It’s fall, which means it’s time to curl up by the fire with some spooky music and read a scary book! October is one of my favorite months for reading; I always plan my schedule well in advance. I love creepy books for fall, so I’m full of recommendations for whatever mood you find yourself in this spooky season.
Here are just a few of my favorites! I’d highly recommend:
A classic: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
This gothic thriller is a cult classic, perfect for fans of Jane Eyre, or even more contemporary gothic thrillers. Set in autumn in Monte Carlo, this mystery follows our unnamed heroine as she marries a widower and is whisked off to his ominous mansion where she lives in the shadow of his late wife. With an unreliable, unnamed narrator, the spooky things that are happening on the estate add a tone of darkness to the mystery. You don’t quite know what’s going on or when, and you don’t quite know who to believe, but you find yourself desperate nonetheless to find out. Definitely a go-to for Halloween for me!
An underrated horror: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
Of course this snowy, historical mystery is set in Vermont, the spookiest place of all for winter ghost stories. As we follow two different timelines, one set in 1908 and one in the “present day,” a story of a small-town mystery unfolds when a family’s young daughter is murdered. Through the intertwined timelines, McMahon weaves together a complex story with characters you will actually care about and a ghost story that will have you seriously creeped out. If you are a fan of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, I would recommend picking this one up.
Bonus: McMahon’s newest horror release The Drowning Kind is also a great spooky read for fall, revolving around a haunted lake while also involving dual timelines! I personally enjoyed The Drowning Kind more than The Winter People because I was able to become more invested with the characters, but I may be due for a reread of The Winter People! Both did not disappoint.
A 2021 release: The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig
This may seem like just another haunted house story, with a creepy-book element, but this was definitely worth the read—the scariest book I’ve read in a long time, in fact. The plot is a bit complex, but it generally revolves around a family of three—parents Nate and Mads and their son Oliver—who move into Nate’s childhood home upon the death of his abusive father. At the root of this story is generational trauma, cycles of abuse, toxic masculinity, and the haunting nature of grief. This horror has more Stephen King vibes: eerie, spooky, paranormal, jumping-out-of-your-skin scary. All else I’ll say on this one is that I was truly gripped, truly chilled to my core, and truly speechless.
A Psychological Horror: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
One of my all-time favorite psychological thrillers, this novel follows the Barretts, a “normal” New England family, and their daughter Marjorie who begins to disciple signs of “acute schizophrenia” at age fourteen. What follows is the story of her descent into madness, possession, exorcism, and family upheaval through an interview with her younger sister, Merry. Readers are not really sure if Marjorie is mentally ill or “possessed” by something, making this book both haunting and spooky. While a bit sad and heavy sometimes, this is truly a perfect read for spooky season, with all the creepy, autumnal vibes.
Young Adult Horror: Horrid by Katrina Leno
Looking for a horror novel that’s on the more lighthearted, less scary side? This haunted house story follows Jane and her mother who move into her mother’s childhood home in small-town Maine after the death of her father. Ultimately, at the heart of this story is grief, anger, and all the other emotions Jane and her mother feel after such a sudden and significant loss. At the same time, with the haunted house, small-town ghost story element, it was dark and creepy, making it the perfect autumnal read. I would recommend this book to fans of Agatha Christie, as this novel was full of references to the Queen of Mystery’s novels. With the perfect balance of dark and cozy, this is definitely my favorite young adult horror novel.