The night air is cool and crisp, and the fallen leaves are swirling outside. The wind is blowing through the trees, and for just a moment, it sounds like a low, eerie howl. Then a bare branch taps against your window. At least, you think it’s a branch… You peak outside, but dark clouds have covered the full Hunter’s Moon, and the night turns black as ink before the clouds pass and the shadows return. What better time to curl up with one of these classic, spine-tingling books?
For Adult Readers:
SALEM’S LOT by Stephen King, begins when a young man, Ben Mears, returns to his hometown of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine, to write a book about the evil Marsten House, recently purchased by a Mr. Barlow, who is never seen by anyone. Ben learns that Barlow is a vampire, and is turning townspeople into vampires, making ’Salem’s Lot one of the creepiest small towns ever imagined. This is by far Stephen King’s best book, with many truly frightening scenes. To this day, if my daughter and I hear something tapping at the window, we turn to each other and say, “It’s Danny Glick, asking to come inside.”
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE by Anne Rice, begins with the 200-year-old vampire, Louis, telling his story to a young reporter. On a Louisiana plantation, the vampire, Lestat, turned Louis into one of his own kind, much to the horror and disgust of Louis, the “vampire with a conscience.” Louis travels to New Orleans, then Paris, where he encounters another vampire, Armand, who leads a theater group of vampires, killing victims onstage before an audience of unsuspecting people. This book is truly horrifying, but beautifully written, capturing the moody atmosphere of both New Orleans and Paris.
ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin, is about a young couple, Rosemary and her husband, Guy, a struggling actor, who move into a Gothic-style New York apartment. Rosemary considers their elderly neighbors too noisy and meddlesome, but Guy becomes increasingly friendly with them. Rosemary is happy to learn that she’s pregnant, and when an acting rival suddenly goes blind, Guy gets the part in a big stage production, putting him on the road to fame. All should be well, but Rosemary discovers that her neighbors are actually a Satanic coven with their own plans for her baby. Word to the wise: don’t read this book while you’re pregnant; it might make you a little paranoid.
THE EXORCIST by William Peter Blatty, begins with the unexplained illness of a twelve-year-old girl, Regan MacNeil, and her mother’s attempts to help her. When Regan’s “illness” turns emotionally and physically horrifying, her mother realizes that Regan may be possessed by a demon, and enlists the aid of priests to perform an exorcism. I stayed up the entire night reading this book, which is much more frightening that the movie. Or maybe I just wanted to stay awake until it was light again.
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson, is set in a mansion with a history of violent deaths, investigated by Dr. Montague, a paranormal researcher. Luke, heir to Hill House, has invited the doctor and two women, Eleanor and Theodora, both with paranormal experiences, to spend the summer. All of them experience supernatural events, but it is Eleanor who seems to become possessed by the house. When the others begin to fear for her safety—and sanity—they force her to leave, though she resists, with deadly results. This old-fashioned ghost story is a work of steadily building unease and fear.
CORALINE by Neil Gaiman, is about a young girl whose apartment has a parallel universe, but the mother in that universe, called “Other Mother” is evil and kidnaps Coraline’s parents, and holds them hostage along with many ghost children.
THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS by John Bellairs, tells the story of a boy whose parents have died, forcing him to move in with his uncle, who happens to be a wizard. Evil magicians have placed a clock in the walls of his house, in their attempt to end the world.
A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle, is about a girl, Meg, whose father is missing, due to his science experiment gone awry. Accompanied by three witches, Meg, along with her little brother, and good friend, try to save him from a terrifying world.
THE WITCHES by Roald Dahl, is the story of a group of witches who plan to get rid of all children, and the young boy—turned into a mouse—who tries to stop them.
For older kids, check out the GOOSEBUMP Series by R.L. Stine, and the HARRY POTTER books by J.K. Rowling.
What are your favorite “spooky” reads?
About SJ Wilson
SJ Wilson has been writing novels for many years, including the recently published, The Soul of Fenway. She loves spending time with her family, especially at the beach. Her hobbies include genealogy, photography, American history, and baseball.