The best novels about hauntings

Who am I?

As a goth chick from the American South, I’m obsessed with stories of old evil from the past finding its way into the present. I even live in a haunted house, a disintegrating Craftsman built in 1901. Our ghosts are very cozy, two cat-loving maiden ladies who were co-presidents of the local temperance society. We’ve given up on keeping liquor in our liquor cabinet; bottles cracking and leaking, glassware broken for no reason. And we’ve gotten so used to seeing and hearing their famous cat, Tom, we barely react anymore—a huge orange tabby tomcat who runs past our feet and jumps on the foot of our bed. 

I wrote...

The Devil Makes Three

By Lucy Blue,

Book cover of The Devil Makes Three

What is my book about?

In 1837, Briarwood Plantation was abandoned and sealed when the entire family that owned it was slaughtered with an axe by Ezra Woodbine, the youngest daughter’s fiancé. Now after 182 years, the doors are opening up.

Horror writer Jacob McGinnas has bought Briarwood, intending to restore it and write his next bestseller there. He enlists the help of local librarian and historian, Serena Decatur, a beautiful young widow with a haunted past of her own. Together they unlock the secrets of an evil far older and stronger than Ezra Woodbine and his axe and uncover a legacy of hatred and violence that has poisoned an entire town.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Sing, Unburied, Sing

Lucy Blue Why did I love this book?

Reading this book made me stop writing my own Southern gothic ghost book in the middle, rethink it completely, and start over again from scratch, and I wasn’t even mad about it. It’s just that good. It’s about thirteen-year-old Jojo and his family—his much-loved and very much dying grandmother, his strong, silent, and protective grandfather, his wild child mother, Leonie, his baby sister, Kayla, who looks to Jojo to keep her safe, and his white father, Michael, who just got out of jail. Everybody has secrets, and everybody sees ghosts. This literary novel won the National Book Award, but I promise you, horror readers, it will scare you silly and break your heart. 

By Jesmyn Ward,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Sing, Unburied, Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018 WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2017 ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2017 SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE NEW STATESMAN, THE FINANCIAL TIMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, TIME AND THE BBC Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Finalist for the Kirkus Prize Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award 'This wrenching new novel by Jesmyn Ward digs deep into the not-buried heart of the American nightmare. A must' Margaret Atwood 'A powerfully…

Book cover of The Shining

Lucy Blue Why did I love this book?

You never forget your first. This was the first grown-up haunting book I ever read, and it was complete adoration at first sight. King’s work has had a huge influence on me as a writer. (Yes, when I get stuck, I do quite literally think, okay, what would Uncle Stevie do?) This novel has all the great King elements—realistic people trying to survive an insanely unreal situation; engrossing, detailed backstory that makes that situation feel like it’s always been there, waiting, watching, inevitable; snappy dialogue and unexpected jolts of humor. The Overlook Hotel is a perfect clockwork trap of unholy psychic evil that takes haunting to a whole new level. And of course, Danny is just cute as the dickens. No matter how many times I read this book, I fret for him all the way through. 

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Shining as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Before Doctor Sleep, there was The Shining, a classic of modern American horror from the undisputed master, Stephen King.

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around…

Book cover of The Witching Hour

Lucy Blue Why did I love this book?

As much as I love The Vampire Chronicles, this is my favorite Anne Rice book. The home of the Mayfair Witches on First Street in New Orleans (Greek revival with Italianate elements) is my favorite haunted house ever; every time I read this book, I just want to move in. Come for the horny evil spirit and the murder and mayhem he inspires; stay to watch our heroine, Rowan Mayfair, spend obscene amounts of money restoring the gorgeous mansion he haunts. This is the first book in a series, and it establishes a lot of the world-building Rice used throughout her supernatural universe going forward. But it works just fine on its own. 

By Anne Rice,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Witching Hour as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'[W]hen I found Rice's work I absolutely loved how she took that genre and (...) made [it] feel so contemporary and relevant' Sarah Pinborough, bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes

'[Rice wrote] in the great tradition of the gothic' Ramsey Campbell, bestselling author of The Hungry Moon

On the veranda of a great New Orleans house, now faded, a mute and fragile woman sits rocking. And the witching hour begins...

Demonstrating once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling and the creation of legend, Anne Rice makes…

Book cover of Heart-Shaped Box

Lucy Blue Why did I love this book?

It’s not a location that’s being haunted in this one but a person. Aging rock star Judas Coyne collects macabre objects—think Rob Zombie, not Rod Stewart. His latest acquisition is a dead man’s suit that arrives in a heart-shaped box. He’s been warned that a ghost comes with the suit, and for once, the seller didn’t exaggerate. Judas didn’t realize just how real or how deadly this ghost would be—or that it would have a very personal bone to pick with him. One of the scariest books I’ve ever read, and the way Hill creates the hauntings is genius. I’m still really hoping this one will be a movie someday. 

By Joe Hill,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Heart-Shaped Box as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Buy my stepfather's ghost' read the e-mail.

So Jude did.

He bought it, in the shape of the dead man's suit, delivered in a heart-shaped box, because he wanted it: because his fans ate up that kind of story. It was perfect for his collection: the genuine skulls and the bones, the real honest-to-God snuff movie, the occult books and all the rest of the paraphanalia that goes along with his kind of hard/goth rock.

But the rest of his collection doesn't make the house feel cold. The bones don't make the dogs bark; the movie doesn't make Jude feel…

Book cover of The Hacienda

Lucy Blue Why did I love this book?

I just finished this book, and it nourished my soul. The time frame and setting—Mexico in the early 1820s, just after the war for independence—were new to me. But the story of a fierce but delicate bride fighting ghosts in her new and unloved husband’s crumbling mansion pushed all my favorite goth girl buttons. The author does a fantastic job of making that world come to life without a single historical info dump. We know and we care about the history and politics because Beatriz, our heroine, knows and cares, and we care so much about her from the very first page. Strange rituals, surly servants, forbidden romance, a furious ghost—this book has it all. 

By Isabel Cañas,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Hacienda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches...

During the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father was executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security that his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.
But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.


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Book cover of Aggressor

F.X. Holden

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What is my book about?

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