Halloween is my favorite holiday: costumes, candy, and fright, what’s not to love? Aside from practicing my zombie makeup and watching D.I.Y. videos of jack-o-lantern displays, one of the best things to do in celebration of the festivities is read horror books. There’s something so nice and spooky about flipping—or scrolling if you have a Kindle—through the pages of a thriller in the crisp fall air with a cup of hot tea. The scarier the book the better. So, here are my top five recommended novels that will be sure to get you in the haunting spirit of Halloween.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris:
I know we’ve all seen Jonathan Demme’s cinematic masterpiece, however there is so much more terror in novel it was based on. Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs dives into FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling’s experience as she helps track down a serial killer with the alias Buffalo Bill. Starling has to try and stop Buffalo Bill with the help of Hannibal Lecter, a famous serial killer, cannibal, psychiatrist. Harris writes from the perspective of Starling, Bill, and Lecter throughout this thriller novel, but Hannibal’s by far is the most chilling. Hannibal is disturbing, he’s a genius held behind bars, a straight jacket, and a muzzle to prevent his violent outbursts. When he speaks to Starling we can tell that he’s picking apart her psychological identity. He doesn’t want to help catch Buffalo Bill, he wants an opportunity to get inside someone else’s mind just for the fun of it. Hannibal is a true psychopath, and comes alive on the page unlike any character I’ve ever read before. The Silence of the Lambs will make you think about the complexity of the crimes within it for days, it’s utterly fascinating.
The Shining by Stephen King:
The Shining film directed by Stanley Kubrick is a great movie, however it doesn’t even hold a candle to the Stephen King novel it was based on. The Shining follows the Torrance family: Jack, father and aspiring playwright recovering from alcoholism, Wendy, mother who is overwhelmed with anxieties, and Danny, their five-year-old son with a sixth sense and a strange imaginary friend. Jack’s last hope at getting back on his feet after a number of career failures is working as the caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. He and his family are trapped there in one of the harshest winter storms and all hell breaks loose. The Overlook Hotel is plagued with a massive amount of tragedies, and a lot of insane spirits which can only be seen by Danny. They possess Jack and put his family in grave danger. This is one of the scariest books I have ever read. The ghosts in the hotel actually have real histories and the entire novel, cover to back, holds this tension that becomes tighter and tighter until it ends with a bang. If you’re looking for a story that will make you jump at shadows and have you sweating bullets, this is the book for you.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie:
If you want to read a real mystery, you need to get Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. This book follows ten people who have all been mysteriously invited to a house on an isolated island by unknown hosts. During their stay, they are accompanied by a gramophone accusing each one of them of murder and escaping the justice they deserved. One by one, each of the guests are dying and it’s up to the remaining visitors to find out who the murderer is before everyone dies. There is nothing straightforward about this novel, it is full of twists and turns that will puzzle you until the very end. It’s one hell of a mystery.
Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw:
Hammers on Bone is full of magical creatures, demons, gods, and even aliens. It starts off with John Persons, a private investigator and ancient magical being, in present day London receiving an unusual request from an unusual client. A ten-year-old boy wants to hire Persons to kill his abusive stepfather. However, Persons discovers that the stepfather is not totally human. Khaw writes in a way that’s easy to read and very entertaining. This horror-fantasy is fast and monstrous, you’ll be gripping the pages until the very end.
The Missing by Sarah Langan:
This novel takes the zombie epidemic to a whole new level. The Missing takes place in Bedford, Maine where an inexplicable mill fire has created sulfuric clouds that have killed off the surrounding environment. Since then, the town has been abandoned until fourth grade teacher, Lois Larkin, decides to take her class on a field trip. They are exposed to a virus that causes all those infected to become flesh-eating monsters. Langan has masterfully created her own insane disease. The Missing has interesting characters, horrific details to describe the disturbing scenes of zombism, and frightening tension that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
5 Horror Books That Will put you in the Halloween Spirit: Featured Image Credit: superbookwormgirl.blogspot.com, penguin.com.au, penguinrandomhouse.com, deadline.com, tor.com, and goodreads.com