Share 9 Creepy (But Not Too Creepy) Books for Scaredy-Cats

9 Creepy (But Not Too Creepy) Books for Scaredy-Cats

Alice Martin is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Rutgers University, where she obsesses over nineteenth-century women writers, the history of the publishing industry, and writing practices. She’s also a regular contributor to Shelf Awareness and a freelance writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, Appalachian Heritage, and Sixfold among other publications. You can find her talking about books, food, and basketball (in that order) on Twitter @AliceJeanMartin.

Music from a warped record, the creak of a staircase, goose bumps from a cold wind. These are the kind of creeps you want to get from the book you’re reading this Halloween. Chock-full of eerie characters, abandoned settings, and plot twists, these titles don’t go overboard on violence or gore. There’s a thin line between what’s creepy and what’s scary, but these books are guaranteed to give you the shivers and still let you sleep at night. Don’t be afraid to crack open these spine-tingling, gasp-inducing, heart-racing reads alone at night . . . just make sure to keep the lights on.


Looker
by Laura Sims

In this tense debut, a nameless narrator becomes obsessed with her celebrity neighbor. While the narrator is recently separated and struggling to get by, her neighbor is a beloved actress with a handsome husband and charming children. She begins to watch her neighbor through her window, investigate what she throws out, and track her movements. As the narrator’s obsession with her neighbor grows, her life and her hold on reality begin to unravel. A taut, psychological thriller, this novel is a pleasurable, illusory slow burn.

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Looker
Laura Sims

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MENTIONED IN:

9 Creepy (But Not Too Creepy) Books for Scaredy-Cats

By Alice Martin | October 17, 2019

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Sharp Objects
by Gillian Flynn

Before it was an award-winning HBO miniseries, SHARP OBJECTS was Gillian Flynn’s debut novel. Reporter Camille Preaker, who was recently released from a psych ward, must return to her hometown to cover the murder of two preteen girls. To get the story, however, Camille also has to reenter the lives of her neurotic, estranged mother and charming but enigmatic younger half-sister. Deeply eerie and compulsively readable, this novel is a crime story, a psychological thriller, and a complex character study all in one.

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Sharp Objects
Gillian Flynn

When a reporter returns to her hometown to cover two murders, she does not expect to confront her own demons—or her damaged family. A brutal mystery of paranoia, familial abuse, and the secrets we hide within ourselves, Gillian Flynn’s first novel is a thriller that haunts long after the last page is read.

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What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
by Helen Oyeyemi

From a contemporary, surrealist retelling of PINOCCHIO that explores the pleasures and anxieties of adolescent sexuality to the chilling examination of a locked diary, its dangerous contents, and consequences, this book offers twisted retellings and imaginative fabulist inventions alike. Ultimately, award-winning author Helen Oyeyemi’s WHAT IS NOT YOUR IS NOT YOURS is a collection of intricately woven short stories about keys—to reality, to the human heart and soul, to the questions we can’t stop asking ourselves—and the secrets that we keep locked away.

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What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi’s playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined story collection is cleverly built around the idea of literal and metaphorical keys: the key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret. The tales in WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities.

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The Distant Hours
by Kate Morton

THE DISTANT HOURS, bestselling author Kate Morton’s third novel, follows Edie Burchill to a crumbling historic castle in the English countryside. Although she came to learn about what happened when her mother was housed in the castle as a thirteen-year-old during World War II, Edie soon realizes there are many more secrets festering inside the castle walls, guarded by the spinster twins and their unhinged younger sister who still reside there. Spellbinding and fascinating, this book is rich in unsolvable mysteries and atmospheric settings.

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The Distant Hours
Kate Morton

A long-lost letter compels Edie Burchill to visit the great but decaying old house of the elderly Blythe spinsters—a set of twins and their disturbed younger sister. Edie is soon drawn into the mysteries of the house and the hidden truth of the sisters’ past in this richly atmospheric tapestry of madness, forbidden love, and family secrets.

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The Road
by Cormac McCarthy

A contemporary classic in apocalyptic literature, Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD tells the haunting and unforgettably moving story of two survivors searching for the last remnants of humanity. The world as we know it has come to a mysterious, unspeakable end. A father and son are headed for the coast where they hope they can build a new life. Along the way they must face the brutalities of nature, cannibalistic scavengers of a society they once knew, and the intimate and existential loneliness and dread of this new world.

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The Road
Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy was long an influence of mine before this novel. It is one of the few books I can recall that has kept me awake at night. It is bleak, gritty, hurtful, and I think extraordinarily human.

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Are You Sleeping
by Kathleen Barber

In ARE YOU SLEEPING, Josie Buhrman has finally managed to rebuild an ordinary life in New York with her partner after years of upheaval following the mysterious murder of her father. Josie has kept the murder, and her subsequent estrangement from her mother and sister, a secret from her partner and current friends in an attempt to reclaim normalcy. Now her world is split wide open when a hit podcast reopens her father’s case and causes a media firestorm. Perfect for fans of true crime and the podcast Serial.

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Are You Sleeping
Kathleen Barber

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Foe
by Iain Reid

In the near future, Henrietta and Junior live a comfortable if lonely life in an isolated, rural farmhouse defined by routine and simplicity. When they are informed that Junior is on a list of potential candidates to take part in the Installation, a mysterious resettlement program, their lives become an uneasy waiting game in which their relationship is put to the test. Relentlessly tense, stiflingly atmospheric, and deeply disconcerting, Iain Reid’s FOE provides a puzzling psychological thriller that is sure to unsettle its readers.

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Foe
Iain Reid

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MENTIONED IN:

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In the Woods
by Tana French

IN THE WOODS, bestselling novelist Tana French’s acclaimed debut, is a crime novel of incomparable wit, plotting, and atmosphere. As a child, Rob Ryan was the only survivor of an unsolved incident in the forest that left his two best friends missing. Now Rob works as part of the Dublin Murder Squad, where he and his partner, Cass, are tasked with solving the murder of a young girl in the same small town where Rob grew up. To solve this case, Rob must confront his long-repressed memories of what happened in the woods.

Read the full review of IN THE WOODS.

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In the Woods
Tana French

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And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie

Perhaps the most beloved crime novel of all time, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE joins ten strangers as they convene in an isolated mansion. The ten guests soon learn that they have been lured there by someone who claims they each have a guilty secret. As guests begin dropping dead, the time is running out for the survivors to determine who among them is the murderer and how to survive the night. Delicately plotted and ingenuously paced, the incomparable Agatha Christie produced what might be the perfect mystery novel.

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And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie might be the most famous mystery writer in the world, with a massive fan base and lasting legacy. Her family has given author Sophie Hannah full support to release a new story of Christie's famous character, Poirot. AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, Christie’s most popular work, is a now classic mystery and the perfect introduction to the author’s books.

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