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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

I don’t know about you, but Halloween is my favourite time of year. There’s nothing like the chill in the air, the changing leaves, warm fall drinks, and of course, books! Halloween is the perfect time for thrilling, atmospheric reads. Whether you’re a horror lover or a scaredy cat, there’s something for everyone on this list.

So, curl up with a blanket, grab your favourite pumpkin-flavoured treat, light a fall-scented candle and cozy up with one of these books for a spooky night. 

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters 

This gripping novel, set in 1940s rural England post-WWII, is told from the perspective of Faraday, a country doctor, as he befriends the Ayres family. The Ayres comes from old money but are becoming destitute as they try to upkeep their grand yet dilapidated estate. As Faraday becomes closer to the family, strange things begin to happen around the manor as it continues to deteriorate. Reminiscent of gothic horror and rich with detail, this slow-burner is perfect for those who love a classic ghost story with unsettling vibes. 

You can purchase the book here.

They Never Learn by Layne Fargo 

It’s best to go into this book without knowing anything, but if you need to know more, this is the gist: Scarlett Clark is a well-respected college professor. While other women remain silent about the culture of sexual assault, Scarlett takes action by killing men who have committed unspeakable crimes and making it look like suicide. When we meet Scarlett, she is about to commit her biggest murder yet. At the same time, we follow the story of Carly, a freshman going through her own journey at the same college. Twists and turns ensue as Scarlett’s and Carly’s stories converge. In the same vein as Promising Young Woman, this is a page-turner with thought-provoking themes. Bonus: this book also has some fantastic queer rep!

You can purchase the book here.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 

In this children’s novel, Nobody Owens (a.k.a. Bod) is the sole survivor after his family gets murdered. At the request of the spirit of Bod’s mother, a ghost couple living in a nearby cemetery adopt Bod. Readers then follow Bod as he’s raised by the other residents, showing that it truly takes a graveyard to raise a child. This book is a creepy yet light-hearted look at friendship, family and growing up. Readers will fall in love with Bod and the rest of the graveyard’s inhabitants.

You can purchase the book here.

Fangs by Sarah Andersen

A love story between a vampire and a werewolf? Yes, please! This adorable graphic novel contains Sunday-comic-style snippets of the budding romance between Elsie, a 300-year-old vampire, and Jimmy, a charming werewolf. Andersen gives insight into the everyday lives of two paranormal creatures, from watching horror films to going for nightly walks. This might just be the cutest spooky book you’ll ever read. 

You can purchase the book here.

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell

In this non-fiction book, Montell takes a deep dive into the language surrounding cults and how this language draws people in and makes them stay. From traditional cults like Heaven’s Gate and Jonestown to modern forms of cults, such as MLMs and SoulCycle, Montell (whose father escaped a cult) dissects the influence of language and how it can be used as a form of power. If you’re looking to learn something this fall but still want some Halloween vibes, this book is for you.

You can purchase the book here.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier 

This classic gothic masterpiece is the perfect book for curling up by the fire with a cup of tea. Rebecca tells the story of the wealthy widower Max de Winter who recently marries a young woman. When the new Mrs. de Winter arrives at Manderley, her new home, she’s taken by the sheer grandness of it. However, as time passes, the ghost of the previous Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, still lingers. Everyone should read this delightful slow-paced thriller at least once.  

You can purchase the book here.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

The title says it all. This story follows Korede, a well-respected nurse in Nigeria dedicated to her patients. She’s practical, level-head, and plain. Despite her achievements, she always feels second place to her younger sister Ayoola. Ayoola is the favourite, vibrant and irresponsible — but she’s also a psychopathic serial killer. This book is dark yet funny and packs a powerful punch as it explores the complex relationship between two sisters as one is left cleaning up after the other’s messes (literally). This is a great pick to read all in one evening. 

You can purchase the book here.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman 

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this cult favourite. This is a book for all fans of Halloween who don’t enjoy being scared. It’s full of witches, magic, ghosts, and black cats. The story revolves around the Owens family, who are all thought to be witches. Specifically, the book focuses on orphaned sisters Gillian and Sally Owens, raised by their two unusual aunts who surround them with spells and magic. The story explores the Owens’ family history and follows Gillian and Sally growing up and facing the consequences of their actions. Filled with beautiful descriptions, this book encapsulates the autumn season without being frightening. Plus, you can watch the iconic 1998 adaptation when you finish the book. 

You can purchase the book here.

🎃 Related: Best Thrilling Books to Read During The Spooky Season!
Julia Tramontin

Toronto MU '24

Julia is a storyteller and bookworm based in Toronto, Canada and is currently pursuing a degree in journalism. Julia believes storytelling has the power to create change and is particularly interested in stories about feminism, mental wellness, and literature. When she's not hanging out with her two dogs, she can be found with her nose in a book.