With Halloween right around the corner, it’s time to break out the ghost stories, horror, and haunting legends for book club. Need a read that packs a spooky punch but is still discussion-worthy enough for your chats? Let me recommend these ten thought-provoking and shudder-inducing reads. While each of these literary-minded novels offers more than just cheap thrills, they are still pulse-pounding enough to keep you up at night and haunt you long after the final page is turned. Plus, you’ll want to make sure to have some company when you pick up one of these titles—you won’t want to be alone.
By the visionary author of I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, WE SPREAD is a genre-bending novel about aging, conformity, and art. Painter Penny has lived in the same apartment for years; that is, until arrangements are made for her to move to a long-term care facility after she suffers a few old age “incidents.” At first, the facility is not only comforting but inspiring for her work. But as she begins to lose grip on reality, Penny is left to wonder if what she is experiencing is just the result of aging or something far more nefarious.
The author of the “evocative, spine-tingling, and razor-sharp” (Bustle) I’m Thinking of Ending Things that inspired the Netflix original movie and the “short, shocking psychological three-hander” (The Guardian) Foe returns with a new work of philosophical suspense.
Penny, an artist, has lived in the same apartment for decades, surrounded by the artifacts and keepsakes of her long life. She is resigned to the mundane rituals of old age, until things start to slip. Before her longtime partner passed away years earlier, provisions were made, unbeknownst to her, for a room in a unique long-term care residence, where Penny finds herself after one too many “incidents.”
Initially, surrounded by peers, conversing, eating, sleeping, looking out at the beautiful woods that surround the house, all is well. She even begins to paint again. But as the days start to blur together, Penny—with a growing sense of unrest and distrust—starts to lose her grip on the passage of time and on her place in the world. Is she succumbing to the subtly destructive effects of aging, or is she an unknowing participant in something more unsettling?
At once compassionate and uncanny, told in spare, hypnotic prose, Iain Reid’s genre-defying third novel explores questions of conformity, art, productivity, relationships, and what, ultimately, it means to grow old.
Twin sisters Cat and El haven’t spoken in years. While Cat has moved away to start a new life, El still lives in their gothic childhood home in Edinburgh with her husband. When El mysteriously disappears, Cat is drawn back there, only to uncover clues that seem left just for her. More unsettling still, these clues seem determined to take her back to the imaginary world of Mirrorland, a place she and her sister invented in the darkness beneath the stairs long ago. In MIRRORLAND, Carole Johnstone offers a chilling psychological thriller about revenge and love.
Told with startling twists and haunting power, Mirrorland is a thrilling psychological suspense novel about twin sisters, the man they both love, the house that has always haunted them, and the childhood stories they can’t leave behind.
Cat lives in Los Angeles, far from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs, full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days, Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband, Ross.
But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to 36 Westeryk Road, which hasn't changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues: a treasure hunt that leads back to Mirrorland, where the truth lies waiting...
A brilliantly crafted story of love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom.
Over a year ago, Jason Getty killed a man who probably had it coming. Now, just as Jason is beginning to learn how to live his life again while knowing a body is buried in his backyard, the police unearth two more bodies behind his house—neither of which is the man Jason killed. As Jason attempts to stay ahead of the police, strangers related to the various crimes begin to come out of the woodwork in this darkly humorous, tensely paced literary thriller, a debut perfect for fans of Tana French.
A Library Journal Best Book of 2013!
A Booklist Best Crime Novel of 2013!
There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard. But it could always be worse…
More than a year ago, mild-mannered Jason Getty killed a man he wished he’d never met. Then he planted the problem a little too close to home. But just as he’s learning to live with the undeniable reality of what he’s done, police unearth two bodies on his property—neither of which is the one Jason buried.
Jason races to stay ahead of the consequences of his crime, and while chaos reigns on his lawn, his sanity unravels, snagged on the agendas of a colorful cast of strangers. A jilted woman searches for her lost fiancé, a fringe dweller runs from a past that’s quickly gaining on him, and a couple of earnest local detectives piece clues together with the help of a volunteer police dog—all in the shadow of a dead man who had it coming. As the action unfolds, each character discovers that knowing more than one side of the story doesn't necessarily rule out a deadly margin of error.
Jamie Mason’s irrepressible debut is a macabre, darkly humorous tale with the thoughtful beauty of a literary novel, the tense pacing of a thriller, and a clever twist of suspense.
In this first mystery written by Joyce Carol Oates under the name Rosamond Smith, a young woman becomes embroiled in an unsettling psychological love triangle. Molly Marks doesn’t know what she wants in life until she meets psychiatrist Jonathan. While their relationship is almost perfect, Molly is intrigued by the twin brother, James, Jonathan refuses to talk about. After meeting James without telling Jonathan, Molly begins a tense double life in which she becomes less and less certain than she can trust either man, or herself.
In this “truly rare book” (The New York Times) an attractive young woman imagines herself autonomous and self-sufficient, only to discover that she is unwittingly entrapped in “the lives of the twins.”
Molly Marks can’t make up her mind. Switching plans of study, bouncing from job to job, she feels lost. But all that might change when she begins a relationship with a young psychiatrist. Handsome, successful, and caring, Jonathan is the first person (apart from herself) Molly has ever cared deeply about. There’s just one sliver of doubt: Jonathan’s refusal to talk about his twin brother. Determined to uncover the reason behind his silence, Molly arranges a secret meeting with the estranged brother named James, also a psychiatrist.
After this reckless act, Molly embarks on a dangerous double life as her relationship with both brothers becomes more and more tangled. She questions whether she can trust either man—or even herself. The first mystery novel Joyce Carol Oates wrote using the pen name Rosamond smith, Lives of the Twins is a suspenseful psychological thriller with a dark family secret at its center.
Dan and Abe are two widowers who have found solace in each other and in fishing in upstate New York. When they hear the fantastical tales of what haunts the nearby Ashokan Reservoir, they are certain it can’t be true. Yet they find themselves drawn into the tale’s dark past and the legend surrounding a mysterious figure known only as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. As Dan and Abe come face to face with the reservoir and its mysteries, they must also face what they have lost and discover what they are willing to do to find it again.
Once affectionately known as the Good House by the townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington, Angela’s childhood home has been abandoned for years following an unspeakable tragedy. When Angela finally returns to uncover the truth about what happened to her son there, she discovers much more waiting for her behind closed doors. Could it be the remnants of a terrible entity her late grandmother once faced? Or could it be her grandmother herself who has put a curse on the entire town? THE GOOD HOUSE is a haunting piece of paranormal suspense that will keep you up at night.
The Good House is the critically acclaimed story of supernatural suspense, as a woman searches for the inherited power that can save her hometown from evil forces.
The home that belonged to Angela Toussaint's late grandmother is so beloved that the townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington call it the Good House. But that all changes one summer when an unexpected tragedy takes place behind its closed doors, and the Toussaint's family history—and future—is dramatically transformed.
Angela has not returned to the Good House since her son, Corey, died there two years ago. But now, Angela is finally ready to return to her hometown and go beyond the grave to unearth the truth about Corey's death. Could it be related to a terrifying entity Angela's grandmother battled seven decades ago? And what about the other senseless calamities that Sacajawea has seen in recent years? Has Angela's grandmother, an African American woman reputed to have "powers," put a curse on the entire community?
A thrilling exploration of secrets, lies, and divine inspiration, The Good House will haunt readers long after its chilling conclusion.
Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans, although he tries not to think about it. Years ago, when a virus made all animal meat poisonous to humans, governments made eating human meat—now called “special meat”—legal. But when Marcos’s processing plant receives a live specimen of high-quality special meat, Marcos can’t help but look, despite the laws forbidding personal contact. As he begins to treat her like a human begin, the truth of what he’s done and what he still must do becomes impossible to ignore.
Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans—though no one calls them that anymore.
His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.
Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.
By the bestselling author of THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB’S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES, MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM is a humorous and pulse-pounding combination of nostalgic teen angst and paranormal horror. It’s 1988 and high schoolers Abby and Gretchen have been best friends their entire childhoods. But when a night of skinny-dipping goes wrong, Gretchen begins to act strange. As Abby tries to get to the bottom of what’s happened to her, the girls must determine if their friendship is powerful enough to withstand true evil.
Four Native American childhood friends are forever changed by a horrifying incident in their youth. Since then, the men have been on the run, forced to leave their culture and traditions behind to save their own lives. Still, they are never able to break free of their pursuer, a relentless and vengeful entity, bound to assert itself at last in catastrophic violence. Perfect for lovers of Jordan’s Peele’s brand of social commentary and horror, THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS is a shattering, thought-provoking page-turner with a hunter’s eye for precision.
A USA TODAY BESTSELLER
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
In this latest novel from Stephen Graham Jones comes a “heartbreakingly beautiful story” (Library Journal, starred review) of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition.
Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians is “a masterpiece. Intimate, devastating, brutal, terrifying, warm, and heartbreaking in the best way” (Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts). This novel follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in violent, vengeful ways. Labeled “one of 2020’s buzziest horror novels” (Entertainment Weekly), this is a remarkable horror story “will give you nightmares—the good kind of course” (BuzzFeed).
Master storyteller Stephen King returns with a spellbinding adventure in which a boy and his dog must confront the forces of good and evil. To get space from his alcoholic father, teenager Charlie begins doing odd jobs for his reclusive neighbor Howard, whose dog has stolen Charlie’s heart. But when Howard dies suddenly and leaves Charlie a message about the locked shed in his backyard, Charlie uncovers a truth that Howard has kept secret for years: a portal to a parallel world where everyone’s fate will be decided once and for all.
Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.
Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. When Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her aging master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.
Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.
King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle.
Early in the Pandemic, King asked himself: “What could you write that would make you happy?”
“As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city—deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues (of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out). I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”
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