Spooky Books to Get in the Halloween Spirit

Maha Sanad, Social Media Editor

A Compiled List of Underrated and Newly Released Books Perfect for Spooky Season

It is officially spooky season.

Watching horror movies, going to haunted houses, and carving pumpkins with friends are all great ways to get into the Halloween spirit. Another way to immerse yourself in the Halloween cheer? Reading a spooky book.

When it comes to novels, horror is one of the most diverse genres. From classic Gothic literature to modern psychological horrors, there is bound to be the perfect horror novel to feed your Halloween craving.

Horror books have a lot of range in their scare factors and level of eerie atmosphere. One thing they all have in common is that there is no better time to read a horror book than now.

You have your classics like “Dracula” by Bram Stoker and “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley but there are a million other horror books out there for you to read.

If you are in the mood for an older and underrated horror book or are on the lookout for a new and fresh horror read, check out this list:

Underrated Oldies but Spookies

“The Monk” by Matthew Gregory Lewis (1796)

The oldest book on this list, “The Monk” is a groundbreaking novel and was very controversial at the time of its publication for its portrayal of eroticism, violence, social comedy, and anti-Catholic themes. Now referred to as a classic in the Gothic horror genre, “The Monk” has spawned hundreds of similar books.

“Uncle Silas” by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1864)

This classic is a Victorian Gothic tale that follows the narrator, heiress 17-year-old Maud Ruthyn who is left in the care of her mysterious Uncle Silas. Modern critics refer to Le Fanu as a “master of horror fiction” and “Uncle Silas” is enjoyed as a modern psychological mystery-thriller.

“Carmilla” by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1872)

“Carmilla” is a sapphic Gothic novella pre-dating Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” by 26 years. This is the original vampire story steeped in sexual tension and Gothic romance centered around two young women.

“Our Lady of Darkness” by Fritz Leiber (1977)

An urban fantasy horror novel that takes place in San Francisco, “Our Lady of Darkness” is a unique and sinister exploration of magical realism and fictional occult science with autobiographical elements from Leiber’s own experiences.

“The Revenants” by Geoffrey Farrington (1983)

Yet another vampire story, “The Revenants” puts an exciting spin on the classic themes of Gothic literature. This story takes place in Victorian Cornwall and follows a young man who is turned into a vampire and how he deals with the consequences of his transformation.

“Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” by Patrick Süskind (1985)

“Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” is a bestseller and an international sensation and explores themes of horror, magical realism, mystery, and examines the reality of a boy with a strong sense of smell and how that leads to murder.

“House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)

Technically, “House of Leaves” is not old or underrated with its strong cult following but it is a staple read for horror lovers. Often referred to as one of the “scariest books ever,” “House of Leaves” is about a family who moves into a mysterious and constantly changing house. (The less you know, the better.)

“The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova (2005)

This debut novel by author Elizabeth Kostova expertly blends elements of historical fiction with Gothic horror, specifically the history and folklore of Vlad the Impaler and Count Dracula. “The Historian” has a long, slow-paced plot featuring a story within a story, but a must-read vampire book nonetheless.

New and Freshly Terrifying

“The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein” by Kiersten White (2018)

This darkly delicious “Frankenstein” retelling tells the well-known story from the perspective of Elizabeth Lavenza from Mary Shelley’s original. White crafts a story with a unique female perspective and deals with themes like a woman’s role in the Victorian era, what truly makes a monster, and features the “found family” trope.

“The Only Good Indians” by Stephen Graham Jones (2020)

This dark novel follows four American Indian men whose past comes back to haunt them. Featuring themes from classic horror and blending that with social commentary, revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking traditions, Jones creates a modern and creepy horror-thriller masterpiece.

“A Dowry of Blood” by S.T. Gibson (2021)

My personal favorite on this list, “A Dowry of Blood” is a lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides. Gibson incorporates themes of desire, obsession, emancipation, yearning for autonomy, and queer romance into this Gothic wonderland with expertly written prose.

“The Death of Jane Lawrence” by Caitlin Starling (2021)

“The Death of Jane Lawrence” is a “Crimson Peak” inspired story that follows the protagonist, an independent and practical woman, during an era that looked down upon those traits in a woman. After agreeing to wed a dashing doctor, he gives her one eerie condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town.

“Lakesedge” by Lyndall Clipstone (2021)

A hauntingly beautiful Gothic fantasy story about monsters and magic set in the creepy Lakesedge estate on a cursed lake. Read this book if you want an ominous, atmospheric story about a young lady falling for the monster of Lakesedge estate.

“The Taking of Jake Livingston” by Ryan Douglass (2021)

This quick read is a young-adult horror where “Get Out meets Danielle Vega” whose protagonist, Jake Livingston, is one of the only black kids at his school, all while dealing with queer trauma, battling ghosts, and trying to survive.

“Nothing But Blackened Teeth” by Cassandra Khaw (2021)

“Nothing But Blackened Teeth” is a stunningly spooky haunted house tale “steeped in Japanese folklore and full of devastating twists.” This highly anticipated novella was very recently released on October 19 so get it while it’s fresh.