The Coil
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The Coil

8 Spooky Reads for Your Halloween Weekend

Coil editor Leah Angstman carves up 8 chilling reads to round out the spooky season.

As we usher in the last of the spooky season this weekend, here are a few books to keep you on edge while the kids are out gathering the candy that you’ll steal as soon as they get home. Happy reading and treating!

Image: Alternating Current Press. (Purchase)

Loving Monsters by Laura Eppinger

A new chapbook filled with everyday villains and the monsters that reside in all of us, this collection of flash stories takes on vampires, haunted houses, ghosts, and the Jersey Devil in lush prose and surprising twists of magical realism. Lurking beneath the surface are messages about domestic violence, jealousy, societal expectations, and toxic masculinity that bring today’s issues into the new and terrifying light of the wicked and absurd.

Image: Kernpunkt Press. (Purchase)

Sister Séance by Aimee Parkison

Anything historical is a story after my own heart, but Sister Séance takes us a step beyond, pulling abolitionists, slaveholders, boarders, Civil War veterans, and freed people into the nineteenth-century’s fascination with contacting the dead. Secrets are revealed at a traditional “dumb supper,” where the guests are not allowed to speak, and the line between the living and the dead is blurred beyond recognition. Among all this unraveling is a haunting tale of how Civil War atrocities played out on the women who lived through the horror.

Image: Keylight Books. (Purchase)

To Dust You Shall Return by Fred Venturini

A gruesome novel that somehow mixes heartfelt tones with horror to bring you the story of an evil town that no one is ever allowed to leave. A slow burner that introduces you piece by piece to a horrifying town and its occupants, ruled by one man with supernatural, mystic-levels of darkness in him. In order to survive, occupants must try to destroy the heart of the town all the way to the shocking conclusion.

Image: 11:11 Press. (Purchase)

Drifter by David Leo Rice

Some good old-fashioned horror mixed with some of Rice’s famous bizarro weirdness makes this collection of stories a must-read for the spooky season. Rice can bend a narrative into the oddest configurations, while still keeping something tender and human alive in the telling. These tales are bleak and inventive, changing the shape of horror into something truly unsettling that lives inside the darkness in all of us.

Image: Press 53. (Purchase)

Tales the Devil Told Me by Jen Fawkes

This witty and magical collection is not so much spooky as it is devilishly naughty for that “trickster” in your Halloween weekend, but it is nonetheless a fantastic autumn read, filled with twisted fairytales and witches, Medusa and Captain Hook, and the untold backstories of the costumed villains in the magic mirrors. Both tragic and hopeful, this collection will bring out your devilish side.

Image: Creature Publishing. (Purchase)

The Gold Persimmon by Lindsay Merbaum

An experimental queer horror novel where two dreamlike hotels existing in dual realities, one for grief and one for sex, are shrouded in secrets and suspense that terrorize the lives of the occupants and check-in girls. Haunted pasts, mothers’ voices, and scary surveillance mingled with delicious prose that sexualizes the terror makes this tantalizing debut a must-read.

Image: Tortoise Books. (Purchase)

The Beast in Aisle 34 by Darrin Doyle

A weird and darkly humorous tale of a working man in a big-box store who’s got some problems: not the least among them being that once a month he turns into a werewolf. A takedown of modern America and toxic masculinity meets some good old-fashioned weird horror in this imaginative tale that gives a new spin to the wolfman story while commenting on life in the Midwest. A delightful read.

Image: City of Light. (Purchase)

Those Fantastic Lives and Other Strange Stories by Bradley Sides

While not conventional horror, this collection of stories has plenty of weird weirdness going on to give you some nightmares before bed. Filled with scarecrows and ghosts, impossible miracles, light-craving monsters, and boys with wings, the surreal magical realism in these stories will haunt you with tales of transformation and loss.

LEAH ANGSTMAN is a historian, transplanted Michigander, and editor-in-chief of Alternating Current Press and The Coil magazine. Her debut historical novel, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, is forthcoming from Regal House Publishing in January 2022, and her writing can be found in Publishers Weekly, Pacific Standard, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Nashville Review, and elsewhere. You can find her at her website and on social media as @leahangstman.

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Leah Angstman

Leah Angstman

Historian, The Coil & Alternating Current editor-in-chief, book nerd, author of OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA (Regal House, Jan 2022). https://leahangstman.com.