Scary Stories to Read in the Dark

The trick-or-treats haven’t started yet but it’s never too early to indulge in some spooky tales. Whether you fancy a recent thriller, a classic haunting, or creepy creatures, there are plenty of books to keep you sleeping with the lights on till next year.  

If you like a fast-paced psychological thriller, explore some of these titles: 

Kismet by Amina Akhtar

“A viciously funny thriller about wellness—the smoothies, the secrets, and the deliciously deadly impulses. Lifelong New Yorker Ronnie Khan never thought she’d leave Queens. She’s not an “aim high, dream big” person—until she meets socialite wellness guru Marley Dewhurst. But when the glam gurus around town start turning up gruesomely murdered, Ronnie has her answer: all is not well in wellness town. As Marley’s blind ambition veers into madness, Ronnie fears for her life.” 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley 

“Lives unravel amid the revelry on an eerie and remote island as family and friends assemble for a glam wedding in an updated Murder on the Orient Express. Each of the principal characters has a reason to want one of their number dead. The narcissistic bride, the unstable bridesmaid, the odd wedding planner and her husband, the resentful plus-one, the groom and his former schoolmates, who are revealed to be a pack of sadistic bullies. By the time the worst of them is found murdered, readers will not be sorry and might, in a Christie moment, have wanted to kill her or him themselves. This is one guest list no one would want to be on.” 

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda 

“Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.” 

Interested in the classics? Here are a few to sink your teeth into: 

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

“For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin. Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. Two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes…and the stuff of nightmares.” 

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

“Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north from London to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and most dreadfully–and for Kipps most tragically–The Woman In Black.” 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson 

“Idealistic young scientist Henry Jekyll struggles to unlock the secrets of the soul. Testing chemicals in his lab, he drinks a mixture he hopes will isolate – and eliminate – human evil. Instead it unleashes the dark forces within him, transforming him into the hideous and murderous Mr. Hyde.” 

Zombies, vampires, and clowns keep you up at night? Hope these aren’t too creepy for you…: 

Hadriana in All My Dreams by René Depestre  

“If you’ve ever wondered what ingredients to use to create a zombie out of a living person, your search ends with this one-of-a-kind novel. “I died on the night of the most beautiful day of my life” so begins the testimony of Hadriana Siloé, a sensuous pale-skinned Creole woman who, on the Saturday evening of Jan. 29, 1938, collapses at her wedding altar. She had earlier taken a mysterious potion that induces living death. An icon of Haitian literature serves up a hotblooded, rib-ticking, warmhearted mélange of ghost story, cultural inquiry, folk art, and véritable l’amour.” 

Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

“Quinn and her father moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs to find a fresh start. But ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half. The town is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now.”

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

“Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized. Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?” 

Enjoy…

-Linnea