Spooky season is upon us, and many people celebrate it by watching horror movies or TV shows that will get them in the perfect mood for Halloween. However, a movie or a series isn’t the only way to get your dose of horror this time of the year (or all year round if you’re a horror fan). There are plenty of books that can do the same.
These six books to read during the spooky season vary from recently written to those written decades ago. The goal of every story is to give the reader that same sense of fear they get when watching a horror movie or series.
The Lost Apothecary: A Novel by Sarah Penner
The Lost Apothecary: A Novel mixes past and present to tell the story of the apothecary murders in London. During the present, Caroline has found out her husband is cheating on her. At the same time, she finds an apothecary vial near the Thames. As she begins to investigate, she discovers it is connected to the murders that haunted the city centuries ago.
In 1791, Nella had two rules when selling her poisons. Number one was that the poison would only be used on men. Number two was that every murderer and her victim’s name had to be recorded in the apothecary register. As she prepares to meet her newest client to help her escape the terrible man in her life, Nella meets 12-year-old Eliza. The two develop a friendship that threatens to expose Nella’s work and the women she has sold poisons to.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
For most people, The Haunting of Hill House is a Netflix series by Mike Flanagan. The show follows the tragic story of the Crain family during and after their stay at Hill House. It is a perfect first watch or rewatch for the spooky season as it introduces many of the themes fans expect from horror shows. However, if you want to visit the story of Hill House in a different way, read the novel by Shirley Jackson.
In the novel, the characters aren’t family but arrive at Hill House together to investigate. There is Dr. Montague and assistant Theodora, who are looking for clear evidence of a haunting. Then, we have Eleanor, who knows plenty about poltergeists, and Luke, who is about to inherit Hill House. A few spooky encounters aren’t enough to prepare these visitors for what the house has planned for their stay.
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
For many fans of the spooky season, the best way to celebrate is by watching movies about witches. One of the best-known witchy movies is Practical Magic, which tells the story of the Owen sisters and the magic that has always surrounded their family. The movie has an incredible cast, including Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock, Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest.
The movie is based on the novel by Alice Hoffman. It follows the Owens women and their life story, which includes 200 years of having been blamed for everything that goes wrong in their town. Growing up, Gillian and Sally wanted to escape the rumors of witchery and people pointing fingers at them. They do so in different ways, but years later, their bond and magic bring them back to the town they desperately want to escape.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
If there is anyone who believes that animated films aren’t scary enough for spooky season, they should be introduced to Coraline, directed by Henry Selick. This little girl’s adventures after moving into a new place will definitely set the mood for Halloween. The movie is based on the novel by Neil Gaiman.
Gaiman’s story follows Coraline after moving into a new place and exploring the family’s apartment. As she unlocks the 14th door of the apartment, she finds a passage to an apartment that looks just like hers. At first, Coraline is amazed by how much better everything seems. But as she discovers this new mother and father want to change her and keep her forever, the story takes a new turn.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Ghosts and people haunted by them are a huge theme in horror movies and TV shows. The Turn of the Screw doesn’t fall far from this theme as the book by Henry James was adapted into a film in 2009. Its cast included Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens, Sue Johnston and Nicola Walker.
James’s book tells the story of a first-time governess who comes to care for two children after their parents’ death. The house seems haunted as the governess sees figures who glare in the dark and come closer daily. As time passes, she discovers that these figures want to trap the children, and to her surprise, the children aren’t afraid of these ghosts.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
In 1938, Daphne Du Maurier wrote the story of a shy bride who moves into Manderley with her new husband, Maxim de Winter. The house and its garden had been managed and neatly taken care of by Rebecca, the deceased wife who gave the book’s name. As the new bride begins to spend more time in the house, she discovers that Rebecca is still influencing everything — the reader must find out if it’s Rebecca’s memory or her ghost.
In 1940, Alfred Hitchcock (a director whose name goes hand-in-hand with spooky season) directed the film by the same name, Rebecca. He brought this story to the screen with Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, Judith Anderson and George Sanders.