books to read this scary season

Hello and happy October!

I know I know, another recommendation post for thrillers? It’s Halloween soon, how could I resist in rounding up some scary reads for this fall. I’ve read some really wonderful thrillers/mysteries these past few months and I just had to collate them here and share.

I’ve tried to tailor the recommendations to be varied – for those who are easily frightened and want something lowkey, or what one with romance, or want a book filled with horror. Hopefully there’ll be at least one book that catches your eye!

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The Devil Makes Three

Author: Tori Bovalino
Release date: August 10 2021
Genre: Urban Fanatasy, Paranormal, Thriller

Brief synopsis: All Tess wants is some peace during her summer job in the school library. Eliot Birch throws a wrench in her plans when he arrives asking for old occult books in order to find a way to heal his mother.

Things take a turn for the worst when they accidentally release a book-bound demon that will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.

Recommended for: fans of dark academia, books about books, and a bit of horror.

Dark academia, libraries, magic, and reluctant allies. What more could you want? The Devil Makes Three is an enchanting novel that, while set in the summertime, blends academia and spells and a decent amount of horror that makes it a wonderful book for readers who want want some magic but not much gore.

As a bookworm, of course I loved reading the scenes in the library and all the spooky scenes that took place there. I mean, what bookworm hasn’t wished to find a hidden secret little library? It’s a lovely fast paced and spooky read. [full review]

content warningsdeath, blood, child abuse, verbal abuse, references to terminal illness.



Mexican Gothic

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Release date:
June 30th 2020
Genre:
Historical Fiction, Gothic Thriller, Horror, Paranormal

Brief synopsis: After receiving a distressing letter from her cousin Catalina, stating she is being poisoned and haunted by her home, Noemi sets off to see her newly-wed cousin in her isolated house in the countryside. The last thing she expects is to be plagued by similarly haunting dreams during her stay, and constantly be met with resistance from Catalina’s aloof husband and standoffish in-laws who continuously prevent her from speaking to Catalina.

Her only ally is the family’s younger son, but even he seems to be hiding the dark foreboding past of his family. It’s up to Noemi to unravel the truth and get herself and her cousin to safety – before it’s too late.

Recommended for: people who love a disturbing thrilling read.

This is a novel I definitely would recommend for people who are not faint of heart. Mexican Gothic is by all means a gothic novel, set in the 1950s Mexican countryside and tinged with an uneasy atmosphere. It’s your classic horror about a supposedly haunted house and a strange sinister family, but it’s so much more than that.

I’m immediately uncomfortable and concerned for the protagonist’s (Noemi) safety when Howard comes to the dinner table and starts casually talking about eugenics. It’s unnerving and the mere fact that a dinner table discussion would make me feel this way was what really sold the book for me.

Mexican Gothic is for sure a creepy read, and likely one that will keep you up at night, so if you’re looking for a good scare this season then be sure to check it out (but I do advise to check out the trigger warnings first!).

content warningsbody horror, violence, attempted sexual assault, references to incest, mentions of eugenics.



The Dead and The Dark

Author: Courtney Gould
Release date:
Aug 3rd 2021
Genre:
Thriller, Paranormal, LGBT+

Brief synopsis:  The last thing Logan Ortiz-Woodley wants is to spend the summer in Snakebite, Oregan, while her dads plan their new season of their paranormal ghost-hunting show. She especially doesn’t want to stay in a town where everyone is pointing fingers at her dads for the disappearance of a local teenager, Ashley Barton’s boyfriend.

Despite all the accusations, Ashley finds she trusts Logan, and together they form an unlikely team-up to find out just exactly is happening in Snakebite.

Recommended for: people who want to read a supernatural thriller that isn’t too scary, and with a sweet sapphic slow burn romance.

I know so many people who enjoyed The Dead and The Dark, and I did too! It’s a sapphic thriller, full of creepy vibes but not being too scary.

I liked the dark atmosphere of this novel, and the dual perspectives of the main characters Logan and Ashley, and the wholesome family vibes. It’s also great for people who love books with romance, since the slowburn between Logan and Ashley is so sweet. [full review].

content warningshomophobia, hate crimes, references to homophobic slurs, referenced death of a child, murder, kidnapping.



Thirteens

Author: Kate Alice Marshall
Release date:
Aug 18th 2020
Genre:
Paranormal, Mystery

Brief synopsis: 12-year-old Eleanor has just moved to live with her aunt and uncle following the death of her mother. With her birthday around the corner, she’s hoping for a fresh start, but things are strange in her new hometown Eden Eld. The only ones who see these obscure things are her new friends Otto and Pip, who coincidentally are all turning 13 on the same day as Eleanor, October 31st.

To make matters even stranger, they discover that every thirteen years, three 13-year-olds disappear in their town. With Otto, Pip, and Eleanor fearing for their safety, it’s up to them to put this cycle to a stop before they’re next. 

Recommended for: fans of Coraline and Halloweentown, and those who want a good scare that won’t keep them up at night.

Marshall wrote one of my favourite thrillers Rules for Vanishing, and she manages to create a similar creepy atmosphere in her middle-grade novel Thirteens.

While being a thriller, it still has some whimsy to it, so it’s great for people who aren’t fond of being frightened. Plus, as it’s set in October with Halloween being an important time, it really a perfect book to read this October.

content warningsreferenced death of a parent, kidnapping.



Carmilla

Author: Sheridan le Fanu
Release date: 1872
Genre:
Gothic, Horror, LGBT+

Brief synopsis:  With only her sick father for company, Laura lives a lonely life – until she meets the enchanting Carmilla. During Carmilla’s stay with her, they become fast friends, but Laura is plagued with strange dreams while Carmilla’s behaviour grows more strange.

Meanwhile, young women from neighbouring towns have started dying from unknown causes. Could all this be connected?

Recommended if: you want to read a spooky classic with sapphic vibes.

This was one of the first classics I read in the horror/thriller genre and gosh, what a book. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

It’s wonderfully immersive despite being a short read, and even if you vaguely know the tale it will still make for an intriguing read.

content warningsblood, death, mentioned death of a parent.



Horrid

Author: Katrina Leno
Release date: Sept 15th 2021
Genre:
Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller

Brief synopsis: After her father’s death, Jane and her mother move into her mother’s dilapidated childhood home. What is supposed to be a fresh start results in many problems—Jane feels uneasy in her new home, bullied by one of her oddball classmates, and curious about what secret her mother is keeping about the house.

There’s something that her mother is not telling her about her childhood, something to do with why Jane barely knew her grandparents, and possibly related to the secret storage room she’s not allowed in….

Recommended if: you love the classic haunted house trope with a bit of a twist.

Want something that’s a spin on a classic scary movie trope? Look no further than Horrid by Katrina Leno. Our main character and her mother move into her mum’s childhood home that’s full of unspoken secrets, and a mystery haunting the area.

I adored the creepy vibes in this, and I could easily picture this as a scary movie. There’s no gore or blood, but it definitely still gave me goosebumps. And gosh, this may go down as one of my favourite endings of a thriller, or of a novel in general !!

content warningsdepictions of pica; referenced death of a parent; murder, home invasion, references to child abuse, self-harm mention.



The Forest of Stolen Girls

Author: June Hur
Release date: April 20th 2021
Genre:
Historical Fiction, Thriller

Brief synopsis: Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. Following this, Hwani and her father, Detective Min flee their hometown; years later, Detective Min returns upon learning that 13 girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances… only to vanish as well.

Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago.

Recommended for: fans of historical fiction, books with complicated sibling bonds, and unravelling a detailed mystery themselves.

The Forest of Stolen Girls is a haunting tale full of mystery and intrigue.

It’s a refreshing read if you want a thriller not set in present day; instead this novel is set in the 1400s in Joseon Korea, as out protagonist heads back to her hometown to uncover the mystery behind her missing father and missing 13 girls.

Hur has woven a tightly knit mystery that fans who enjoy solving puzzles will love to unravel as the main characters and readers gather the clues scattered throughout. It also explores familial bonds between the two sisters, making you really care for them and their safety. [full review]

content warningskidnapping, trafficking, referenced death of a parent.



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Some honourable mentions, since I couldn’t include everything: The Project, The Ghost Bride, Rules for Vanishing, Ace of Spades, Untamed Shore.

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Thank you for reading!
What books are you planning to read this autumn?

26 thoughts on “books to read this scary season

  1. Ooooo I’ve heard about Mexican Gothic and The Forest of Stolen Girls! I hope I read them this October (bcs school sucks and I didn’t really read a lot in September because of it😭) And yes!! Some parts of Ace of Spades were really spooky (esp. that scene when Chiamaka is followed and someone leaves her secret pictures at her house… that had me looking out of my window and checking for creeps😅😶) Great post Saima!❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

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