Reading Halloween Classics: Scary Classics to Read This Halloween

When fall starts to move in, I always find myself gravitating towards scary books, and while I love reading scary books from any time period, there’s just something about the Halloween Classic that is not only spooky but also cozy. And I am ALL about the cozy!

Here are 10 recommendations – with a few more thrown in for good measure – of scary classics to read this Halloween that pair perfectly with a chilly fall night, a cup of tea, and the dimmed lights.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the provided links, this blog will receive a small commission to put towards the maintenance of this blog. All thoughts are my own.

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe

Classic, classic Poe – something you can never go wrong with. This is the story of two friends and revenge, told in Poe’s gothic and spooky way that fires up your imagination. Since this is quite short, another wonderfully spooky Poe story is The Tell-Tale Heart which has similar Poe storytelling but is psychological in its horror.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Perhaps you’ve seen the Netflix show based on this novel, but I highly recommend everyone reads the story. Whether you read it before or after watching the show, it’s still a creepy and subtly chilling story about a haunted house. It might seem light-hearted at first when we meet Eleanor, Theadora, and Luke as they gather at the house, but it takes a turn toward the haunted as the story moves on. Another wonderfully creepy book by Shirley Jackson is We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which is so atmospheric and gothic.

Carrie by Stephen King

This book might just be on the cusp of being considered a classic as it was published in 1974, but I think it can be regarded as so since it was the book that started Stephen King’s journey to becoming the Master of Horror. This is the story of Carrie, a teenager who has telekinetic abilities, and the traumatizing events that take place at school one day. This spirals into a horrifyingly scary novel that will have you longing to read King’s entire collection. If you finish this looking for more Stephen King, I highly recommend Pet Semetary to read next.

Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie

So many books by Agatha Christie feature someone being murdered, but this story, in particular, has a murder that takes place during a Halloween party. The party vibes at the beginning of the story are so nostalgic for Halloween parties of the past, and when Poirot is called in to investigate the murder, it’s a mix of detective story and sinister atmosphere. If you enjoy detective stories with a spooky twist, Christie’s classic story And Then There Were None is an amazingly good read.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This is Wilde’s only novel and one that I’ve read numerous times. It is the story of what happens to someone when they sell their soul to the devil for the promise of eternal youth and beauty. Dorian is such a great character and the book is so chilling and macabre that you will want to reread it every Halloween. Another Halloween story by Wilde is The Canterville Ghost, which might not be so spooky but it is still a ghost story and one that features Wilde’s addicting writing.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

It is hard to come up with words to describe my love of The Yellow Wallpaper. This story is not very long, but it deals with so much. It’s not a ghost story per se, but there are ghosts and a descent into madness. The reasons for that descent aren’t creepy or scary at all, but something that nowadays would be classified as completely normal and common. The horrifying thing about this story is watching the main character descend into madness, knowing that the results would be much different in modern times.

The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton is such an amazing writer, and her words never cease to move me. One of my favourite books by her, Ethan Frome, might have a horrific ending, but this collection of ghost stories will transfix you. Some might not seem so scary, but others absolutely amazed me with their horror. My favourites in the collection are Afterward, Kerfol, and All Souls’.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

This book might lean a little more toward creepy science fiction, but it’s still perfect for Halloween. The Day of the Triffids follows Bill Masen, who wakes up in a hospital with his eyes bandaged up to realize he’s in a post-apocalyptic world where everyone has lost their sight. Not only that, but strange plants start to come alive! It is a scary story of survival that is definitely worth a read. If you like this one, Wyndham’s book Chocky is also worth a mention; it’s the story of a boy with an imaginary friend that takes a twisted turn.

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

This story starts in the year 1900 with a group of schoolgirls and their teachers heading off to a picnic at a place called Hanging Rock, a volcanic rock formation in Australia. Some of the friends and a teacher wander off and after a while, the others are left to wonder what happened. The remainder of the story deals with the fallout of this event. But the real mystery of the story is: is it fact or fiction? This is the perfect book to curl up with on a fall afternoon — especially if you can finish it in a day.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

If you thought the vampires started with Bram Stoker, you’d be mistaken. Carmilla is the story of a family who takes in a young woman, Carmilla, who was injured in a carriage crash outside of their home. The young girl in the family, Laura, starts to become ill, getting sicker every night, and Carmilla becomes more secretive by the day. Laura and her father set out to solve the mystery of Carmilla and come to a terrifying conclusion. This gothic tale is ambiguous, sensual, and downright chilling.

Have you read any of these spooky classics? Are there any that I might have missed on this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books, as well as any recommendations you might have!

Exciting Halloween Books to Read as a Family

Halloween Books to Read as a Family

Get into the Halloween spirit and have some family reading time with these spooky books that will be exciting for the whole family to read. These recommendations are for a wide age range of children, but all are something fun to read aloud on a spooky evening.

Note: Not all kids will love reading scary books! Sometimes it can be helpful to read reviews or to read a book before sharing it with your kids. While my 7-year-old loves anything we read together, my 9-year-old would rather read anything else. All books are linked to their Goodreads page, which will take you to loads of reviews to check out before reading.

Do you enjoy reading classics? Check out my list of Classic Books to Read This Halloween.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the provided links, this blog will receive a small commission to put towards the maintenance of this blog. All thoughts are my own.

Exciting Halloween Books to Read as a Family

Neil Gaiman The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Whimsical and a little creepy, The Graveyard Book is a story about Nobody Owens, who not only lives in a graveyard but is being raised by the ghosts in that graveyard. With Gaiman’s rich writing, this story is bound to be a family favourite. For younger readers, Nobody (“Bod”) may have a bit of a scary backstory, but the story is still unique and spellbinding.

Rise of the Balloon Goons (The Notebook of Doom, #1) by Troy Cummings

A story about Alexander, a new boy in town, and his interactions with various monsters around town. With monsters that are more silly than scary, this book is sure to entrance your child who may be new to reading. This is the first book in a long series and a Branches book, which is perfect for young readers. Opening line: “Once there was a pile of bones.

The Notebook of Doom Rise of the Balloon Goons Troy Cummings

Coraline Neil Gaiman

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Maybe you’ve seen the wonderful movie based on this book, but even if you have, you have to give the book a read. Coraline is wonderfully creepy and engaging, with images that will stick in your head and maybe make you want to explore your own home a little more thoroughly. This has a much different feel from The Graveyard Book, but with Gaiman’s beautiful writing, it still has his usual charm.

The Witches by Roald Dahl

When you read the synopsis for The Witches by beloved children’s author Roald Dahl, you might think there’s no way this book is suitable for kids: ” … there’s nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she’ll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them.” However, Dahl writes with such wit and charm that you won’t help but laugh your way through this spooky read. With the recent obsession with all things witches, this is definitely one way to fulfill the appetite.

The Witches Roald Dahl

A Tale Dark and Grimm Adam Gidwitz

A Tale Dark & Grimm (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #1) by Adam Gidwitz

This is the story of Hansel and Gretel and their adventures through various fairytales. It might not be classified specifically as a creepy or scary book, but the quirky and mischievous children have a bit of Halloween charm to them. However, when you think of fairytales, think of the original Grimm fairytales, not the Disney ones. There is definitely blood and gore in this book, so be warned!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

When you start to read A Monster Calls, you will definitely get a scary story kind of vibe, but by the end, you’ll realize how a beautiful story with a monster can be. This book is stunningly illustrated and the perfect read-aloud book for a family. It’s sad, but charming, and has a message about death that will hit hard for adults and children alike.

A Monster Calls Patrick Ness

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Alvin Schwartz

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Scary Stories, #1) by Alvin Schwartz

This series is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is morbid and scary and will have you looking in your closet and under the bed — and only part of that will be because of the stories, the other part will be because of the truly horrifying illustrations. This is not a book for your toddlers or younger children, but older kids who might want to tap into the nostalgia of what might have scared their parents when they were young. Traditional ghost stories and folklore fill the pages and you might want to leave the light on when you read!

The Haunted House Next Door (Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol, #1) by Andrés Miedoso

Just like The Notebook of Doom, this is another fun series about a new kid in town. Andrés moves into his new home with his family and all is well until he meets his neighbour, Desmond, who is a ghost hunter. Based on the title, my 9-year-old actually hid the book so we couldn’t read it, but I unearthed it and read it with my 7-year-old who LOVED it. There are ghosts, but nothing that should ruin your night. It is also part of a long series of Andrés’ and Desmond’s ghostly adventures.

Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol The Haunted House Next Door Andres Miedoso

Small Spaces Katherine Arden

Small Spaces (Small Spaces, #1) by Katherine Arden

This is the story of Ollie, who recently experienced the loss of her parents. She encounters a woman who is about to throw a book into a river and, book lover that she is, Ollie rescues the book, brings it home, and starts to read. This book might not be super spooky, but Arden’s stunning writing puts forth an eerie atmosphere that might give you chills. Like A Monster Calls, this story will bring forth emotions, but also enchant you with an otherwordly charm.

Have you read any of the books on this list? What are some scary books you like to read with your kids during Halloween? I’d love to get more recommendations!

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