There are many things I like about you. The way the leaves glint copper and bronze in the sun. How there are fewer bugs around. And the countdown to Halloween… to some extent. As fun as the anticipation and festivities are, I’m not so fond of the actually scary parts of Halloween. Anything that remotely looks like it might have a jump scare or a girl with hair dangling across her face and I’m done. (In this context, ‘done’ means my bags are packed and I’ve moved to the other side of the planet.)
So, as today is Friday the 13th, here are some slightly spooky (and some not at all spooky) books for my fellow scaredy cat readers.
1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
This story is narrated by Katherine ‘Merricat’ Blackwood, who lives with her sister Constance and their uncle. Years ago, the rest of their family was killed in an incident involving arsenic and now, the Blackwoods are something like outcasts in society. Apart from necessary trips to the village, they manage to live in their little bubble until one day, an arrival from a distant relative starts to unravel their peaceful existence.
At the start of this book, you will likely get the sense that something is not quite right. There’s a sense of unease and tension from the very beginning, which only grows until the horrifying climax.
Spooky rating: 4/5 non-spooky ghosts
2. Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
This is a graphic novel about Anya, a girl who befriends a ghost. It starts off fine (despite the whole… ghost situation) but of course, things have to start going downhill at some point. I must say, I felt that the ending was a bit anticlimactic, but that doesn’t completely detract from the fact that I was plenty creeped out throughout the rest of the story, and finished this book quite fast.
Spooky rating: 3/5 non-spooky ghosts
3. Lullaby by Leila Slimani
I talked about this book in a recent post. I’ve since then finished it and can confirm that it’s definitely chilling. Without giving away too much, I’ll say that the story revolves mainly around a couple looking for a nanny for their children. They find someone who appears to be the perfect match — but things aren’t quite what they seem.
The story starts off quite graphic, so I would be cautious if you don’t want to read about violence. The rest of the novel, however, is a very controlled character study that looks into some disturbing themes and ideas.
Spooky rating: 5/5 non-spooky ghosts
4. Short stories by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl’s short stories (written for adults) are the perfect choice if you’re looking for mostly creepy rather than scary. They usually come with some fantastic and unexpected twists as well. Some of my recommendations are from his book Kiss Kiss, including: The Landlady, Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat, and Genesis and Catastrophe.
Spooky rating: anywhere between 3-5 non-spooky ghosts
5. The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah
This one is a classic Poirot mystery: one evening, a flustered woman tells Poirot that she is going to be murdered. Later that night, Poirot finds out that three guests have been killed at the Bloxham Hotel, each one found with a cufflink in his or her mouth. While Poirot tries to solve the two seemingly unrelated incidents, the murderer prepares to strike again.
I’ve written a longer review about this book in case you’re interested. The whole concept of the story is quite creepy, but the ending spooked me the most.
Spooky rating: 3-4 non-spooky ghosts, depending on how easily creeped out you get
6. The Secret Circle by L. J. Smith
This series falls within the same spooky league as books like The Vampire Diaries (also by L. J. Smith) and the Twilight series (Stephenie Meyer). If you’re really not into horror/thrillers but still want to spend Halloween with some supernatural stories, these are some decent options.
Spooky rating: 2/5 non-spooky ghosts
What are some of your go-to spooky-non-spooky reads? I would love some recommendations.
I’m blogging everyday this month: take a look at the introduction to the series here.
Thank you for reading and until next time.