Spooky season is upon us. Give me your frightening, scary, disgusting, startling, or just plain weird. I’m here for it all year round. Horror and terror always have a special place in my heart, but when October arrives, the rest of the world starts craving a scary story or two to celebrate the occasion. In honor of the most wonderful time of year, here are five books most likely to set the mood and give you the creeps.
Merricat, Constance, and their Uncle Julian live in isolation on a Vermont estate, and their family has a murderous secret. Published in 1962, Jackson’s short, unsettling story masters the art of rich nuance, with the characters’ personalities subtly shifting to become more and more unhinged. I read this book while camping in the woods, and I worked myself up, merely walking to the bathhouse late at night.
Oyeyemi puts a spin on the traditional haunted house story and tells a mystical tale about family. It is as elegant as it is creepy. Miranda is a teenage girl suffering from pica, a disorder causing victims to crave substances other than typical food. Her family moves into their ancestral home, which her parents converted into a bed-and-breakfast. The spirited house has its own ideas, frightening off the help and commanding to tell its own side of the story.
I am intensely attracted to the sequential-art narrative found in horror comics. Carroll’s bold, imaginative illustrations shine in these five chilling stories. Neither gory or graphic, the stories are unsettling in a quiet way. This is the perfect book for the spooky season, just don’t read it after dark.
One of my top favorite books of 2018, this debut graphic novel by Ferris is full of beautifully drawn monsters. It also tells a slightly less chilling story. Set in the late 1960s Chicago, the B-movie horror fanatic main protagonist, Karen, tries to solve the murder of her upstairs neighbor and uncovers the interconnectedness of those around her. From the impressive art, this hefty beast of a graphic novel offers a visceral reading experience I have yet to encounter again.
Strange and experimental, Machado’s feminist collection of short stories straddles the lines of horror, science fiction, comedy, and fantasy. Both unsettling and mesmerizing, Machado illustrates the violence and desire projected onto women’s bodies. With an extraordinary voice, Machado leaves you with unforgettable stories you can’t stop thinking about long after they are read.
What are your favorite spooky books?