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10 books that are perfect for spooky season

10 books that are perfect for spooky season

There’s no better time to indulge in stories of supernatural beasties and psychological scares than spooky season. Whether you enjoy chilling horror, dark fairytale fantasies or witchy page-turners, our Halloween recommendations promise something for every reader.

Vamps: Fresh Blood by Nicole Arend

Soon to be adapted into a TV show by Walter Presents, VAMPS: Fresh Blood is the perfect spooky season book for anyone currently enjoying Peacock’s fantasy horror series Vampire Academy. When half-vampire, half-human Dillon is sent to VAMPS – an elite academy in the Swiss Alps for the children of wealthy and powerful vampire families – he must embrace his vampire side if he wants to survive. But Dillon isn’t your average dhampir and as his power grows, so do the threats to his life. Kicking off a brand new vampire series, this is a fun and fast-paced book that blends the YA drama of Gossip Girl with Twilight-esque paranormal thrills. (Simon & Schuster)

Small Angels by Lauren Owen

Chloe Day has been planning her wedding for over a year. She has the dress, the flowers, the cake, and the perfectly quaint Suffolk venue – a church nestled at the edge of Mockbeggar Woods that the locals call Small Angels. Chloe has prepared for every eventuality except the villagers’ concerned faces and the unnerving stories of the church and the woods. But things get even worse when she begins to experience unwarranted fears and unsettling sensations that can’t possibly be real. As the past and the present collide, an old evil is stirring that threatens not only Chloe but the village itself too. With her debut fantasy novel The Quick, Lauren Owen put a gothic spin on the vampire theme. Her second novel, Small Angels, proves to be just as atmospheric, offering readers an eerie and evocative literary folk-horror tale. (Tinder Press)

Isolation: The Horror Anthology – Edited by Dan Coxon

Spooky season lends itself to short story anthologies – books that you can pick up and put down when the fear gets too real. Edited by Dan Coxon, Isolation features twenty chilling tales that explore loneliness, loss and solitude. Evoking the likes of Stephen King, Shirley Jackson and Joe Hill, these stories draw on people’s deep-set fears and terrors; being lost in the woods, or adrift in space, or trapped with no hope of escape. Humanity as a species craves connection and companionship – take these comforts away and all manner of horrors can slip into the void. There’s a broad range of dread on display in this book, the best of which come from the likes of Paul Tremblay, M. R. Carey, Nina Allan and A. G. Slatter. (Titan Books)

Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid

Unsettling is an apt word when it comes to Ava Reid’s second novel, which is a gothic retelling of the dark fairytale The Juniper Tree. With her sisters by her side, Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets and trying to placate her oppressive wizard father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the world. But at night, the sisters sneak outside to enjoy all the city has to offer – including a dancer who Marlinchen takes a shine too. As her nighttime trysts continue, her father’s abusive tyranny intensifies, and Marlinchen must draw on her own magic to keep the city and everything she holds dear safe. Not always an easy read, but always compelling nonetheless – this multi-layered Grimm-esque horror story is gruesome and unflinching. A worthy successor to the original source material. (Del Rey)

Night of Demons and Saints by Menna Van Praag

The follow-up to Menna Van Praag’s spellbinding contemporary fantasy debut reunites readers with the Sisters Grimm after the battle against their father ended in devastating loss. It’s three years later and the sisters have been pushed apart by their pain and loss. But as they turn twenty-one and reach full power, on the night when All Hallows’ Eve ticks over into All Saints’ Day, they’re about to be brought back together again. A tale of love, hope, obsession and the darkest of magic, this sequel delivers everything that made the first book so captivating, whilst allowing the sisters to evolve and overcome their trauma. It’s the perfect book to curl up with on a dark autumn night. (Bantam Press)

The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope

Clara Johnson can talk to spirits. But what was once a gift has become a curse, with Clara indebted to the crafty spirit world. When she’s given an opportunity to gain her freedom, Clara seizes her chance. All she needs to do is steal a magical ring from the wealthiest woman in the District. Attempting the daring theft with a little help from an unlikely team, Clara becomes embroiled in a mystery that could cost her everything – including her life. Leslye Penelope’s The Monsters We Defy is proof that Halloween reads don’t all need to be ghoulish or frightening. Set in 1920’s Washington DC, this entertaining heist adventure is a timely historical fantasy infused with romance, mystery and African American folk magic. Here’s hoping for a sequel. (Orbit)

House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

Inspired by the true story of Hungarian noblewoman and alleged serial killer Elizabeth Bathory, House of Hunger is a dark, blood-filled fantasy that’s dripping in gothic vibes. It centres on Marion Shaw who, raised in the slums, longs to leave the miseries of the city behind. Her hope of escape comes when she spots a strange advertisement in the newspaper seeking a ‘bloodmaid’ at the notorious House of Hunger. And so begins Marion’s journey into a world of wealth, debauchery and danger; a mysterious world that’s ruled over by the magnetic Countess Lisavet. Dread and desire simmer from the pages of this unsettling and lushly written horror. It’ll have you simultaneously wanting to look away and keep reading. (Bantam Press)

Cackle by Rachel Harrison

Seeking a fresh start after being dumped by her long-time boyfriend, Annie accepts a teaching position in a picturesque town in upstate New York. When she meets the charismatic and self-possessed Sophie, Annie can’t help but gravitate towards her intriguing new friend. So what if the townsfolk seem to be afraid of Sophie. And who cares if her appearance is ageless, she has an eerie mansion in the middle of the woods, and she seems to wield a certain kind of power that could only be described as witchy… If you prefer your Halloween reads to be of the feel-good variety, then Rachel Harrison’s Cackle is the perfectly cosy and delightfully seasonal book for you. Reminiscent of The Craft, this is an empowering story of witches, friendship, heartbreak and – cue the inevitable shudders – spiders. (Titan Books)

Silver Under Nightfall by Rin Chupeco

Fans of Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch series, say hello to your next obsession. Swapping witches for vampires, Silver Under Nightfall follows outcast Remy Pendergast – an elite bounty hunter of rogue vampires – as he tracks a terrifying new breed of monster. His investigation leads him to the warm-hearted vampire heiress Xiaodan Song and her fiancé Zidan Malekh, who might just hold the key to defeating the creatures. With the mutating virus spreading across the kingdom, Remy must decide where his loyalties truly lie: with his family and the country he’s spent his life defending, or the vampire couple he’s developed complicated feelings for. An epic, action-packed fantasy filled with court intrigue, undead monsters and polyamorous queer romance. (Hodder & Stoughton)

Hide by Kiersten White

Kiersten White’s debut adult novel throws readers into a high-stakes hide-and-seek competition that turns deadly. The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught. The prize: enough money to change everything. But of course, it’s not quite as simple as hiding and evading capture, as competitor Mack comes to realise. As the competition grows more sinister and participants start disappearing, Mack’s strategy to simply hide isn’t enough. She’ll need to literally fight for her survival. If you mixed The Hunger Games with Squid Game and threw in a Greek mythological twist, the resulting story would look something like Hide. It’s a creepy and claustrophobic supernatural thriller with some classic horror vibes. (Del Rey)

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