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7 Horror Books You Need to Read This Halloween Season

It’s finally Halloween season, the perfect time to carve some pumpkins, make some hot cider, and curl up with a book to rattle your soul. Everyone loves a good horror movie, but there’s something so much more fun about opening up a book and spending days engulfed in a spooky novel. Just what October is for! So if you’re looking for books to shake you up in the best way, here are my top recommendations.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Hailed as the first science fiction novel – and one of the best horror books ever written – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a must for any Halloween reading list. We’re all familiar with the pop culture iconography of Frankenstein (or, in actuality, Frankenstein’s monster), but the original novel is a chilling story of a man battling his own creation and the definition of what a monster really is.

Best paired with a thunderstorm, preferably with some sporadic and terrifying lightning.

The Shining by Stephen King

Another horror classic, The Shining by Stephen King follows the Torrance family as they take over the Overlook Hotel for the winter. Even if you have seen the 1980 film starring Jack Nicholson, The Shining is a haunting thriller sure to leave you lying awake at night.

Best paired with a space in the freezer to put it, in in case it gets too scary. 

Bunny by Mona Awad

If you’re looking for a weird and witchy ivy league thriller, Bunny is for you. At the prestigious writing program in New England’s Warren University, Samantha Heather Mackey is annoyed, yet entranced, by the Bunny girls – rich and elite girls who all call each other “bunny” and seem to act as one entity. After one of their “Smut Salons,” Samantha finds herself plunging deeper into their twisted and strange world.

Best paired with a pet rabbit curled up on your lap and a notebook to help you work through what in the world is actually going on. 

The Merciless (series) by Danielle Vega

The Merciless series by Danielle Vega follows Sofia Flores as she struggles through adolescence while plagued by, well, the Devil. Be warned, these books are not for the faint of heart, and feature some pretty graphic violence. But you’ll root for Sofia all the way through.

Best paired with keeping all the lights on and having your groupchat on speed dial for reassurances. 

The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones

Lover of kitschy horror movies and uniquely formatted novels? You need to check out Stephen Graham Jones’ The Last Final Girl. Playing on the classic horror trope of a “final girl,” the pure girl at the end of a horror movie who miraculously survives out of all her friends, this book follows a town that hosts many final girls and many other horror trope characters. But Lindsay, the town’s perfect survivor, will not be outshined.

Best paired with all the 80s slasher greats lined up on your shelf for you to admire. 

You & Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

Caroline Kepnes’ YOU took over pop culture when it debuted as a Lifetime show, and eventually ended up on Netflix. But if you truly want to step into the mind of our Joe, this duology is a must-read. It’s varied enough from the show that you’ll still be on your toes, and Hidden Bodies, the sequel, will leave you absolutely reeling. Can’t stand Joe’s internal monologue? Check out Caroline Kepnes’s stunning standalone spooky novel Providence.

Best paired with setting all your social media accounts to private and looking over your shoulder when walking down the street. 

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver 

Take Pretty Little Liars and The Lovely Bones and you’ll have Broken Things. This heartbreaking and pulse-racing mystery follows Mia and Brynn, former best friends of Summer. Summer was murdered five years prior, and her murder was blamed on her two best friends. Lauren Oliver’s novel takes you through the ups and downs of female friendship as Mia and Brynn work through their complicated relationship with Summer as they begin to understand what actually happened on that fateful day.

Best paired with rereading your childhood diary and making sure to always leave the woods before dark. 

This spooky season, we’ll be stuck inside more than normal. There won’t be any parties to go to or any bars to hop, even though we can all still put on our best costumes. But instead of getting dressed up and hitting the town, we’ll be settling in with a scary book and trying not to leave all the lights on when we go to sleep. 

Lulu Amirault

U Mass Amherst '19

I'm a grad of UMass Amherst with two degrees in Classics and Communications (a random combination, I know.) I'm into graphic design, photography, and attempting to bullet journal throughout the month. You can usually find me hanging with my cat Gatsby and listening to Harry Styles.