Grown-Up Reads

8 Thrilling, Chilling Books
for Halloween

by Jennifer Ridgway

Background credit: innovatedcaptures, iStock/Getty Images Plus

Halloween is the perfect time to pick up a book that scares you. While there are some classic tales worth reading this time of year (see our recommendations at the end of the article), there are also some great modern books of note, too.

So turn on all the lights and curl up with one of these spooky stories … just be prepared to be up late, listening for things that go bump in the night (hopefully it’s only your cat!).

  • Black-Eyed Susans

    by Julia Heaberlin

    Imagine barely surviving a murder attempt that claimed the lives of three other girls, with only scattered memories of what happened. Now imagine waking up two decades later to a sign outside your window that hints that the killer, whom you thought you helped put behind bars, may still be roaming free. Heaberlin has written a tense, page-turning thriller.

  • Zone One

    by Colson Whitehead

    You probably know Colson Whitehead from his recent bestsellers, The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, but don’t miss out on one of his earlier works, a literary zombie novel that reimagines the genre. After a pandemic wipes out the planet, Mark Spitz is charged with sweeping lower Manhattan for lingering zombies — a mission that quickly unravels.

  • The Hunger

    by Alma Katsu

    Alma Katsu combines elements of the supernatural with the already horrifying story of the Donner Party to create a tale that even Stephen King recommends not reading after dark. The isolated travelers reach the brink of desperation as members of their party disappear one after the other, and they’re left to root out the source of evil before it swallows them all.

  • Fever Dream

    by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell

    Hypnotic and surreal, Fever Dream is the sort of novel that grabs you and doesn’t let go. Told almost entirely through dialogue — between a woman dying in a rural hospital and the child at her bedside — the ghost story that unfolds is all the more unsettling for how realistic it feels.

  • Bunny

    by Mona Awad

    Bunny takes place at a New England art school, where scholarship student Samantha feels entirely out of place — particularly when it comes to the cardigan-wearing clique of rich girls in her program known as the Bunnies. But when Samantha’s invited into the Bunnies’ eerie rituals, the monsters of their collective imagination come to life.

  • The Wolf Wants In

    by Laura McHugh

    In Blackwater, Kansas, certain secrets can get you killed. Eighteen-year-old Henley Pettit is desperate to escape her family’s seedy actions, while Sadie Keller is determined to find out the cause of her brother’s death. But in a small town gripped by the opioid crisis, secrets have a way of staying buried. Gritty and suspenseful, McHugh’s latest is another page-turner.

  • Lock Every Door

    by Riley Sager

    Some things are too good to be true. That’s what Jules Larsen is starting to realize about her new apartment-sitting gig in a glamorous old building called the Bartholomew. Jules isn’t allowed visitors or to spend nights away from the apartment, and when another sitter disappears after confiding her fears in Jules, the building’s dark secrets begin to reveal themselves.

  • My Lovely Wife

    by Samantha Downing

    When an ordinary suburban couple’s 15-year marriage needs a little spicing up, they develop an unusual — and murderous — hobby. Devious and unsettlingly told, Samantha Downing’s debut promises to shock even the most avid readers of suspense. Caution: you may not look at your neighbors the same way again.