5 Spooky Books to Put You in the Halloween Mood Without Terrifying You

It’s October, and spooky season is officially in the air! This time of year is all about getting in the Halloween spirit, and your bookshelf is no different. Of course, there are any number of horror novels you could jump into if you want a good fright, but scares aren’t for everybody. That doesn’t mean you can’t still capture that Halloween mood without going for out-and-out horror. Spooky is a state of mind, and these books will help you capture it!

  1. 1. 'Jamaica Inn' by Daphne Du Maurier

    This classic murder mystery tells the story of a young woman named Mary Yellan, who has to move in with her aunt and her aunt’s sinister husband, Joss Merlyn, in the inn they run on the moors of Cornwall. Full of smugglers, thieves and mysterious villains, Du Maurier’s novel is evocative and chilling all at once. It will both sweep you away to the misty moors and stormy beaches of Cornwall, and build a sense of tension and suspense that mounts throughout the novel to its breathless conclusion.

    Amazon, $14; shop now.

  2. 2. 'The Graveyard Book' by Neil Gaiman

    Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book but with a supernatural twist, The Graveyard Book follows a young boy named Nobody Owens who, after being orphaned as a baby, is raised by the ghostly inhabitants of a nearby graveyard. The book is told in a series of vignettes, depicting various episodes and adventures in Nobody’s haunted life, all tied together as the mysterious man who killed his family tries to find him and finish what he started. This book is equal parts strange, charming and chilling, and a completely unique take on the ghost story.

    Amazon, $8; shop now.

  3. 3. 'The Near Witch' by V.E. Schwab

    This novel, which follows the story of a young woman named Lexi as she tries to uncover the mystery behind why children from her village are going missing, is a cross between a romance, a ghost story and a fairy tale. Schwab weaves a mystical and eerie atmosphere with this magical mystery. Reading this book is the literary equivalent of telling ghost stories around a bonfire, and it’s the perfect October read.

    Amazon, $13; shop now.

  4. 4. 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern

    If there’s a single book that captures the spirit of fall and all things spooky seasons within its pages, it’s this one. A pair of rival magicians, a series of mysterious performers and a circus more wonderful and enchanted than any the world has ever seen before? This book is spellbinding not just for the magical story, but for the sensory detail that brings the circus and the vibrant autumnal atmosphere so vividly and intoxicatingly to life. Whether you want to read curled up with a hot drink by the fire or just feel like you are, this is the perfect book to pick up.

    Amazon, $12; shop now.

  5. 5. 'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt

    If you’re someone with carefully curated Dark Academia themed Pinterest boards, then this is a must-read for you. Described as an “inverted detective story,” the novel follows six Classics students at a small, elite, Liberal Arts College in Vermont, their relationship with their enigmatic professor, and the events leading up to one of their deaths.

    As well as a darkly fascinating exploration into themes such as class and elitism, this novel is a pacy, entertaining and brooding mystery that perfectly encapsulates the autumnal, slightly Gothic, Dark Academia aesthetic of your dreams.

    Amazon, $15; shop now.

Related: 8 Ways to Get Your Room Ready for Spooky Season

Spooky doesn’t have to mean scary, and you can get in the mood without having to subject yourself to terror! So grab your sweaters and your cups of hot apple cider and embrace the Halloween spirit with these reads.