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Halloween is the perfect time to get into horror. Sure, horror movies are great, but don’t underestimate the power of a scary novel that will leave you questioning everything even days after you’ve finished. Here are five recently released horror books I’ll be checking out this Halloween.

Nice Girls – Catherine Dang

Nice Girls, Dang’s debut book, has already drummed up quite the buzz. It’s a psychological thriller centering around Mary, a once awkward and unpopular girl turned Ivy League student from Liberty Lake, Minnesota. However, at the beginning of her senior year, she’s kicked out of Cornell, returning home without any explanation. Now, she’s working at the local grocery store, and everything’s eerily normal. That is, until her childhood friend and rising influencer, Olivia Willand, goes missing. Soon, everyone in their small town is obsessed, including Mary who still harbors a fervent hatred for Olivia. However, Mary believes Olivia’s disappearance is somehow linked to DeMaria Jackson, a young woman whose disappearance has gotten little attention. As Mary’s obsession with the missing women takes her further and further into the darkness, she’ll discover the truth and maybe wish she hadn’t. 

The Last House on Needless Street – Catriona Ward

This book takes some major creative license as it’s got several narrators: Ted Bannerman, his cat Olivia, and his daughter Lauren. They hardly ever leave the house, and they harbor many secrets. However, when Dee, their new neighbor, moves in everything will come to light. Dee holds secrets of her own: she’s searching for her sister’s killer. Ward manages to blend together different horror plotlines into one terrifying portrayal of an average house on an average street. Ward has created quite the mystery, in fact, it seems she’s created multiple mysteries all packed into one suspenseful book. This book seems to be chock-full of unreliable narrators and a storyline that will keep readers guessing until the very last page. 

Summer Sons – Lee Mandelo

Horror novels have the unique ability to dissect relationships under the guise of terror and mystery, offering a distinct perspective and understanding of these relationships. This is exactly what Lee Mandelo does in their debut novel, Summer Sons. Centering around best friends, Andrew and Eddie, we see their friendship weather distance when Eddie leaves to attend Vanderbilt. However, just six months later and only days before Andrew is set to visit him, Eddie is found dead from an apparent suicide. As Andrew picks up the pieces and searches for the true cause of Eddie’s death, he finds that nothing is as it seems. He’ll be forced to confront Andrew’s deepest secrets, family history, and the darker side of academia. 

Set against a southern gothic backdrop, this queer romance/horror explores grief, loss, mystery, privilege, and race. It’s a page-turner filled with impressive prose and will leave readers in shock.

The Missing Hours – Julia Dahl

Where did Claudia Castro go? What happened over the course of her last hours?

Claudia Castro is a famous and privileged NYU freshman. Her life is picture-perfect, or at least it seems to be. However, her parents are separating, and in a much more real sense, her life is breaking apart. Determined to have a good year, she cuts herself off from her entire family and begins a new friendship. However, after spring break is over, Claudia is still nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, the entire city is on edge, trying to find Claudia.

Julia Dahl is a journalist-turned-novelist. She was the deputy managing editor of The Crime Report. Given her career and experience, The Missing Hours promises readers a look into how media and coverage can shape a crime and an investigation. Considering Claudia is missing, it will be interesting to see how narration and perspective shift around throughout the book. 

The Final Girl Support Group – Grady Hendrix

Okay, so this is not a super new book, but it is a very fitting one to check out this Halloween. This book is for anyone with an appreciation for the horror movie genre. In horror films, there’s invariably one girl left standing, forced to pick up the pieces and grieve her friends who’ve all died. But what exactly happens to her once the credits have rolled and the screen’s faded to black? Focusing on Lynnette Tarkington, a final girl who survived a massacre over two decades ago, Grady Hendrix seeks to answer this exact question. 

Now, Lynnette spends her days secretly meeting with five other final girls in a support group setting, seeking to get their old lives back or at least gain some sense of new normal. However, when one of the women misses a meeting, it becomes apparent that someone’s not done with the group and intends to finish them off once and for all. Unlike twenty years ago though, Lynette’s not alone. She has her final girls to team up with, and together, they’ll take down whoever’s hunting them.

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Ruby Zeidman

Columbia Barnard '24

Ruby is a sophomore at Barnard College. Although she's currently undeclared, she loves to write and is an avid reader. She enjoys running, spending too much on iced coffee, and exploring NYC.
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