The best creepy old house books to read on a dark and stormy night

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a sucker for any story set in a creepy old house. Hint at a ghost and I can’t grab the book off the shelf fast enough! My obsession started as a kid in the library. Now, as a librarian, I read any haunted house book that comes my way, and as a writer, all my books include a mysterious old manor, because I love them so. A touch of gothic, a dash of horror, and a mystery to unravel—the creepy old house book has it all. And if some of those strange noises remain unexplained? That’s okay with me!


I wrote...

The Unkindness of Ravens

By M.E. Hilliard,

Book cover of The Unkindness of Ravens

What is my book about?

Greer Hogan is a librarian and an avid reader of murder mysteries. She also has a habit of stumbling upon dead bodies. The first was her husband's, and the tragic loss led Greer to leave New York behind for a new start in the Village of Raven Hill. But her new home becomes less idyllic when she discovers her best friend sprawled dead on the floor of the old gothic manor that serves as the village library.

Though Greer admires the masters of deduction she reads about in books, she never expected to have to solve a mystery herself. Fortunately, she possesses a quick wit and a librarian's natural resourcefulness. But will that be enough to protect her from a brilliant, diabolical murderer?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Death of Mrs. Westaway

M.E. Hilliard Why did I love this book?

I’ve always loved a plot that sends a penniless young woman off to an old house in the countryside on a mysterious mission that will hopefully result in an inheritance. This is a contemporary take on that with a twist—our protagonist, Hal, is a tarot card reader on the run from some loan sharks. She receives a letter saying she’s inherited money from a woman she doesn’t believe she’s related to, so she sets off for Cornwall to con her way into the cash. Hal arrives to find a creepy old family manor complete with creepy old housekeeper, and newfound “relatives” that are keeping even more secrets than she is. She has to solve a decades-old mystery to scoop the cash and stay alive. 

By Ruth Ware,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Death of Mrs. Westaway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I read this in two lightning-quick sittings...I absolutely adored it' Lisa Jewell, bestselling author of The Family Upstairs

HAL MUST KEEP GOING OR RISK LOSING EVERYTHING...EVEN HER LIFE.

When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she's inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers.

There's just one problem - Hal's real grandparents died more than twenty years ago.

Hal desperately needs the cash and makes a choice that will change her life for ever. She knows that her skills as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way…


Book cover of Coraline

M.E. Hilliard Why did I love this book?

Coraline’s family moves to an old house that’s been divided up into flats. It’s got strange residents, a big, overgrown garden, and a door that opens onto a brick wall—except when it doesn’t. Left alone at home one day, Coraline opens the door and finds a hall that leads to her “other” family. At first, everything is the way she always wanted it to be in her real home—almost, anyway. But it’s when Coraline decides that she doesn’t want to stay that her adventure begins. This one will take you right back to that scary/excited/uh-oh feeling you got as a kid, when you had to be brave in spite of being really, really scared, because you got into something you really, really shouldn’t have.

By Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Coraline as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

"Sometimes funny, always creepy, genuinely moving, this marvellous spine-chiller will appeal to readers from nine to ninety." - "Books for Keeps". "I was looking forward to "Coraline", and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was enthralled. This is a marvellously strange and scary book." - Philip Pullman, "Guardian". "If any writer can get the guys to read about the girls, it should be Neil Gaiman. His new novel "Coraline" is a dreamlike adventure. For all its gripping nightmare imagery, this is actually a conventional fairy story with a moral." - "Daily Telegraph". Stephen King once called Neil Gaiman 'a treasure-house…


Book cover of Mexican Gothic

M.E. Hilliard Why did I love this book?

Noemí Taboada is more than a 1950’s glam socialite—under the gorgeous clothes and bright red lipstick is a smart, tough young woman. Noemí is the rescuer, not the rescued, when she heads off into the Mexican countryside in response to a plea from her newlywed cousin, who feels trapped and terrified in her husband’s family home. The author’s vivid descriptions of a house and family in a state of decay and madness make a visit to the House of Usher look like a stay at a pleasant B&B. The setting is as much a character as the mysterious and malevolent family members. This, along with the time period and the brave and resourceful Noemí, make this a great update on a classic plot. 

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Mexican Gothic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The award-winning author of Gods of Jade and Shadow (one of the 100 best fantasy novels of all time, TIME magazine) returns with a mesmerising feminist Gothic fantasy, in which a glamorous young socialite discovers the haunting secrets of a beautiful old mansion in 1950s Mexico.

He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemi. You have to save me.

When glamorous socialite Noemi Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it's clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but…


Book cover of The Stranger Diaries

M.E. Hilliard Why did I love this book?

Realizing there’s a stranger in the house is scary, discovering there’s a stranger writing in your diary is downright creepy. But that’s what gothic lit professor Clare Cassidy finds, hard on the heels of one of her colleagues being murdered. For added fun, Clare teaches in the building attached to the old mansion left to the university by the author she teaches an entire course on. There’s a long history of students who’ve seen the ghost of the author’s dead wife roaming the halls—including the detective assigned to the murder. This one has it all—gothic setting, murder mystery, ghost story within a ghost story, and Harbinder Kaur, one of the most interesting new sleuths I’ve encountered. 

By Elly Griffiths,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Stranger Diaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE TIMES CRIME BOOK OF THE YEAR. THE RICHARD & JUDY BOOK CLUB PICK.

'Utterly bewitching ... a pitch-perfect modern Gothic' AJ FINN, author of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

This is what the police know: English teacher Clare Cassidy's friend Ella has just been murdered. Clare and Ella had recently fallen out. Found beside the body was a line from The Stranger, a story by the Gothic writer Clare teaches, and the murder scene is identical to one of the deaths in the…


Book cover of The Haunting of Hill House

M.E. Hilliard Why did I love this book?

The grandmother of all haunted house books, this 1959 release is the scariest haunted house book I’ve ever read. The 1963 film adaptation is the scariest haunted house movie I’ve ever seen. Four people gather at the allegedly haunted and uninhabited Hill House—a scientist studying psychic phenomena, two women with a history of psychic ability, and the heir who wants to prove the house isn’t haunted so he can sell the place. The servants won’t even stay after sundown“in the night. In the dark.” The initial atmosphere of lurking menace builds to screaming tension. Don’t read it if you’re home alone. 

By Shirley Jackson,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked The Haunting of Hill House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part of a new six-volume series of the best in classic horror, selected by Academy Award-winning director of The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro

Filmmaker and longtime horror literature fan Guillermo del Toro serves as the curator for the Penguin Horror series, a new collection of classic tales and poems by masters of the genre. Included here are some of del Toro's favorites, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Ray Russell's short story "Sardonicus," considered by Stephen King to be "perhaps the finest example of the modern Gothic ever written," to Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and stories…


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Let Evening Come

By Yvonne Osborne,

Book cover of Let Evening Come

Yvonne Osborne Author Of Let Evening Come

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a family farm surrounded by larger vegetable and dairy operations that used migrant labor. From an early age, my siblings and I were acquainted with the children of these workers, children whom we shared a school desk with one day and were gone the next. On summer vacations, our parents hauled us around in a station wagon with a popup camper, which they parked in out-of-the-way hayfields and on mountainous plateaus, shunning, much to our chagrin, normal campgrounds, and swimming pools. Thus, I grew up exposed to different cultures and environments. My writing reflects my parents’ curiosity, love of books and travel, and devotion to the natural world. 

Yvonne's book list on immersive coming-of-age fiction with characters struggling to find themselves amidst the isolation and bigotry in Indigenous, rural, and minority communities

What is my book about?

After her mother is killed in a rare Northern Michigan tornado, Sadie Wixom is left with only her father and grandfather to guide her through young adulthood. Miles away in western Saskatchewan, Stefan Montegrand and his Indigenous family are displaced from their land by multinational energy companies. They are taken in temporarily by Sadie’s aunt, a human rights activist who heads a cultural exchange program.

Stefan promptly runs afoul of local authority, but Sadie, intrigued by him and captivated by his story, has grown sympathetic to his cause and complicit in his pushback against prejudiced accusations. Their mutual attraction is stymied when Stefan’s older brother, Joachim, who stayed behind, becomes embroiled in the resistance, and Stefan is compelled to return to Canada. Sadie, concerned for his safety, impulsively follows on a trajectory doomed by cultural misunderstanding and oncoming winter.

Let Evening Come

By Yvonne Osborne,

What is this book about?

After her mother is killed in a rare Northern Michigan tornado, Sadie Wixom is left with only her father and grandfather to guide her through the pitfalls of young adulthood.
Hundreds of miles away in western Saskatchewan, Stefan Montegrand and his Indigenous family are forced off their land by multinational energy companies and flawed treaties. They are taken in temporarily by Sadie's aunt, a human rights activist who heads a cultural exchange program.
Stefan, whose own father died in prison while on a hunger strike, promptly runs afoul of local authority, but Sadie, intrigued by him and captivated by his…


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