Spooky Books for People Who Don’t Read Spooky Books

Books Are Magic
Oct 23 · 4 min read

by Danni Green

Halloween is soon upon us! It’s the time for terror, fright, ghosts, witches, and dark tales of untold fear. For long-time horror-lovers like myself, horror films are already queued up and tickets to a haunted house are already purchased. We already know what we love and already know what sub-genre of horror we enjoy. I myself really love cosmic horror and body horror.

For those who are horror-averse, this is the perfect time to enter the genre. I’ve put together a short list of books that offer a great balance between entertaining and scary. Each book is labeled with which sub-genre of horror the book fits into. As always, happy reading!


The Houseguest by Amparo Davila

This marks Davila’s debut in English which means that now non-Spanish speakers can enjoy the many horrors within the pages of this short story collection. Davila knows what frightens us — an unpleasant houseguest, a tyrannical sibling, the lover of your significant other stalking you — are just a few of the delights awaiting readers.

Each story is a quick plunge into madness and the uncanny, leaving readers with the sensation that comes over us when we encounter the indescribable.

Read if you like: psychological thrillers, madness

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle novella takes many cues from the master of cosmic horror, H.P. Lovecraft (who indeed is an entry on this list). In 1920s New York City, we follow a Black man named Tom who is paid a few dollars to deliver a mysterious book to a woman in Queens. While exiting the premises, police officers harass Tom. A white male onlooker approaches Tom after the altercation and offers an opportunity that Tom cannot say no to. This begins an increasingly weird tale of reaching beyond the limits of human knowledge and seeing what lives beyond our reality.

Read if you like: monsters, cosmic horror

The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg

If Fall in New York City is not where you’d like to be, then head over to Havana, Cuba in Laura van den Berg’s dizzying slim novel. Protagonist Clare attends the annual Festival of New Latin American Cinema in place of her recently deceased husband who was a film professor who specialized in horror. The director of the first horror movie shot in Cuba will be in attendance and Clare is looking to forward to attending the panel.

One day while walking around the city one day, Clare sees a man who looks like her husband — no he doesn’t look like her husband but is her husband. This begins a mystifying journey through Havana as Clare seeks answers to explain what she is experiencing.

Laura van den Berg melts reality in this surreal take on grief, horror film theory, and tourism. In claustrophobic prose, van den Berg perfectly captures a sense of dread as a woman questions her sanity and

Read if you like: psychological, thriller, madness

At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

Known more as a short-story writer, At the Mountains of Madness is Lovecraft’s longest work. Written as a letter cautioning against further explorations of the Arctic, Dr. Williams Dryer details the bizarre events he and his fellow scientists, of which is the sole survivor, were met with on their Arctic expedition.

In a landscape of miles of snow where the sky and land blend into an endless sheet of white live unfathomable horrors that challenge every assumption humans have about time, science, and civilization. We learn that he is writing this letter from in a psychiatric hospital because he’s been driven insane by the revelations he’s happened upon. I promise you that this story is unshakeable.

Read if you like: monsters; sci-fi

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

The world has waited 20 years for a new book from the author of the YA classic, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Chbosky has delivered a tome of supernatural horror. A seven-year-old boy named Christopher flees with his mother from an abusive relationship. They end up in a small Pennsylvania town called Mill Grove. The fresh start does wonders for the family of two. Before long, Christopher hears a voice and follows it into the woods. He goes missing for six days and six nights. When he carries the instruction to build a treehouse before Christmas or else Death will come to the small community.

This begins a fight between good and evil. The revelations in this book are nothing short of jaw-dropping. This is for fans of Stranger Things and classic Stephen King novels.

Read if you like: paranormal, devil, possession


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Books Are Magic

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The musings from a bookstore in Brooklyn

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