvation in the baron’s castle. If she is caught stealing, she will surely hang.
NOW: Hannah knows the truth: she is Hannah Doe and Hannah Dory, and she must return to the past before it’s too late to save her sister. Can Jordan, the Abnormal-Psych student who seems to truly care, be the one to finally help her?
Jordan isn’t sure what to believe, and Hannah has even bigger problems: if she doesn’t make it back, her sister will die, but if she keeps going back, she might never escape.
This book redefines blood-soaked, and I will go to my grave recommending it for fans of truly unpredictable plots.
Emanuela Ragno always gets what she wants. With her daring mind and socialite schemes, she refuses to be the demure young lady everyone wants her to be. In her most ambitious move yet, she’s about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn’t care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn’t want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she’ll have it all.
But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In the city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has given themselves up for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She’s kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years.
When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back . . . and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea’s magic and find a way to save their people — no matter what it takes.
WARNING: This book is not for the claustrophobic. Those tense cave scenes nearly made me break out in a cold sweat.
Celeste is the talk of the town when she moves to Montana from Montreal, but the only friend she makes is Vivvy, the heir to the town’s founder and a social pariah. Inspired by a passion-fueled school incident, they begin writing a love-story fanfic between the popular guy and the school stoner, one that gradually reveals Celeste’s past. While her bond with Vivvy makes Celeste feel safe and alive again, Vivvy keeps prodding Celeste to turn fantasy into reality. When they finally try, one drunken night on a dark mountainside, Celeste is the one who ends up kissing golden boy Joss. And Joss ends up dead.
Celeste doesn’t remember the end of that night and can’t be sure she didn’t deliver the killing blow. Could she still be that scared of getting close to a boy? Secrets are hard to keep in a small town, and even Vivvy seems to suspect her. Exploring the winding passages of the cave where Joss died, Celeste learns he had his own dark secrets, as does Vivvy. The town isn’t as innocent as it appears.
This book is brimming with ghosts, both real and metaphorical. A must-read for all historical horror fans.
As infants, twin sisters Charlie Yates and Magnolia Heathwood were secretly separated after the brutal lynching of their parents, who died for loving across the color line. Now, at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, Charlie is a young Black organizer in Harlem, while white-passing Magnolia is the heiress to a cotton plantation in rural Georgia.
Magnolia knows nothing of her racial heritage, but secrets are hard to keep in a town haunted by the ghosts of its slave-holding past. When Magnolia finally learns the truth, her reflection mysteriously disappears from mirrors—the sign of a terrible curse. Meanwhile, in Harlem, Charlie’s beloved grandmother falls ill. Her final wish is to be buried back home in Georgia—and, unbeknownst to Charlie, to see her long-lost granddaughter, Magnolia Heathwood, one last time. So Charlie travels into the Deep South, confronting the land of her worst nightmares—and Jim Crow segregation.
The sisters reunite as teenagers in the deeply haunted town of Eureka, Georgia, where ghosts linger centuries after their time and dangers lurk behind every mirror. They couldn’t be more different, but they will need each other to put the hauntings of the past to rest, to break the mirrors’ deadly curse—and to discover the meaning of sisterhood in a racially divided land.
Pure dread, but make it beachy. This one’s for the horror readers who just can’t let summer go.
Six years ago, three Long Island teenagers were murdered—their drowned bodies discovered with sand dollars placed over their eyes. The mystery of the drowning summer was never solved, but as far as the town’s concerned, Evelyn Mackenzie’s father did it. His charges were dropped only because Evelyn summoned a ghost to clear his name. She swore never to call a spirit again.
For generations, Mina Zanetti’s family has used the ocean’s power to guide the dead to their final resting place. But as sea levels rise, the ghosts grow more dangerous, and Mina has been shut out of the family business. When her former friend Evelyn performs another summoning that goes horribly wrong, the two girls must uncover who was really behind the drowning summer murders—and navigate their growing attraction—before the line between life and death dissolves for good.
How does that saying go? Ah, yes. Two can keep a secret if one of them is… Well, I think you know the rest.
Fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai meets the strange Marina while he’s exploring an old quarter of Barcelona. She leads Oscar to a cemetery, where they watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the last Sunday of each month. At exactly ten o’clock in the morning, a woman shrouded in a black velvet cloak descends from her carriage to place a single rose on an unmarked grave.
When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her, they begin a journey that transports them to a forgotten postwar Barcelona-a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons–and reveals a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.
Stalking Jack the Ripper
by Kerri Maniscalco
Foreword by James Patterson
If you think you know every version of the Jack the Ripper story, think again. I still shudder remembering those final scenes.
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine.
When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
All hail the queen of 70s and 80s YA horror. This haunting dark academia installment is my pick for Halloween this year.
Kit Gordy sees Blackwood Hall towering over black iron gates, and she can’t help thinking, This place is evil. The imposing mansion sends a shiver of fear through her. But Kit settles into a routine, trying to ignore the rumors that the highly exclusive boarding school is haunted.
Then her classmates begin to show extraordinary and unknown talents. The strange dreams, the voices, the lost letters to family and friends, all become overshadowed by the magic around them.
When Kit and her friends realize that Blackwood isn’t what it claims to be, it might be too late.