I feel like I say this in every single post, but I have no idea where time has gone this year. Halloween is less than a week away, and I don’t understand how. I had originally planned to get this post up at the beginning of October, which clearly didn’t happen. But I’m sure many of you have also lost all sense of time and maybe still haven’t planned out your Halloween reading. So this is for you.
These are some of my favorite spooky books that I think would be perfect for Halloween (or whenever, really). The majority of the books on this list are pretty weird. Like, will probably mess up your brain weird. Because you know what’s what I love in books.
Near the Bone by Christina Henry
I love Christina Henry’s books, and this might be my favorite. It’s about a young woman who can’t remember a time before she has lived alone in a cabin with her husband, William. But after finding a mutilated fox in the woods, Mattie realizes they might not be as alone as she thought. Something is making strange cries in the night and leaving massive claw marks on the trees. And when human strangers show up looking for the creature… lets just say bad things happen.
I loved that this blends both creepy monster horror with psychological thriller. I couldn’t put it down when I read it, and I still haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s weird and scary and a little heartbreaking, but so, so good.
Bunny by Mona Awad
I believe my exact words when I finished this book were “what the f*ck did I just read?” You all know I like weird books and have read quite a few, but this book takes the weirdness crown. It kind of felt like a weird drug trip (at least what I imagine that would be like, that’s not something I’ve experienced). It seriously messed with my brain, and I loved it. Even though I struggled to read anything for days after I finished this.
I really don’t want to give too much away, because I went into this knowing very little and I think it made my reading experience more fun. Just know it’s very, very weird. And it starts out with a group of MFA students who all dress in frilly clothing and call each other “Bunny”. If you like weird, trippy things, this might be the book for you.
Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
Here’s another book that had me repeatedly thinking WTF for basically the entire second half of the book. If you’ve read Wilder Girls, you know how weird Rory Power’s brain is (in the best way). And you may find it hard to believe that this might even be more shockingly weird. Again, I really don’t want to give too much away about this one, because the twists are what make it so fun to read.But it’s about a girl who never really knew any family other than her mother. So she runs away to the grandmother she’s never met to discover more about her family tree. It is creepy and spooky and very, very weird.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
This is another book I don’t want to say too much about because I didn’t know much going in, and it was so much fun to discover things along with the main character. Basically, our main character exists in a huge, labyrinthine house. Only one other person occasionally makes an appearance, and this person calls our main character Piranesi. This has a distinctly mythological quality to it, but there is so much more going on. Again, I really don’t want to give too much away, but if you enjoy mythology and dark academia (and books that are a little weird), you’ll probably enjoy this one.
The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang
I have been talking about this book for years, and it still has barely more than five thousand ratings on Goodreads (I am clearly a very influential blogger). In all seriousness, though, this book is so good! It is about a teenage ressurectionist (she digs up dead bodies to sell to medical schools). No one knows Cora Lee is actually Jacob Lee, one of the top ressurectionists in the city. But it would be more dangerous for anyone to find out she’s the legendary girl with two hearts, who a lot of people would pay big bucks or even kill for. It’s fun and dark and has a lovely little romance, and I really enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a young adult Halloween read that is more suspenseful than scary, this one is excellent.
Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
As a former history major, I tend to stay away from alternate histories, but I picked this up for a reading experiment and actually really liked it. It’s about a girl who is sentenced to be a sin eater – she has to eat food that represents the sins of others so that when they die, they go to heaven and she can suffer for the sins they committed. (Yes, sin eaters were real, I looked it up.) It’s also in an alternate Elizabethan England (if you’re familiar with the history, you will recognize some of the figures). Unsurprisingly, it is very dark but honestly a little fun.
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
This is about a dance hall girl and an orphan boy whose stories wind together in 1930s Malaysia. Everything revolves around the Chinese superstition about men who turn into tigers. It’s interesting and dark and there is a little bit of romance – honestly this has similar vibes to The Impossible Girl, but for adults and set outside the US (both are still diverse, though, which is awesome). I love books that deal with mythologies that I’m unfamiliar with. It’s fascinating to learn about, and just makes reading more fun for me.
Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq
I read this one fairly recently – for my most recent post where I read books by Indigenous authors for Indigenous People’s Day – and loved it. I honestly wasn’t expecting to, but we all know I love beautifully written weird books, and this one was almost as weird as Bunny. Which I wasn’t prepared for, but thoroughly enjoyed. I feel like it is kind of a theme here that I don’t want to give too much away, but I just think books like this are so much better when you just experience the entire story without knowing much about it. Just know this one is weird, but brilliant. I also particularly loved that this feels like a memoir with poetry woven into it. It’s just a really unique book, and I had a great time reading it.
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
If you’re looking for a shorter Halloween read, this is definitely one to check out (it’s only 149 pages). It’s based on Lovecraft’s The Horror at Red Hook. But LaValle takes what is considered Lovecraft’s most racist work and makes it anti-racist. I read this book last year, and found it very timely and poignant, but also kind of terrifying. I don’t have plans to read any more of Lovecraft’s work (I read one years ago before I knew that he was super racist and generally an awful person), but I do want to read more of LaValle’s work, because this was good. It’s also one of those shorter books that just impressed me with the sheer volume of storytelling it fit into a limited number of pages.
An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel
And finally, we have what is probably the most weirdly fun and Halloween-appropriate book on this list. This one is about a thousand-year-old vampire who, after three centuries trapped underground, wakes up to find… that vampires are pretty now. And no one believes he’s a vampire because he doesn’t look like something out of Twilight. Vampires are not what they used to be – they’re weak and (gasp!) good – and Yulric Bile is not having it. So he sets out to correct this terrible turn of events. It is just as weird and funny as you would imagine. Definitely the perfect Halloween read for anyone who wants to laugh at sparkly vampires and not be too scared to sleep.
That’s it for this list! Are you planning to read anything for Halloween this year? Are there any weird, spooky books you’d add to this list?