Happy Friday Readers and welcome to the end of the week! Halloween is coming and it's my favorite time of year to read all the spooky book offerings out there. So I pooled the Sword & Silk authors and staff to ask for some of their favorite spooky reads! And boy did they come out swinging with every thing from nostalgia favorites like Goosebumps and the works of Christopher Pike, to modern classics and everything in between.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
The best part about House of Leaves is this is pretty much the summary of the book online now:
A young family moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz & Stephen Gammell
It's important to mention Stephen Gammell's superbly creepy artwork for the definitive edition of this collection. The play between the imagery and the text is really what makes these books a lasting impressionable classic.
This spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz's popular books on American folklore is filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will make you jump with fright.
There is a story here for everyone—skeletons with torn and tangled flesh who roam the earth; a ghost who takes revenge on her murderer; and a haunted house where every night a bloody head falls down the chimney.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Mike Flanagan's spin on this classic in undeniably great but the original is pretty spooky too.
It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky
This one had a couple votes for 'making plastic bags creepy'.
Christopher is seven years old.
Christopher is the new kid in town.
Christopher has an imaginary friend.
We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.
Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with her child. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It's as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.
At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six long days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a treehouse in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.
Hold Me Closer Necromancer by Lish McBride
Comedy & horror are always a main stay for me. This is your blog maven's personal pick!
Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.
Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.
With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?
Dead Rockstar by Lillah Lawson
As a firm proponent of the Horroromance, yisssssss.
Stormy Spooner is at her wits' end. Careening towards bitter after a nasty divorce, she sometimes wonders what her life is becoming.
After unearthing a cryptic set of lines from a dusty album cover, Stormy tries the impossible: to resurrect Phillip Deville, enigmatic former frontman of the Bloomer Demons. Stormy's love for her favorite dead rockstar knows no bounds...but it was all supposed to be a joke.
When she answers a knock on her door the next day and finds herself face to face with the dark-haired rock god of her every teenage fantasy, her entire world is turned upside down.
Turns out, she’s awakened more than just Philip, and Stormy will have to do battle against a cast of strange characters to keep herself and her new undead boyfriend safe.
What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo
If you haven't gotten in on this one yet, a definite must, especially for spooky season! Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.
Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.
Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go.
The Impostor and Other Dark Tales by Marlena Frank
Frank pens a lot of lovely creepy and spooky stories. Definitely one to check out for the season!
The beautiful and the bizarre
Something watches from the corner of the room, peeking through a crack, existing within an impossible space—what does it want?
The ghost of a lover returns at the end of a lifetime, carrying a dark secret—what will she say?
A woman struggling with identity finds herself in the arms of a dangerous woman with a mysterious curse—what will she find?
The beautiful and the bizarre exist side by side in this collection of fantastic and strange tales by prolific short story author, Marlena Frank. From dark fantasy stories of sharp-toothed mermaids and bewitched sorceresses to horror stories with ferocious bird beasts and golden-eyed monsters that live in the peripheral of human existence, these stories bring to life the creatures that haunt the nightmare world.
From heart-rending to heart-pounding, these tales will linger long after reading them.
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.
Instead, she got Em.
Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .
As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.
But how come she can't shake the feeling she’s being followed?
A Peculiar Curiosity by Melanie Cossey
Anthropology professor Duncan Clarke must get a handle on his anxiety disorder by the end of Christmas break, or risk losing the position to which he has tirelessly devoted himself for decades. When Clarke intercepts a box of macabre curiosities intended for the university, he discovers a travel journal from 1865 containing the frantic scribblings of Edward Walker, an eccentric Victorian curiosity dealer. Tucked within the journal is a disturbing drawing of a young boy, “Specimen Z”, the apparent victim of a Haitian Vodou witch doctor.
Desperate to salvage his professional career and to discover the fate of the mysterious boy, Clarke follows clues left by the gruesome relics of his predecessor’s collection to discover the dark secret Walker kept in his basement, and his connection to the brutal crimes that terrorized London. Clarke’s holiday pastime becomes an all-consuming obsession as he begins to understand the chilling implications of the journal and the horror that ties his fate to Walker’s—for Clarke will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even at the cost of his career, his family, and his very life.
Other notable recs include The Lockwood & Co. Series by Johnathan Stroud, A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, Strangewood by Christopher Golden, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson!