Halloween books for adults are the topic of our blog post today!
The spooky season is upon us, and what better way to set the mood than by diving into a chilling read? Trust me, there’s nothing like the feeling of getting lost in a story so haunting it makes the atmosphere in your living room feel like a dimly lit haunted house. And, if you’ve followed my posts, you know I absolutely relish this genre.
So, I’ve curated a selection of Halloween books for adults that are perfect for a late-night read. These stories offer more than just jump scares; they delve deep into the psychological and the supernatural, peeling back the layers of what terrifies us the most. From Stephen King’s intriguing character Holly Gibney taking the stage again to the timeless chills of Shirley Jackson’s haunted house, there’s something here to spook and stimulate every adult reader.
But hey, let’s not leave the younger readers out of the fun! If you’re a parent, educator, or just someone with a young reader in your life, head over to my other post where I’ve compiled a list of Halloween books for kids. Because, let’s be honest, who says Halloween reads are only for grown-ups?
Halloween Books for Adults
Here are our top picks for Halloween books for adults:
1. Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
In “Pet Sematary,” Dr. Louis Creed relocates his family to Ludlow, Maine, for a fresh start. But the quaint town harbors a dark secret—a pet graveyard with unsettling powers. Despite warnings, Louis ventures into the forbidden burial ground, where he discovers an unsettling truth: sometimes, bringing back the dead leads to catastrophic consequences. A chilling tale about the boundaries we should never cross, it reminds us that some things are better left buried.
Buy Pet Sematary on Amazon
2. Rebecca Mass Market, by Daphne Du Maurier
Set in a mansion on the Cornish coast, “Rebecca” centers around the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter, the young bride of a man she barely knows. Haunted by the memory of Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca, the new Mrs. de Winter is tormented by the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers.
The mansion is full of lingering traces of Rebecca, and as the new bride delves into the past, she uncovers unsettling secrets. A tale of love, jealousy, and haunting memories, “Rebecca” keeps you gripped from beginning to end.
Buy Rebecca Mass Market on Amazon
3. The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty
“The Exorcist” remains an iconic piece in horror literature even decades after its release. Focusing on the demonic possession of a young girl, the book delves deep into the battle between good and evil.
Far more than just a tale to terrify, it also explores faith, the limits of human endurance, and the complexities of morality. This book remains as relevant and terrifying today as it was when it was first written, proving that some fears are timeless.
Buy The Exorcist on Amazon
4. The Sun Down Motel, by Simone St. James
Simone St. James takes us to the unsettling Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. Set in two timelines—1982 and 2017—the story revolves around Viv Delaney and her niece Carly Kirk. Viv mysteriously disappeared while working as the night clerk at the motel in 1982.
Years later, Carly decides to explore the motel to uncover the truth about her aunt. But as Carly finds out, the motel is still as haunted and enigmatic as it was 35 years ago. This story plays with elements of mystery and the supernatural, skillfully weaving the two timelines together to reveal an unsettling truth.
Buy The Sun Down Motel on Amazon
5. Hallowe’en Party, by Agatha Christie
In this enthralling story that inspired a major motion picture, Hercule Poirot takes the center stage. The story starts at a Halloween party, where a 13-year-old named Joyce claims she witnessed a murder. No one believes her, but hours later, she’s found dead, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub.
Poirot is called in to solve the case and must determine if he’s dealing with one murderer or two. It’s a classic who-done-it with a Halloween twist that will keep you hooked until the very end.
Buy Hallowe’en Party on Amazon
6. Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories, by Roald Dahl
While not written by Dahl himself, this anthology is a curated collection of his favorite ghost stories. Dahl read a massive 749 supernatural tales before carefully selecting the 14 stories that make up this anthology.
This book brings together pieces by some of the masters of the genre, including E.F. Benson and Edith Wharton. In his own words, the purpose of these stories is to offer “spookiness” and “disturb your thoughts,” and they do just that.
Buy Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories on Amazon
7. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
This is a classic that’s stood the test of time for a reason. Mary Shelley penned “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” when she was just 18, inspired by her travels, conversations about scientific theories, and a friendly competition with her literary pals.
At its core, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creation grapples with the ethical boundaries of science and the existential questions that haunt us all. This isn’t just a tale of a mad scientist and his creation; it’s a profound exploration of what happens when human beings play god. Seriously, if you haven’t read this one yet, what are you waiting for?
Buy Frankenstein on Amazon
8. Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, by Shea Ernshaw
Now, this is an intriguing spinoff for fans of “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Sally Skellington, the new Pumpkin Queen, feels conflicted and trapped in her newfound royalty. The story takes a dramatic turn when Sally and Zero stumble upon Dream Town, setting off a chain of unsettling events that jeopardize Halloween Town.
In her quest to save her realm and discover her true self, Sally’s journey becomes a metaphor for breaking free from societal norms and expectations. If you’re a fan of the original film, this tale adds new layers to the characters and the universe you already love.
Buy Long live the Pumpkin Queen on Amazon
9. The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
This is psychological horror at its finest. We follow Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee, as she tries to get inside the mind of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist-turned-serial killer, to catch another killer known as Buffalo Bill. The tension is palpable, the stakes are sky-high, and the relationship between Clarice and Lecter is twisted and complex.
What really gets you in this story is not just the horror of the crimes, but the chilling intimacy of the conversations between Clarice and Lecter. You find yourself both intrigued and repelled, making it a perfect Halloween read.
Buy The Silence of the lambs on Amazon
10. Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman
The Owens sisters, Gillian and Sally, give us a glimpse into the complicated relationship with their family legacy and the weight of being ‘different’ in a conformist society. You see, these women are witches, but they just want to escape their label and live life on their terms.
However, you can’t run away from who you are; it’s as if destiny pulls them back. The storyline beautifully intermingles elements of witchcraft with the complexities of family dynamics. I particularly appreciate how the book touches on how societies stigmatize those they don’t understand, but yet, despite societal judgments, there’s a magical resilience within each character.
Buy Practical Magic on Amazon
11. Haunting Charlie: Witches of Palmetto Point, by Wendy Wang
Charlie Payne is struggling to balance two worlds: one of a loving mom and the other of a witch who can communicate with the dead. When Susan Tate seeks her help to deal with her haunted southern mansion, Charlie gets pulled into a dark narrative that’s just as much a thriller as it is a supernatural story.
This book isn’t just about witches and spirits; it’s about what it means to navigate complex roles in a world that doesn’t quite understand you. It makes for a page-turning read, especially if you’re into the whole haunted house vibe mixed with strong female leads.
Buy Haunting Charlie on Amazon
12. Dracula: The Original 1897, by Bram Stoker
Oh man, what can I say about this one that hasn’t already been said? It’s the granddaddy of vampire novels and it’s still as chilling as ever. But beyond its genre-defining elements, “Dracula” is a layered narrative that delves into themes like the rigidity of Victorian sexual norms, colonial anxiety, and the challenges of modernity.
With a colorful ensemble led by Professor Van Helsing, the fight against Dracula becomes not just a battle against the undead, but a reflection of societal struggles at the time.
Buy Dracula on Amazon
13. Holly, by Stephen King
Stephen King’s gift for character development shines brightly in “Holly,” and for those who have followed Holly Gibney through her previous appearances, this new chapter is like catching up with an old friend in a high-stakes situation. She’s a full-fledged detective now, but what makes her relatable is how she grapples with personal issues while solving intense cases.
And trust me, King has a knack for writing brilliant, twisted adversaries. The professors in this book, Rodney and Emily Harris, are no exception. Their seemingly perfect life hides a dark secret, and you just can’t help but wonder what’s going on in that book-lined basement of theirs.
I think King excels at tapping into the everyday fears we all harbor and escalating them to the nth degree. It’s the kind of storytelling that’s firmly grounded in realism, but it’s stretched to the point where the tension becomes almost unbearable.
Buy Holly on Amazon
14. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
What a classic! Shirley Jackson doesn’t just tell you a ghost story; she invites you into the haunted psyche of her characters. She masterfully leverages the concept of “terror” over “horror,” which to me makes the dread even more palpable. And oh, how she plays with the idea of reality.
You find yourself questioning whether the characters are experiencing genuine supernatural occurrences or the phenomena are just manifestations of their own troubled minds.
The backstory of how she came to write the novel, involving her family’s architectural history and her meticulous research, adds an extra layer of intrigue. Shirley Jackson’s writing can give you the chills without even describing a monster, and that’s the beauty of it.
Buy The Haunting of Hill on Amazon
Whether you’re someone who revels in the supernatural or enjoys the psychological tension that only a well-written thriller can offer, I hope this list has given you some stellar options for your Halloween reading spree.
And hey, I’d love to hear what you think. If you’ve already cracked the spine on any of these books, or if you have some spine-tingling recommendations of your own, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on our social media profiles. I’m always on the lookout for another page-turner, especially if it’s one that can make me double-check my locks at night!