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It’s time for spooky book recommendations, The September Edition!!!
As y’all may know already, as far as I’m concerned spoopy season starts in August, so it’s been in full swing for quite some time now. I have been racing around Halloween stores announcing that I’m going to wear every single costume there, binging on scary movies, and trying really hard not to purchase every single piece of Halloween décor Michael’s crafts is selling. (That one’s been a bit of a rough time.)
And, in addition to all that, I’ve been reading. Lots of reading. Some of the reading has been spooky books. Some of these I read recently, and others have been favorites for quite some time. Either way, they’re all great options for spooky reads to help get you feeling the Halloween vibes (and now that it’s almost October, it might be even more of an appropriate time for that)! I know lots of people are on the lookout for good spooky/scary book recommendations, so if you’re in the mood for creepy, read on for this month’s batch of suggestions!
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
I consistently recommend A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay to anyone looking for a good horror/supernatural/just totally mind-bending book. I’ve definitely mentioned it a time or two before, but haven’t talked about it in detail!
A Head Full of Ghosts is a little bit of a different take on the classic possession/exorcism storyline. This novel follows the Barrett family, which has two daughters, Marjorie and Merry. Marjorie begins acting very strangely and insisting that voices are telling her to do bad things, saying she has a head full of ghosts. While a psychiatrist diagnoses with her acute schizophrenia, her father has different ideas, and truly believes her bizarre behavior is the result of a demonic possession. He turns to a priest for help, and then takes things even a step further by signing up the family for a documentary style television show about Marjorie’s affliction.
The family begins filming the show—titled The Possession—as things get progressively worse and culminate in a tragedy that I did not see coming.
There are lots of books out there that deal with possession, exorcism, and demons, but there are quite a few things I feel make this one particularly unique. For one, there’s the really compelling conflict between the parents and the family members over whether this is truly a demonic possession or a case of severe mental illness affecting their daughter, and the way this tears apart the family. Unlike a lot of horror novels, this one feels much more personal, and takes a closer look at the effect of the potentially supernatural occurrences on family dynamics. The reality television show aspect of the book also adds another interesting and complex layer that I absolutely loved.
Finally, we also get to hear from Merry about the lasting effects of the possession once she’s an adult, as the novel goes back and forth between present and past timelines. In the present, we find that Merry is quite saturated in the online horror community, which I think is also a new layer to the story that we don’t always see.
Even though it sounds like there’s a lot going on this novel (and there is), Tremblay handles it incredibly well. His writing is descriptive and engrossing, really pulling you into the world of the Barretts and their struggle and bringing the creepy occurrences in their household to life. You will not be disappointed by this one!
Horns by Joe Hill
What would you do if you woke up with a set of horns growing out of your head? That’s exactly what happens to Ig—AKA Ignatius Perrish—on the one year anniversary of his girlfriend Merrin’s murder. No one he runs into seems to be remarkably concerned about the fact that he now has horns, but the horns seem to come with a particularly disturbing side effect. Whenever people see them, they start blurting out their deepest, darkest secrets—the kinds of things that, under normal circumstances, no one would or should share with anyone.
In the midst of grappling with some very serious ramifications of this newfound dark ability, Ig decides to set out to use this twisted new truth serum-esque power to get to the bottom of Merrin’s murder and find her killer once and for all.
I mentioned Joe Hill and his short story collection 20th Century Ghosts in my previous spooky book recommendations post, but Horns was actually the first Joe Hill book I read, at the urging of my best friend, Jesse (who, I admit, had been telling me to read it for years, but I didn’t listen. He would say that I never listen to him. Which is not entirely untrue. I can be extremely hard-headed. My bad…).
Not only does Horns have some very compelling, inherently supernatural elements mixed in (I mean, hi, dude wakes up with horns), it’s also incredibly well written. Hill is a very talented author with undebatable writing skills, making his novels and short stories a really great experience to read.
He also says some pretty funny stuff on Twitter.
(P.S.: This one also might sound familiar to you because it was adapted into a movie starring Harry Potter with horns Daniel Radcliffe.)
The Merciless series by Danielle Vega
If you’re looking for YA horror, this is the series for you! I can’t say enough good things about this series. I’ve definitely posted about it multiple times on here and am consistently sharing images of these gorgeous on books on my bookstagram, as well. If you want some more detailed reviews of the first two books, check out this post, and for an in-depth look at the third book in the series, which was released on July 11th of this year, give this one a read. I was extremely excited for that release, and really enjoyed both reading it and writing about it.
The Merciless, the first book in the series, starts out when the main character, Sofia, moves to a new town and falls in with a group of teen queens who take the “mean girl” thing to a whole. New. Level. The group of young women tells Sofia that one of their other classmates, Brooklyn, is possessed by a demon and that she must be exorcised. When they invite her over to an abandoned house in an eerily empty suburban development and Sofia discovers they have Brooklyn tied up in the basement, things spiral completely out of control.
The girls are determined to perform the exorcism they are convinced Brooklyn so desperately needs, and take it so far as physically harming her—complete with some extremely well-done, all too realistic descriptions of the gore.
In the second book in the series, we follow Sofia to a thoroughly creeping Catholic boarding school, where demons still seem to be following her and wreaking absolute havoc on her life, and the third book in the series—potentially my favorite, but it’s tied with the first—takes a look at Brooklyn’s origin story and her own terrifying experiences with demons and the supernatural.
This series is so much fun and is very high up on my list of YA horror. The Merciless is often described as “Mean Girls meets The Exorcist”, which is extremely fitting. If Heathers, Jawbreaker, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose were blended into one, you’d get something similar to this series. I highly, highly, highly recommend it for anyone looking for some seriously spooky YA—and the best part is, despite the dark content and some gruesome moments, this series is honestly a lot of fun to read.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Anything by Neil Gaiman is usually a solid bet, but The Graveyard Book is a particularly good pick if you’re looking for a spooky read.
The Graveyard Book is a great spooky book that would be perfect for readers of almost any age. While not downright scary nor horrifying by any means, the overall vibe of this YA/middle grade novel is very spooky and Halloween-esque—perfect for the upcoming season.
This novel tells the story of Bod, which is short for “Nobody”. Bod, whose entire family was killed by a man called Jack when he was just a baby, lives in the graveyard and all his friends and family are ghosts.
Yes. You read that right. He lives in the graveyard.
Color me jealous.
His parents are the ghosts Mr. and Mrs. Owens, who have been married, dead and alive, for two hundred and fifty years, and his teacher and guardian (who is able to move in and out of the graveyard to get things like food, and teaches Bod how to write and read using headstones around the graveyard) is the mysterious and endlessly wise Silas.
The Graveyard Book follows some of Bod’s adventures and misadventures within the graveyard, which, as you can imagine, all have a particularly spooky and supernatural twist, as well as the returning threat of the man Jack, who they fear will come back for Bod if he ever leaves the graveyard.
If you’re looking for a spooky book with some major Halloween vibes and a taste of the supernatural, but also want something that won’t keep you awake at night jumping at all the shadows in the corners of your room, this is the perfect blend of those two things. And if you have any young readers in your life, this is a great Halloween-time read for them, too!
Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
You’ve probably seen the Sleepy Hollow movie with Johnny Depp. You might have seen the animated version when you were a kid. And if you’re really lucky, you saw the epic masterpiece titled The Hollow, which was a modern retelling of the Sleepy Hollow story starring Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys fame, Kaley Cuoco pre-Big Bang Theory, and the Air Bud kid/Alec from The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie adaptation.
I KNOW. CALM DOWN.
I SWEAR IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS MOVIE
Thank me later.
(R.I.P. to anyone who isn’t picking up on all the heavy sarcasm happening here.)
I swear to God, I will watch this movie with you any Halloween, no questions asked.
BUT I DIGRESS.
The point I was initially trying to make here is that a lot of people know the story of The Headless Horseman, are familiar with the urban legend, or have seen some popular (or totally obscure straight-to-television) film adaptation of the story, but a lot of people haven’t actually read the original story by Washington Irving! Receiving this gorgeous copy of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories from Rock Paper Books in my August OwlCrate (full unboxing here) reminded me of how wonderful the original story is. I like to include one “classic” in each of my entries into this spooky book recommendations series, and Sleepy Hollow is the perfect spooky vibes, read-on-a-rainy-day, get-hyped-for-Halloween spooky classic. If you have never read the original story, check it out!
I hope you all enjoyed this post and hopefully picked up one or two ideas for some spooky or scary books to read! I’ll be doing another spooky book recommendations in October, so keep your eyes peeled for more suggestions next month!
Have you read any of these books? What spooky books do you recommend? Let me know in the comments! You know I’d love to talk. <3