The best horror books to read on Halloween

Who am I?

I’ve been obsessed with Halloween traditions since before I could finish my own bag of candy. In many ways, those dark and chilly childhood nights of trick or treating are what gave rise to my lifelong love of horror. Inspired by the thrill of staying up late on the one night of the year when the dead can return to earth, I have since delved deep into the ancient history and folklore of All Hallows’ Eve, much of which features prominently in my Book of Shadows series. I hope the books on this list help you capture the spooky magic of the season!

I wrote...

All Hallows Eve

By Michael Penning,

Book cover of All Hallows Eve

What is my book about?

Alice Jacobs didn't believe in ghosts... until her daughter was taken by one. 

One hundred years after the infamous Salem witch trials, a single mother races against time to rescue her daughter from the vengeful spirit of a woman hanged for witchcraft. Desperate to find her child before the sun rises and she is lost forever, Alice embarks on a spine-chilling adventure that takes her from forgotten dungeons and gloomy cemeteries to the haunted forests of Gallows Hill. Along with a roguish sailor searching for his own missing child, she battles deadly supernatural forces and uncovers a dark secret that may be the key to saving her daughter’s soul... if only she can survive the most terrifying night of her life.

The books I picked & why

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Dark Harvest

By Norman Partridge,

Book cover of Dark Harvest

Why this book?

Every Halloween, a nightmare with a butcher knife named the October Boy rises from the cornfields to hunt the teenage boys of a small Midwestern town. Partridge won the Bram Stoker Award for this short novel and it’s easy to see why; his words conjure images that stick with us long after we’ve put the book down and pulled the blankets up over our heads. Chilling, tense, and fast-paced, this story takes us on a murderous thrill ride through a community that gives new meaning to the term “dead-end town.” At the same time, it’s also an artful coming-of-age story about a teenage boy who will literally risk everything for a one-way ticket out. Filled with dark secrets and careening twists, this one is a must-read on a dark and windswept Halloween.

Halloween Fiend

By C.V. Hunt,

Book cover of Halloween Fiend

Why this book?

In this razor-sharp novella, Halloween is personified in a bloodthirsty creature who haunts the nearly abandoned town of Strang. Fearful of Halloween’s deadly tricks, the remaining residents leave small live offerings at their doorsteps every night at sundown. But once a year on All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween demands a bigger and bloodier sacrifice. Dripping with dreadful atmosphere, Hunt does a masterful job of rendering a story that is both disturbing and surprisingly emotional for such a quick read. Steeped in folklore and ancient traditions, this grim and twisted tale reminds us that the old custom of trick or treating was meant to protect us from evil, and that for all its modern fun and games, Halloween is supposed to be scary.

Kill Creek

By Scott Thomas,

Book cover of Kill Creek

Why this book?

Scott Thomas was nominated for a Bram Stoker award for his spine-chilling story about four famous horror writers who are invited to spend Halloween in a haunted house as a publicity stunt, only to find themselves tormented by the unholy entity that roams its silent halls. Clearly an expert on the horror genre himself, Thomas brings a much-needed new twist to the haunted house trope and elevates it to a fearsome new level. But this novel’s real strength lies in its character development. A horror story only works if you care enough about the characters to hope (and pray) for their survival, and by the end of this one, you’ll feel like you’re clinging to old, familiar friends as they fight for their lives.      

Ghost Road Blues

By Jonathan Maberry,

Book cover of Ghost Road Blues

Why this book?

On the eve of the country’s largest Halloween celebration, evil returns to a small town with a haunting past in this Bram Stoker Award-winner. Ghost Road Blues is the first book in the Pine Deep trilogy that throws vivid and endearing characters into an epic fight against the unrelenting forces of darkness. But underlying the undead abominations and sadistic killers of this pulsing page-turner is an exploration of the undying nature of evil itself. The monsters come in many forms in this one, and like many great horror stories, some of the most terrifying are the humans.   

October Dreams: A Celebration of Halloween

By Various,

Book cover of October Dreams: A Celebration of Halloween

Why this book?

There are a lot of Halloween-themed anthologies out there, but none feature as many horror heavyweights as this must-have classic. Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Ray Bradbury, Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell—they’re all here and they’ve brought plenty of spooky friends. Packed with short stories and novellas revolving around the scariest night of the year, this collection also features amusing and nostalgic anecdotes about the authors’ favorite Halloween memories. If you’re a fan of Spooky Season, grab the candy corn and a steaming cup of cider because there are more treats here than a Halloween sack spilling candy down a darkened lane.   

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Halloween, teenagers, and ghost story?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Halloween, teenagers, and ghost story.

Halloween Explore 48 books about Halloween
Teenagers Explore 62 books about teenagers
Ghost Story Explore 80 books about ghost story

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Sir Simon, Trick or Treat, and The Book of Hallowe'en if you like this list.