If you’re like me, you always feel like the fall goes by way too fast. You blink, and suddenly everything pumpkin turns into green-and-red winter holiday themed and you’ve only done half of what you wanted to experience. Time is of the essence, so if you’re going to get a spooky read in before all of the leaves fall off the trees, picking a shorter book is key. But just because the book is short in length doesn’t mean it’s short on scares. Grab your favorite fall drink, put on your coziest sweater, and get ready to scare your fuzzy socks off with these one-sitting reads.
Agustina Bazterrica’s TENDER IS THE FLESH shocked readers around the world, so it was a no-brainer that another one of this horror star’s works should be on the list. NINETEEN CLAWS AND A BLACKBIRD is a short-story collection full of thrills and chills, from tales of extreme and haunting violence to the terror of isolation, to the downright disturbing blur of fantasy and reality. After all, how else would you describe a collection that features both the sad tale of a neighbor’s suicide and the tale of a woman who claims to have a rabbit between her legs. A must-read for fans of the weird and otherworldly.
A collection of nineteen dark, wildly imaginative short stories from the author of the award-winning TikTok sensation Tender Is the Flesh.
From celebrated author Agustina Bazterrica, this collection of nineteen brutal, darkly funny short stories takes into our deepest fears and through our most disturbing fantasies. Through stories about violence, alienation, and dystopia, Bazterrica’s vision of the human experience emerges in complex, unexpected ways—often unsettling, sometimes thrilling, and always profound. In “Roberto,” a girl claims to have a rabbit between her legs. A woman’s neighbor jumps to his death in “A Light, Swift, and Monstrous Sound,” and in “Candy Pink,” a woman fails to contend with a difficult breakup in five easy steps.
Written in Bazterrica’s signature clever, vivid style, these stories question love, friendship, family relationships, and unspeakable desires.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from horror TikTok, it’s that Appalachia is not a place to be messing around, whether with the supernatural or just everyday human horrors. BROTHER follows Michael, a young man living in an isolated house in West Virginia who wishes he lived a normal life not constantly haunted by the family business and the terrors it produces. So when he meets a nice girl named Alice in a nearby town, there’s a glimmer of hope that maybe there’s something more out there. Too bad Michael’s brother Rebel isn’t too eager to let him get away. A dark tale of destiny and family, this is the perfect book for a stormy night locked safely indoors.
From the bestselling horror author of Within These Walls and The Bird Eater comes a terrifying novel that follows a teenager determined to break from his family’s unconventional—and deeply disturbing—traditions.
Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.
But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place…
New York is a magical place, though in the case of THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM, that magic is literal. Charles Thomas Tester has to help feed and take care of his father, which means full-time working all around New York to make ends meet. No matter what’s needed, he gets it done. However, when he delivers an ancient magical tome to a witch in Queens, he garners some unwanted attention, particularly the supernatural kind. A historical novel dealing with the occult and racism, this spooky tale will draw you under its spell before sinking its teeth into you.
The internet can be a great resource for information but also a dark place where shady characters do their best to manipulate you. Unfortunately for the Saban family, they fall victim to the latter when they move into a new housing development. Their new home has some . . . problems, and so father Trent, looking to fix it himself, finds a YouTuber named Handyman Hank. And while at first Hank proves helpful in lots of areas, not just home repair, soon the influencer starts communicating subliminal ideas that affect Trent and will change the course of his family’s lives forever. A fascinating look at influencer culture and toxic masculinity, THE HANDYMAN METHOD is the perfect alternative to scrolling on TikTok and getting exposed to God knows what modern terrors.
A chilling domestic story of terror for fans of Black Mirror and The Amityville Horror.
When a young family moves into an unfinished development community, cracks begin to emerge in both their new residence and their lives, as a mysterious online DIY instructor delivers dark subliminal suggestions about how to handle any problem around the house. The trials of home improvement, destructive insecurities, and haunted house horror all collide in this thrilling story perfect for fans of Nick Cutter’s bestsellers The Troop and The Deep.
Getting old is a gift and a curse, though it can be nightmarish for some more so than others. In WE SPREAD, Penny thinks she’s got it on the easier end, having been set up in a cushy and positive long-term care center by her deceased partner. But strange things keep happening, and Penny finds she’s losing more and more time. Is it just the ravages of old age, or is there something murky happening in the brightly lit halls of her new home? Short but certainly spooky, this is a great book for anyone for whom getting old is their worst fear.
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” (The Guardian) Foe returns with a new work of suspense following an elderly woman trapped in a mysterious facility.
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 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 “exquisite novel of psychological suspense” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) explores questions of conformity, art, productivity, relationships, and what, ultimately, it means to grow old.
As a time of change and growing darkness, autumn creates the perfect atmosphere for blurring the boundaries between the real and imaginary. For Dr. Lily Dominick, a forensic psychiatrist, this uncertainty in reality comes not from a time but a person. She encounters a strange patient who claims to be a two-hundred-year-old man that inspired some of literature's greatest monsters. Oh, as well as claiming to be her father. Of course, Lily knows such a thing is preposterous, downright absurd, and yet, the more she treats him, the harder it is to deny that there might be some truth to her patient’s tall tales. THE ONLY CHILD is a short, complex read, asking readers to question how well they know themselves and what they’re willing to believe.
“Gothic fans rejoice!” (The Globe and Mail)
The #1 internationally bestselling author of The Demonologist radically reimagines some of literature’s classic masterpieces—Frankenstein, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula—in a contemporary novel driven by relentless suspense and breathtaking emotion.
This is the story of a man who may be the world’s one real-life monster, and the only woman who has a chance of finding him.
As a forensic psychiatrist at New York’s leading institution of its kind, Dr. Lily Dominick has evaluated the mental states of some of the country’s most dangerous psychotics. But the strangely compelling client she interviewed today—a man with no name, accused of the most twisted crime—struck her as somehow different from the others, despite the two impossible claims he made.
First, that he is more than two hundred years old, and he personally inspired Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Bram Stoker to create the three novels of the nineteenth century that define the monstrous in the modern imagination. Second, that he’s Lily’s father. To discover the truth—behind her client, her mother’s death, herself—Dr. Dominick must embark on a journey that will threaten her career, her sanity, and ultimately her life.
A “breathtaking story rife with emotion and chilling suspense” (The Big Thrill Magazine), The Only Child fuses the page-turning tension of a first-rate thriller with a provocative take on where thrillers come from. In his latest novel, “Andrew Pyper’s writing is gripping, and readers will undoubtedly make comparisons to Stephen King” (Library Journal) as they stay up all night to discover the last, unforgettable revelation.
The tales of Alice in Wonderland have always inspired some imaginings and retellings, and yet none are quite as enthralling as Christina Henry’s ALICE. When a young Alice is found after going missing, covered in blood and with strange powers, she’s labeled as mad and institutionalized. But years later, when a fortuitous fire allows her and her friend Hatcher to escape, they are off to the Old City to get answers and stop the Jabberwocky from killing again. Make no mistake—this is an incredible gruesome, gory, and graphic story of torture, sexual assault, madness, and murder. But if you’re really looking to get as much horror into your Halloween as you can, then take a trip down this rabbit hole.
Home is supposed to be a place of safety and security, a respite from the horrors of the outside world, which is why the haunted house subgenre is so effective. For Marion, however, home has never been a place of safety. Living with her brother John, the house is always filthy and rundown, and she can hear screams and cries from the basement where John “works” and deals with his “visitors” whom Marion is not allowed to interact with. But when John gets sick, Marion has to take care of the visitors, and the true nature of their visits is revealed. A tragic and harrowing tale, THE VISITORS is a difficult story to read, and just as difficult to put down.
With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, this “bizarrely unsettling, yet compulsively readable” (Iain Reid, internationally bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things) thriller explores the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.
What becomes of a child who grows up without love?
Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door...and ignoring the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret deep into the recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion must face what he has kept hidden.
Forced to go down to the cellar, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth slowly unravels, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side…
You might recognize author Chuck Tingle as the one author who writes “unconventional” romances, but his first foray into the world of horror has blown the genre’s door off its metaphorical hinges. Rose lives in an idyllic, wholesome little town that is mostly made up of deeply Christian members of a sect that expects everyone to follow a strict set of rules. But when Rose starts to realize that she might be attracted to girls, her personal demons come calling. Literally, as in, a demon actually begins to attack and hurt her repeatedly to “keep her on the right path,” and it only gets worse from there. Taking gay conversion camps to their terrifying extremes, CAMP DAMASCUS will haunt you even after you’ve finished the final chapter in the best way.
If you love the classics but hate the language those classics are written in or are just looking for a new angle on an old story, retellings are the way to go. And few horror retellings are as interesting or spellbinding as WHAT MOVES THE DEAD. T. Kingfisher adds depth and horrifying nuance to the classic Edgar Allan Poe story “The Fall of the House of Usher”, fleshing out the characters and the horrific implications of Poe’s original story. Gothic, intense, and deeply tragic, this is a great book for anyone who wishes they could get more into the classics.
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