Every October, I get the itch to read some creepy and fun books. I have compiled a list of my favorites, some of these aren’t so spooky and some of these inspired me to follow my husband around the house while I was reading so I wouldn’t be alone. Find Marissa’s list of witch and ghost books here.
Dragonwyck by Anya Seton– Miranda Wells is 18-year-old, poor farm girl who dreams of silks and riches. She is suddenly given her dream when a letter from a distant and wealthy relative asks Miranda to come live at Dragonwyck as a companion to the daughter of Nicholas Van Ryn. At Dragonwyck, Miranda falls instantly under Nicholas’ spell. A spell that might end in death. This book is one of my favorites. It is kind of like a delightfully twisted Jane Eyre.
Dracula by Bram Stoker – Perhaps the original haunted thriller, Dracula is still as good today as it was when it was written in 1897. What we know of Dracula from popular culture is very different from the Dracula of Bram Stoker’s masterpiece – and his Dracula is far more terrifying. The characters are brilliant and the storyline is rich and compelling. A must-read, especially for anyone into classic literature.
The Maeve Kerrigan series by British author Jane Casey is a fantastic read full of intense imagery and clues. Set in London, Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan is on a squad of police officers who investigate the most horrific or high profile murders. As one of the only women on the team she can be underestimated, a mistake for any criminal. The Burning, the first book in the series opens with
a serial killer is on the lose. He has already beaten four women beyond recognition before lighting the bodies on fire, earning him the nickname, The Burning Man. DC Maeve Kerrigan is on the task force that is working to bring him to justice, when a fifth body, Rebecca Haworth, is discovered. As Kerrigan digs deeper into the fifth victim’s life she starts to realize that The Burning Man might not be responsible after all and a second killer is on the loose. Kerrigan is the narrator of the book as well as Louise, Rebecca’s best friend, to give more perspective into Rebecca’s life. A life that seems idyllic and wonderful on the outside, but under the surface is dark and desperate.
A disclaimer on this one, these are some of the best written mysteries I have read but they are not suited for teens or people wanting to avoid swearing.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – Jacob makes the journey to Cairnholm near Wales, to visit the orphanage where his grandfather grew up to discover it was bombed out during the last World War. How can that be? His grandfather received a letter from the Headmistress, just a few years ago. It is a mystery that Jacob is determined to solve.
I really liked this book. It is the first book in a series, but I felt like it was fun and intriguing and I love where the story headed. This book isn’t particularly scary, but the real old photographs the author used throughout the book really gave it an eerie feel. The picture on the cover is one of my favorites.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead– It kind of makes me sad that all vampire books have gotten a bad name because I love Vampire Academy so much. Rose is a dhampir, or half vampire. She is in school learning how to protect the good vampires from the evil ones. She is a self sufficient, kick butt heroine, who is loyal to her friends no matter the cost. It is a fast paced, action filled series that I read in 48 hours instead of sleep. This series is set around a high school and is totally a fan girl series, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I often get asked if this series is appropriate for teenagers. There is quite a bit of violence and some sex. I suggest that moms read the series for themselves and decide for their specific teen.
The Journal of Abraham Van Helsing – Perhaps the most unsettling book I’ve ever read, this book plays itself as the real journal of Abraham Van Helsing, the famous vampire-hunter character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. While this book is fictional, you would have a hard time guessing it from the way it’s written. It reads and feels like the real deal and gives glimpses into the deeper world of vampirism and its history throughout the world. This is a must-read if you want to stay up at night, even the cover will keep you up.
Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices Series– I always hesitate when I recommend these series because I am not sure when I fell in love with it. It wasn’t after the first book. It might have been after the third, but it is truly the conglomeration of all 8 books plus one still to come, that makes it wonderful. Anyone who stopped reading after one book will not understand the hype and love of these two series. If anything, the fourth and fifth Mortal Instruments and second and third Infernal Devices are my favorites. (Infernal Devices is the prequel series to the Mortal Instruments)
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson– Is there such thing as a horror fairytale? We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the story of an ostracized family living in their big house in a small town, ostracized because at family dinner one night, four people didn’t make it out alive. Only two sisters and a uncle remain, living secluded lives. One of the sisters is arrested but eventually acquitted of the murders, but that doesn’t change the fact that the entire town thinks she did it. This story is kind of oddball, told from the perspective of the slightly unhinged younger sister. It is thought provoking and creepy, perfect for an October read. This creepy cover represents this book so well.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley- Like Dracula, the way we perceive Frankenstein is far different from the character in Mary Shelley’s book. We usually think of Frankenstein as this brainless, lumbering idiot with bolts sticking out of his neck. Not so in the book. Dr. Frankenstein’s creation is brilliant, malicious and downright scary. The book plays on human emotion and you find yourself vacillating from feeling bad for the creature and loathing his existence. This book can drag at points, but it will also leave you looking over your shoulder for a creepy creation that stalks your existence.
I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells – What would you do if you thought you had the potential to be a serial killer? John Cleaver knows he has the potential to be very dangerous and so he has created a list of rules to keep himself in check, until he meets someone who is even more dangerous than him. I love this story and the cover, it is simple but very telling.
Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George-
Dacia and Lou are two pampered cousins in the late 1800s. While they have been raised in New York, they have learned all about their Romanian heritage. When they turn 17, their families decide it is time for them to come to Romania to meet all their family and learn the family’s terrible secret.
I am really torn on this book. I really liked the last half of it, but the first half was really drawn out and slow. It took me ages to read the first part and then I read the last half in one sitting. I did like it, but the slowness makes me hesitant to want to read any sequels that may come.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie– Even though Hercule Poirot is not my favorite of the Agatha Christie detectives, I have to say she writes him brilliantly. He is a small, impeccable man with some odd tendencies about his appearance and finances. Part of me has always thought of him as a smaller, less OCD, more dignified version of Monk. Christie goes out of her way to provide the reader with such detail about her most famous detective that you can almost hear him talk.
Murder on the Orient Express starts out, like any murder mystery, with a murder. This particular murder takes place during the night on an international railroad. The man is found stabbed to death the next morning with 12 stab wounds. The biggest problem that Poirot faces is that from the way each of the stab wounds were made there is no way his murder could be only one person. So Poirot finds himself stuck in a snow storm on a train that has at least a couple of murderers roaming the corridors.
After reading at lot of mystery novels, you start to solve them in your head long before you get to the end. In some Christie novels this is possible, but one thing I liked about this book is that Poirot withholds key points of information until the end of the book, making it impossible for the reader to solve it completely without finishing the book. It reminds me of And Then There Were None, another Christie novel that cannot be solved until the last couple pages of the book.
Christie is a captivating writer and this is definitely one of her best works. If you have never picked up an Agatha Christie book, grab this one, it is well worth the read.
The Shining by Stephen King – Most people know this as only a movie, with a crazed Jack Nicholson staring through a door, but it was first a novel by Stephen King. I first saw the miniseries adaptation of this film when I was 12 and was fascinated/terrified by it. Last year, I had the chance to read the book when I found it at a yard sale. It’s the first book by Stephen King I’ve read and I was impressed by his ability to craft a brilliant story that wasn’t so much scary as it was unsettling. There’s no big monster that jumps out; rather you see the transformation of Jack from a struggling father to a crazed madman, and it’s all in his head. Plus, the fact that the setting of this book is in an isolated hotel far up in the Colorado Rockies in the winter makes it a perfect location to have you scared.
The Black Cat, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe– Is there anything creepier than Edgar Allan Poe stories read in the dark. The Black Cat is my favorite, the story of how a murderer is discovered and The Cask of Amontillado is probably my husband’s favorite. We love to read them aloud at Halloween time.
What are your favorite October reads?