The best (scary) books about haunted houses and ghosts

Bibiana Krall Author Of Corvus Hall
By Bibiana Krall

Who am I?

I grew up in a scary house. It wasn’t as fancy as Hill House, but I will believe until the day I die that it was haunted. Why you ask? How much time do you have? It began when I was about seven or so. I had a strange bout of sleepwalking that went on for a while. I saw things, I heard them and sometimes I could even smell them. I was raised in a traditional, Catholic family and things like this were not discussed or acceptable to believe in. Corvus Hall and the entire Irish Phantom Series are experimental and were inspired by personal experiences and a spooky trip to Ireland.


I wrote...

Corvus Hall

By Bibiana Krall,

Book cover of Corvus Hall

What is my book about?

After surviving an inexplicable supernatural event, a young woman from New Jersey is crippled by anxiety and terrible phobias. It isn’t until a few years later when her best friend Ashlinn is to be married at a lavish mansion in Ireland, that the mystery begins to unravel. Will Mary unlock the secrets of Corvus Hall before it’s too late?

Corvus Hall was written in homage to Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca with a modern and surprising twist. If you love authentic haunted houses and creepy, ghost stories, this one's definitely for you!

The books I picked & why

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The Haunting of Hill House

By Shirley Jackson,

Book cover of The Haunting of Hill House

Why this book?

This is easily my favorite haunted house story. I discovered it when I was a teen and have read it religiously once a year ever since. The reason it stuck with me and made me such a super fan was the idea that not only are a group of misfits staying in a haunted house, but the house itself is sentient. It’s the most malevolent and unforgettable character in the story. Literally conjuring up different ways to torment everyone. It’s terrifying in the most delicious way. Shirley Jackson is a master of horror and psychological suspense. If I hadn’t already believed in ghosts before that book, I certainly would have afterward.


The Woman in Black

By Susan Hill,

Book cover of The Woman in Black

Why this book?

I’ve learned that the best ghost stories include a few basic elements. A remote and spooky location, a secret and often tragic event linking the present to the past. This particular story goes a bit deeper on the gothic scale as the mansion is surrounded at night by dark water, becoming an island as the ocean rises. Did I mention a village with freakish accidents involving many of the children? There are some points in this story that you have to set it down and take a deep breath, as the author understands our fears of the dark and also the loss of a loved one.


Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia,

Book cover of Mexican Gothic

Why this book?

This book isn’t normally listed as a ghost story, but to me it certainly is. All of the dark elements I crave were present, plus an unusual setting and the 1950s era kept me guessing. It does go a bit more on the creepy, gore aspect that you don’t get in the first two recommendations, but the final scene in the tunnel and crypt. Oh my gosh! Nooo! It’s an intoxicating blend of gothic suspense, supernatural, and mystery.


The Shining

By Stephen King,

Book cover of The Shining

Why this book?

This story is unsettling in a million different ways. You wonder almost immediately, is Jack losing his mind? Is there something dark and nefarious pushing him and creating hallucinations that frustrate and torment him? Are the ghosts truly angry or are they simply playing the creepiest form of hide-and-seek with the humans? So many scenes in this story make you wonder if the things people say in anger could possibly manifest and chase after you the way they actually do in this one. What makes this super scary is it shows what can happen when you allow yourself to listen to the voices in the void.


Wylding Hall

By Elizabeth Hand,

Book cover of Wylding Hall

Why this book?

This is another story with a group of misfits, in this case it’s a band who are in desperate need of a hit and they hole up in a haunted mansion in the British countryside to record a new album. They are indulging in drinks and other mind-altering things to tap into their creativity. One night one of them disappears and poof. Let the infighting begin. There is a common belief that ghosts and spiritual entities can sense turmoil and feed off of it. I think that’s true. In this story that is certainly the case and how the breakdown happens is realistic enough to make you reconsider who you might take with you on a trip like this.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in haunted houses, ghosts, and English country house?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about haunted houses, ghosts, and English country house.

Haunted Houses Explore 34 books about haunted houses
Ghosts Explore 107 books about ghosts
English Country House Explore 14 books about English country house

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like A Clockwork Orange, The Garden of Evening Mists, and Rebecca if you like this list.