As soon as October 1st hits, I dive right into spooky season. Oh, who am I kidding? As soon as the Fall Equinox hits, I dive right into spooky season. There are those who try to cling on to summer for as long as they possibly can, and I admit with absolutely no regret that I am definitely not one of them. (I lose interest in summer right after my July 10th birthday).
Now, Halloween is fast approaching (almost 1 week guys!!) and I love nothing more than really delving into witch/spooky season with my favorite dark, atmospheric reads. So, without further ado, here they are!
10. Something Wicked by Nicole M. Rubino
Ok, so I’m promoting my own book – but hear me out! Something Wicked begins in mid-September and takes us all the way into October in book one. Plus, it’s filled with a ton of witchy magic, forbidden love (it is a Romeo and Juliet re-telling after all) and takes place in the spookiest of all locations: Salem, Massachusetts. It’s not out until November 19, 2019 but is available on NetGalley for request!
9. Wicked: Witch & Curse by Nancy Holder
This was one of those series I loved upon reading the first two books, and then, unfortunately, lost interest. However, I found the first two books in the series to be atmospheric and loved the use of dark magic. We also have another case of forbidden love as a witch and warlock discover they are connected by a long feud stemming centuries before their time.
8. Demon in my View by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
This one is forever dear to my heart. I read this freshman year of high school, having already fallen in love with Atwater-Rhodes’ Den of Shadows universe when I read In the Forests of the Night at age eleven. This fast-paced novel introduces us to Jessica, an introverted high school student and writer. Little does she know that the characters in the books she is writing are real, which wouldn’t be terrible, except that the vampires in her novels are now hunting her. She snares the interest of the dark, handsome and very lethal Aubrey Karew, who can’t decide if he wants to kiss her…or kill her.
7. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
This was one of my favorite 2019 releases. Enemies to lovers trope, witches, witch hunters, and one bad ass main character made for an easy, thrilling read. Lou is a dame blanche or a “white lady” hiding from her coven and a mother that plans on sacrificing her to end the war between the witches and witch hunters forever. Lou is forced into a marriage with her other great enemy, Chasseur Reid Diggory, who is as reserved and stoic as they come. While I thought there could have been more magic involved, the banter between Lou and Reid and their slow burn romance was enough to have me finish this in two sittings.
6. Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne
If you’ve read anything by Hawthorne (I’m sure the Scarlet Letter comes to mind), you know most of his stories revolve around Salem and the classic trope of good versus evil. You’ll find the same in Young Goodman Brown, but I find that this is one of his darker short stories. A pious Salem villager meets a mysterious man in the woods, and the reader gets to toy with the idea whether this stranger is the devil, or an ordinary person. Brown bears witness to some dark and ominous rituals in the woods, causing him to view the world with new and frightened eyes. Upon returning to Salem village, we are left to wonder: did any of that really happen, or was it all in his head?
5. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Honestly, name a better spooky story than one that involves a haunted house. I’ll wait.
In a rare circumstance, I read this book after I watched the Netflix series of the same name. Now, there are stark differences between the show and the novel, but I loved the show so much, I had to read the book, which did not disappoint. Jackson’s writing is haunting (no pun intended) and utterly atmospheric, and I found myself on occasion afraid to turn the lights out after reading certain chapters.
4. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
I’m including all three collections in the above title, just because…well, have you read them? I’m pretty sure I bought my first Scary Stories at a Scholastic Book Fair, and to this day, I have to wonder just what exactly it was doing there, to be bought by unsuspecting middle graders looking for a good ghost story. Because instead, we got a plethora of spine-chilling tales that made me sleep with my lights on for weeks.
3. Literally ANYTHING by Edgar Allan Poe
If you’ve read an ARC of Something Wicked, you know how much my main character, Theo and her love interest, witch hunter, Trystan de Lancre, love Edgar Allan Poe. Therefore, you may have concluded that I love Edgar Allan Poe. If you made that assumption, you are one thousand percent correct.
I don’t even know where to start: The Fall of the House of Usher? The Tell-Tale Heart? The Raven? I could go on. There is really nothing better than reading any of EAP’s short stories or poems during a dark and stormy night in October. You may even find yourself starting to hear “some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”
2. IT by Stephen King
This novel takes the cake as hands down the most terrifying book I have ever read. Sure, I hate clowns, so picturing an evil clown with rows of razor-sharp teeth devouring small children definitely scared me out of my wits (I’m shuddering as I currently type this). But there is something about King’s writing that can turn even the gentlest phrase into something sinister. I am sure most of you are familiar with the plot, having seen either the miniseries in 1990 or the new films, one released in 2017 and the other this year. But if you aren’t, the second sentence in this paragraph essentially sums it up. And if that doesn’t sell you on reading It, then take into consideration the book scared me so much, I won’t even keep it on my bookshelf – I have It hidden in my closet where I can’t stare at the two ominous title letters written in a hue the color of dried blood.
1. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Do you know how excited I just got to write that title and the name of the author? Let me clarify: I LOVE telling everyone and anyone about this book, and I enjoy writing about it just as much. This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and IT. DID. NOT. DISAPPOINT.
Ninth House follows Galaxy “Alex” Stern as she navigates secrets, dark magic, and murder among Yale’s “Ancient Eight.” (Disclaimer: I have been obsessed with Yale University since high school. There is something about Ivy League schools that have always intrigued me – Yale and Harvard in particular – I think because of the history and air of exclusivity that is connected with them. And then, one of my favorite TV show characters, Blair Waldorf was also obsessed with Yale, which just furthered my fanaticism).
We know Alex is not your ordinary girl, and not just because she is the sole survivor of an unsolved triple homicide, but because she can see ghosts.
Which is exactly the reason Yale wants her.
Alex is offered a new slate if she agrees to matriculate at Yale and work for the mysterious “Ninth House,” another Yale secret society that oversees the “Ancient Eight” to regulate their occult practices, which range from necromancy and prognostication to controlling the weather and illusions.
But her new life at Yale is anything but glamorous when a “town” girl shows up dead and Alex tries to figure out if one of the secret societies was responsible for her murder.
Bardugo was already one of my favorite authors, having written the entire Grishaverse series (you’ve been living under a rock if you don’t at least know of her), but she really broke the mold with this one. The way in which Bardugo wove in magic with the history of New Haven and the foundations of the “Ancient Eight” was genius.
Now, there were A LOT of trigger warnings. Some I think were warranted (there is a rape scene of a twelve-year old girl) and others, not so much. But if you think you can handle some of the dark, taboo and downright disturbing scenes, then Ninth House is the perfect, dark, atmospheric read for this spooky season.
And there you have it! Those are my top ten spooky reads to get you in the Halloween spirit! What are your favorites? Find me on Twitter or Instagram and share them with me!