So You Want a Good Horror Book?

October is almost here! Do you know what that means? It’s time to read ALL THE HORROR BOOKS! If you can find one.

I feel like out of all the genres available, horror books are my nemesis. I can never find a good horror novel! I’ve read plenty of books that people *say* are scary, only to find them to be okay. Needless to say, I have a TON of books on my shelf that have been deemed as horror. I can only hope that some of them truly are — maybe one will have me turning on all the lights and looking under my bed for monsters.

But in the meantime, I wanted to share with you all some of the books that are definitely up there as being my favourite horror books. I hope that they can become yours, too!

What I look for in a scary book:

  • Less gore, more psychological thrillers.
  • Decent pacing. Less detail.
  • Unexpected twists and turns.

Without further ado, here are the books I’d recommend for the Halloween season!

darkhouseDarkhouse by Karina Halle

With all the vampire, werewolf and faerie books out there, it’s easy to become numb to all things supernatural. The antidote? Darkhouse introduces two real and unforgettable characters, Perry Palomino & Dex Foray, amateur ghost hunters who are “attractive, relatable and oddly heroic,” “flawed but loveable,” “slightly crazy” and just the most endearing pair to ever tackle the paranormal…just don’t call them normal.

Darkhouse is a thrilling and sexy new take on concepts like Supernatural and The X-Files, bringing a breath of fresh air to a genre that has been inundated with the dead.

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My Quick Thoughts

This is the first book in Karina’s Experiment in Terror series and it is AWESOME. I had gotten it for free from Kobo and it had sat on my ereader for quite some time before I dug in. Of course, once I read it, I wanted to read it again — AND get my hands on the rest of the series.

With Darkhouse, what can be more scary than a haunted lighthouse? It has some very spooky twists and turns, and some great characters. The rest of the series has haunted hotels, asylums, islands, and so many more. It really is an intense ride!

the unquietThe Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee

Sixteen-year-old Rinn Jacobs has secrets: One, she’s bipolar. Two, she killed her grandmother.

After a suicide attempt, and now her parents’ separation, Rinn and her mom move from California to the rural Ohio town where her mother grew up. Back on her medications and hoping to stay well, Rinn settles into her new home, undaunted by the fact that the previous owner hanged herself in Rinn’s bedroom. At school, her classmates believe the school pool is haunted by Annaliese, a girl who drowned there. But when a reckless séance goes awry, and terrible things start happening to her new friends—yet not to her—Rinn is determined to find out why she can’t be “touched” by Annaliese…or if Annaliese even exists.

With the help of Nate Brenner, the hunky “farmer boy” she’s rapidly falling for, Rinn devises a dangerous plan to uncover the truth. Soon reality and fantasy meld into one, till Rinn finds it nearly impossible to tell the difference. When a malevolent force threatens the lives of everyone she cares about–not to mention her own–she can’t help wondering: who should she really be afraid of?

Annaliese? Or herself?

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My Quick Thoughts

I don’t know what it is about this book, but whenever I think of a scary, teen read, I think of this one. A haunted school? A corridor no one is allowed into? Sign me up! This is one of those psychological thrillers that had me going from page one wondering what was real and what wasn’t real. In short: awesome.

This book was awesome from start to finish and really had chills going up my spine. In fact, as I write this I feel like I should reread it for the Halloween season. Oh, and that cover? Probably the first thing that grabbed my attention — even the cover is spooky and gorgeous!

let the right one inLet the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night.

Sweeping top honors at film festivals all over the globe, director Tomas Alfredsson’s film of Let the Right One In has received the same kind of spectacular raves that have been lavished on the book. American readers of vampire fiction will be thrilled!

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My Quick Thoughts

This is THE BOOK that started my love affair with John Ajvide Lindqvist’s work. There’s something about foreign authors that makes me know that a book will definitely be scary — perhaps even truly terrifying. I had read this book before watching the movie and was so glad that I did. When it comes to vampires, Lindqvist does it right. His vampires are scary and old-school and the perfect creature to haunt the people reading the book.

Not only that, but there’s a great story of friendship within all of the horror that takes place. There’s also gore and some very squirmy scenes, but I have to say that when it comes to favourite horror novels, this one is high on my list. I also have to say that a few of his other books, Little Star and Harbor, are wonderful as well. Perfect for some nighttime reading.

the replacementThe Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

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My Quick Thoughts

The cover for this book has haunted me ever since I first saw it. I mean, a baby carriage with all of those deadly instruments hovering over top? How creepy is that?

This is one of those stories that really is different, but still contains elements of a story of sibling love at its core. The whole idea of replacements is terrifying, making this book worth a read!

coralineCoraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline’s often wondered what’s behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her “other” parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.

Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what’s what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we’re hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book’s eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best.

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My Quick Thoughts

I have read pretty much every version of this story available — paperback, graphic novel, audiobook, etc. — and every time, it is perfect. It might be middle grade, but the whole idea of Coraline having that other family is so scary!

Neil Gaiman is a great storyteller and if you want to read this, I highly recommend the audiobook, which is narrated by Neil. It’s perfectly creepy, a quick read — and one worthy of a reread during the Halloween season if you’ve already read it! Bonus points also go to Neil’s children’s book The Wolves in the Walls, as well as his short story released last Halloween, Click-Clack the Rattlebag.

What are some of your favourite scary reads? 

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27 thoughts on “So You Want a Good Horror Book?

  1. I tend to think Anne Rice, Stephen King, or Clive Barker when I think of the horror genre. But I think the only stories I’ve ever found truly terrifying are true crime fiction – such as Deadly Innocence – Carla Homolka and Paul Bernardo story, or Laci Peterson – the whole story.

    • Crime fiction would definitely be scary, but I think more in a real life kind of way!

      I’m reading a Stephen King right now — The Shining — and am not sure what to think yet. I’m only 40 pages in and it’s not scary, scary yet. I just need the time to read it!

  2. Let the Right One In has been a long term want to read. I looked forward to reading Coraline but wasn’t a fan. Silence of the Lambs and Fight Club are great old ones. I would also recommend The Sculptor, Gregory Funaro

  3. Let the Right One In, or Let Me In (the translated version I read), is one of my absolute favorite books! That book is true, no-holds-barred horror. I have his other books and I need to get to reading them. 🙂

    • I hope you like his other books! I’ve read all of them, except for Handling the Undead. But I do have it out from the library, so hopefully in October! Let the Right One In is just so fantastic … a great horror book!

  4. I prefer horror books that aren’t all about the gore and info dumps too.
    I have Dark House and I plan on reading it soon! I still need to get the Unquiet from the library too.

  5. Love this post! So many good books. I loved Let The Right One in so much, although i watched both versions of the film before i read it. The Replacement and The Unquiet look awesome too. Definitely putting them on my TBR.

  6. Pingback: Book Bloggery Week-in-Review (27)

  7. I have a Neil Gaimen to read when I get a chance. Always wanted to read Let Me in. I have a stack chosen for the October reads that are all horror as well, mainly they are older horror books I’ve had for years on the TBR shelf that I never got to. I agree with you horror books are very rarely scary though.

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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