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Horror Book Recommendations For Halloween 2021

Are you looking for something spooky to read this Halloween? We’ve put together a list of recommendations for Halloween reading that covers a variety of different tastes.

The Classics

If you’re the sort who enjoys classic horror tales, here are some titles we recommend.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

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If you love a classic haunted house story dripping with atmosphere, this is the book for you. Arthur Kipps is sent to help finalise the estate of one of his boss’s clients, but finds more than he bargained for in Eel Marsh House – a home with a dark past. It is the classic ‘house in the middle of nowhere’ – isolated on a marsh only accessible at low tide. The hairs on the back of your neck will be standing on end soon enough with this classic slice of horror history.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

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Most people know the story of Dracula. It’s a huge part of pop culture thanks to numerous movies and TV shows. But you don’t truly know The Count until you’ve read Stoker’s classic epistolary tale. Told through a series of letters, diary entries, and news clippings, the darkness and mystery of this tale can truly only be appreciated by reading the novel.

Something a little different

Are you bored with the same old offerings? Try these quirky tales that bring the spooks with some extra spice.

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

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This is a haunted house story with a twist. For one, instead of some creaky stately manor, it takes place in an Ikea… errr I mean a totally legally distinct, absolutely-not-Ikea flat pack furniture store called Orsk. Three unfortunate employees find that after hours, this store is hiding something sinister – something which they must escape at all costs.

Not only is the setting a refreshing break from the usual abandoned houses, asylums, or forests, but it is presented as though it were a furniture catalogue, complete with those iconic blue and white illustrations of furniture.

The illustrations start out innocent enough, but as the tale gets darker, so too do the illustrations. What starts out as mundane coffee tables and stools soon progress to torture devices (which also feature in the story itself). Buying the paperback version of this amazing book is highly recommended.

If you love haunted house stories but are tired of the same old been-there-done-that settings, you’ll love Horrorstor.

S by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

This book takes the epistolary novel format to a whole new level. This book is actually two stories in one. First, is a fictional literary novel called Ship of Theseus by a fictional author known as V. M. Straka.

The actual story takes place through notes and clues written in the margins. The concept is that two students at a university begin communicating via notes in the book. One writes a note and puts the book back, the other picks it up, replies, and slips it back again. On and on the cycle goes.

What starts as a spirited academic discussion of the book soon turns to sinister goings-on at the university. Not only that but the characters leave each other items such as maps drawn on napkins which are all props in the book. It makes you feel as though you are following along with this eerie tale as you discover notes, maps, code-breakers, and other clues.

Although you can get it as an e-book, it’s just not the same. You don’t get to examine the props – you only see digital photocopies. This is another where you absolutely should pay the extra to get the paperback.

Our personal recommendation is to read Ship of Theseus first. It’s a faux classic literary tale as opposed to horror (though it does have some creepy moments), but it adds context and foreshadows events which happen through the notes. However if you’d like to get right to the spooks, you can focus on the notes and props first.

A Sincere Warning About the Entity Living in Your Home by Jason Arnopp

Like the title suggests, this book is a warning. To you. The reader. You see, there is an entity in your home, and the author is desperately trying to warn you before it’s too late. This book is a fantastic spin on horror and the author is clever, giving just enough details to make you second guess whether it’s just a gimmick, or whether there truly is something in your home.

This a great book if you’re looking to freak yourself out.

Atmospheric slow-burns

If you’re the sort who loves a story dripping in atmosphere, you’ll love these titles.

The Elementals by Michael McDowell

Filled with subtle, slow burning creeps, this book is a must. It follows two families, the McRays and the Savages as they spend their summer at their respective family homes which are slowly being consumed by the sand… and perhaps something darker. The horror takes time to build, but by the end, the unease and chills will be buried so deep you may never be rid of that dark, sinking feeling.

A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman

Most people know Josh Malerman from his later novel Bird Box (which is phenomenal, by the way), but I first discovered him through this rich, atmospheric short story.

Two teens are canoeing on a lake for their first date when they discover a house at the bottom of the lake. Just… sitting there. Empty. How did it get there? They decide to investigate. But as the blurb says ‘…just because a house is empty, doesn’t mean nobody’s home…’ This is a slow burn horror that will keep you on edge, combined with a gnawing sense of mystery that will see you pressing on despite how nail-biting the experience is.

A perfect quick-fix of atmospheric, slow burn horror that’ll leave you sleeping with the lights on.

Not The Same Old Locations

If you’re tired of graveyards, spooky old houses, asylums and other such go-to locations for horror, you should try these stories.

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

Set in the artic in 1937. Jack jumps at the chance to join an arctic expedition to earn some good money and get away from his dreary life and money troubles in London. But he soon realises he’s in over his head as something sinister begins stalking him in that barren, isolated wasteland. Being in such a remote place, miles away from help, and with a storm coming in, Jack must make a difficult choice. Venture out where he will likely die from the elements, or wait for the evil that stalks the artic gets him.

I recommend this for fans of slow burn psychological horror stories who are looking for more original settings.

Signal Failure by David Wailing

There’s nothing I love more than horror that makes a normally safe space seem like the scariest place on earth. This is what you get with Signal Failure.

Emily is on her way home on the London tube at 4am, when the train stops due to signal failure. The lights go off. The train engine cuts out. Everything is silent. Then the doors all open. Her nightmare is only just beginning.

This short story is a prelude to Wailings’ novel Under which takes place in the London Underground, so if you enjoy this spooky short story, check out Under as well. You’ll never feel safe on the train again!

Those were our recommendations. We hope you find something you like.

What horror books are your favourite? Let us know.

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