'Tis the season to be spooky...
Tis the season to be spooky! The leaves are turning brown, the nights are dark, and the rain feels never-ending. It’s the perfect time to grab a book and settle in, as we have plenty of spooky reads for you to sink your teeth into this October.
Whether you enjoy horror, psychological thrillers or a slightly more tame ghostly tale, we have something for everyone! The team at Willoughby have been busy carefully curating the perfect spooky reads for you.
Hollow Pike by Juno Dawson
Juno Dawson’s YA fantasy horror Hollow Pike was my first novel by Dawson, the perfect blend of thriller/horror, witchcraft and hints of teen romance.
Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her. She thinks she is being paranoid, but is she?
The novel centres on Lis, who has just moved to Hollow Pike, and is struggling to find her place in the school social hierarchy. Plagued by regular teenage troubles, she tries to rationalise the more unusual and sinister happenings in Hollow Pike. However, she can't keep it up forever, when she stumbles headfirst into witchcraft and a murder. The book dives into a fast-paced investigation with twists at every turn and leaves you guessing until the very end.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Her Body and Other Parties is a short story collection by Carmen Maria Machado and explores the psychology of women in contemporary society. The stories move between horror, satire and fantasy. With a dark glimpse into womanhood, you can’t help but look behind you whilst reading. These stories are not horror or fantasy in the traditional sense, but with an overtone of macabre eroticism it fits perfectly into the season of spooky reading.
The Collected Ghost Stories of M R James
Originally written to be read aloud as Christmas Eve entertainment for his students, these stories are perfect fodder for a wintery evening spent in front of a blazing fire. Expect to be lulled into a turn-of-the-century world of respectable dons and scholarly research, country homes and comfortable lodgings, but look closely for the carefully laid clues of sinister events to come…
Despite returning to these stories year after year I still can’t quite bear to re-read ‘Whistle And I’ll Come To You, My Lad’ again, after having to hide the book in a locked cupboard from terror!
Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
The premise of Notes on an Execution intrigued me, and I’m glad I picked it up as it is now one of my favourite books of this year!
First we meet Ansel Packer who is on death row and is counting down the hours until he receives the lethal injection. The story pivots to three women, who Ansel’s actions have impacted along the way. There is the perspective of Lavender, Ansel’s mother, where we gain an insight into the horrific home life Ansel was born into, Hazel the twin sister of Jenny and Ansel’s wife, as well as Saffy, who is now a detective but remembers disturbing events of her time in a children’s home with him.
Kukafka highlights the mind of the American serial killer and gives the reader permission to question actions he has taken, and to live through the excruciating final moments of life, where justice isn’t made but closure is provided. The debate of good and evil is explored here and Kukafka’s writing is supreme.
Sundial by Catriona Ward
If you’re a horror head, you’ve probably read- or at least heard of- Catriona Ward. She is arguably the unofficial queen of twisty, psychological horror and counts Stephen King among her fans. With her fourth novel, Sundial, we follow Rob, a teacher, mother, and wife who’s concern for her strange daughter Callie, drives her to move them both to Rob’s childhood home ‘Sundial’ in the Mojave Desert. Callie is withdrawn, collects bones and talks to her imaginary friends, so Rob is understandably worried. Callie, meanwhile, is equally as worried for her Mum, who won’t stop staring at her and referencing dark secrets from the past… To say any more would ruin the turns this strange tale take. I barely had time to take a breath during the reading of this. Expect cults, scientific experiments, familial dysfunction, mind games-it has it all!
Spirit Engineer by A J West
Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society is in the grip of a craze for spiritualism Into the mix steps William Jackson Crawford, a sceptic and a man of science. When he hears voices at a séance he is thrown into doubt and obsession.
Based on a true story, this is an intriguing, mysterious read that's perfect for winter reading.
The Willoughby Book Club's Spooky Must-Reads
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
- The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
- Affinity by Sarah Waters
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Coraline by Neil Gaiman
- Thin Air by Michelle Paver
- The Signalman by Charles Dickens
- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
- Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley
- The Shining by Stephen King
- The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld
- The Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
- The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
- Haunted by Chuck Palaniuk