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12 spooky season books to get you in the Halloween mood

12 spooky season books to get you in the Halloween mood

Halloween is almost upon us and there’s nothing better than curling up with a suitably dark and chilling book to match the changing weather. From eerie YA horror and spellbinding witchy tales, to dark romantasy and creepy short stories, we’ve rounded up some of the best books to read this spooky season.

Mister Magic by Kiersten White

If you enjoyed Kiersten White’s debut adult novel, Hide, then you’ll love Mister Magic, a millennial horror centred on the reuniting cast members of a former classic children’s programme. Thirty years after production on the titular show was shut down due to a tragic accident on set, the five surviving cast members have done their best to move on. But when a twist of fate brings the cast back together, disturbing memories are dredged up and the dark truths about that deadly last day begin to emerge. Part supernatural thriller, part atmospheric mystery, this suspenseful story takes the cultish nostalgia of kids’ TV and turns it into something strange and sinister. (Del Rey)

Bad Magic: A Skulduggery Pleasant Graphic Novel by Derek Landy, P. J. Holden, Matt Soffe, Rob Jones & Pye Parr

The first ever graphic novel from the author of the bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series sees the titular skeleton detective and Valkyrie Cain investigating a string of unexplained deaths in a small Irish town. When they arrive in Termoncara, the formidable duo discover a town full of secrets and a creature who feeds off blood and hatred stalking the streets. It’s a good thing they’re well versed in all things monstrous. Blending mystery, horror, humour and fantasy adventure, Bad Magic has all the things readers love about Landy’s cult books. Holden’s artwork brings the characters to life in vivid detail and though it helps to have some knowledge of the Skulduggery history, it can easily be read as a standalone. (HarperCollins)

The Scarlet Veil by Shelby Mahurin

Return to the beautifully imagined world of the Serpent & Dove trilogy in this brand new romantasy from Shelby Mahurin. Six months have passed since Célie took her sacred vows and became the Chasseurs’ first huntswoman. With her fiancé, Jean Luc, as captain, she’s determined to prove herself and protect Belterra. But whispers from her past still haunt her and a new evil is rising – one that’s as frightening as it is tempting. The first instalment in this fantasy duology is a gorgeously gothic vampire story filled with murder, magic, suspense and seductive, slow burn romance. If you’ve been waiting for a reason to fall in love with YA vampire books again, this is it. (Electric Monkey)

Court of the Undying Seasons by A. M. Strickland

Continuing the gothic romantic vampire theme, The Court of Undying Seasons is a blood-filled, high stakes slice of queer dark academia. It follows Fin as she’s whisked away from her village and taken to a notorious vampire school, where human students either become powerful vampires or spend the rest of their lives as mortal thralls. But Fin has an ulterior motive. She intends to learn how to kill the undead in order to avenge her mother. Quickly swept up in her new world and its powerful inhabitants, Fin stumbles upon a string of murders that could be fatal to vampires and humans alike. Dark and mysterious, with intricate world building and plenty of political intrigue, it leaves you craving more. (Hodderscape)

Black River Orchard by Chuck Wendig

It’s autumn in the small town of Harrow but something more than just the season is changing. Because in this town there’s a mysterious orchard that grows a strange and beautiful kind of apple. An apple that will make you stronger and more vital. But as the townsfolk’s obsession with the peculiar apples grows, a stranger comes to town and threatens to uncover Harrow’s dark secrets – of which there are many. Black River Orchard is a big book, but boy does Wendig make the most of the daunting page count. With elements of folk horror and psychological suspense, this multi POV, character-driven novel is atmospheric, unique and downright weird in the best of ways. You’ll never look at an apple the same way again. (Del Rey)

The Black Air by Jennifer Lane

‘Who can say what’s real, what’s not, and what should stay buried deep inside your head?’ Blurring the lines between supernatural fantasy and reality, Jennifer Lane’s contemporary mystery is set in the depths of rural Lancashire as a small community marks the anniversary of the deaths of two girls who were declared witches 400 years prior. Cate and her best friend Tawny have grown up with the old tales of the Long Byrne witches, but when beautiful new student Bryony arrives at their school, the dynamic between the friends starts to shift and Cate’s mental health begins to unravel. The Black Air uses the backdrop of historic injustice to weave a haunting tale of grief, identity, obsession and toxic female friendship. An ideal read for a cold autumn night. (UCLan)

Tales of The Damned by Matt Ralphs & Taylor Dolan

Spooky season has always lent itself to short stories that you can dip in and out of, and you won’t get much better than this collection of spine-chilling retellings of horror classics. From seminal gothic tales like Dracula and Frankenstein to dark fairytales and Victorian ghost stories, Matt Ralphs reimagines the monstrous and the macabre across eight vibrant spreads. Taylor Dolan’s accompanying artwork is creepy and gruesome in equal measure (if you haven’t seen her stunning re-illustration for The Folio Society’s The Phantom of the Opera, do yourself a favour and seek that out too). Tales of the Damned will appeal to horror readers with a penchant for gothic classics and frightening folk tales. (Big Picture Press)

Wise Creatures by Deirdre Sullivan

The latest book from Deidre Sullivan is a YA story that explores the different sides of what it means to be haunted: the physical paranormal experience and the repressed psychological traumas that can plague our minds. It follows former child psychic Daisy who, having lost her parents in a mysterious accident, has tried to shut the ghosts of her troubled past away. But now they’re targeting her beloved cousin Nina, and Daisy must face the titular wise creatures to stop the past from repeating itself. On the surface this is an eerie paranormal mystery but it’s also a perceptive and poetically written exploration of girlhood, fear and teenage friendships. It’s the perfect autumn read for anyone drawn to unnerving dual-haunting books like The Haunting of Hill House. (Hot Key Books)

See Also

The Bewitching Hour by Ashley Poston

Buffy has been essential spooky season viewing for long-time fans of the show since the late nineties. But whether you’re a hardcore devotee or completely new to the slayer series, this prequel focusing on LGBTQIA+ icon Tara Maclay offers up some pre-Sunnydale supernatural drama. Still reeling from the loss of her mother, Tara isn’t thrilled by the prospect of moving to the ominously named town of Hellborne. Her plan to keep her head down is thwarted when students start mysteriously dying and Tara becomes the prime suspect. To clear her name, Tara teams up with fellow new girl Daphne, who just so happens to be a witch hunter. Which is not so great for a teen witch whose magic is majorly malfunctioning. Full of mystery, star-crossed sapphic romance and 90’s nostalgia, this is a fun addition to the Buffyverse. (Hyperion)

You’re Not Supposed To Die Tonight by Kaylnn Bayron

Charity Curtis has the summer job of her dreams, playing the “final girl” in a full-contact terror game at Camp Mirror Lake, where guests pay to have frightening scenes recreated from the classic horror movie, Curse of Camp Mirror Lake. But on the last weekend of the season, Charity’s co-workers start disappearing and when one ends up dead, Charity’s role as the final girl becomes a little too real. In order to survive to tell the tale, Charity and her girlfriend Bezi must find out who the killer is and what they want before it’s too late. Fans of slasher movies will inhale the latest YA novel from Cinderella is Dead author Kalynn Bayron. It’s a fast-paced, twisty horror with an isolated setting and fun Scream/Get Out thrills. (Bloomsbury YA)

Bite Risk by S. J. Wills

The first book in S. J. Wills’ teen horror series is set in a so-called ordinary town with so-called ordinary residents. Except for one night a month when the full moon comes out and almost all the adult population turn into werewolves. When the Turned start to escape, it’s up to teenager Sel Archer and his friends to protect themselves from danger and uncover who – or what – is watching their every move. If you’re seeking something supernatural to keep you entertained until the next season of Stranger Things, this exciting and original teen drama has everything you could want from a spooky season book: relatable characters, pacey action, a dystopian premise and just the right amount of gore. (Simon & Schuster Children’s)

The Others of Edenwell by Verity M. Holloway

Unable to join the army due to a heart condition, Freddie lives and works with his father in the grounds of Edenwell Hydropathic, a wellness retreat in the Norfolk broads. It’s here that Freddie strikes up a friendship with troublemaker Eustace, who’s been shipped to Edenwell by his wealthy family to keep him safe from the horrors of the trenches. As the two friends grow closer, they discover a body and something terrifying prowling the woods. As the woodland beast stalks closer, the boys realise they may be the only thing standing between the monster and the whole of Edenwell. With its evocative early 1900s setting, its sombre wartime backdrop and its gothic monster mystery, Verity M. Holloway’s debut is an immersive historical tale with a quietly unsettling atmosphere. (Titan Books)

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