In honour of Halloween I have decided to make a list of some of my favourite spooky and creepy books that I have read over the years. I hope you enjoy – maybe it will give you inspiration for something to keep you awake tonight!
The Vanishment by Jonathan Aycliffe ★★★✩✩
Peter and Sarah’s marriage has reached an impasse; their holiday in beautiful Cornwall is chosen to mend old wounds and bandage past pain. The house they go to has space – space for their writing, their painting and their reconciliation. It has space too for its own memories and its own unforgettable horrors . . . but they are not to know that.
When the locals are less than friendly than they might be and when the house sighs with its secrets, the sands of Peter and Sarah’s marriage shift . . . then Sarah vanishes and Peter is left alone. Or is he?
I read this when I was on holiday over the summer and you can read my full review here. It was quite a good ghost story, with a typical creepy haunted house. However, it was also had a gripping level of mystery, some good twists and a narrator you couldn’t completely trust prevented it from being too cliché.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs ★★★★✩
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.
A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for a good reason. And somehow – impossible though it seems – they may still be alive.
This is not so much a scary story, although I must admit that the ‘Wights’ sound pretty terrifying. The main reason I included it is due to the intriguingly creepy photos that accompany the story. If you haven’t seen a copy of the book, I would definitely recommend having a flick through it if you get a chance because they are fascinating, especially when you discover they are all real photographs! You can read my full review here.
The Devil’s Footsteps by E. E. Richardson ★★★★✩
Bryan was ten when his brother, Adam, just…disappeared. That was five years ago, an now Bryan is the only one who seems to remember what happened.
Until he meets two others with their own unsolved mysteries. It seems that Adam isn’t the first to disappear. Someone or something is after the kids in their neighborhood.
The adults can’t hear it, and they can’t see it or feel it – but the kids can. And it all comes back to the skipping rhyme that every child in the town knows by heart…and the Dark Man who haunts everyone’s worst nightmares – while they’re awake.
I read this years ago, and although I can’t recall the plot, I can still remember it making me feel quite scared while I was reading it and leaving me with a feeling of unease when I put it down. It’s rare for a book to actually scare me because I am such a horror film lover that I find that books can never have quite the same impact as scares on screen.
A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood ★★★✩✩
Cass is trying to rebuild her life after the loss of her soldier husband, and a renovated mill in the picture-perfect village of Darnshaw looks to be the idyllic spot to bring up her traumatised son, Ben.
But the locals aren’t as friendly as Cass had hoped, and Ben is beginning to display a hostility she can’t understand. Then the blizzards blow in, and Darnshaw is marooned in a sea of snow.
Now, threatened on all sides, Cass finds herself pitted against forces she can barley comprehend.
I read this last summer and you can read my full review of it here. The village setting created by Alison Littlewood is perfectly claustrophobic to make the slightly odd lives of the people live there seem all the more creepy. Cass feels trapped and unsafe in her own home, especially when her son begins to change and turn against her. I didn’t expect the ending, which had some more classical horror elements, but I though the atmospheric build up was very good.
Step by Wicked Step by Anne Fine ★★★★★
On a wild and stormy night, five students are sent ahead on a school trip. Gathered together in a spooky mansion, they find a secret room and a mysterious old diary. Little do they know that they share a common bond, and each person reveals his story step-by-step.
This is not a scary story, and is aimed at children, but I loved the creepy setting when I was younger. What could be scarier to a nine-year-old than spending the night in a mysterious old house in the middle of a storm and finding a locked room containing secrets that have been hidden away from years. It is one of my favourite books from my childhood and I still have it on my bookshelf now.
The Quickening by Julie Myerson ★★★★✩
Rachel and Dan, in love, expecting their first baby, and also mourning the sudden death of a close friend, want to go somewhere hot in January. When Dan produces a ring and tells her he’s already booked a luxurious resort on Antigua, the holiday turns into a honeymoon. Everything should be perfect. And, at first, it is.
But Rachel’s experience of the island soon turns from idyllic to disturbing. As furniture shifts and objects fly around, a waitress begs her to leave, and a fellow guest starts to frighten her. Rachel soon realises that something sinister is going on. When the waitress is found dead in the hotel grounds, Rachel realises her only hope is to persuade Dan they should leave. But Dan seems to have his own reasons for wanting to stay, and soon Rachel is unable to decide who, or what, she should be most afraid of.
This was a gripping ghost story, with the difference that instead of being set in an old creepy house, it takes place in an idyllic holiday destination. This makes it creepier in a way, because you aren’t expecting ghostly happenings to occur, but they do…
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid: The Book of Scary Urban Legens by Jan Harold Brunvand ★★★★✩
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I am a huge fan of Urban Legends. I have multiple books full of them and I always enjoy flicking through them trying to find one I haven’t read before. I will hopefully do a blog post about my collection at some point. The scary ones are my favourites, with ‘The Caller Upstairs’ being top of the list. It’s what the film ‘When a Stranger Calls’ is based on, which is also my favourite horror film and still manages to creep me out…maybe because I babysit sometimes. If you haven’t seen it, and enjoy psychological horror/thriller, you should definitely watch it! (Here’s the trailer).
If you have any great horror books/creepy stories that you love please share them with me because I am always looking for some more to read 🙂