When the temperatures cool down and the days get shorter, sometimes you just want to curl up with a good book. Personally, I tend to associate autumn with a good something mysterious or spooky – probably because I always think of Halloween. A lot of readers probably reach for the latest horror or thriller novel if they’re looking for something spooky. Me? I’m a bit of a coward. I enjoy a good scare here and there, but I’d prefer to avoid something that’s going to keep me up at night or make me afraid to go out in the dark.
The good news is that there are still plenty of spooky books for the faint-ish of heart, and I’ve compiled a list of my favorites in this post. These books cover a variety of genres, from magical realism to historical fiction. The one thing they do have in common: ghosts, monsters, or something just the slightest bit unsettling.
A quick note before we begin: though these books would likely not be categorized as “horror,” many of them still contain themes the some readers may find triggering or otherwise wish to avoid. I’ve included links to the content warnings for each book so that you can be informed if you choose to read any of these books.
Now Entering Addamsville walks the line between realistic and paranormal fiction in what my friend Rachel described once as “Scooby Doo Horror.” Zora can see ghosts, which means that when these ghosts get violent and start setting fires, Zora is the one who has to take care of them. Last time, things went poorly, and now with another arson in town, everyone in Addamsville is pointing fingers at Zora. She has to find a way to clear her name, while also keeping a group of visiting ghost-hunters from digging too deep into the town’s history.
Although it isn’t strictly “spooky,” The Scorpio Races takes place in November and has impeccable autumnal vibes. Oh, and there are dangerous, carnivorous horses that come out of the sea, so there’s that too. If you want to read something with high stakes, yet cozy, and has a cast of wonderful and memorable characters, then this book is for you.
Shady loves playing bluegrass music, especially because it helps her feel closer to her deceased father. But in addition to inheriting her father’s skill with a fiddle, Shady also received his gift for summoning ghosts with music. After her brother is accused of murder, Shady will have to call on her gift to clear his name and face both the spirits of the dead and the ghosts of her family’s past.
Lorena is content living a quiet life in her small town. However, when the crown prince visits her town, he sees Lorena for who she truly is – someone with a powerful connection to the gods – and whisks her away to the palace. There, Lorena learns of a magical door holding back the Vile gods, and the violent cost of keeping it closed. What We Devour is not quite spooky, but it is dark and full of monsters.
Alter Rosen is making his way as an immigrant in 1890s Chicago, trying to earn enough money to bring his mother and sisters to join him. Things take a dark turn when his roommate Yakov is murdered, and Alter finds himself possessed by Yakov’s spirit. Alter tracks down a dangerous old friend, the only person who can help him, in hopes of solving Yakov’s murder before the killer strikes again – or Alter loses himself.
Like many of the other characters on this list, Elatsoe can see ghosts. Unlike the others, though, the ghosts that Elatsoe sees are those of deceased animals. When her cousin dies under suspicious circumstances, Elatsoe must use her skills to find the culprit and keep her family and friends safe.
Two best friends, Adelle and Connie, find themselves transported to the world of their favorite romance novel, only to find that the world isn’t quite what they expected. The city’s inhabitants are vanishing, a cult is on the rise, and there’s a monster in the harbor. As Adelle and Connie meet other characters in the novel and unravel this new mystery, things get more dangerous, and they start to wonder if they’ll be able to make it home again.
If you’re looking for some dark humor with your spooky books, then look no further than this little book. Part graphic novel and part satirical “guide,” this will give you all the tools and skills you need to stay alive on your next trip to the English countryside.
Olivia has grown up without family, so when she receives a letter from a mysterious uncle calling her home, she jumps at the chance to go. But when Olivia arrives at Gallant, she finds out that her uncle has been dead for years. In his place is a cousin who wants nothing to do with her and a manor full of strange ghouls and dark secrets. Olivia is determined to make Gallant her home, but she’ll have to learn the truth about her family and fight to keep her place in the manor.
Though it’s not the first book, this novella in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series stands well enough on its own to earn a space on this list. The story follows twin sisters Jack and Jill as they find a secret entrance to another world where they encounter vampires and mad scientists. The sisters take separate paths, their world draws them back together – with drastic consequences.
What are your favorite spooky or autumn-themed books? Have you read any of the ones on my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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