12 Haunted Settings to Spook Any Reader

September 20 2022
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For horror fans, the fall season is the best time of the year and, to celebrate, we’ve collected some of the most deliciously spooky tales of hauntings and supernatural happenings. From ghosts to witches and more, these books sink their teeth into you as they whisk you from creepy, abandoned villages to suburban houses that witnessed shocking crimes. Just remember: you may need to keep the light on all night after devouring these spine-tingling tales.

The Drowning Kind
by Jennifer McMahon

There’s been haunted houses, haunted hotels, and even haunted trains. But in THE DROWNING KIND, it’s a body of water that has supernatural and mystifying tendencies. Following the paths of two women across time, it expertly and chillingly explores the power of wishes and what happens when the past comes back to plague us.

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The Drowning Kind
Jennifer McMahon

A NEW YORK TIMES BEST THRILLER OF 2021

“A haunting exploration of grief and a tale that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.” —Simone St. James, New York Times bestselling author

A woman returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming ​pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

A modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us, The Drowning Kind “is satisfying on every level: Marvelously chilling, elegantly written, a true page-turner” (Janelle Brown, New York Times bestselling author).

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The Residence
by Andrew Pyper

It’s America’s most famous home but, according to some, it’s also one of the most haunted. In this atmospheric novel that is all the spookier because it’s based on true events, the newly elected president, Franklin Pierce, arrives at the White House after the tragic death of his young son. Soon, he and his wife notice strange happenings and, when a séance is performed, all hell breaks loose at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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The Residence
Andrew Pyper

In this “chilling, profound” (Josh Malerman, New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box and Malorie) horror story based on true events, the President’s late son haunts the White House, breaking the spirit of what remains of the First Family and the divided America beyond the residence’s walls.

The year is 1853. President-elect Franklin Pierce is traveling with his family to Washington, DC, when tragedy strikes. In an instant, their train runs off the rails, violently flinging passengers about the cabin. But when the great iron machine finally comes to rest, the only casualty is the President-elect’s beloved son, Bennie, which casts Franklin’s presidency in a pal of sorrow and grief.

As Franklin moves into the White House, he begins to notice that something bizarre is happening. Strange sounds coming from the walls and ceiling, creepy voices that seem to echo out of time itself, and visions of spirits crushed under the weight of American history.

But when First Lady Jane Pierce brings in the most noted Spiritualists of the day, the Fox sisters, for a séance, the barrier between this world and the next is torn asunder. Something horrible comes through and takes up residence alongside Franklin and Jane in the walls of the very mansion itself.

Only by overcoming their grief and confronting their darkest secrets can Jane and Franklin hope to rid themselves—and America—from the entity that seeks to make the White House its permanent home.

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The Burning Girls
by C. J. Tudor

An isolated village with more than 500 years of dark history is visited by a new vicar after the last one killed himself. Together with his teenage daughter, he explores the secrets and mysteries of the town, but when she witnesses the terrifying specters of two young girls who disappeared 30 years ago, their investigation takes a decidedly shocking and disturbing turn.

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The Burning Girls
C. J. Tudor

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The Lost Village
by Camilla Sten

A filmmaker decides to make a documentary on the ghost town where her grandmother’s family disappeared decades earlier. At first, it’s a straightforward job...until things start going mysteriously and then horribly wrong. A petrifying warning to not dig too deep into the past, THE LOST VILLAGE proves that even in the remotest of places, we’re not alone.

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The Lost Village
Camilla Sten

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Himself
by Jess Kidd

Not all haunted spaces are terrifying. In this darkly funny novel, a small Irish village is turned upside down when a man who was abandoned at an orphanage returns home to search for answers about his background. The line between the ordinary and the supernatural blurs and no one, not even the dead, can ignore the topsy-turvy changes.

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Himself
Jess Kidd

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It
by Stephen King

Does anyone else manage to take us to creepy places as vividly as Stephen King? And has he created any town as terrifying as Derry, Maine? A classic from the master of horror, IT illustrates the evil that can reside in our homes and haunt us long after we leave. Taking place over decades and from multiple perspectives, this is an epic tale of friendship, childhood, and how we never quite get over our deepest fears.

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It
Stephen King

It: Chapter Two—soon to be a major motion picture in 2019!

Stephen King’s terrifying, classic #1 New York Times bestseller, “a landmark in American literature” (Chicago Sun-Times)—about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It.

Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.

Readers of Stephen King know that Derry, Maine, is a place with a deep, dark hold on the author. It reappears in many of his books, including Bag of Bones, Hearts in Atlantis, and 11/22/63. But it all starts with It.

“Stephen King’s most mature work” (St. Petersburg Times), “It will overwhelm you…to be read in a well-lit room only” (Los Angeles Times).

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HEX
by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

In a town cursed by a terrifying witch killed in the Middle Ages, the elders have turned to high-tech gear to keep everyone under quarantine. But the teenagers are fed up with this surveillance state and, when they decide to make the haunting viral, chilling chaos descends on the town in this electrifying page-turner.

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HEX
Thomas Olde Heuvelt

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The Babysitter Lives
by Stephen Graham Jones & Isabella Star LaBlanc

Babysitters are often the subject of scary campfire stories and urban legends and now, Stephen Graham Jones puts his own deliciously eerie spin on this motif. Charlotte plans to have a quiet night babysitting a pair of twins but it’s the night before Halloween and anything is possible in a house where the unthinkable once happened.

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The Babysitter Lives
Stephen Graham Jones & Isabella Star LaBlanc

Only on Audio! A new horror novel from the bestselling author of The Only Good Indians and My Heart is a Chainsaw.

A mother carries her six-year-old daughter into the tiled bathroom where the bathtub is already running, is still running, is overflowing, and for a moment the girl calms, seeing her little brother floating facedown in the water, his hair a golden halo around him, but then this mother is guiding her face-first down into that water, that, as it turns out, isn’t just water but scalding water, and eleven years later her scream is the drawer screeching out of the counter by the sink.

When high school senior Charlotte agrees to babysit the Wilbanks twins, she plans to put the six-year-olds to bed early and spend a quiet night studying: the SATs are tomorrow, and checking the Native American/Alaskan Native box on all the forms doesn’t mean jack if you choke on test day.

But tomorrow is also Halloween, and the twins are eager to show off their costumes—Ron is a nurse, in an old-fashioned white skirt-uniform, and Desi has an Authentic Squaw costume, complete with buckskin and feathered headdress. Excitement is in the air.

Charlotte’s last babysitting gig almost ended in tragedy, when her young charge sleepwalked unnoticed into the middle of the street, only to be found unharmed by Charlotte’s mother. Charlotte vows to be extra careful this time. But the house is filled with mysterious noises and secrets that only the twins understand, echoes of horrors that Charlotte gradually realizes took place in the house eleven years ago. Soon Charlotte has to admit that every babysitter’s worst nightmare has come true: they’re not alone in the house.

The Babysitter Lives is a mind-bending haunted house tale from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Featuring a note from the author.

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The Chill
by Scott Carson

More than a century ago, a small village was flooded to make room for a reservoir. Though it rests under miles of water, the village is still there, along with something else…something that demands a sacrifice. A creepy and unputdownable combination of the supernatural and disaster genres, THE CHILL whisks you to the voluminous, bucolic woods of upstate New York.

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The Chill
Scott Carson

A supernatural force—set in motion a century ago—threatens to devastate New York City in this “terrific horror/suspense/disaster novel” that “grips from the first page” (Stephen King, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

Far upstate, in New York’s ancient forests, a drowned village lays beneath the dark, still waters of the Chilewaukee reservoir. Early in the 20th century, the town was destroyed for the greater good: bringing water to the millions living downstate. Or at least that’s what the politicians from Manhattan insisted at the time. The local families, settled there since America’s founding, were forced from their land, but some didn’t leave…

Now, a century later, the repercussions of human arrogance are finally making themselves known. An inspector assigned to oversee the dam, dangerously neglected for decades, witnesses something inexplicable. It turns out that more than the village was left behind in the waters of the Chill when it was abandoned. A dark prophecy remained, too, and the time has come for it to be fulfilled—for sacrifices must be made. And as the dark waters begin to inexorably rise, the demand for a fresh sacrifice emerges from the deep…

“A must read for fans of eerie, gripping storytelling” (Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author), The Chill is “a creepy tale of supernatural terror” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

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The Hollow Places
by T. Kingfisher

Returning home after a divorce, a young woman stumbles across a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house that leads to a hidden bunker. But this is only the beginning in this strange and uncanny tale of mysterious portals and unknown worlds that is perfect for fans of Guillermo del Toro and Stephen Graham Jones.

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The Hollow Places
T. Kingfisher

A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and terror in this gripping new novel from the author of the “innovative, unexpected, and absolutely chilling” (Mira Grant, Nebula Award–winning author) The Twisted Ones.

Pray they are hungry.

Kara finds the words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring this peculiar area—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more one fears them, the stronger they become.

With her distinctive “delightfully fresh and subversive” (SF Bluestocking) prose and the strange, sinister wonder found in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, The Hollow Places is another compelling and white-knuckled horror novel that you won’t be able to put down.

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The Amityville Horror
by Jay Anson

Is there any horror story opening more terrifying than “Based on a true story”? The haunted-house story that inspired a film series that is still going strong and is allegedly based on real events, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR follows an ordinary family who moves into a beautiful house that just happened to be the site of a brutal mass murder a year earlier. They move out less than a month later. Find out why in this classic riveting read.

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The Amityville Horror
Jay Anson

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The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James

A classic novella that inspired generations of ghost stories, THE TURN OF THE SCREW follows a governess assigned to watch two orphaned siblings as they live in their uncle’s sequestered estate. What follows is an atmospheric and macabre exploration of psychological horror that creeps under your skin and never lets go.

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The Turn of the Screw
Henry James

One of literature's most gripping ghost stories depicts the sinister transformation of 2 innocent children into flagrant liars and hypocrites. Elegantly told tale of unspoken horror and psychological terror creates what few stories in literature have been able to do -- a complete feeling of dread and uncertainty.

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Photo credit: iStock / PetarPaunchev

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