In your spooky season? Well, these books should help keep you in the... spirit.

The temperatures are dropping, the pumpkin patches are doing brisk business, and when spooky season rolls around, I love nothing more than curling up with a soft blankie and reading a good scary book! Not just any genre will do, however. I love to scare myself silly with a spinetingling suspense novel or a white knuckle thriller. Apparently, I’m not the only one! Studies show that people enjoy reading thriller and scary books for various reasons. Here are some possible explanations:

  • Artificial “fight or flight” experience: Scary stories allow readers to experience artificial situations of “fight or flight,” which can be exciting and stimulating, without real world consequences. These scenarios, whether real or imagined, get the body ready for action and can provide a thrilling experience.
  • Familiarity: Many readers have been enjoying scary stories for years and have a list of favorite authors. They enjoy the anticipation and the adrenaline rush that comes with reading these stories
  • To feel strong emotions: Scary stories can evoke a range of emotions, including fear, surprise, and terror. Some readers enjoy the intense emotional experience that these stories provide
  • Uplifting effect: Contrary to popular belief, tales of terror can actually be uplifting when written with that purpose in mind. They can help readers work through fear, trauma, and anxiety in a safe and controlled environment
  • Exercise for the brain: Reading, in general, has many benefits for the human brain. It exercises the imagination, increases empathy, and promotes self-awareness
    Horror novels may provide a unique opportunity for cognitive development and perspective-taking.
  • To learn how to deal with the real world: Scary stories can help children and adults alike learn how to cope with fear and other negative emotions. They provide a safe space to examine what we’re afraid of and to talk about it
  • To challenge oneself: Some readers enjoy the intellectual challenge that comes with reading complex and thought-provoking horror stories. These stories can push the boundaries of what we think we can handle and can provide a sense of accomplishment when we finish them.

Check out some of my favorite spooky season scary book reads!

  • Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

    Mallory Quinn is fresh out of rehab when she takes a job as a babysitter for Ted and Caroline Maxwell. She is to look after their five-year-old son, Teddy.

    Mallory immediately loves it. She has her own living space, goes out for nightly runs, and has the stability she craves. And she sincerely bonds with Teddy, a sweet, shy boy who is never without his sketchbook and pencil. His drawings are the usual fare: trees, rabbits, balloons. But one day, he draws something different: a man in a forest, dragging a woman’s lifeless body.

    Then, Teddy’s artwork becomes increasingly sinister, and his stick figures quickly evolve into lifelike sketches well beyond the ability of any five-year-old. Mallory begins to wonder if these are glimpses of a long-unsolved murder, perhaps relayed by a supernatural force.

    Knowing just how crazy it all sounds, Mallory nevertheless sets out to decipher the images and save Teddy before it’s too late.

  • The Only One Left by Riley Sager

    At seventeen, Lenora Hope
    Hung her sister with a rope

    Now reduced to a schoolyard chant, the Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume seventeen-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion where the massacre occurred.

    Stabbed her father with a knife
    Took her mother’s happy life

    It’s now 1983, and home-health aide Kit McDeere arrives at a decaying Hope’s End to care for Lenora after her previous nurse fled in the middle of the night. In her seventies and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora was rendered mute by a series of strokes and can only communicate with Kit by tapping out sentences on an old typewriter. One night, Lenora uses it to make a tantalizing offer—
    I want to tell you everything.

    “It wasn’t me,” Lenora said
    But she’s the only one not dead

    As Kit helps Lenora write about the events leading to the Hope family massacre, it becomes clear there’s more to the tale than people know. But when new details about her predecessor’s departure come to light, Kit starts to suspect Lenora might not be telling the complete truth—and that the seemingly harmless woman in her care could be far more dangerous than she first thought.

  • The September House by Carissa Orlando

    A woman is determined to stay in her dream home even after it becomes a haunted nightmare in this compulsively readable, twisty, and layered debut novel.

    When Margaret and her husband Hal bought the large Victorian house on Hawthorn Street—for sale at a surprisingly reasonable price—they couldn’t believe they finally had a home of their own. Then they discovered the hauntings. Every September, the walls drip blood. The ghosts of former inhabitants appear, and all of them are terrified of something that lurks in the basement. Most people would flee.

    Margaret is not most people.

    Margaret is staying. It’s her house. But after four years Hal can’t take it anymore, and he leaves abruptly. Now, he’s not returning calls, and their daughter Katherine—who knows nothing about the hauntings—arrives, intent on looking for her missing father. To make things worse, September has just begun, and with every attempt Margaret and Katherine make at finding Hal, the hauntings grow more harrowing, because there are some secrets the house needs to keep.

     

  • Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

    This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

    When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

    But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

    To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

    For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

    While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

    How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

     

  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

    In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent. And while they sleep they go to another place, a better place, where harmony prevails and conflict is rare. One woman, the mysterious “Eve Black,” is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Eve a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain?

    Abandoned, left to their increasingly primal urges, the men divide into warring factions, some wanted to kill Eve, some to save her. Others exploit the chaos to wreak their own vengeance on new enemies. All turn to violence in a suddenly all-male world. Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a woman’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously dramatic father-son collaboration that feels particularly urgent and relevant today.

  • The Locked Door by Freida McFadden

    While eleven-year-old Nora Davis was up in her bedroom doing homework, she had no idea her father was killing women in the basement.

    Until the day the police arrived at their front door.

    Decades later, Nora’s father is spending his life behind bars, and Nora is a successful surgeon with a quiet, solitary existence. Nobody knows her father was a notorious serial killer. And she intends to keep it that way.

    Then Nora discovers one of her young female patients has been murdered. In the same unique and horrific manner that her father used to kill his victims.

    Somebody knows who Nora is. Somebody wants her to take the fall for this unthinkable crime. But she’s not a killer like her father. The police can’t pin anything on her.

    As long as they don’t look in her basement.

    @booktokgaljordyn

    Replying to @readingwithky🫶 What is your favorite Freida McFadden Book? Book: The Locked Door Author: Freida McFadden #booktok #readingvlog #readwithme #readingaesthetic #bookaesthetic #books #reading #foryoupage #foryou

    ♬ ballad of a homeschooled girl - Olivia Rodrigo
  • The Exorcist's House by Nick Roberts

    In the summer of 1994, psychologist Daniel Hill buys a rustic farmhouse nestled in the rolling hills of West Virginia.

    Along with his wife and teenage daughter, the family uproots their lives in Ohio and moves south. They are initially seduced by the natural beauty of the country setting. That soon changes when they discover a hidden room in the basement with a well, boarded shut and adorned with crucifixes.

    Local legends about the previous owner being an exorcist come to light, but by then, all Hell has broken loose.

    @bdisgusting

    ’THE EXORCIST’S HOUSE’ is a must-read. it’s one of the scariest books i’ve read in a long time. if you checked this one out, let me know your thoughts! #horrorbooks #horrorbooktok #horrorbookrecs #horrorbookrecommendations #horrortok #horrortiktok #horrorbookstiktok #bloodydisgusting #theexorcistshouse #nickroberts

    ♬ original sound - Bloody Disgusting
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

    Sooner or later, the dead catch up. . . .

    Judas Coyne was a collector. The bizarre, the unusual, the grotesque: A cookbook for cannibals. A used hangman’s noose. A snuff film. Usually the objects were sent by the black-clad fans who made his metal band a legend and made him rich.

    But this time, when his personal assistant told him there was a ghost for sale on the Internet, Jude didn’t think twice. But he should have. Of all the ghosts around him—the abusive father, the battered, resentful child Jude once was, the bandmates he betrayed, Anna, the suicidal girl he loved and dumped—this new one means to haunt him all the way to hell.

    His new acquisition—delivered to his doorstep in a black heart-shaped box—is Anna’s vengeful stepdaddy. Martin Craddock swears he’s going to settle up with Jude for ruining his daughter’s life. Craddock is everywhere: on the other side of the bedroom door; in Jude’s restored vintage Mustang; outside his window, on his television screen. In his hand , a gleaming razorblade swinging from a chain.

    And now the jaded rock star who’s seen it all, done it all, has never been so afraid. . . .

  • The Quiet Tenant by Clemence Michallon

    Aidan Thomas is a hard-working family man and a somewhat beloved figure in the small upstate New York town where he lives. He’s the kind of man who always lends a hand and has a good word for everyone. But Aidan has a dark secret he’s been keeping from everyone in town and those closest to him. He’s a kidnapper and serial killer. Aidan has murdered eight women and there’s a ninth he has earmarked for death: Rachel, imprisoned in a backyard shed, fearing for her life.

    When Aidan’s wife dies, he and his thirteen-year-old daughter Cecilia are forced to move. Aidan has no choice but to bring Rachel along, introducing her to Cecilia as a “family friend” who needs a place to stay. Aidan is betting on Rachel, after five years of captivity, being too brainwashed and fearful to attempt to escape. But Rachel is a fighter and survivor, and recognizes Cecilia might just be the lifeline she has waited for all these years. As Rachel tests the boundaries of her new living situation, she begins to form a tenuous connection with Cecilia. And when Emily, a local restaurant owner, develops a crush on the handsome widower, she finds herself drawn into Rachel and Cecilia’s orbit, coming dangerously close to discovering Aidan’s secret.

    @kayreadwhat

    The Quiet Tenant is a haunting new thriller about one womans quest for survival #bookreview #thrillerbooks #thequiettenant

    ♬ original sound - Kayla | Book Tok
  • The Good Samaritan by John Marrs

    The people who call End of the Line need hope. They need reassurance that life is worth living. But some are unlucky enough to get through to Laura. Laura doesn’t want them to hope. She wants them to die.

    Laura hasn’t had it easy: she’s survived sickness and a difficult marriage only to find herself heading for forty, unsettled and angry. She doesn’t love talking to people worse off than she is. She craves it.

    But now someone’s on to her—Ryan, whose world falls apart when his pregnant wife ends her life, hand in hand with a stranger. Who was this man, and why did they choose to die together?

    The sinister truth is within Ryan’s grasp, but he has no idea of the desperate lengths Laura will go to…

    Because the best thing about being a Good Samaritan is that you can get away with murder.

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